Co – Sleeping: Myths, Realities and Practical Advice

The co – sleeping is the habit of sharing the same bed with a baby. He usually refers to his parents or only one of these, but could involve other relatives with whom the infant lives. It is the most common way to sleep the babies of many cultural world.

However, there is much debate about whether it is an appropriate behavior and, if so, how long it should last and what the damage would be if it were extended for longer than it should. Also about whether there are correct or incorrect ways to apply it.

Co – Sleeping

For some, co-sleeping is no more than one of the many parenting options among which the father can decide. But it also has staunch advocates who say it is the only way in which the baby should sleep.

This technique is part of the so-called parenting with attachment, which values ​​other means such as the use of the scarf, the singing of lullabies and other forms of emotional contact with the baby, which seek to grow with a deep sense of belonging and love for their parents. .

In this way to decide the best formula of upbringing for babies, there are many myths that have grown on the bed, both of its positive aspects, which have not been tested, and other negatives, which have already been clearly refuted .

To help future parents, and parents already in process, to make the decision on whether or not to share the bed with their children, in this article I will list some of the most common myths, and I will give you an answer, based on logic, on my readings and in my personal experience as a father and child psychologist.

In addition, I will also talk about the guidelines to achieve a psychologically healthy co-sleeping, which I think is one of the most important points to strengthen within this topic. This, for those who decide to take this direction in their upbringing.

In any of the cases, the present article is not intended to disadvantage or criminalize other forms of parenting, or go against those who are not comfortable with the idea of ​​co-sleeping. It’s just a guide to better understand the subject.

Myths about co-sleeping

Myth 1: The baby does not rest well

Fact: Many parents who do not practice co-sleeping often consult web forums, asking how to make your child sleep better, then, just release the arms of parents, where he slept soundly, and goes to the crib, wake up Without remedy.

Obviously, this is not something that will happen to each child, and sure there are those who can sleep alone without problems from the first day. Others take weeks or months to get used to. The most reasonable thing here is to conclude that there are no patterns.

That applies as much to those who do co-sleeping as to those who do not. Surely there are babies who do not sleep so well when they are accompanied, and it takes a longer or shorter time to get used to them. The error is to filter only the information that is convenient.

The pro-colecho abuse refer to the data of children raised in cribs that do not sleep well. The anti-colecho do the same with the opposite numbers. In both cases, we will find a bit of everything. But, what happens most often in the co-sleeping.

What most parents who practice this method usually indicate is that their children (once they have become accustomed) sleep better accompanied than alone. It took a week for our daughter to get used to it and now it is her favorite way to sleep.

Myth 2: Parents do not sleep well

Reality: As in the previous case, each family is different. Parents who set out to sleep in separate rooms, who can not keep an eye on the baby monitor, and parents who decided to go to bed and do not sleep thinking they will crush their child.

In any case, having a newborn baby associated with sleeping poorly is a cliché of paternity that everyone repeats, whatever their method of parenting. What does happen is that, as the family adapts to its new rhythms, the dream gets better.

The first night practicing co-sleeping will raise many fears, but will dissipate if we notice that our son has a good time. Little by little, the dream will improve for everyone. As other parents will end up getting used to walking asleep in the corridors of the house.

In my personal experience, I not only sleep better with my daughter in bed, but I can even rest better during the day. When I get home from work, for example, just putting it on my chest gives me the calm I need for a nap. And she usually falls asleep too.

Myth 3: Ruins the sexual and intimate life of parents

Reality: What can really ruin the sexual and intimate life of a couple is the lack of creativity, and this can happen with or without children, with or without co-sleeping. Evidently, a child changes the sexual dynamics of a couple, but this should be taken as a challenge.

The detractors of the coop argue that it is absurd to try to have sex with a baby who can wake up at any time. And that is totally true. But it is no less absurd to think that sexuality is only consummated in the bed and the matrimonial bedroom.

And, in the same way, it does not offer too many comforts to procure a time of intimacy while the monitor of the baby, who sleeps in another room, is on and you hear his crying or moans of discomfort. The effect must be quite similar.

Thus, the commitment of a couple who wants to keep their intimacy alive is to look for spontaneous and creative alternatives that leave the marriage bed. If we can take the baby to another room to have privacy in their own, you can also do the opposite.

