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New Grad Primer for Maternal Child Care – What is Co-Sleeping

What is Co-Sleeping

Sharing the bed with an infant through the night may be a “good thing.”

  • The infant learns to self-regulate, preventing the infant from entering a sleep state that is too deep. In addition the parents’ own breathing may help the infant to “remember” to breathe.
  • Because of the proximity of mother, babies do not have to fully wake and cry to get a response. Mothers have a positive nighttime experience because they tend to sleep better.
  • Co-sleeping encourages breastfeeding. Mothers who co-sleep breastfeed an average of twice as long as non-co-sleeping mothers.
  • Co-sleeping mothers exhibit five times the number of “protective” behaviors (cuddling, stroking, blanket adjustment) than solitary-sleeping mothers.


Long-term benefits of co-sleeping are apparent:

  • Boys who co-slept with their parents between birth and five years have significantly higher self-esteem and experience less guilt and anxiety.
  • Women who co-slept during childhood were associated with less discomfort about physical contact and affection as adults.
  • Co-sleeping appears to promote confidence, self-esteem and intimacy, possibly reflecting an attitude of parental acceptance.
  • A recent study in England showed that among the children who “never” slept in their parent’s bed, there was a trend to be harder to control, less happy, exhibit a greater number of tantrums. These children were actually more fearful than children who always slept in their parents’ bed, all night.
  • Co-sleepers exhibited a general feeling of satisfaction with life.

Parents Suspect:

  • Co-sleeping promotes sensitivity. Many parents who co-sleep feel that they become more attuned to their baby and child.  They feel that their sensitivity to the need and patterns of their baby translate into daytime sensitivity as well.


It reduces bedtime struggles:

  • Children who co-sleep have no reason to be afraid of bedtime. As they grow older and move into their own rooms, they have positive, secure images of sleep time.  They have no reason to equate bedtime with being alone.


Co-sleeping is just as safe as or safer than a crib:

  • There are many children whose lives have been saved by sleeping next to their parents. There is anecdotal evidence, for instance, of mothers who have noticed their child not breathing and were able to stimulate them to breathe.

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