Prairie Baby

~growing moms and dads, one baby at a time~

The Benefits of Infant/Parent Co-Sleeping August 7, 2012

Filed under: Attachment Parenting — drkellywelch @ 2:19 am
Tags: , , , ,

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 (


3 Responses to “The Benefits of Infant/Parent Co-Sleeping”

  1. Melissa Linenberger Says:

    Absolutely! All three of my sons have co-slept with my husband and I. The youngest more than the other two. Right now, at 2 1/2 he is a part-time co-sleeper, often falling to sleep with me and then being moved later when daddy comes to bed. I cherish my evenings with him going through our bedtime rituals.

  2. Morgan J. Young Says:

    THANK YOU! This made me feel like much less of a mom failure! My husband and I read Babywise and were committed to making sure we were raising an independent, happy sleeper. It worked well, until our little one got a cold at 4 months old. After a few sleepless nights, my husband and I (in an attempt to save our marriage AND be productive at work) caved; Baby loved snuggling up with us and although hard to admit, we love his cuddles too. And he will sleep through the night! I refuse to mention this to the doctor when he asks, and I hate admitting it to friends and family that our family shares a bed. I still fear that I will have a seven-year-old in our bed down the road. Please share advise on when/how to get them out of our bed.

    • drkellywelch Says:

      I have a new book coming out soon, “The BabyKeeper”–you’ll love it! It describes the research behind an infant/toddler’s development, and it shows how children actually become BETTER self-soothers and self-sleepers if they have bed or room shared as infants, so you probably won’t have a 7-year-old in your bed. (Although he may every now and then bring his sleeping bag into your room and sleep at the foot of your bed if he’s had a bad dream). There’s a lot of brain science that shows how, while bed or room sharing, the baby’s brain takes on certain characteristics that help them to soothe themselves.

      And don’t worry about pediatricians….many today support bed and/or room sharing because of the reduction in the rates of SIDS.

      I’m just so thrilled that you and your husband listened to your innate, instinctive parenting instincts and are doing what YOUR baby needs! Don’t be afraid to admit that you love your baby’s snuggles and cuddles….that’s what nature intended!

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