There have been a lot of posts lately about bed-sharing vs. co-sleeping and how each work. Many people will use the two terms interchangeably, but the fact is, they are two different things.
I want to start this post by saying that this is not meant to “bash” anyone. I am writing this post strictly to inform and to help you make the best possible decision for your family.
What is bed-sharing?
We will start with bed-sharing. Bed-sharing is when the infant or child is in the same bed as the parents with no protective barrier around them.
Risks to bed-sharing
There are many risks to bed-sharing.
- Increased risk for SIDS. Babies who share beds are more likely to die accidentally. Most of the deaths related to bed-sharing happen when an adult has been taking drugs or alcohol because the adult tends to sleep deeper and the risk of them rolling over on the infant is greater. Another reason for the increased risk is because babies are meant to sleep on a firm surface, and most adult beds are soft. If a baby rolls over on an adult bed she is more likely to have her nose buried in the mattress.
Benefits to bed-sharing
There are a few potential benefits to bed-sharing.
- Easier time breastfeeding. Because you are in the same bed with your baby during the night, some mothers report they have an easier time with breastfeeding and they do not feel as tired because they are able to breastfeed their baby while still in bed.
- You feel like your baby is safer because she is close to you. Many parents report that their baby is safer because she is close and you can hear her.
What is co-sleeping?
Co-sleeping is where your baby sleeps in the same room with you. Co-sleeping can be with your baby in her crib across the room, a co-sleeper that is right next to your bed, or a co-sleeper that goes in the middle of the bed. With co-sleeping there is a barrier between you and your baby.
Risks to co-sleeping
There are no known risks to co-sleeping as the baby is safe in her own little space while the parents sleep close by in their own bed.
Benefits to co-sleeping
The benefits to co-sleeping are the same as the benefits of bed-sharing, with a few added benefits.
- Easier to breastfeed. With co-sleeping your baby is still close so you can easily breastfeed. Using a co-sleeper makes this easier because you can pull the baby to the edge of the co-sleeper and breastfeed.
- Decreased risk of SIDS. Because you are sleeping close to your baby you can hear her and hear any noises so makes so you are more aware. There is also virtually no risk of you or your partner rolling over on her, meaning she won’t be smothered. Also, co-sleepers are made with firm mattresses and breathable sides, so even if she rolls on her own or gets up against the side she will be safe.
- Improved sleep for mother and baby. Mom sleeps better because she knows her baby is safe next to her. She also knows that she will not roll over on her baby, so she will feel comfortable falling into a deeper sleep. Baby will sleep better because she is close to mom and can smell mom which will comfort her, also helping with moms sleep.
As a nurse I can only suggest co-sleeping. The American Academy of Pediatrics and The March of Dimes suggests co-sleeping over bed-sharing.
As I mentioned before, many people think co-sleeping and bed-sharing are the same thing. They are similar, but bed-sharing is a form of co-sleeping.
Did you bed-share or co-sleep?