A lot of things about being a first time parent made me nervous. In particular, Leo would howl in protest whenever we put him in his bassinet, and he would not let up. The notion that he would spend an entire night in there was laughable. It wasn’t going to happen. Sorry.
We’re co sleepers. Leo sleeps with us, in the same bed. Yeah, I was nervous about it, but we got used to it. In this “controversial” practice, we are joined (if my limited research is any indication) by a little more than half of all parents around the world. I have to wonder why something practiced by half the human population is controversial, but apparently it is.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is opposed to co sleeping. At first, I wanted to know why this particular agency was weighing in. After all, my baby is not a consumer product. Then I realized the bed is, and that’s where the commission has standing. Fair enough. The American Academy of Pediatrics concurs with the CPSC, concerned, apparently, with the possibility of people rolling over and accidentally suffocating their kids, among other risks.
But it seems a growing number of experts are touting co sleeping as normal and beneficial, and the identified risks, they say, are either overstated or easily addressed.
Noted expert Dr. William Sears outlines seven benefits of co sleeping. According to his research, with co sleeping:
Babies sleep better
Mothers sleep better
Breastfeeding is easier
It’s “contemporary parenting”
Babies thrive better
Parents and babies become more connected
The risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is reduced.
I’m not en expert on either side of this (especially that last item: a year ago the experts were warning us that co sleeping increases the risk of SIDS). All I know is that the best professionals on parenting have been giving conflicting advice on all sorts of issues for generations. Maybe, like me, you were told “thou shalt not share thy bed with thy baby.” And maybe that was good advice.
And maybe it wasn’t.
So here's a good resource: The March of Dimes has an information page that points out the risks and how to address them.