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8 minute read
“Will I ever sleep again?” This question is often top of mind for many expecting and new parents. Sleep is critical to the healthy development of your newborn. You may be surprised to find out a newborn can sleep up to 14-19 hours a day!
But you and your partner will inevitably sleep less as you care for your bundle of joy nearly around the clock.
You ALL deserve to get a little shut eye… But how do you set your baby up for success so that they get the sleep they need…safely?
If you’re trying to decide if you should use your adorable nursery from the beginning or co-sleep, which is either having your baby next to your bed, or even letting your little one sleep in your bed with you — you’re in the right place. We’re taking a look at the benefits and risks of these three sleep arrangements so that you can ultimately make the best decision for your family.
What If You Have The Perfect Set Up And Your Little One Just Won’t Sleep?
The rest of this article is going to help you evaluate the different environments you can set up for your baby’s sleep – in your room, in your bed, in their own room. But – at the end of the day, the location is only one part of the picture. Your routines, your boundaries and the skills you help your baby develop are just as important.
If you are reading this because you are currently struggling with sleep, I recommend checking out the book It’s Never Too Late To Sleep Train Your Child by Craig Capinari. Craig is a dad, a doctor and the director of the Yale Pediatric Sleep Center. His book really helps you understand why your baby, toddler or child acts the way they do at night, and what they need.
Sometimes, having a person to help you through the process of teaching your baby to feel safe at bedtime and to have enough trust to choose and fall asleep is invaluable. If you are looking to skip the struggles of DIY sleep learning, the best support for you and your baby is the Batelle Sleep School. Their 2 week program will get you through the roller coaster ride of learning to sleep.
They start by looking at the needs and behaviors of your specific child. Then they come up with the approach that is best for your little one. They are your support and your child’s champion through 2 weeks. Plus, they give you support through the first 5 years so if you travel, hit a sleep regression or run into future difficulties you aren’t on your own again.
Their process is flexible and will work for families that co-sleep, contact nap, breastfeed, have multiple caregivers.
Plus, they have generously offered She Births Bravely moms a $250 discount when you shop through this link.
What Is Co-Sleeping And Are There Any Benefits Or Drawbacks?
After months spent decorating, preparing and organizing your nursery… It may be a little confusing to hear that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends sleeping in the same room as your new baby for the first 6 months — and maybe even up to a year.
And while you may not spend as much time in your nursery during those first few weeks and months with your baby… The practice of room sharing has many benefits for both you and your baby. Let’s look at the top 3.
Benefits Of CoSleeping When Baby Is In Their Own Bed (Room Sharing)
1. Decrease Your Baby’s Risk Of SIDS
The main benefit that room sharing offers is decreasing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by up to 50% (AAP).
SIDS is the leading cause of death for infants under 6 months old…and one of a new parent’s worst fears. So taking any step that you can to protect your baby and create a safe sleep environment makes sense to many families.
2. More Successful Chest/Breastfeeding
For many new parents, chest/breastfeeding can be a challenging journey.
It can become that much harder when you have to pull yourself out of bed and trek to your baby’s nursery countless times a night.
Room sharing — especially if your baby is within arm’s reach — can save you the hassle of getting out of bed. This makes it easier to enjoy the process of chest/breastfeeding and can lead to more success.
3. Helps Ease Your Postpartum Recovery
Whether you had a vaginal birth or a c-section — the first 6 weeks after your baby’s birth are an important time of rest, healing, and recovery. Even if you had a super smooth birth experience, your body will need time to adjust to the many changes that have taken place since you gave birth.
Room-sharing with your baby can help with this process by:
- Reducing stress.
- Promoting more sleep for you and your baby which allows you time to heal.
- Enhancing feelings of bonding and closeness with your baby.
How to Successfully Room-Share with Your Baby:
So where does your baby sleep in your room?
Your baby should sleep on a firm, separate sleep surface. This could be a bassinet, crib, or even a portable playpen.
