Your precious one is all tiny and fragile soon after they are born. Their little fingers surprisingly have a strong grip and everything in the world feels at peace when you watch them sleep. If they sleep that is!
Infants can have erratic sleeping patterns and can take a good six months to a year before they develop a pattern that works in your favour. Even then, waking up time and again to feed the baby or change their diaper is absolutely common.
It’s only natural then, especially in the Eastern part of the world, where mums prefer sleeping with their child on the same bed. While the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends against co-sleeping with your child, there have been other bed-sharing with baby benefits that do make it a common trait among mothers in Singapore and other parts of Asia.
Several mothers also believe that it helps create a stronger bond between the mum and the child.
Bed Sharing With Baby Does Not Lead To A Stronger Bond
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However, that may not be the case, as per a new study.
A study published online in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics analysed data from 178 babies and their respective parents. This included questions and in-person visits conducted at birth, followed by ages of three, six, and 18 months.
The researchers concluded that while many families shared the same bed during the early months of the child, there wasn’t a higher level of bonding reported between the mother and the child.
Dr Ayten Bilgin, the study’s co-author and lecturer in developmental psychology at the University of Kent, in England, said, “A lot of people think that bed-sharing is necessary to promote secure attachment with infants. However, there is little research in this area and quite mixed evidence.”
So, if you were worried that keeping your baby isolated in a separate room was detrimental to your bond, don’t worry, your relationship is just fine. You do not need to feel guilty about it.
Risks Of Bed Sharing With Baby
The AAP states that about 3,500 infants lose their lives every year in the US from sleep-related infant deaths. This is sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and is the leading cause of infant deaths between the age of one and 12 months.
Not just the bed, but infant sleeping with the parent on a sofa increases the risk of SIDS. This happens because the mother or caretaker accidentally suffocated the baby while sleeping or by rolling over the child.
How To Prevent Bed Sharing Related Deaths In Infants
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Make sure to follow these precautionary measures to ensure you do not risk your little one’s life when sharing a bed:
Put the baby on their back for every sleep
Make sure there are no stuff toys, bedding, blankets, pillows that can lead to suffocation
You can move their crib or bed close to yours to keep a check and better access
AAP also suggest that it’s less hazardous for the baby to co-sleep on an adult bed as compared to an armchair or a sofa.
Bed Sharing With Baby Benefits
Bed-sharing also has its benefits that further help the mother get some peaceful sleep for herself.
One of the main reasons mums choose to bed-share with their little ones is to promote longer breastfeeding. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine also supports bed-sharing for prolonged breastfeeding, while a study published in JAMA Pediatrics further solidified the benefits.
Security for the baby
Paediatrician Dr William Sears once explained that the baby is likely to feel more secure with the warmth of his mother than in a dark lonely room surrounded by bars (crib).
Instead, whenever the baby is hungry and cries, the mother is able to feed the little by lying on her side creating a protective cove for the child that also keeps her from rolling over the baby.
No negative long-term effects
A 2011 study published in the journal Pediatrics concluded that bed-sharing with children between the age of one and three years did not pose any long-term negative effect for the child’s behaviour and cognition at the age of five years.
Better parenting by fathers
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A study also found that fathers who slept close to their babies witnessed a drop in their testosterone levels. This led to the dads being more sensitive and responsive towards parents. It is likely then that bed-sharing may lead to better dads.
Whether in a crib or on the same bed, how and where a baby sleeps solely depends on the mother and the family. What most researchers agree upon is that families know what works best in their household and there is no golden rule when it comes to sleeping habits for babies.
As long as the baby and the mother are getting a good night’s sleep, balanced meals and a happy household, there’s little to worry about this. At the same time, make sure to take the necessary precautions to avoid any mishaps when bed-sharing.