Any mom will tell you that a number of myths about sleep methods make the rounds. They get perpetuated in society and somehow ingrained into the fabric of every day life. The misguided and factually dismissive myths about co-sleeping are no exception. Unfortunately, new parents become inundated with these lies and they may wonder what has merit and what is a myth? It can be hard to tell, but there is some outdated co-sleeping advice you should ignore that has been dispelled by experts time and time again.
Simply stated, co-sleeping is a sleeping arrangement whereby a parent or caregiver sleeps in the same room as their baby. Different families do co-sleeping in different ways including bed-sharing, sidecar arrangement, and different beds but same room, as explained on Kelly Mom. Recently, bed-sharing has come under intense scrutiny and it's safety questioned. According to resources available, it seems most of the concerns about bed-sharing have been quite literally put to bed with expert findings and literature. Some larger organizations are still being cautious (some would argue overly so) and refusing to label it as "safe," but those who practice it praise the sleeping style.
When it comes to co-sleeping there is nothing wrong with doing it however you want, so long as you follow general safety guidelines and it's working for you and your family. The criticism and judgement you may receive for choosing to practice it, is frankly, neither here or there. Whether you're currently co-sleeping and seeking some validation or are considering it in the future, here are seven outdated pieces of advice still making the rounds that you should probably ignore.
1. Co-Sleeping Isn't Safe
Regardless of where your child sleeps, there are general safety guidelines that all parents should consider. Babies should always be placed on their backs to sleep, on a firm surface, with no blankets, toys, or pillows, and in the absence of secondhand smoke, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Breastfeeding is also recommended as a way to reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in babies.
If you choose to bed-share, there are ways to do it safely as explained on Kelly Mom, which include: making sure the bed is big enough, having the baby sleep close to the breastfeeding mother, steering clear of all drugs and alcohol (including cigarettes), tying long hair up so as not to get wrapped around the baby, and never sleeping on a couch or futon. Many large organizations have come out against bed-sharing, but for now, the numbers and science don't back up the fears.
2. Co-Sleeping Spoils Your Baby
You will not psychologically damage your kid or spoil them by sleeping in the same room or same bed as them, according to the Ask Dr. Sears website. As explained on the site, misguided American norms have led us to believe these myths about sleep-sharing. Sears write that it's natural for parents to want to be close to their babies, just as it's natural for babies to want to be close to their parents or caregivers. Furthermore this closeness and bond should be honored and not judged.
3. Breastfeeding While Co-Sleeping Causes Ear Infections
Rest assured, you can lay down to breastfeed while co-sleeping at night. According to Kelly Mom, the idea that night breastfeeding while lying down causes ear infection is not true. No matter what position you're in, breastfeeding is thought to reduce the occurrence of ear infections.
4. Co-Sleeping Causes Your Child To Sleep With You Forever
Nothing is forever, and it seems a little myopic to think a sleeping arrangement could last until eternity. Your child will stop sleeping with you when you are ready, or when they are ready.
Typically, children will start to self wean from bed-sharing around 8 years old (possibly before then), according to Parenting. If you don't wish to have them in your bed that whole time you can always gently wean them out yourself. It can be done, it just takes a little time usually.
5. Co-Sleeping Keeps You Awake
It's been found that mothers who co-sleep (especially if they bed-share) rouse more frequently, according to the aforementioned article on Ask Dr. Sears. There is believed to be a lighter state of sleep for mothers and babies who co-sleep, however it's thought both have an easier time falling back asleep because they're not fully awake in the first place.
A mother who has to get up, go to a crib in another room, feed her child, attempt get them to sleep, leave the room, and listen to the baby cry might end up more awake overall and have a more difficult time falling back asleep.
6. Co-Sleeping Cancels Your Sex Life
Just because you're co-sleeping doesn't mean your sex life has to fizzle out. There are many ways to get creative about sex and intimacy once a baby comes into your life. If you're co-sleeping, you may consider having sex in different locations, doing it during nap times, asking someone to come watch your baby, or being intimate in other non-sexual (but close) ways. Your bed isn't the only place to get it on, so try to embrace a little sexual spontaneity.
7. Co-Sleeping Is Bad For Your Romantic Relationship
Co-sleeping doesn't kill romance. If you can think of ways to be romantic and spend time with your partner outside of the bedroom, then co-sleeping shouldn't be negatively impacting your relationship with your partner. Co-sleeping is simply a sleeping arrangement. If the only time you feel connected to your partner is in your bed, you may need to re-examine what romance means to you and find other ways to generate it.
Receiving unsolicited advice is no fun and it's even worse when it's outdated. When in doubt, fact check your naysayers and sleep in a way that is safe and comfortable for you and your baby.