Co-sleeping is a parenting practice where babies or young children sleep in close proximity to one or both parents, as opposed to sleeping in a separate room. This can involve sharing the same bed, also known as bed-sharing, or using separate sleep surfaces in the same room, such as a bassinet or crib. Co-sleeping is believed by some to promote attachment and bonding, though it is important to follow safety guidelines to prevent sleep-related risks.

Key Takeaways

  1. Co-sleeping refers to the practice of parents and children sharing the same sleep environment, often the same bed or bedroom.
  2. Advocates of co-sleeping claim benefits such as improved emotional attachment, breastfeeding ease, and better sleep for both parents and infants.
  3. However, some experts warn of potential risks, including increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and the development of attachment issues as children grow older.


Co-sleeping is an important parenting term because it refers to the practice of sharing a sleeping space with an infant or young child, which can considerably impact their safety, development, and family dynamics.

This practice has been a traditional and cultural aspect of many societies throughout history, and some proponents argue that it fosters emotional bonding, simplifies nighttime feeding, and aids in the regulation of a child’s sleep patterns.

However, it is essential to consider the potential risks associated with co-sleeping, particularly the increased likelihood of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related accidents.

Consequently, comprehensive discussions and informed decisions surrounding co-sleeping are crucial to ensure the well-being of both the child and parents.


Co-sleeping refers to the practice of parents sharing their bed or sleeping space with their infants or young children. This particular arrangement has been historically common across many cultures and has been advocated by proponents for its numerous potential benefits.

The basic purpose of co-sleeping is to foster a strong, nurturing bond between parents and their children, as well as to encourage a sense of security for the child. The benefits of co-sleeping arise from its tendency to facilitate closeness, communication, and ease of accessibility for both the child and the parent.

For instance, co-sleeping can aid in more consistent sleep patterns for both the parent and the child, as it simplifies night-time feedings and makes it easier for the parents to quickly respond to their child’s needs or to soothe them in case they wake up distressed. Additionally, some studies suggest that co-sleeping could aid in promoting a stronger emotional connection between the parents and the child, as well as boosting the child’s self-esteem and emotional resilience.

However, it is essential to emphasize the need for safe co-sleeping practices in order to mitigate any risks associated with this sleeping arrangement and to ensure the well-being of both the parent and the child.

Examples of Co-Sleeping

A family in Japan practicing the traditional “kawa no ji” sleeping arrangement: In this example, the parents sleep on futons alongside their children, with the youngest child typically placed in between the parents for comfort and safety. This close sleeping arrangement encourages bonding and provides a sense of security for the children.

A couple in the United States who choose to use a bedside bassinet for their newborn: In this example, the parents opt to utilize a bassinet that is specifically designed to attach to their bed, allowing their baby to sleep close to them at night without sharing the same sleeping surface. This co-sleeping arrangement allows for ease of feeding and comfort, while still maintaining a separate space for the baby.

A mother in India who shares her bed with her toddler: In this example, a single mother sleeps in the same bed as her young child in order to provide a nurturing environment and promote feelings of safety and security. This co-sleeping arrangement is practiced by many families in India and is considered a natural part of parenting.

Co-Sleeping FAQ

What is co-sleeping?

Co-sleeping is the practice of parents sharing a sleeping space with their child, usually on the same bed or close by. It promotes physical closeness and bonding between parents and children during the night.

What are the benefits of co-sleeping?

Some benefits of co-sleeping include easier breastfeeding, improved sleep quality for both parents and child, reduced separation anxiety, and enhanced emotional bonding. It can also be practical in cases where there isn’t enough space for separate sleeping arrangements.

Are there any risks associated with co-sleeping?

There are certain risks associated with co-sleeping, particularly for infants. The risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is reportedly higher for babies who share a bed with their parents, although the subject is debated among experts. Additionally, there’s the risk of unintentionally suffocating or crushing the baby due to excessive bedding or a parent accidentally rolling over onto the child.

How can I practice safe co-sleeping?

Here are some guidelines for practicing safe co-sleeping:

  1. Ensure your mattress is firm, flat, and free from gaps or crevices where your baby could become trapped.
  2. Use minimal bedding and avoid using pillows, heavy blankets, or soft toys near your baby.
  3. Position your baby on their back to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  4. Refrain from co-sleeping if you’ve consumed alcohol, drugs, or medications that might cause drowsiness.
  5. Consider using a co-sleeper or sidecar crib that attaches to the parent’s bed for added safety.

At what age should I transition my child from co-sleeping to their own bed?

There is no specific age when a child should transition from co-sleeping to their own bed, as the timing depends on the family’s individual preferences and circumstances. Parents should base their decision on their child’s readiness and the family’s overall sleep quality. Some families transition their child as early as a few months, while others may continue until the child is several years old.

Related Parenting Terms

  • Bed-sharing
  • Family bed
  • Attachment parenting
  • Nighttime parenting
  • Room-sharing

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