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Is mother and baby allowed to sleep in the same bed? Here's how the experts answer
Written by SOT.COM.AL 29 Nëntor 2023
Many parents and especially mothers are afraid to let their child sleep alone in another room, so they take him with them, either in the room or even in the bed.
Much has been said about this habit, which has divided the scientific community. There are those who argue that this habit increases the risk of infant suffocation, but also the possibility of sudden infant death syndrome. On the contrary, some insist that the practice in question facilitates breastfeeding and promotes the integration of cultural and family values. This division further confuses parents, who are faced with an overwhelming amount of information and don't know what to do.
Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières researchers and experts in early childhood and child and adolescent sleep, Gabrielle Fréchette-Boilard and Evelyne Touchette explore the scientific findings and present the pros and cons of both sides.
A recent Canadian study reported that about 1/3 of mothers co-sleep with their baby, while 40% say they have never co-slept with their baby. A study in Quebec in the late 1990s found that 1/3 of mothers slept with their baby in the same room. "For the first 6 months, the safest practice is for the baby to sleep on its back, in the crib, in the same room as the parents," says the Canadian Pediatric Association.
Co-sleeping promotes breastfeeding and communication
Sleeping with the baby facilitates nighttime breastfeeding, according to numerous scientific studies. However, it is difficult to determine whether it is breastfeeding that favors this practice or vice versa. However, breastfeeding is the main reason why mothers choose to sleep with their baby in bed. However, no differences were observed between sleeping in the same room and sleeping in the same bed with regard to breastfeeding, meaning that sleeping in the same room is as favorable for breastfeeding as sleeping in the same bed. it is not necessary.
The same applies to meeting the needs of the child. According to a scientific study, physical contact and the proximity of being in the same room promotes the synchronization of the child's circadian rhythm with that of the parent. This helps baby sleep better and parents monitor baby's signals more closely, resulting in immediate and easy response to baby's needs.
Co-sleeping reduces stress
A study based on parents' responses on this topic found that children who had experienced one of two co-sleeping patterns had lower levels of anxiety in preschool, compared to those who had co-slept with their parents for less than six month. Another study showed that children who slept with a parent had a lower stress response at 12 months of age compared to those who slept alone. However, when comparing a high stress condition with another moderate stress condition, the difference between the two groups was smaller.
Co-sleeping results in more restful sleep
Babies who sleep with their parents wake up more often than those who sleep alone. The same goes, of course, for parents. A study that assessed sleep at 6, 12 and 18 months showed that children who slept with their parents in a shared bed woke more during the night. Mothers who co-sleep with their babies report that the babies fall asleep more easily and quickly, but wake up more often. Another study finds that long-term co-sleeping – for the first two years of a child's life – is associated with shorter duration of sleep at night, a greater need for daytime sleep and a higher rate of sleep disturbances. sleeping.
Is sleeping in a shared bed associated with a stronger child bond?
This issue is still controversial. Some studies report a stronger bonding relationship between babies who co-sleep with their parents than those who sleep alone. Other scientific findings argue that no correlation is found, positive or negative. In conclusion, it is important in any choice parents make to be properly and fully informed, weighing the pros and cons of each option.