All parents have different opinions about allowing their children to sleep in their beds with them. Some will be surprised to find out that it is not only in certain cultures that parents and children sleep together at night in the same bedroom or even in the same bed, but it happens everywhere. Some families keep it a secret for fear other parents will frown on their habits, but it is truly a common practice. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation reports that about 24% of parents let their children sleep with them for at least some part of the night.
Even child experts, family doctors and counselors have differing opinions on co-sleeping, a term used to describe the practice of allowing a baby or child to sleep with one or both parents in bed. Other terms, such as bed-sharing or sleep-sharing have also been used. Scientists, pediatricians, family life experts and many authors have conflicting opinions on this custom based on conflicting results of their own research. In the end, some experts believe that it is really up to the family's decision to do what works for them, and no book, research or expert opinion can say definitely which one is best for every family.
Another point of contention about co-sleeping is the age of the baby or child at which parents can allow them to share their bed. Again, with this matter, opinions differ, with some experts warning parents about the danger of suffocating their babies in bed while asleep. It has been reported that the rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is higher for infants who sleep in an adult bed than in a crib. It is also estimated that about 100 infant deaths occur each year in the US due to parents accidentally laying over and suffocating their babies while sleeping. Other experts however, believe that SIDS from cosleeping is really rare and may be prevented. Just up to what age a child may be allowed to continue sharing the bed of their parents is another matter people argue about, although most experts who advocate cosleeping believe that children up to age five years can benefit most from this practice.
Benefits of Cosleeping
Parents and child experts who believe in cosleeping cite these benefits:
It is easier for moms to nurse their babies at night. They get to sleep better since they do not have to get up from their beds.
Some experts like Michael Commons, a Harvard psychiatrist, believe that the risk of SIDS is lower when a responsible adult sleeps with a baby than...