Dr. Janet Kennedy talks about the pros and cons of co-sleeping, also known as bed sharing or family bed.
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Hi, I'm Janet Kennedy. I'm a licensed clinical psychologist and sleep specialist in New York City. You can find out more about me and my work on my website, nycsleepdoctor.com. A lot of parents want to co-sleep with their newborns and there are some important benefits. Co-sleeping allows easy access to the baby and it can be really reassuring for the mother and father and also for the baby to have that kind of closeness. It's important when you're co-sleeping though to do it safely. Make sure that the baby is not in a bed that would increase the risk of SIDS. That means there should be no loose bedding around and if you smoke you should not co-sleep. The safest way to co-sleep is to have the baby in a co-sleeper next to the bed or attached to the bed, so, that you have the proximity and closeness, but you don't have those risks. In the early weeks babies wake up a lot and they need a lot of attending in the night. And co-sleeping can allow the parents to get a little bit more sleep because they don't have to get up and move around to much. On the down side babies can be loud and you find that your baby is a snuffler or a snorere and you're not getting the sleep that you need you might want to consider moving the baby farther away from you or even into another room. Also, co-sleeping encourages the parents to attend to the baby throughout the night and sometimes the baby might actually be able to get himself back to sleep. Giving your baby a chance to self-soothe before you intervene as the baby gets a little bit older can help the baby to sleep for longer periods. If you can't do that while you're co-sleeping then again you might consider moving the baby out of your room and into another space. Babies are also really stimulated by the presence of the mother. Particularly if the mother is nursing. The baby can smell you and feel your presence and is more likely to wake up to be with you and get your soothing and feeding than if the baby were further away from you. Co-sleeping just isn't for everyone. Some people really want to do it. Other people don't find it satisfying at all. It's not a comment on you or your ability to bond with your baby if you don't like it. You have to follow what feels right to you.