Study Suggests Mothers And Their Babies Should Sleep In Same Bed For The First Three Years

Date September 17, 2019

Some parents share their beds with their babies. Some, especially fathers, are not really happy with being given a tiny space on the edge of the beds. When a couple welcomed a baby, he or she usually becomes the boss. New parents have no choice but to adjust their life according to the needs of a new member of the family.

Debates over co-sleeping go on and on. Doctors usually don't recommend sleeping with babies; however, one study revealed some advantages of sharing the bed with newborns.

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Co-sleeping can be beneficial for babies

Dr. Nils Bergman of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, has been observing 16 babies who were either sleeping on their mother’s chest or alone in their cribs.

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Apparently, the hearts of those being separated from their mothers through the night showed more signs of stress, and they had trouble sleeping and showed signs of having difficulties in going through the phases of sleep.

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Only 6 out of the 16 babies had slept somewhat quietly, although their sleep quality left much to be desired.

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The stress hormone affects the development of the brain and triggers anxiety during the infant years, which may lead to behavioral problems in the future.

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Based on the results of the experiment, the researcher suggests that babies should sleep next to their parents until the age of three. For the first 8 weeks of the baby’s life, the most beneficial option is to let them sleep on the mommy’s chest, as it stimulates brain development.

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There is the other side of the coin: co-sleeping increases the risk of infant death. Two-thirds of the fatal cases have been linked to babies being smothered while sharing the bed with moms.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies to share their parents' bedroom for at least the first six months or what is better, for the first year of life. However, they are against co-sleeping. The American Academy of Pediatrics says parents should place the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib with a tight-fitting sheet.

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Dr. Bergman rebuts this opinion, claiming that co-sleeping is not the reason for tragedies. Usually, an inappropriate environment puts babies at high risk: numerous soft toys, toxic fabrics, smoking in bed, big pillows.

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According to this study, co-sleeping is good for babies' hearts. Sharing the same bed does not only reduce stress for mother and baby, but it also allows them to build a strong connection and provide the newborn with a feeling of safety. At the same time, the risks are real. It is better to consult with your doctor before adopting co-sleeping method. Parents should be aware that there are potential hazards.

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