Without encouragement to return this article a sexual guide for couples with children, the kitchen, bathroom, living room and other parts of the house are equally useful. And, in fact, it is the obligatory thing to do if you do not want to turn the intimacy of the couple into a lascivious act for the child.

Because a counterpart of this myth is that the baby does not know anything about what the parents do, nor does it affect him, when several psychological studies show that it does. Either way, this will expand on the point about the psychologically healthy co-sleeping.

Myth 4: Prevents the development of the child’s independence

Fact: Would you ask a 3-month-old to sleep only 6 hours a day on days that he does not complete his learning assignments on time? Would you be asked not to be irritated when you are hungry? So, why ask him to be independent before his time?

The evolution of the human being caused him to be born prematurely to give our mothers more opportunities to survive before his predators; not because it considered that nine months were sufficient for a complete development. This development, in humans, is postnatal.

Part of that development involves the acquisition of independence skills that other species have the second of born. The natural thing, then, is that the newborn depends entirely on his parents: to eat, to clean themselves, to keep warm and, also, to sleep.

And, just as allowing a baby to sleep 16 hours does not impede or delay the development of an 8-hour sleep rhythm when the time comes, sleeping with parents should not delay the development of the ability to sleep alone. I should not, although I could.

It could, if a proper co-sleeping is not done, just as it could happen if the proper strategies are not applied so that the child sleeps in his crib from the first day, as many parents wish. Achieving a psychologically healthy co-sleeping can be difficult, but not impossible.

Sleep independence would be delayed if the child does not sleep alone for a second of the day. But that is very difficult. Even the most devoted parents have things to do the 8 hours of more that the child sleeps a day. There they have an excellent training space.

Although our daughter sleeps very comfortable with us, she also spends many hours of the day sleeping alone. In these moments, for example, she sleeps alone while I write and her mother writes the bases of a project she is on.

Myth 5: Co-sleeping is dangerous for the physical integrity of the baby

Fact: Possibly there is a risk that a father will trip over his son and hurt or suffocate him by crushing him, but it is a very unlikely risk in a couple of healthy parents, who do not consume disabling medication, alcohol or drugs.

For parents to whom the mere threat of that tiny risk seems intolerable to them, they should probably know that most of the practices we do with babies have equally small risks and yet we do them. For example, load it and let it fall.

While many argue that pro-cochlear encourages codependence, a high sample of codependency is to avoid any activity that has a minimum risk to the child, even if it is unlikely. While they must still be dependent, we must get rid of codependency and its negative revelations.

In any case, as the market for babies knows how to take advantage of even the smallest gap, there are many products to ensure that the baby is not hurt during co-sleeping. We use an anti-reflux pillow and it is virtually impossible to harm you.

Myth 6: Co-sleeping does not harbor any risk and can not be done badly

Reality: On the other side, there are those who think that co-sleeping has nothing wrong and has everything good. Or that the other methods have everything bad and nothing good. It takes a minimum of logic to know that there is nothing that does not harbor risks.

Starting an activity without knowing its potential risks, its indications and contraindications is the best way to know in the flesh those harmful effects. And, if it’s something that involves our children, we should not take this so lightly.

Co-sleeping is contraindicated for people with epilepsy, alcoholism, drug addiction and during certain medical treatments. Other specific conditions such as depression (including postpartum) need to be monitored by a professional.

It would also be contraindicated for people with night terrors disorder, restless legs syndrome, parasomnias and other sleep disorders. But, more importantly, it would be contraindicated for those who can not adapt in a prudential time.

Just as many mothers who can not breastfeed their children end up developing postpartum depression because of the illusion that made them, forced to practice co-sleeping, at the expense of the physical or emotional health of one or both parents, will not bring real benefits for the baby.

In addition, there is another series of risks when a psychologically healthy co-sleeping is not practiced, which will be explained below. That means that it is possible to make a bad co-sleeping, even when you have the greatest disposition and one has been well informed.

What does a psychologically healthy co-sleeping mean?

I think it is a debt of most of the prenatal courses for parents (and information in books and the web), where they talk about the benefits of practices such as co-sleeping, give also the indications of what is needed to be an activity psychologically healthy.

