A type of nurturing touch commonly associated with attachment parenting is that of co-sleeping. Co-sleeping, or bed sharing, is the practice of parents sleeping with their infants and/or children. This can occur on a regular, nightly basis (referred to as habitual co-sleeping) or only occasionally, such as when the child is ill and needs extra tender loving care (referred to as reactive co-sleeping). There are also distinctions made between all-night and part-night co-sleeping.
There are a number of benefits associated with parents and infants who co-sleep:
- Co-sleeping babies have more stable body temperatures; more regular heart rhythms, and fewer episodes of apnea (pauses in breathing) (Field, 1995; Reite & Capitanio, 1985). This is referred to as nighttime sleep harmony—when a baby co-sleeps with a parent, her body’s systems tend to synchronize with those of her parent (McKenna & McDade, 2005).
- Co-sleeping may be a protective factor against SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) because a mother is more aware if her baby’s well-being is in danger (among others, McKenna & McDade, 2005).
Some studies suggest that co-sleeping produces children with better long-term emotional health—children are less anxious, have higher self-esteem, are better able to self-soothe and later go to sleep on their own, have fewer behavioral problems, and are better able to establish and maintain loving and intimate relationships (Crawford, 1994; Keller & Goldberg, 2004; Sears, 2005).
Do you advocate co-sleeping?
Photo Credit: johansonin (flickr.com)