But…. with how often you need to feed your baby and how wonderful it feels to snuggle your little one… You may be wondering if it’s ok to let your baby sleep in your bed from time to time. This is known as bed-sharing.
Is Room Sharing the Same as Bed-Sharing?
Co-sleeping is when your baby sleeps in the same room as you. It can be defined as either room sharing or bedsharing. However, these are two different sleep arrangements with their own pros and cons.
Having your baby in your room but not on your bed is the official recommendation from the AAP. However, when you are feeding your baby multiple times a night, and you are pulling them into bed to feed, it is so tempting and sometimes nearly impossible not to fall asleep with them.
This leads many parents to ask, is it safe to bedshare?
Benefits Of CoSleeping When Baby Shares Your Bed (Bed Sharing)
Just like other sleeping arrangements, bedsharing has it’s pros and cons. However, it is hotly debated. On one hand, there is danger that a parent could roll over onto a baby or a pillow or blanket could cover a baby’s face and lead to suffocation.
On the other hand, families all over the world sleep with their baby in their bed. Even some of the countries with the lowest infant mortality rates. For example, in Japan, where there is the lowest rate of SIDS in the world, bed sharing is a common and accepted sleep arrangement.
This directly contradicts the warning from the AAP which claims that babies under three months old are five times more likely to pass away suddenly if they sleep in their parents’ bed (AAP).
It’s important to note that maternal care is significantly different in Japan than in the United States, from preconception, through pregnancy, birth and the first year of life. Everything from the foods suggested, the lifestyle encouraged, the vaccinations given, and the typical sleep arrangements are different. So looking at sleep as a factor on it’s own in this comparison may not be accurate or fair.
Because of that, if you are planning on sleeping with baby in your bed, you should read up on safe cosleeping practices from La Leche League and those from the Mother-Baby sleep lab at the University of Notre Dame.
And to be honest, whether planned or not, more than 60% of babies end up sleeping in their parents bed at some point in the first 6 months. It makes a lot of sense for most parents to learn about safe bedsharing practices.
So you may be asking yourself, why do so many parents choose to bedshare?
There Are Benefits Of Bed Sharing:
Well, there are many benefits of bedsharing that some parents enjoy:
Some parents may want their baby to sleep in their bed because it:
- Encourages breastfeeding by making nighttime breastfeeding more convenient.
- Increases how many months a mother breastfeeds her baby.
- May help your baby fall asleep more easily.
- May help you and your baby get more sIeep in the first few months.
- Gives you more time to be close to your baby.
However, the risks of sharing your bed with your little can’t be ignored:
- You or your partner may accidentally roll onto your baby while you’re asleep.
- Your baby might flip onto their tummy, unable to move their head enough to breathe.
- Your baby might get stuck and accidentally smothered by a blanket or pillow.
- Your baby might fall off the bed or get stuck between the bed and a wall.
Keeping Your Baby Safe While Bed Sharing
We take precautions to keep our babies safe when we drive by buckling them into safe car seats and not driving while intoxicated or while using drugs that can affect our awareness. Similarly, if a baby is in bed with you, you need to be sure you are doing it as safely as possible.
And, just like driving comes with risk, but is generally considered safe, for many families, bedsharing, can be safe as well. That is why The Academy of Breast Feeding Medicine, the USA Breast Feeding Committee, the Breast Feeding section of the American Academy of Pediatrics, La Leche League International, UNICEF and WHO, which are all prestigious organizations who use the latest science in mother and baby health, support bed sharing when done safely.
Dr. McKenna, the world’s leading SIDS researcher at the Notre Dame Mother Baby Sleep Lab says that there isn’t a specific recommendation for or against bed sharing. There are many benefits of bedsharing, if it is right for your family, it can be a great option.
But, there are many benefits to other sleeping arrangements as well. It is up to you as a committed and thoughtful parent to evaluate your family, your individual needs and to thoughtfully make an educated decision about what is best for your family.
