Human beings across time, and across the rest of the globe have been co-sleeping. In fact the word co-sleeping shouldn't exist. It was invented to denote something that is supposed to be uncommon and that is the case only in the US. Our pediatrician recently congratulated us when we told him that we put the crib by our bed side and opened up one side of the crib so that mom and baby are side by side.
He has been pushing us though in a subtle way to move the baby to another room! When our baby was born prematurely, we did actually heed everybody's advice and had her sleep in the crib but she was miserable for the first couple of months!! The moment we put her in the bed with us, she showed dramatic improvement in the quality of her sleep edit: I did tons of research about how to make cosleeping safe before we did that, just as you would do before putting the baby in a crib - however, most doctors already provide this information about making cribs safe, the same cannot be said for cosleeping because of the official stance against it, so it tends to be discussed much less.
Sleep is extremely important for brain development. I have to say America got it wrong this time. Human infants need way more care for a much longer period than infants in other species. This is because as we went to walking on two legs bipedalism , our pelvic sizes decreased which necessitated our infants be born with smaller heads and therefore smaller brains, and less mature in overall development than the infants of other species.
On a side note, this is why some people think human female ovulation is discreet whereas it is overt in other species - the human female benefits by not giving signals to the male about her fertility as that keeps him around for longer and that is absolutely critical given that human infants need that kind of care!
So all the science, and more so common sense, points to "co-sleeping" as the natural and beneficial thing to do. Now, I think I know why doctors in America tend to vehemently discourage co-sleeping.
It is because in the unfortunate cases they see SIDS or otherwise , there tends to be alcohol involved. Then there are cases where babies were left to sleep on couches, or of caregivers who fell asleep and suffocated the baby.
Here's a city of Milwaukee poster warning people about co-sleeping: America is a strange land in many ways.
To use those examples to argue against cosleeping is like arguing against driving a car because tired people have fallen asleep and caused fatal accidents in the past my condolences are certainly with the parents who had to go through such an experience, it is unimaginable to have to go through something like that but once we look at the entire thing objectively, I stand by my point of view here.
There does need to be guidelines and education available to new parents to make cosleeping safe. However, those guidelines are not too different from the ones needed for making a crib safe! So I understand why doctors would pick - "do not co-sleep" as their official stance if they had to apply one blanket statement to everybody to reduce the chances of infant mortality- but I disagree with it because I don't think it is beneficial for the baby in the long run for the reasons outlined in this answer.
This section has been edited a bit based on some comments on the answer about the dangers of cosleeping - cosleeping is only as dangerous as crib-sleeping if you have loose sheets and other objects on the baby's sleeping surface - so that is still not an argument against cosleeping.
Also, use common sense when making these decisions. For instance, I have friends who tend to shift around in their sleep a lot. They weren't confident they wouldn't roll over onto the baby and so they have their newborn sleep in a crib next to their bed. However, under no circumstance do I actually see any reason to have a newborn sleep in a different room. It doesn't make any sort of scientific or pragmatic sense!
To ensure these vital skills can be developed in safety, their cot should have: Bess is just 1, and has had been co sleeping from the day she was born and I was going through the same sleep cycle I had with my second.
I believe it is simply something that came out of having to design a one-advice-fits-all solution to the aforementioned problems that doctors probably have seen from the less responsible category of parents.
To summarize what I strongly believe is how this should be done - Co-sleep if you are confident that you are not a shifty sleeper.
Almost every other culture does it, and human beings have been doing it since the beginning of human time. There has to be a perfectly good biological reason for it and I've outlined some of it above. If you don't want to co-sleep for whatever reason, put the baby in a crib and place the crib close to the mom.
The baby needs to feel the comfort of knowing that a parent is nearby. There is no reason I can think of that justifies putting the crib in another room other than laziness "it's easier if I do that now than later when the baby is older because the transition to her own bed and room will be way more difficult then" - Edit: I do agree with the comments that say that "laziness" is too judgmental.
I apologize for the choice of terminology here it was written in haste and I wasn't very careful during the first pass at this answer as I didn't think it would garner so much attention. I'd like to replace that with "an argument of convenience and practicality within the American cultural context". Sleep deprivation and the lack of family support in the US culture are absolutely valid concerns which is why I say towards the end of my answer that the American way of life is to blame as well.
However, I would still maintain that the medical establishment must do more to encourage co-sleeping and provide co-sleeping safety information by default as it currently does for crib-sleeping and that it would make a huge difference in perceptions and sleep practices and in the long run be better for the baby. Follow safety guidelines which you should do regardless of what method you choose such as not having loose items on the baby's sleep surface, not falling asleep while holding the baby, not putting the baby to sleep on a couch because it is a suffocation hazard, not co-sleeping while drunk, etc.
The examples of deaths due to not following such common sense guidelines cannot and should not be used to argue against cosleeping.
In fact, it may directly contribute to cosleeping mortality because people don't get the necessary information they need about safe cosleeping since all the advice they get is about how to make a crib safe! So if someone decides to then cosleep, they may not have the necessary information they need to make it safe.
Even if you disagree about co-sleeping in the same bed , there is no justifiable reason other than convenience which while valid, I personally do not find outweighs the long-run benefits for the baby to put a baby in a separate room for almost half the duration of a day because human infants are not designed to undergo that kind of separation from their caregivers early on. Separate rooms actually likely increases the risk of SIDS according to the official viewpoint.
So why would you support the official view when it comes to bed sharing but not room sharing? Edited to make my core stance clear. If you were culturally tuned to believe in separate rooms for infants, this answer might elicit visceral emotions but when leaving a comment, please try to argue against the actual points made in this answer.
Here's a city of Milwaukee poster warning people about co-sleeping: How twisted is this? They are taken to the nursery. America is a strange land in many ways. It does so much lip service to the welfare of children but ironically it ends up doing exactly the opposite. Don't get me wrong. I'm very grateful to the US for all the opportunities it has afforded me, but I have to say that the environment due to the factors mentioned above is quite detrimental to the overall health of family bonds and happiness in general.
Reading other people's perspectives convinced me to provide a clarification about the point of view above. I am not saying that cosleeping will work for everybody equally well. I am also not saying that someone is a bad parent if they do not cosleep. I am arguing against that being the default official position of the medical and parenting communities in the US citing safety reasons. That does not make sense to me given that pretty much the rest of the world does it with no problems, and that humans for practically all of history have been cosleeping and for excellent reasons outlined in the original post above.
In fact, given all the scientific reasons and justifications available, you'd think the medical community would actually be encouraging people to try cosleeping and providing more information to new parents about safe cosleeping just as it currently does with regard to making a crib safe. So, surely make guidelines for when and who shouldn't cosleep, that is absolutely fine, not scaring everybody into not cosleeping - that is absurd and bordering on callousness. Thank you for your feedback!
Your feedback is private. Is this answer still relevant and up to date? Tara Chapman , Experienced.
I've had five babies, and they all slept with us. Throughout most of the world babies sleep with their mothers. The list of benefits for both mother and child outweighs any possible benefit of the infant sleeping by itself in another room; I can't even think of a single benefit of such an abnormal arrangement.
I believe most Americans engage in the practice because of programming that takes place, complete with faulty reasoning, such as it being supposedly safer, when the opposite is true except in rare circumstances where a parent is drugged or hypermobile in their sleep.
I am a born-and-raised American Caucasian citizen, but I do not agree with most of the commonly accepted, illogical American parenting ideals.
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