benefits of co sleeping
Is co-sleeping bad? There’s a lot of conversation about co-sleeping out there. Whether you’re welcoming your first baby to the world or have a family of 5 or 6 already, you’ve probably heard about co-sleeping. And maybe even popped “about co-sleeping” into Google a time or two.
So why all the hype about co-sleeping? Co-sleeping has long been the preferred (and safe, as long as you choose the right method!) way for families around the world to assure that their babies are getting nurturing rest. Before there were beds or mattresses or even cribs, families would gather close together and nestle into a state of happy sleep while lying within arm’s reach.
When the earliest cribs starting coming onto the scene around the 1600s, the hype for co-sleeping didn’t die down. But within the co-sleeping conversation, there’s one important thing to note. Co-sleeping with the help of a safe sleep tool like a bedside co-sleeper is not the same thing as bed-sharing (which is better understood as the practice of inviting your baby to share your own mattress).
That’s why asking “Is co-sleeping bad?” is too simple. But we’re about to set the co-sleeping record straight on all that…
We’re about to break down:
- The back-to-the-basics details about what co-sleeping is and how it became the most common method of sleep around the world
- The benefits that co-sleeping families enjoy, as well as the way families get more rest just by sleeping close to their little one
- How co-sleeping has looked throughout history, and why that matters for sleep deprived parents trying to get more rest now
- Where things really stand in this whole “Is c0-sleeping bad?” question, and what co-sleeping families wish more people talked about
The Best Place to Start Is at the Beginning: What is Co-Sleeping?
Co-sleeping is often the catch-all term used to describe the nurturing experience of sleeping with your baby within arm’s reach.
Though the word “co-sleeping” often brings up images of parent and baby sleeping together in the same bed and sharing the same sleep space, the truth is that there are many ways to co-sleep, and each nighttime routine will look a little different for every family.
In recent years, tools like bedside co-sleepers have made it safe, easy, and stress-free to soak in all the benefits of co-sleeping by giving babies a made-just-for-them place to rest their head and get quality sleep through the night.
These methods aren’t only proven-safe through experience, they’re also backed by some of the strictest safety certification standards on the market, with organizations like ASTM International, TÜV Rheinland, and Confidence in Textiles giving bedside co-sleepers like babybay a full stamp of approval.
And though sleeping in separate bedrooms has become the norm in the Western world (which is the leading thing that causes some parents to wonder whether alternatives like co-sleeping are really the best way to go), that doesn’t mean it’s not the preferred bonding-promoting and safety-assuring method of rest across much of the globe.
In fact, studies (like one famously conducted by anthropologist John Whiting) have found that almost 70% of children living around the world sleep in the company of others. (Take a moment to really let those numbers sink in— 70%!)
Benefits of Co-Sleeping: A Quick But Thorough Overview
Through the act of co-sleeping, you and your baby are able to bond and become close-as-can-be during both your waking and sleeping hours. (Hard to believe, but our sleeping hours account for a third of our day — which is why it’s so important to make them count!)
Your baby also benefits from a boosted immune system and better-supported development for their body and mind, which not only benefits their waking hours but leads to more restful time spent in dreamland as well.
Co-sleeping also makes nighttime nursing a breeze by keeping your baby easily within arm’s reach, so that you don’t have to take walks back and forth across the room or repeatedly over crib bars to give your child what they need.
At the end of the day, it shouldn’t really be surprising that there are numerous benefits of co-sleeping. Human biology naturally encourages child and parent to seek contact during the night.
And while you might think that it’s simply love for your child that has you craving a quick hug, kiss, or loving touch during all hours of the day and night (love is definitely part of it, we promise!), that mutual craving for contact is also just built into our physiology.
While that need for nighttime contact through the night isn’t much-talked about in the United States, it’s something that many other cultures around the world understand well.
In Japan, for instance, the most common sleeping position is referred to as kawa no ji (represented by the character for river: 川). The two longer lines in that character represent the parents, while the shorter one represents the child sleeping between — showcasing the close proximity and sleep-together care that goes into nighttime sleep setups.
