I think it's safe to assume that "cuddling your baby for as long as possible" is every parent's favorite thing. Still, busy schedules and older children can make endless hours of baby cuddles hard to come by. In my opinion, and according to science, you should absolutely find the time for a cuddle or two, though, because your favorite pastime could actually help your baby sleep. You guys, this is the parenting dream! Cuddles? Check. Sleep? Check. I mean, I don't know about you but I'm sold.
Of course, co-sleeping isn't the magic bullet when it comes to baby sleep. First, and while the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) actually advises parents co-sleep with their children (read: having their child sleep in the same room as they do) the AAP does not recommend bed-sharing (read: having baby sleep in the same bed as their parents). The AAP goes on to say that bed-sharing increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) for babies, as well as the risk of suffocation. Keeping those things in mind, bed-sharing is a decision parents make for themselves, and many parents choose better sleep and bonding for themselves and their babies over the universal AAP's recommendations.
If you have concerns or questions about bed-sharing, you can always ask your pediatrician for his or her recommendation for your family and your baby. And in the meantime, we can have a peek at these reasons why your baby might just sleep better after a few clutch cuddles.
Because Of All The Oxytocin
Cuddles with your baby produce the "love hormone" oxytocin, in both your brain and your baby's brain. According to Parenting, oxytocin has a number of incredible benefits, one of them being the promotion of sleep. So, yes, cozy cuddles in bed can lead to even more sleep for your baby.
Because You're More Responsive To Your Baby's Needs
Baby Center says that because your baby is literally inches from your ears you can hear their little noises, and respond to them more quickly, if you are in the middle of a cuddle instead of in another room. This means you can get to your baby before they get so wound up it takes 20 minutes just to calm them down again, let alone get back to sleep.
Because It Usually Makes Feeding Faster
According to HuffPost, smart bed-sharing makes breastfeeding easier and, in turn, gives breastfeeding mothers more sleep. The site goes on to say:
"When they bed-share, the baby’s happier and doesn’t have to cry to get the mother’s attention, and she doesn’t have to get out of bed — she just latches the baby on and maybe even falls back to sleep."
Because It Promotes Attachment
According to Parenting, cuddling your baby while she sleeps promotes the attachment bond between the two of you, making for a calmer, more peaceful baby.
Because Your Baby Feels Safer
According to Children's Trust of South Carolina, babies feel safer and more protected when they're closer to their parents. The feeling of absolute safety and security will allow baby to get a better night's sleep. The HuffPost mirrors this statement, saying, "Babies have higher stress levels and less stable heart rates and temperatures when they’re separated from their mothers."
Because It Cuts Down On Separation Anxiety
For older babies who might spend the day with caregivers, babysitters or grandparents, separation anxiety can be a big problem. A few extra cuddles, and even bed-sharing (when done safely) can help reduce the separation anxiety (or potential for separation anxiety) in your baby.