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Co-sleeping: why babies benefit from sleeping in their parents’ bed
Authoritative studies demonstrate that mother-baby co-sleeping is beneficial for newborns. Provided that the parents agree with it.
For our ancestors it was routine and in many parts of the world it is still a widespread habit: sleeping in the same bed of your kids or co-sleeping, or better, practicing bed-sharing, to say it in a more modern way.
If in the past, when only few people could afford a house with different rooms, sharing the bed with the offspring was obligatory; in more recent years this practice is not highly regarded, mostly in Western societies. Due to parental concerns of raising spoiled mummy’s children and worries for keeping parental privacy, co-sleeping has long been a not-to-be-proud-of emergency solution for those dead tired parents who are woken up by their babies during the night.
Co-sleeping is coming back into fashion
Co-sleeping, however, is increasingly becoming popular again among those conscious mothers who consider greater contact with their babies as a solution to provide them psychophysical benefits. According to a series of studies conducted by anthropologist James J. McKenna, director of the Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame, on primates and human beings, mother-infant co-sleeping helps the babies to regulate a number of important body functions including cardiac and respiratory frequency, body temperature, digestion and growth rate.
The benefits of co-sleeping
Sharing the bed, in addition, can be protective when connected to breastfeeding and contributes to lower cortisol levels, the primary stress hormone. Many recent studies demonstrate that co-sleeping promotes the so-called parent-baby bonding. Sleeping together, hence, is not only an acceptable choice but a desirable one.
Those parents who want to share their bed with their child must follow a few fundamental rules: abstaining from smoke, drugs and alcohol, keeping their weight under control (co-sleeping is highly unrecommended in case of obesity or overweight), following the rules for the prevention of SIDS, the so-called cot death: cool temperature in the room, no bulky blankets near the baby, breastfeeding, dummy. Finally, those parents that are looking for a compromise can opt for a bed to be put on the side of the queen-size bed. In any case, remember that a universal recipe for children, parents and personal choices doesn’t exist.
To learn more about this practice you can consult the Safe Cosleeping Guidelines.
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