"Sleep now while you still can." Expecting couples will probably hear this over and over again throughout a pregnancy. While unsolicited advice of this nature is easy to brush off — I know I did when I was pregnant with my first child — I've learned the hard way that it's actually a thinly-veiled warning: Sleep will be hard to come by during those first few weeks of adjusting to life with a newborn. The exhaustion (both mental and physical) brought on by round-the-clock feedings, relentless diaper changes, burping, spitting-up, along with everything else that comes with the territory of bringing home a new baby — it's hard. Kourtney Kardashian recently said co-sleeping is her secret to getting sleep as a mom, and here's what parents need to know.
If you need a refresher, Kardashian and her ex, Scott Disick, share three children together: Mason, 8, Penelope, 5, and Reign, 3. People reported the Keeping Up with the Kardashians star took to her website this week to address her strategy for getting rest while raising children. “Getting the kids to sleep through the night in my home was different for each individual child,” the 38-year-old mom wrote, according to the publication. “When I had Mason, co-sleeping just kind of happened naturally. It’s what worked for all of us to get the most sleep, so I quickly embraced it.” Kardashian continued:
But it was also really important to me to research the benefits and some of the criticisms when it came to this method. I also used certain things like the DockATot, which gave me more peace of mind.
It's important to make the distinction between the terms "co-sleeping" and "bed-sharing," because there's actually a significant difference. Co-sleeping refers to the practice of parents sleeping in the same room with their children, but in separate sleeping spaces. Bed-sharing, on the other hand, is exactly how it sounds — having a child sleep in bed alongside a parent or parents. Although Kardashian refers to having Penelope and Mason sleeping in her bed as "co-sleeping," the more technical term of "bed-sharing" is more accurate. (Side note: Allowing a baby to sleep unsupervised in a DockATot is not recommended and poses a potential suffocation risk.)
Back in 2014, Kardashian explained that she didn't necessarily set out to be an attachment parent who bed-shares. "It's what came naturally to me; I didn't plan it," she told Redbook magazine. "When I had Mason, I just felt really attached to him and wanted to bring him everywhere. He ended up sleeping with me, and I breastfed for 14 months."
When it comes to infants, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has specific recommendations for safe sleep. These include placing babies on their backs on a firm sleep surface; avoiding soft bedding like crib bumpers, blankets, pillows, and soft toys; and sharing a bedroom with parents, preferably until the baby turns 1, but not on the same sleeping surface. In the AAP's most recent recommendations, tips for creating a safe bed-sharing environment were also included, in the event a mother falls asleep while breastfeeding her baby. "If you are feeding your baby and think that there's even the slightest possibility that you may fall asleep, feed your baby on your bed, rather than a sofa or cushioned chair," said Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter, member of the Task Force on SIDS and co-author of the report. Feldman-Winter continued:
As soon as you wake up, be sure to move the baby to his or her own bed. There should be no pillows, sheets, blankets or other items that could obstruct the infant's breathing or cause overheating.
Still, Kardashian's children aren't exactly babies anymore. So the risk of SIDS and accidental suffocation aren't really an issue at this point. If everyone is happy and comfortable with bed-sharing, there aren't actually any recommendations against it.
I can so identify with Kourtney Kardashian's experience because I'm an accidental bed-sharing mom, too. My third child, who will be 2 this spring, ends up in bed with my husband and me every single night. And you know what? I'm OK with that. Breast-sleeping was literally the only way any of us could sleep without waking up every 90 minutes or so. (My second baby, by contrast, slept like a champ in her crib and never needed to bed-share.) So here's the bottom line: Every child is different, and sometimes, parents do what they need to in order for some form of sleep to happen in their household. As long as parents are educated about infant sleep recommendations, and are doing everything in their power to provide the safest sleep environment possible, you'll never find me judging another family's sleeping arrangement.
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