But in America and other Western cultures, history has set a trend of separating parents and babies during the night.
That’s not because separating parents and babies is better — we’ve just gotten so used to sleeping separately that it’s hard to imagine that another way of sleeping could be more beneficial.
Co-Sleeping Throughout History: Why the Question “What Is Co-Sleeping” Only Started Needing to Be Asked Recently
The Western world’s interest in sleeping separately can partly be traced back to the 19th century, when it became fashionable to show your wealth by building houses with extra bedrooms and filling those extra bedrooms with plush mattresses and beautiful cribs.
Though collecting mattresses is no longer the in-trend fashion statement it used to be, most families in the Western world continue to encourage their children to sleep in separate rooms.
And while there’s nothing wrong with preferring for your child to sleep in a space separate from yours, over time this became seen as the standard way to sleep in the Western world — which quickly made all other sleeping methods seem like unideal alternatives (even if they did, in fact, actually come with a whole host of rest-giving and mind-balancing benefits).
So Let’s Sum It All Up: Is Co-Sleeping Bad?
When co-sleeping is practiced safely, it delivers a bounty of benefits while helping you feel closer to your child (emotionally and physically!) all night long.
But just like you have to make decisions with safety in mind when preparing a nursery or separate room for your child to sleep in, you need to make safety a priority when deciding the co-sleeping method that works for your family.
But if you aren’t sure where to start, start here: bedside infant co-sleepers make safe co-sleeping easy as can be by gifting baby with a safe, secure, and supported space to sleep by your side.
Your baby gets to drift off into sweet dreams with you within arm’s reach, while you get to enjoy the worry-free rest that comes from knowing you can quickly and easily respond to any nighttime feeding call that comes throughout the night.
And while there may be other ways of co-sleeping out there, there’s only one safe co-sleeping method we can recommend.
With the right bedside sleeper by your side, you’ll never have to wonder Is co-sleeping bad? again. You’ll be able to confidently drift toward dreamland, knowing your baby is safe, happy, and soaking in all the benefits that co-sleeping has to offer.
Here’s a fast fact that may surprise you (or may not surprise you, depending on how many newborns you’ve cared for over the years): by the age of two, most children will have spent more time asleep than they’ve spent awake.
But as any parent of a newborn baby knows, figuring out how to help your baby sleep through the night can be a challenge. Because though your baby might love escaping to dreamland, that doesn’t mean they’re good at catching Z’s on your schedule.
Luckily, there are a few tricks to put your baby to sleep that will help the whole family enjoy a better night of rest. Here are 4 of our sleep-giving favorites:
1. Discover Baby Sleep Cues
When your baby is tired, they’ll tell you.
Okay, it might not be quite that easy! But every baby has sleep cues that will clue you in that they’re in need of some rest.
Catching these clues is key. Because when it comes to how to make baby sleep at night, things can get tricky when your baby skips over “tired” and heads straight toward “over-tired.”
Though it might seem counterintuitive, it can be difficult to calm an over-tired baby down and settle into sleep. And by “difficult,” we mean 100% harder than if you catch your baby’s need for sleep right as it’s hitting the “I’m ready for bed” stage.
Not only is it often a challenge to put an over-tired baby to sleep, but over-tired babies can actually have a harder time staying asleep once they’ve finally closed their eyes.
Feeding will also become the last thing they want to do, often leading to a few more mid-night wake up calls than you want to take on as a sleepy parent. Which means both their sleep schedule and feed schedule could get disrupted when you miss their baby sleep cues, and yours could too.
How to recognize your own baby’s sleep cues:
Baby sleep cues can vary from kiddo to kiddo.
But if your baby is yawning, acting over-quiet or over-calm, is seeming fussy, is rubbing their eyes, seems disinterested, or is less social than normal, it might be a sign that they’re ready for sleep.
The most important thing is to start paying attention to your baby’s patterns and recognizing when changes in behavior are a sign it’s time for them to get rest.
