Co-Sleeping: When parents and child sleep together

In many cultures, it is the most natural thing in the world that children sleep in their parents' bed. In the western industrialized countries, this common sleeping, also called co-sleeping, is less common. But in Germany too, this practice is increasing. Find out here what to consider in co-sleeping.

How is co-sleeping?

When co-sleeping babies and toddlers sleep in the immediate vicinity of the parents or a parent. In a narrower sense, this means that babies sleep in their parents' bed. This constellation is called a family bed. Mostly, mother and child have direct physical contact.

Another variant is a side bed, which is attached next to the parent bed. A side part of the bed rail can be folded down or dismantled, so that here also direct parent-child contact is possible.

What are the advantages of sleeping together?

The mother can instantly respond to the needs of her child without having to get up. Thus, comfortable breastfeeding as needed and quick reassurance can be enabled when the baby wakes up.

Sleep lab studies show that while sleeping mothers wake up more often in their mothers than sleeping babies alone, they fall asleep faster and without much shouting.

In addition, sleeping mothers drink twice as much and nearly three times as much breastfeeding in their mothers as do sleeping children alone. Correspondingly, sleeping mothers in the mother take one-third more calories at night, which has a positive effect on both weight gain and the immune system.

Does co-sleeping affect the development of the child?

Many voices have the problem in co-sleeping that the children would not become independent due to their constant proximity. Others emphasize that sleeping together strengthens parent-child attachment and security.

There is no indication in the research that sleeping children alone will later be more socially competent or independent than mothers sleeping children. An American study even showed that the latter can be better alone during the day and are more open to new situations than the sole sleepers.

Is co-sleeping not dangerous?

It is the nightmare of all parents: Sudden Infant Death, also known as SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Some see it as the biggest risk factor of co-sleepings. But the opposite is the case. The exact cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is not yet known. Suffocation by external earthquake is not related to this.

Instead, research suggests that babies can no longer control their breathing due to unfavorable influences of their sleep environment. Shared sleeping counteracts this by supporting a stable heartbeat and the baby's breathing rhythm.

In addition, it has been observed that mothers instinctively rearrange their children and lay them back on their backs as they turn on their bellies. This helps to reduce the risk of SIDS, as the prone position increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

10 rules for safe sleeping in a family bed

No matter how many benefits Co-Sleeping brings, you should nonetheless pay attention to a few things so that your baby can sleep safely with you. We have therefore put together 10 co-sleeping rules for you:

  1. Do not use too soft or uneven mattress and no waterbed.
  2. Remove thick skins, blankets and pillows and stuffed animals from the bed.
  3. If you are overweight or have sleep apnea, your baby should sleep in an extra bed.
  4. Lay your baby on your back.
  5. If you are a smoker, your baby should not sleep next to you. Your exhaled air contains nicotine and pollutant residues.
  6. Do not consume sedatives, drugs, alcohol or other substances that affect your consciousness.
  7. Secure the bed so that your baby can not fall out or slip into it. It is best to place your child between himself and the wall. Fill mattress gaps with blankets etc.
  8. The lying area has to offer enough space for parents and children.
  9. Siblings and pets should sleep in another room.
  10. The temperature in the bedroom should be between 16 ° C and 18 ° C. In the family bed it is warmer than alone in the cot. So do not put your baby too warm.

Interview: Three questions to Dr. med. Herbert Renz upholstery

Dr. Herbert Renz-Polster is a pediatrician and associate scientist at the Mannheim Institute of Public Health, University of Heidelberg. Dr. Renz-Polster's newest guidebook "Sleep well, Baby" has made it into the bestseller list of the parents' guides. In our short interview he answers three questions about co-sleeping.

1. How long or until what age should children sleep with their parents?

Dr. Renz-Polster: For such questions generally applies to me: Nobody "should" and nobody "must". Who should fix it? Families are very different, also because the conditions are different for each family.

For example, if an older sibling is there, some children may find it easier to move out of their parents' bed because someone may already be in their new home. And children also want to have their own nest of their own at some point - some earlier, some later. Often it starts at the age of three or four, then comes proud reports: "I sleep in my own bed now!" And: "Now it's just our daddy who can not do it!"

Basically, it is always like this: Nobody ever brings his friend or his girlfriend into the parents' bed.

2. How do I finish co-sleeping as a parent?

Dr. Renz-Polster: In many families, people talk about it and ask the child how they imagine it. Maybe she can make her own bed, or build a bed with her parents? Certainly helps him, too, that it knows: If I do not grab this right away, I may slip in at night again.

It is always good when there is not a big rope pull - coercion and pressure do not work. It is much easier to be certain that in a family where one is friendly with one another, the children do the same as the adults: they do their best. That everything does not always work the same, we all know.

3. What is Re-Co-Sleeping and how do I treat it as a parent?

Dr. Renz upholstery: What is meant here is that the children have slept in their own bed and then knock on the door again with their parents. That happens because maybe something frightening happens in life because the children are sick or otherwise burdened.

All the more important that one wonders why their "bonding gum" is just so tense, and how, as a family, together, relaxation and emotional security can be taken care of.

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