6 Benefits of Co-sleeping with Your Children

Whitney Coy

Although popular media has worked hard to put a negative spin on co-sleeping, scientific evidence proves otherwise. Co-sleeping has innumerable benefits for everyone in the family. Learn more about the benefits of co-sleeping with your children.

Encourages independence - While it is commonly believed that co-sleeping will create clingy, dependent children, research proves that the opposite is true. Children who share sleep with their parents develop independence earlier and need less transitional objects because they do not experience separation anxiety. "When a child routinely goes to sleep in the presence of an adult, or with an adult holding her, it's extremely rare to find thumb sucking or attachment to security objects," explains Dr. Jay Gordon, author of Good Nights: The Happy Parents' Guide to the Family Bed.

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Builds self esteem - Children who have grown up in a family bed have increased self-esteem, experience less behavioral problems, are less prone to peer pressure and report more happiness and general satisfaction with life. They are less likely to suffer from stress disorders than children who did not share sleep with their parents.

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Promotes physical and mental well-being - In addition to psychological benefits, babies who co-sleep appear to thrive better.

Parenting expert and pediatrician Dr. William Sears explains, "Over the past thirty years of observing sleep-sharing families in our pediatric practice, we have noticed one medical benefit that stands out; these babies thrive. 'Thriving' means not only getting bigger, but also growing to your full potential, emotionally, physically and intellectually. Perhaps it's the extra touch that stimulates development, or perhaps the extra feedings (yes, sleep-sharing infants breastfeed more often than solo sleepers)."

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Reduces risk of stress disorders and SID- In his years of research on co-sleeping, Harvard psychiatrist Michael Commons has discovered that babies who sleep alone are at increased risk for SIDS and stress disorders. Co-sleeping babies sleep in physiological harmony with their mothers. The proximity of the mother and infant actually regulates the infant's breathing, sleep state, arousal patterns, heart rates and body temperature. Babies who are left to cry alone experience elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes damage to the developing brain. "It makes you more prone to the effects of stress, more prone to illness, including mental illness and makes it harder to recover from illness," explains Commons.

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Easier for nursing moms - Nursing moms who co-sleep with their babies report feeling better rested. Because they do not have to leave the bed to nurse, their sleep patterns are less disturbed and they feel more alert and focused during the daytime.

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Promotes family closeness - Children raised in the family bed lifestyle develop close bonds with their family and report more feelings of connectedness and happiness than children who sleep alone. Sleeping together provides more hours in each day for family members to connect and share loving, nurturing moments under the sweet breath of sleep.

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