Can My Baby Sleep In Their Nursery From Birth?
But, what if you don’t sleep well when your baby is in your room? Do you have to have your baby that close when they are sleeping? Can you use that adorable nursery you took the time to set up?
Well, just as there benefits to co sleeping, there are benefits of other sleep arrangements as well.
Having your baby sleep in their own room since birth is also a very appealing decision for many families.
- You can create a sense of routine and normalcy sooner.
- Moms are more likely to get support around bedtime
- Babies are more likely to be sleep 6 to 7 continuous hours by 3-4 months of age.
According to Dr. Craig Capinari of the Yale Sleep lab, the evidence from the AAP about SIDS and roomsharing is weak and the potential for creating bad sleep habits is much higher.
Craig cites many studies in his book It’s Never Too Late To Sleep Train Your Child that parents who roomshare are more likely to put their children in unsafe sleeping situations such as on a couch or chair and less likely to have predictable routines that will cue a baby to go to sleep and create healthy sleep habits.
This means that while co sleeping either by sharing the same room or the same bed may be convenient, the price may come in your child not actually learning sleep skills – which will affect them in the long run.
Why Might A Nursery Be The Best Place For A Baby To Sleep?
Research conducted in 2017 found that around the 4-6 month mark, parents and babies don’t sleep as well in the same room.
The study found that room-sharing beyond 4-6 months leads to:
- Less night time sleep
- More night time wakings
That’s because infants make a lot of noise and move around a lot while they sleep! This can cause major sleep disruptions for you as a parent.
…Not exactly ideal if you’re trying to avoid sleep-deprivation and make healthy decisions!
And when you — and your baby — don’t get adequate amounts of sleep this can affect your emotional regulation, mood, and behavior both now and down the line.
How Could Lack Of Sleep Affect Me And My Family?
A lack of sleep can affect you and your partner by:
- Leading to less closeness between you and your significant other.
- Increasing the risks of accidents, postpartum depression, and an inability to effectively care for your baby. These incidents actually occur more frequently than SIDS.
Plus, sleep-deprived parents don’t always make the best decisions… the choices you make when you haven’t had enough sleep can lead to poor sleep habits for your baby like:
- Giving in to the temptation of pulling your baby into bed — without the proper thought of safety actions taken.
- Falling into the habit of co-sleeping — instead of working with your baby to learn sleep skills.
- Preventing your baby from learning how to fall asleep independently.
- Developing sleep associations that make your baby depend on you.
- More frequent feedings for comfort instead of nutritional needs — which means less sleep for everyone.
On top of these risks…the study concluded that there is simply not enough evidence that room sharing prevents SIDS for older babies.
And do you know who this study was conducted by? The American Academy of Pediatrics! Yep — the same group that recommended having your baby sleep in your room for at least 6 months, but ideally until your baby’s first birthday!
Kind of confusing right?
Knowing that room-sharing can reduce SIDS, but that it also decreases the quality of sleep for you and your baby…can leave you feeling torn and unsure of what to do.
You may be wondering, is room sharing the best or only way to reduce the risks for Sids? The answer is no.
Is Room Sharing The Only Way To Reduce Risk For SIDS?
The good news is that the AAP’s recommendation to room-share with your baby is just one of the ways you can create a safe sleep environment for your little one.
There are also 3 important steps you can take to protect your baby from SIDS that involve how you put your little one to sleep.
When you put your baby to sleep:
- Only place them on a flat, firm surface (avoid beds or couches).
- Practice back to sleep for every sleep.
- Avoid any soft covers or blankets (including crib bumpers or crib blankets).
You can also reduce the risk of SIDS by:
- Avoiding exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy and afterwards.
- Avoiding exposure to alcohol or drugs.
- Using a pacifier.
These small steps will help your baby to grow up healthy and strong while giving you peace of mind that you’re doing all you can to protect them when they drift off into dreamland…
How Long Should You Room Share With Your Baby?
