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Recently a new mother asked for some advice online. Her baby is struggling to sleep and she received an abundance of advice. One thing I noticed was a recurring theme of people encouraging her to "Co-sleep" because it works miracles for their child.
Here's the deal, this mother is a friend of mine. And guess what? They already co-sleep!
But they don't bedshare. The advice she was receiving was to bedshare. And people were shaming her for not bedsharing. (I'm sure it was unintentional, but that's how it came across to me.)
What's the difference? Well, co-sleeping is, by current definition, sleeping in the same room as your child. Your child can be in their crib on the other side of the room, they can be in a co-sleeper, or when they get older they can be on a mat on the floor next to your bed. Doesn't matter, if they are in the same room you are co-sleeping. Co-sleeping is actually recommended by the American Acadamy of Pediatrics.
Bedsharing is exactly what it sounds like, sharing a bed with your child. It is a subset of co-sleeping, but it's not the type of co-sleeping I am comfortable with all of the time. And most of the mothers I know seem to agree, including my friend who asked for advice online.
Now, I'm not going to tell everyone to stop doing it because if it works for you then it works for you. However, this is the type of co-sleeping that most people, especially pediatricians and other professionals, think of and advise against because it is dangerous for babies. This is because there are pillows and sheets and blankets on the bed and those are what pose a suffocation risk. Also, sometimes a parent will not wake up when they roll over onto a child, or the parent may rearrange pillows or blankets in their sleep in a way that is dangerous to the child in the bed with them.
If you don't bedshare, then what can you do? Besides just having the crib in your room there are co-sleepers. These are cribs that are designed to have a side drop down, and then the crib attaches to your bed. We used an Arm's Reach Mini Arc Co-Sleeper Bedside Bassinet, Natural, and I think it's wonderful. Why? Because Monkey was right there. When I woke up in the middle of the night, I could just stick my hand out and know that she is ok and breathing. I didn't have to get up and walk into another room when she cries, only to find out she's still dead asleep (and, yes, my child will scream-cry in her sleep) and I could have stayed in bed. And I don't think it's spoiling her for her to know that I am right there, that she falls asleep while staring at me. I think it's beneficial for her to know that Mommy is right there for her, and if for some reason Mommy isn't there, Daddy is there too.
|Hard to see, but on the right side of the co-sleeper is our bed. Its right against it, so there is no gap between the two.|
Also, Look at how little Monkey was!
To sum up:
Co-sleeping means the child is in the same room as you.
Bed Sharing means the child is in the same bed as you.
End of Jaq Rant