Can You Co-Sleep If Your Child Has Special Needs?

Mention any of the standard attachment parenting norms — from co-sleeping, to baby wearing, to extended breastfeeding — and you're bound to get a few raised eyebrow or rude comments. Furthermore, when you're the parent of a child with special needs, the opinions from onlookers are oftentimes even more pointed or misguided, despite their best intentions. It can be hard to navigate through the amount of opinions, data, advice, and research out there and still leave room for you to make the best decision for you and your child. Questions like can you co-sleep if your child has special needs probably arise whether or not you've done research on the topic or not. Like many aspects of life with a special needs child, there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to that question.

According to Green Child Magazine, many parents who do co-sleep or practice other attachment parenting methods with their child with special needs report that their children are "calmer and make significantly better progress than their similarly-challenged peers." The calming, nurturing approach to parenting that many co-sleepers adapt can be beneficial for children with special needs. According to Attachment Parenting, "many parents of children on the (autism) spectrum find attachment based parenting choices to be critical to developing positive relationships with their children."

Of course, if your child has a medical condition where it is unsafe for them to bed-share, or you've been smoking cigarettes or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you definitely should not co-sleep, according to Today's Parent. Otherwise, according to James McKenna, co-sleeping expert and founder of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory, co-sleeping (meaning "any situation in which an a committed adult caregiver...sleeps within close enough proximity to her infant so that each...can respond to each other's sensory signals and cues") is a great and safe option for families of all kinds.