My wife and I are child psychologists and, long before deciding to go to bed with our own daughter, we have had to help many parents in psychological counseling, who are beginning to see the ravages of a psychologically ill co-sleeping relationship.

For this reason, I want to list some of the ways in which co-sleeping can be harmful to the child and / or the couple, also explaining what is required to restore health to this practice.

The co-sleeping as an amalgam of fractured relationships

The most common thing that usually happens is that, either by the same co-sleeping or by other multiple causes, the couple’s relationship begins to fracture, and this is forced to sustain the co-sleeping as a way to amalgamate the fissures of the relationship.

In other words, the child goes from being in the middle of the bed to being in the middle of the relationship. And the role of the child is not to unite the parents. In fact, co-sleeping does not place any obligation on the child. All obligations are from the parents, who decided to do it.

If the couple has problems arising from the co-sleeping, it is best to stop it while the corrective measures are applied, or eliminate it if it is concluded that it is the best decision. Attending couple therapy would be the most consistent. If the problems come from other sources, with more reason there is no reason to return to the co-sleeping a way to reunite the couple.

The co-sleeping and an irresponsible sexuality of the couple

As most parents fear having sex at the beginning of pregnancy, but still end up having them at some time, at the beginning of the cohabitation parents are usually very judicious in not practicing their sexuality in front of the child, but then not so much.

This is because they begin to develop a series of justifications based on comfort rather than serious research, to say that the child will not see or hear anything and, if it does, it will not affect him. Well, the truth is that it does affect you.

It does not occur in the first days of life (although it is not justified to do so), but earlier than we think the child may be aware of the behaviors of their parents. And this is one for which you are not prepared and that can generate confusion and stress.

If a couple decides to practice co-sleeping, they should know that it is their absolute responsibility (a very, very serious one) not to have sex with the child in the same habituation. Not only do the laws of many countries break, it is harmful to the baby.

Co-sleeping as a form of codependence of parents

We are supposed to bring children into the world for what we believe we can give, teach and make you feel. But many times it has more weight than we think the son can give us or make us feel. Co-dependence implies depending on the child and what he or she can give us.

It is common for many parents to need to be needed by their children and, therefore, restrict the freedom of their child so that they remain dependent for as long as possible. That has nothing to do with a psychologically healthy co-sleeping.

As it was said before, co-sleeping is for us to give tranquility to our son’s sleep while he is dependent on us; not for him to give us the pleasure of being needed, whether or not he needs us.

If we establish a codependent relationship with our son, he will not develop his independence on time, and there it will be difficult to make the transition out of the parents’ bed. But codependence also brings problems in the child’s self-esteem and self-image.

A child who is taught that depends on parents learns not to trust their mind and body, so that they risk less to develop independently. Therefore, it is essential to remember that co-sleeping is for children and not for parents.

The co-sleeping like fashion, but emotionally empty

Aging with attachment and its different methods is gaining more and more followers, so that it is becoming commonplace and, as usual, many of its aspects have been frivolized as part of the fashion of being nourishing parents of the new era. .

But co-sleeping, like any other method of parenting, is not for everyone. It is for those who are truly convinced of their benefits, will be alert to their risks and will strive to make it psychologically sound. Doing it alone because it is a trend is an error.

Surely the baby will get some of its benefits (such as avoiding the dreaded sudden infant death), but in the long term it may not be beneficial. Co-sleeping is about transmitting love, calm, affection and pampering, which should come naturally.

If this does not happen, the first thing is not to judge ourselves as bad parents (or allow ourselves to be judged). Simply, co-sleeping is not for us. The next thing would be to look for the method that most likes the whole family, and apply it with the greatest conviction and desire possible.


Definitely, the upbringing of a child involves making complex decisions. But as long as we take the time to investigate and reflect, it is possible to arrive at the decisions that are right for each one of us.

Now that you know a little more about co-sleeping, my recommendation is that you read much more (both those in favor and those who are against), and once you make a decision, try to follow it and monitor it daily, trying to do the best at your fingertips. Your baby and your emotional health will thank you.

Also Read: 13 Montessori Method Activities for Children 0-3 years old

If you practice or have practiced this method, it would be great to share your experience in the comments, as if you are close to being a parent and you are wondering if it is the best for your family. There is also room for those who think against.