Experts Weigh In on Co-Sleeping—and What They Say Might Surprise You

Nasiba Adilova is co-founder of the parenting lifestyle destination and e-commerce shop The Tot. The Tot aims to provide moms with unbiased advice when navigating motherhood’s challenges, as well as give moms a place to shop entirely toxin-free merchandise. Here, Adilova gives MyDomaine readers expert insights on one of the most debated topics in parenting: co-sleeping.

The debate about co-sleeping is a long-standing one, with each side accusing the other of potential long-term damage to babies’ development. Still, the decision of whether or not to co-sleep, aka bed-share, is a very personal one and completely up to the parenting unit.

Even though 80% of breastfeeding mothers choose to co-sleep, it’s still considered socially taboo to admit that you share a bed with toddlers or older children. The opponents of co-sleeping claim that the biggest risks include SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), over-dependent children, and an interference with the parents’ sexual relationship. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics officially warned that bed-sharing was associated with an increase in SIDS and recommended against the practice.

There are, however, many doctors who are proponents of co-sleeping. The world’s leading authority on parent-infant co-sleeping, anthropologist and professor James McKenna, argues that SIDS rates are in fact lower in countries where co-sleeping is the norm, a claim backed by the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health.

In an article for Paediatric Respiratory Reviews, McKenna argues that co-sleeping with a breastfeeding infant promotes bonding, regulates parents’ and babies’ sleep patterns, helps parents become more responsive to their babies’ cues, and gives both parents and babies much-needed rest.

Studies by The Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology and the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing have found that a co-sleeping environment also assists mothers with breastfeeding on demand, an important step in maintaining the mother’s milk supply.

Visit The Tot to read more practical parenting advice from the experts.