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How Co-Sleeping Affects Baby's Body, According to Science

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In the world of parenting, co-sleeping is such a hot topic that researchers are constantly working to add valuable information to understand exactly what's at play when babies sleep near their parents. But to learn how co-sleeping affects baby's body, you first have to clear up the difference between co-sleeping and bed sharing. Bed sharing is having your infant in the adult bed for the night, and is not recommended as a safe sleep environment, according to the website for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). However, the AAP does suggest that babies sleep in the same room as their parents for a minimum of the first six months of their life. This is what's known as co-sleeping.

So why are the experts saying it's important to have your baby near by in those first months? Aside from the safety aspect, science is proving that the security that comes with having a parent close by can have long term effects on a baby's body. It all boils down to the stress hormone, cortisol. As Psychology Today reported, high levels of cortisol interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, as well as increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease. So keeping your baby's cortisol levels low helps their little bodies stay healthy.

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According to the website for the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a study that compared co-sleeping children to children who did not co-sleep as a baby, found that co-sleeping children had lower levels of cortisol. A similar study backed up these findings as well. In 2012, The International Journal on the Biology of Stress published a study that measured the cortisol levels in children after exposing them to stressors. In this case, the researchers found that not only did co-sleeping children have lower levels of cortisol overall, but this group of children were also able to recover from the stressors faster than children who did not co-sleep as a baby.

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These findings show that your little one is doing more than counting sheep while laying nearby in their bassinet. With the security of having you near by, your baby's body is learning to manage stress and keep it in check. Thanks to this is news, the whole house can sleep better.