What is co-sleeping? Colecho means “bed sharing” and refers to when the baby sleeps in the same bed as the parents.
Children from birth need to have their parents close at all times. They have a special sensitivity that tells them when their parents are near or far, in that case they will cry to call them. Since ancient times, during the first months of life, children and mothers have always remained together . And this becomes even more important when it comes to sleep because it is known to have many benefits for both parents and children.
PRACTICE CO-SLEEPING? YES OR NO?
Although co-sleeping goes back a long way, the truth is that it is currently practiced in many industrialized countries such as Japan or Sweden. This practice is being taken up again due to the comfort it brings to families.
Deciding to co-sleep is a decision that has to be made together . The opinion of both parents, the traits of each baby and the circumstances surrounding the members must be taken into account. What is clear is that it cannot be a condition imposed on one of the parents . The two have to agree and at ease. It can also happen that the parents did not agree at first but had no other choice for the demands of the baby.
There are children who cry when they are left alone in the crib (even if they are in the same room as their parents) and they do not calm down until they are picked up by them. It is normal, we are talking about a survival mechanism with which they can respond to a possible threat. It is a totally normal reaction in the child and indicates that nothing is wrong with him, that he is only afraid. In these cases, a baby sling during the day and co-sleeping at night is a good strategy to reduce the child’s anxiety.
In the end, co-sleeping is a personal decision and each couple must assess their advantages and disadvantages. But what cannot be denied are the beneficial effects sleeping in the same bed has on the baby. There are many scientific studies to prove it. One of the most important was that of MA Hofer, a doctor who by chance discovered that if he removed a “mother rat” from her “little mice” during the night, the heart rate of the little mice became twice normal. He thought it was because when the mother was not with them, heat was lost. To test that hypothesis, he put a small heater next to it to keep the hairless mice warm. But the results did not change. Furthermore, there were more than fifteen physiological functions that had been deregulated due to the absence of the mother. In human babies, although we do not believe it, something very similar happens.Babies need their parents, especially during the first months of life , and co-sleeping stimulates the development of the baby’s immune system, heart and brain.
Other proven benefits are that the chances of sudden death of the baby are reduced and sleep improves because the mother’s and the baby’s breathing are synchronized. Also, in the event that the child wakes up hungry in the middle of the night, the mother can easily breastfeed the baby while continuing to sleep. The baby will not only stay asleep longer but will not have as many nocturnal awakenings during the night. The same goes for the mother. The child will seek the mother’s breast and she can continue to breastfeed without getting out of bed. The more you feed the mother to the baby, the longer the production of breast milk will be extended.
On the other hand, there are parents who fear this practice because they mistakenly believe that we are spoiling the children, so that later they will not want to sleep alone in their bed anymore. After certain years, very few children will want to continue sleeping with their parents because the natural tendency is to become more and more independent, which occurs earlier in children who have been raised in a safe environment. Those who have grown up in an unsafe environment are the exact opposite and become more dependent on their parents. Co-sleeping will consolidate the existing bond between parents and children.
Another belief is to think that the child can die from suffocation. In fact, official organizations such as UNICEF, AEP (Spanish Association of Pediatrics) and the WHO advise both cohabitation (sleeping in the same room) and co-sleeping. Of course, complying with previous rules to improve the safety of the baby.
REDUCING THE RISKS
Here are the most important risks for those parents determined to practice co-sleeping, and how to reduce them:
1. Control the atmosphere of the room . It has to be a hygienic room, and you cannot put an excessive amount of air fresheners, mosquito sprays, perfumes that can irritate the skin, etc.
2. The mattress has to be rigid so that there is no chance that the baby can get trapped in the bed. We should not practice it on air beds, water beds, or sofas, etc.
3. Do not sleep with the baby on an armchair or sofa . The baby could get caught between the cushions or arms.
4. The baby should not sleep on his stomach and should not be covered excessively . Children when they are young do not regulate their body temperature by themselves. During the day the parents take care of covering them well, but at night the temperature of their bodies is regulated by the heat given off by the parents’ body.
5. For their part, parents must :
– They have to be drug free. Not even alcohol or any other substance that makes a danger sign go unnoticed. This should be true for any child, and not just for those who co-sleep.
– They cannot be smokers and much less smoke in the room.
– Parents cannot be morbidly obese . It is not about being thin either, it will only be dangerous that weight that disables the parent to turn over in bed or move.
– Parents are too tired . So tired that it makes them sleep soundly and less receptive to potential dangers.
– Parents should stand on both sides of the baby. If it is only one parent who sleeps with the baby, the legs must be flexed for protection, the uncovered arm must be slightly extended towards the baby to prevent him from moving between the sheets or pillows.