Helping your baby get proper amounts of sleep during the day will also help them be less over-tired at night, while more easily cluing you in to whether or not those changes in behavior are just a little late-day grumpiness…or a clear sign that it’s time to get cuddled up in their baby bed.
2. Help Baby Sleep Through the Night With the Perfect Baby Bedtime Routine
During the first few months with your baby, it might feel like getting your baby to sleep at night is the top priority no matter what you have to do to make it happen.
If you’re feeling in “sleep survival mode” while running on just a few short hours of shut-eye yourself, it can be easy to rely on rocking baby to sleep as a way of getting your little one to snooze as quickly as possible.
However, these aren’t always sustainable ways of getting your baby to sleep at night. In the long run, your baby can become reliant on that pre-bedtime feed or pre-bedtime rock as a way of dropping off to dreamland.
And while this works fine for some families and some babies, other parents discover that their sleep is more interrupted and harder to get when their baby has a nursing-to-sleep association or depends on being rocked to sleep.
As your baby passes the 2-3 month mark, you’ll start to understand their sleep patterns better.
Which is why this is a good time to find other ways to clue your baby in that it’s time to get some rest.
Consider putting together a bedtime routine that soothes your baby through gentle cuddling, snuggling, singing, or quiet reading.
If you keep consistent about performing your chosen routine right before bedtime, your baby will begin to understand that these mean it’s time for them to get some sleep — so you can get some sleep too!
3. Get Baby to Sleep at Night By Helping Them Differentiate Between Day and Night
When your baby is first born, they don’t really know the difference between day and night. (And for good reason! They’ve spent the last 9 months in the womb, after all.)
They need to learn when the best time of day to rest is, and how to know when it’s time to be awake.
(In technical terms: they need help developing a healthy circadian rhythm, which is the internal clock that helps us know when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to be awake in the world).
One of the best tricks to get baby to sleep is to adapt their environment so that the difference between day and night is clear.
Leave the windows open to let light in during the day, and keep these daytime hours as the most energetic and social ones you’ll spend with your baby.
As the night comes, start to dim the lights, do calming activities like putting on light music, and hold off on giving your baby as much social time.
Over time, your baby will start to understand that there are differences between night and day, while feeling more encouraged to be calm and restful during those dark and quiet nighttime hours.
4. Use a Baby Co-Sleeper or Bedside Crib
And that’s for good reason: the AAP recognizes how important close contact (including skin-to-skin contact) is for helping your baby feel safe and secure.
In addition to giving your baby a feeling of nurturing support that lasts all night long (and keeps them happily drifting in dreamland for long, peaceful stretches of hours at a time), a baby co-sleeper can make nighttime nursing easier by helping you give baby what they need —without there being too much disruption to your own sleep.
And if your baby needs calming during the night, you’ll be able to offer them comfort and love without even needing to leave the bed.
Meaning you’ll help baby sleep through the night — without having to disrupt your own rest to do it (which is a definite win-win!).
If you search for “co sleeping” in the dictionary, you’ll probably find a definition that looks like this one (courtesy of Merriam-Webster): co sleeping is “the practice of sleeping in the same bed or close by in the same room with one’s child.”
Seems simple enough to understand, doesn’t it?
But in truth, this definition doesn’t even begin to answer the question What does co sleeping mean?
Because this definition groups three very different sleeping practices—bed sharing, room sharing, and co sleeping—under the same “co sleeping” umbrella.
To get a more accurate answer to the question What does co sleeping mean?, it’s important to understand the differences between these three sleeping practices. (Because yep — they’re all different and all come with differing degrees of safety attached.)
Once you understand the pros and cons associated with each, it will become easier to decide whether enjoying the benefits of co sleeping is the right next step for your family.
Co Sleeping, Bed Sharing, and Room Sharing: How Are They Different?
“Co sleeping” is often used as the catch-all term for describing the experience of sleeping close to your baby.
