what is co sleeping? Co-sleeping is often used as a catch-all term to describe
the experience of sleeping with your baby close by.
Co-sleeping may look a little different for every family.
Parents may lay their child in a safe bedside sleeper that attaches to the side
of their own bed, or they might share a bedroom with their child but encourage
baby to sleep in a separate crib. They might even sleep with their baby nestled
up against them all through the night.
Though there are many ways to co sleep, some are far safer
than others. (Bedside
sleepers, we’re looking at you and giving you a gold star!)
But all forms of co-sleeping have one thing in common:
they’ve been the safe sleeping practice preferred by families throughout
Though parents in many modern Western countries have
popularized separate bedrooms and detached cribs, for thousands of years going
to sleep curled up near your newborn has been the norm.
In fact, parents from many different cultures have long
understood that co-sleeping promotes healthy emotional and physical development
while bonding you and your baby, easing the stress of nighttime nursing, and
gifting everyone in the house a more restful night of rest.
(A full night of rest—now that’s something at the top of
every new parent’s wish list!)
But as soon as mattresses and cribs became the new in-trend
home fashion statement of the 19th century, parents in the Western world
increasingly kicked children out of their own beds and moved them into
mattresses and rooms of their own.
In America, Canada, and Europe, some parents continue to
boot children out of their own bedroom and encourage them to sleep through the
However, anthropologist John
Whiting surveyed 186 cultures and found that solitary sleeping might
be a Western trend, but it’s far from a universal norm. He discovered that
almost 70% of children living and growing around the world sleep in the company
That proves that co-sleeping isn’t just a trend—it’s the
most popular and longest-loved sleeping practice in history.
What are Common benefits of co sleeping?
To grow healthily in body and mind, your baby needs to be
able to receive—and respond to—a ton of sensory feedback. When babies are alone in their room at night, they lose the opportunity to grow their sensory
awareness during their sleeping hours.
But when babies are able to sleep close to others, they
learn to bond and build meaningful connections while learning, growing, and
developing an ability to separate and identify different sensory input.
This helps them breathe more regularly, while experiencing
less stress overall by learning what it feels like to be safe, secure, and
(And that’s good news—because when babies are less stressed,
they put more energy into healthy growth and reap the rewards of a healthier
But your baby isn’t the only one who benefits of co sleeping. Parents can
care for their own bodies and minds by making nighttime nursing easier and
getting a few much-needed extra hours of shut-eye.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CO-SLEEPING AND BEDSHARING?
Many parents who start to explore co-sleeping will
find another term pop up in their suggested searches: bed sharing.
Bed-sharing is just as it sounds—it’s the practice of
inviting your newborn not just into your bedroom, but onto your mattress as
Though bed sharing may boast some of the same benefits as
other forms of co-sleeping—including increased bonding between parents and
child and a less stressful night’s sleep for all—it can also be far less safe.
The feather-topped, super-soft, oh-so-pillowy mattresses
that most of the Western world prefers can’t properly support your baby
throughout the night. Your baby needs firmness and stability under their body
while they sleep to ensure their body’s healthy growth.
Though baby will love having you nearby as they rest, they
won’t love your sleeping surface.
Nor will they love all the extra blankets, pillows, and
other comfort materials that adults love to cocoon in.
As comfy as it might be for adults to tuck into a long night
surrounded by a cloud of goose down, those comfort items can easily get wrapped
around your baby throughout the night and lead to unsafe situations.
That’s why parents should choose safe sleep for babies when
setting up their environment.
By choosing a bedside sleeper that fits flush against their
bed, parents can control the specifics of their baby’s environment.
(The first step? Pick a bedside co sleeper that’s
right for baby and right for your room!)
Baby can sleep securely nestled within an arm’s reach of
their parents but feel comforted and protected on a mattress that is firm
enough to support them and ensure safe sleeping. They can receive, learn,
and grow from all the sensory input they receive throughout the night—while
their parents sleep soundly knowing that they are safe in a bedside
sleeper built just for them.