The answer to this question is ultimately a personal decision. You may choose to room-share for the first year because you love having your little one close and want to do everything you can to decrease the risk of SIDS. You may also choose to have your baby in their own room from the very beginning to focus on building healthy and sustainable sleep habits and routines.
Personally, as a parent, if I were to be doing things over, I would rethink room sharing after the first 2 weeks. I loved those first snuggly weeks when I needed to be in bed resting myself. However, beyond that, it did not necessarily help us establish a routine or find a sense of normalcy.
My children did not begin to be healthy sleepers until after I moved them into their own room and created simple, solid, steady bedtime routines. Until I made it a point to help my kids learn to sleep, they were very needy sleepers, and we all felt sleep deprived during the day.
The great thing about different strategies being recommended and endorsed by the leading experts in the world, is that there is a lot of room for you to think about your family’s needs and confidently pick a strategy that reflects you. What sleep arrangement do you think will work best for you?
Where Should Your Baby Sleep If They Are Rooming In For The First 6 Months?
There are so many option for where your baby should sleep if they are rooming in for the first 6 months. A new bedside bassinet can range from a couple hundred dollars, to over a thousand for a sleek designer bassinet. Plus there are options that convert from a simple bedside bassinet to a crib and can then even turn into a toddler bed with a simple conversion kit. Here are some of our favorites:
Best Affordable Bassinet:
If you want an affordable option for having your baby cuddled close next to the bed, the Halo BassiNest Swivel Sleeper 3.0 is a great option. Your baby is within an arm’s reach. Plus, the bassinet can pop off of the base and you can bring it anywhere in the house. It is a simple way for your baby to be where you are from birth through you recovery and first months home.
Most Beautiful Bassinet
If you’d like a bassinet that is also a work of art, you must take a look at the Aura Metal Bassinet. Not only does this bassinet have wheels so you can easily move baby from room to room, but you will preserve the style and elegance of your home as well. It is absolutely beautiful and captures that modern Hollywood Regency Look.
Best Bassinet For Moms Who Aren’t Sure Where They Want Their Baby To Sleep + Travel Crib
Sometimes we have to get to know our babies before we really know which option is best for them and us. Parenting is a process of self discovery and growth. If your baby is only going to be in your room for few weeks or months, a travel crib can be a great option. Pop it up in your room for a few weeks. Have them close when you need it. Then, you can fold it away when you move to your nursery. Plus, you have a great crib for travel or a backup crib for the grandparent’s houses.
What Are The Best Cribs For The Nursery?
The Most Unique Crib To Toddler Bed
The pod crib is perfect for families that want a distinct modern look in the nursery. Not only does it turn into the most adorable toddler bed, but it has clear sides that allow for greater visibility, assisting with checking on and settling baby throughout the night. This is a perfect crib for a modern home!
The Stylish Use Forever Crib
If you want a crib that can be an investment for years to come, you need the Sprout 4-1 convertible crib and toddler bed conversion kit. This crib goes from baby to toddler years and beyond. In fact, you can easily take it beyond the toddler years and turn it into a full bed with a simple conversion kit. One bed for decades of use.
Simple And Stylish Crib + Toddler Bed
If you want a one of a kind design that is both eco friendly and stylish the Spot on Square Roh Crib in White is the perfect choice. Of course, it grows with your little one. Clear sides give your baby a view. Then, as they crave move freedom, turn it into the perfect toddler bed.
Benefits Of CoSleeping Conclusion TL:DR
There are many ways to arrange your babies sleep environment. They can sleep in their own bed in your room, they can share your. bed, with certain precautions, or they can enjoy their own room from birth. All of these arrangements can be safe and positive sleep set ups.
It’s your job as a thoughtful and intentional parent to choose what is best for you and your family.
Have fun creating your dream home and filling it with memories of your sweet little person!