However, co sleeping with the help of a safe bedside co sleeper is a very different experience than practicing more general room sharing or bed sharing. When people use the term “co sleeping,” they’re likely referring to one of two fairly different sleep practices: room sharing or bed sharing.
Because it can be easy for all this different terminology to get kind of (or very!) confusing, here’s a quick breakdown of the similarities and differences:
“Room sharing” refers to instances when baby is invited to sleep in the same room as their parents—but on a different sleeping surface. When parents choose to sleep in their own bed with their baby catching Z’s in a crib or baby bassinet nearby, they are participating in room sharing.
“Bed sharing” refers to the practice of not only inviting your baby or child into your room, but into your bed as well. When bed sharing, children and parents sleep together on the same mattress and share bedding.
So How Are They Different?
While a bed sharing setup helps parents take advantage of many co sleeping benefits (like feeling more bonded with baby by sleeping so close by), it can be difficult to guarantee safe co sleeping positions when you’re sharing a bed.
That’s because the oh-so-soft mattresses and bedding that parents often prefer are not the safest choice for babies, especially when the baby is still so young that they are not easily able to untangle themselves if they’re accidentally covered by bedding.
Parents who are unsure about whether bed sharing is the right practice for them often turn to bedside co sleepers (also called a bedside crib, along with a few other names) as a perfect solution.
Bedside co sleepers offer a blend of safety and closeness while giving both you and your baby a perfect made-just-for-you place to enjoy the night and sleep tight.
So What’s the Deal with Bedside Co Sleepers and Bedside Cribs?
When you practice co-sleeping with the right bedside crib, you’re able to enjoy all the benefits of bed-sharing, without the safety concerns that sharing a bed with your baby can bring.
This type of safe co-sleeping is sometimes referred to as separate-surface co-sleeping, and involves sleeping on your own mattress with your baby safely cuddled in a bedside baby co sleeper, baby bassinet, or crib pushed against your bedside.
By using safe co sleeping solutions like the babybay bedside co sleeper, you get to enjoy the plush and comfy bedding and mattress you prefer, while your baby enjoys a made-just-for-them crib mattress and sleeping space all their own.
Which means you’ll be able to co sleep soundly, knowing that your baby is feeling supported by a firm mattress that is perfect for their growing body, while being comforted by the feeling of having you no more than an arm’s reach away.
Co Sleeping Benefits: What Positive Experiences Should You Expect?
The connection between baby and mother doesn’t end the moment that baby is delivered. In fact, experts agree that babies and their caregivers remain physiologically connected to each other in complicated but powerful ways following birth.
As anthropologist James J. McKenna found, babies who sleep close to their caregivers wake up more frequently, but those wakings are also less disruptive than when they are catching Z’s further away.
Parents who are sleeping beside their baby are very aware of and receptive towards these moments of wakefulness, which and will often take a moment to offer touch, check for crisis, hug, or otherwise support their baby in quick but loving ways.
These loving touches go a long way in helping baby settle their stress levels and breathe easy, which positively supports their psychological and physical growth.
But beyond these moments of nurturing, co sleeping makes nighttime nursing easier, and helps the whole family get longer, more restful nights of sleep by making it simple to know when baby needs support and offer the proper care. (Which is good news, because if there’s one thing that all parents could use more of—it’s sleep!)
Separate-Surface Co-Sleeping: What’s the Best Sleeper to Use?
There are many different co-sleepers out there that can be used for separate-surface co-sleeping, but not all of them are gold-star status when it comes to ease, safety, and comfort.
The babybay bedside co sleeper is specially engineered to fit snugly against your own bed, meaning you don’t even have to leave your mattress or reach over awkward crib bars to care for your baby during the night.
And because babybay considers your baby’s safety and comfort as Priority #1, you can be confident that baby will feel secure and supported when cuddled into the half-moon shape designed to mimic the warm embrace of a hug.
Meaning that your baby will feel more than happy to settle into dreamland with you by their side, while you catch some much-needed Z’s of your own—knowing that you’ve found the answers to What does co-sleeping mean? and have a sleeping solution that delivers big co sleeping benefits while delivering peace of mind.
