Is co-sleeping bad for kids?

September 02, 2011 12:00 AM by

In many parts of the world, co-sleeping is common practice. However, deciding if your baby should sleep in her own crib or in your bed is polarizing in the U.S., where co-sleepers are the minority. But, is co-sleeping actually safe and healthy for both infants and parents?

Health care professional disagree on how co-sleeping affects young children. The most common criticism leveled at the practice is that it increases the risk of suffocation or strangulation from parents who are particularly heavy sleepers, obese or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

However, other studies report a number of benefits, such as the fact that mothers are able to get more sleep by co-sleeping and breastfeeding rather than other arrangements that require, for instance, warming up a bottle and visiting the child's room.

Some will argue that co-sleeping has been practiced throughout human history to allow mothers to better inspect their infants, and even suggest that it may play a part in the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome.

However, it's important to note that the prevalence of SIDS tends to rise if the baby shares a bed with a parent who smokes. A study from the Surgeon General states that secondhand smoke shares a connection with SIDS.

Of course, bringing your baby into your bed can affect the sexual dynamics between you and your partner. Some couples enjoy the feeling of togetherness they get from spending the night with their little one, while others prefer to reserve their privacy and create boundaries early on in their baby's life. 

What do you think? Is co-sleeping a bad idea?

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