Co-Sleeping and Bed-Sharing are Not the Same Thing

When I work with parents believe it or not most of them say that they want to co-sleep at least for the first few months, while the baby is still requiring very frequent night feedings. They are not sure how to go about it safely. I ask them, “Do you mean co-sleep or bed-share?” A lot of the time I get the same response, “Is there a difference?” My answer is, “Yes”.

Are co-sleeping and bed-sharing the same thing?

Technically co-sleeping is any sort of family sleeping room, also called rooming-in with baby. “Rooming in”, typically this term means that the mother and baby stay in the same room during their hospital stay. It also means having your baby sleep in your bedroom, yet they are sleeping in their own bed, crib, playpen, co-sleeper, mat, bassinet etc.

Bed-sharing is a specific type of co-sleeping. As the name implies, it is sharing a bed with the child. If a parent says to me, “I think I want to bed-share with my infant. What do you suggest?” I often ask, “Would you consider a side-car?”

Why use a side-car instead of bed-sharing?

A side-car is a hybrid setup: more than general co-sleeping but not quite true bed-sharing. A lot of parents do not feel safe sharing a bed with their newborn.  A lot of times they opt to have their newborn in a crib next to them. Although I do not advise parents to bed-share, I have no qualms about bed-sharing as long as the parents have done the research and know the rules of bed-sharing from birth.

Why use a side-car instead of a co-sleeper or a bassinet?

Bed-sharing can be daunting. A lot of new parents put a portable crib in their bedroom, or they opt for a dedicated co-sleeper. Both of these options could be the solution you’re looking for, but keep in mind that baby will outgrow them sooner rather than later.

A lot of parents do not want (or cannot afford) to buy baby furniture that will only be used for a few months. A lot of families now a day, opt to attach their child’s crib to a side of their bed. This is commonly called “side-carring”.

Why do some parents choose to co-sleep?

New parents worry about the dangers of SIDS. I have done research and have found that having the baby in the room with the parents of siblings for the first months of life helps the baby lean to regulate their breathing and has shown to decreases the rick of SIDS.

For more in-depth and step-by-step instructions on how to assemble a side-car crib, visit the following links:

http://www.freewebs.com/sidecarcrib/

http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/how-to-side-car-your-crib/

http://www.drmomma.org/2010/01/turn-your-crib-into-cosleeper.html