For parents wondering when is co sleeping safe?, there are many factors that need to be considered. But the #1 most important one might not be quite what you think…
To know when the right time to start co sleeping with your little one might be, you first need to know the differences between the types of co sleeping that parents might choose to practice as a family.
Because as it turns out, there are many different sleep practices that often get grouped under the “co sleeping” umbrella.
And while some—like enjoying the benefits of a bedside co sleeper—offer an ASTM, TÜV, and Confidence in Textiles certified-safe solution for helping baby catch some rest while sleeping by your side, other common co sleeping practices don’t offer the same safety guarantee.
“Bed sharing,” for example, references the practice of inviting a baby into your own bed to sleep during the night. Though bed sharing is often considered one form of co-sleeping, there are key safety differences between the two.
So let’s break down what those differences (and similarities!) happen to be…
Bed Sharing: What to Know About Safety and The Question When Is Co Sleeping Safe?
The American Academy of Pediatrics knows that keeping your baby close during the first year of their life carries a whole host of benefits (like making nighttime nursing a breeze and helping you easily respond to every crisis call).
That’s why they recommend room sharing with baby for at least the first 6 months of their life, and ideally through the first year.
But in the eyes of the AAP, room sharing is not the same as bed-sharing.
While bed-sharing with 6 month-old or younger babies can carry risks like concerns about comfy bedding, soft objects, or any other pillowy or quilted materials causing harm, room sharing does not create these same concerns.
When you room share, you offer baby the firm, made-just-for-them sleep space they need to feel comfortable, cozy, and safe all night long.
You get to enjoy the adult mattress and oh-so-plush bedding you’ve come to love, while giving baby a sleeping space all their own that is perfectly designed to support them and keep them safe.
Which is the kind of win-win that bed sharing does not always guarantee.
When Can You Start Room Sharing?
Because you’re sharing a space rather than sharing a bed, you can room share with baby from the first moment they come home from the hospital.
On the other hand, bed-sharing with 6 month-old or younger babies is not as easily recommended.
That’s because your baby has yet to learn the escape artist skills they need to untangle themselves from any soft fabrics that come their way. (Those escape artist skills will come one day! But not for a while down the road.)
That’s why many parents of young babies choose to confidently practice a form of co-sleeping that give baby a sleeping space that’s made just for them.
With a bedside co sleeper securely attached to your bed, this is the kind of confidence you get from the first day you bring your little one home from the hospital.
How to Co-Sleep Safely: Down to the Details
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be hard to co-sleep safely.
There are certain gold-star co sleeping practices that help you get stress-free nights of sound rest while supporting your baby’s body and mind.
Bedside sleepers deliver all the benefits of co sleeping like more bonding time with baby, easier nighttime nursing, and boosted support for baby’s healthy physical and mental growth. While also gifting you with peace of mind (which is one of the best gifts of all, can’t we agree?).
Bedside sleepers like the babybay attach snugly to the side of your own mattress, allowing you to sleep comfortably on the soft bedding you love while giving your baby a made-just-for-them sleeping space that properly supports their needs.
That means they can enjoy the firm mattress that’s safest for them—without you having to sacrifice any of your own sleep comfort.
The best part? Bedside co sleepers allow you to always be within arm’s reach of your baby all through the night. That means you’ll be able to soak up all the close-by-baby benefits of co sleeping, without a single moment of stress or worry.
When Is Co-Sleeping Safe with a Bedside Co-Sleeper?
The babybay bedside co sleeper has been lovingly designed to support your baby through nights of safe co sleeping as soon as they come home from the hospital.
That means that the babybay will be there to support all of your co-sleeping needs from the moment that your baby is born!
And when you feel it’s the best age to transition from co sleeping, you can be sure that your baby will be ready to get full nights of rest all on your own, with full confidence that you’re there to support them during every step of the way.
That’s why parents that wonder when is co sleeping safe? should keep this in mind: how you co-sleep matters when you’re trying to decide the right time to start.