Where your baby sleeps best is a hot topic in the wide, judgemental, world of parenting; whether that’s in her own room, beside you in a bassinet, or co-sleeping with you in bed. Between the advice dished out by parenting gurus, the pearls of wisdom passed down by mums before you, not to mention your own mothers’ group’s chats on the subject, it’s hard to know what’s right for your baby.
Regardless of everyone’s opinions, the best sleep arrangement for your baby is ultimately the one that you’re both comfortable with. Here’s the pros and cons of each to help YOU decide what suits you both.
Co-sleeping is where your baby sleeps with you in your bed. In many cultures babies and grown-ups have always slept together and it’s considered the norm. 50 years ago, every parenting book advised against it, but today, many parents in western cultures such as New Zealand are now choosing to bring their babies into their beds to sleep with them.
Why co-sleeping is great
- Mums who love co-sleeping believe it helps their baby to feel safe and secure. They like the close bodily contact and feel it’s incredibly bonding.
- Ease! Having your baby next to you when he squawks for a 3.45am feed, is much less easier than having to get up out of bed, walk into the nursery, pick your baby up out of his cot, sit on a chair, breastfeed and then settle him.
- There’s a school of thought that babies who sleep in the same bed as their parents tend to breastfeed more, but disrupt their mother’s sleep less.
- Some studies have claimed that babies who sleep in the same bed are believed to sleep for longer periods of time during the night.
Why co-sleeping is not
- A wriggly, screaming, unsettled baby is like sleeping on the edge of a cliff and while sleep deprivation goes hand in hand with a newborn, some parents find they can’t sleep a single wink with their baby in bed with them.
- Some argue that co sleeping is coddling and doesn’t allow your bub to teach himself to self settle.
- If your baby is used to falling asleep next to you, he may not settle for other caregivers.
- When the time comes, your baby/toddler or even child may have trouble making the transition from your bed to his room.
- Intimacy – you can pretty much wave goodbye to it if you have a snoozing or screaming bub in your bed.
- Unsafe – Co-sleeping has been linked to infant sudden death syndrome (SIDS) or Sudden Unexpected Death of an Infant (SUDI). A study published in 2013 concluded “88% of the deaths that occurred while bed sharing would probably not have occurred had the baby been placed on its back in a cot by the parents’ bed.” The dangers of co-sleeping include your baby suffocating by either a parent or bedding blocking their airways, your baby overheating, your baby getting caught between the mattress and the bed, falling off the bed and more.
While having your little bundle of pride and joy right next to you in bed may be heavenly, some parents are understandably jittery about the dangers of having their baby in bed with them. The Pepi Pod is a safe alternative.
Why the co-sleping compromise is great
- Your baby has her own sleeping space, making it safer and reducing the risks of suffocation by a parent, pillows or bedding accidently blocking her airways.
- Convenience. Midnight feeding is so simple when all you have to do is roll over!
Why the co-sleeping compromise is not
- Despite wanting to be close, you might find your unsettled newborn is a little too close for you and your partner to get any decent amount of shut eye.
Separate beds, same room
Sleeping together in the same bed is not everyone’s cup of tea, but many parents still prefer to have their baby in their bedroom with them of a night – only just not in their bed. In fact the recommendation by Plunket is that parents sleep with their baby in a separate bed next to theirs for the first 6-12 months. But is a cot or bassinet best? Here are the pros and cons of each.
Pros of separate beds, same room
- Your baby can sleep in the same room as you and is close by when she wakes for a feed.
- Your baby is safer in her own bed but is still nearby for you to monitor her closely.
Why bedroom bassinets are great
- Size. A bassinet really doesn’t take up much space in your bedroom.
- Most bassinets have wheels, which is great for times when your baby is snoozing in the living area during the day and your bedroom at night.
- Some bassinets double as rockers to help settle an upset baby.
- It may just be a mother’s perspective, but bassinets seem that little bit cosier for newborns than giant cots.
Why bedroom bassinets are not
- With growth spurts of beanstalk proportions, you can expect your baby to outgrow her bassinet within 6 months.
- Your bedroom doubles as a nursery and is no longer the parent’s room.
Why bedroom cots are great
- Most cots have two height settings which means when your bub is tiny, you can set the base up high to save your back, and then simply drop it down as your baby gets more mobile.
- Value for money. Many cots convert into beds when your child has outgrown them.
Why bedroom cots are not
- Same as bedroom bassinet cons except there’s one more: cots are bulky, unless you go for a lightweight portable version, and take up a fair bit of space in your bedroom.
When you’ve spent months painting and decorating your baby’s nursery, it’s lovely to actually have them sleep in it! Many parents choose to have their baby sleep in the nursery or to share a room with a sibling. This might be by choice or necessity if you simply can’t squeeze another bed into your bedroom’s tiny four walls, or you find your baby’s frequent noises are keeping you awake at night.
Why a separate room is great
- Sleep, glorious sleep! You may find that you sleep better without your baby in the same room making constant gurgles and noises. You’ll still need to get up for feeds but once your baby is settled you can curl back into bed for your own zzz…
- By having separate sleeping spaces mummy and daddy’s room remains so.
- There’s a school of thought that babies who sleep on their own learn to self settle faster than others.
- If your bub is sharing a room with a sibling you might find that the older child is happier seeing the sleeping arrangements as ‘equal’.
- No need to transition your toddler to sleeping on his own when the time comes.
- By having to leave the room to attend to your bub, the other parent’s sleep is less disturbed.
Why a separate room is not
- The sheer effort of having to physically get up out of bed and feed during the night.
- You might find it more difficult to settle your baby back to sleep after feeding (depending on your baby).
- Missing the closeness of your baby being nearby.
- Worrying about your baby’s well-being and needing to frequently get up to see if they are O.K.
Cot, bassinette, side-sleeper, co-sleeping, separate rooms; whatever sleep scenario you decide on for your baby the most important thing is safety. Make sure you read up about SUDI and what you can do to prevent it.