5 Things You Should Know About Sleeping with Your Baby

Knowing the characteristics of sleep in early infancy can help you calm anxiety and enjoy sleeping with your baby. Learn more.
5 Things You Should Know About Sleeping with Your Baby
Maria Fátima Seppi Vinuales

Written and verified by the psychologist Maria Fátima Seppi Vinuales.

Last update: 06 December, 2023

Sleeping with your baby can be an intimate and comforting experience, but it’s important to keep in mind some fundamental aspects that’ll help you enjoy these moments more.

In early infancy, sleep is characterized by being immature, unstable, and interrupted. It’s not until around the age of 6 that sleep reaches a certain similarity to that of adults. In the meantime, caregivers must be patient and respectful of these periods.

Getting information can be useful to know what to expect and how to calm certain anxieties. Here are some facts to help you enjoy the experience of sleeping with your baby.

Facts about sleeping with your baby

Understanding the dynamics of co-sleeping can help you make informed decisions and promote a safe and comfortable environment for both of you. Keep in mind that every family is unique and it’s important to tailor sleep practices to your baby’s individual needs and your own circumstances.

1. Don’t try to follow a one-size-fits-all prescription

As to whether it’s advisable to allow your baby to sleep with their parents, there are many positions. There are those who’ll say that it’s a threat to the couple’s intimacy, that it’s dangerous, and that the child may get used to it and then won’t want to go to their own room.

On the other hand, there are those who recommend enjoying the baby and sharing that physical closeness that, as the years go by, doesn’t return. The truth is that you’ll find the answer in your own family, tending to your child’s needs as well as yours and your partner’s.

There’s nothing better than being able to provide a sensitive and timely response to the situation, beyond trying to follow any “one-size-fits-all” advice. For example, you can take into consideration different circumstances. If you’re breastfeeding, co-sleeping, or allowing your baby to sleep in the same room may be much more comfortable and less disruptive to everyone’s sleep.

However, if your child’s already in school and has obligations the next day, but you like to stay up late at night watching a series, then it may be more convenient for your child to have their own space. This way, their rest won’t be interrupted by light or sound.

2. It’s advisable to have a sleep routine

To promote sleep and rest, it’s advisable to seek a certain order and stability. For example:

  • Always go to bed at the same time.
  • Favor certain conditions of comfort.
  • Stop using electronic devices at least one hour before sleep. It’s not advisable to use cell phones or television when the children are already in bed.

If you notice that, after a certain period of time, sleep doesn’t stabilize and, on the contrary, the time to sleep gets worse and worse, don’t rule out consulting your pediatrician. Perhaps there’s a situation that requires another type of intervention.

You should know that one of the benefits of sleep is that it helps to consolidate the day’s learning. In addition, it favors the immune system. Those children who don’t get a good night’s sleep may experience difficulties in behavior and learning. For example, feeling irritable, having aggressive behaviors, and being hyperactive, among other things.

3. It is positive for your baby if you tend to their crying

“Let them cry”, “If every time they cry you get up, you’ll end up falling into their trap”, and “They’ll get tired of crying eventually and will fall asleep on their own”.

You’ve surely heard some of these ideas. In this regard, many child psychologists, such as Álvaro Bilbao, are against these recommendations. They consider that it’s not appropriate to neglect the emotional needs of a child, whose main means of expression is crying.

The psychologist mentions that “a child who cries, experiences anguish” and hopes that their caregiver can help them. If you leave them crying, that child will understand that even if they cry, no one will come to comfort them.

At the same time, children who find comfort in their parents and who feel protected – both when they go to sleep and when they wake up in the middle of the night – aren’t only more likely to fall back asleep, but also to have quality sleep in the future. At the same time, this has a positive impact on the establishment of a secure attachment relationship.

4. Know the “challenges” of sleep by age

Sleep is often one of the most challenging issues in early life. It tends to occur in short, interrupted periods. At first, babies wake up often because they need to feed.

Then, with age, that can change, and children may be awakened by so-called “night terrors“. In other cases, colic, fear of the dark, and separation anxiety are also factors that affect sleep.

For this reason, you can ask your doctor or pediatrician about the difficulties inherent to each stage of life. This way, by identifying the situation, you’ll also be able to understand what might be happening to your baby and offer appropriate solutions for their or her well-being.

5. Share activities with your children

For many families, sleeping with their children is pleasurable. It’s a time of intimacy and closeness that they enjoy sharing. However, it’s also true that as children grow up, responsibilities change and there’s a certain demand for autonomy, it’s important to make room for a transformation of “sleep time”.

Just because children go to sleep in their room doesn’t mean that you can’t create new routines or activities together. On the contrary! New dynamics can emerge that are just as interesting and enriching.

For example, you can take a few minutes to talk about how the day went, listen to a song before falling asleep, or share a story… without a doubt, these are pleasant moments that’ll leave unforgettable memories.

Recommendations when sleeping with your baby

Many families, even though they want to, are deprived of sleeping with their babies because they’re terrified of crushing them, of them falling out of bed, or of sudden infant death.

Although these are possible situations, there are also comfort and safety measures that allow you to enjoy this moment with your baby and prevent accidents. Some recommendations are the following:

  • Choose a firm mattress that doesn’t sink or bend.
  • The crib or bed should have a railing or be attached to the wall.
  • Pay attention to your own tiredness. If you notice that you’re overtired, avoid placing the baby on your chest, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Sometimes people aren’t able to realize that they’re falling asleep and this can pose a falling risk for the baby. On those days, you may want to ask for help or let the baby sleep in its crib.
  • The baby shouldn’t be warmer than other people.
  • Pets are discouraged from sleeping next to babies.

Adapt to the unique needs and desires of your family

One of the keys to better cope with motherhood and fatherhood is to accept that there are no keys. Surely, you’ve been in the position of receiving parenting advice. Much of it may be welcomed and even considered as a viable option.

However, you need to remember that it’s just advice. It’s better not to take advice as a mandate or something that you must comply with no matter what.

In general, this rigidity, together with the desire to meet the expectations of others, often leads to frustration and demands. This is how you end up forcing practices that aren’t appropriate for your family’s reality.

It’s important to know that “today isn’t forever” and that there are many parenting situations – especially those related to feeding and sleeping – that require patience and learning to know yourself and your baby.

Adapting, allowing yourself to make mistakes, and experimenting on the road to becoming parents can make your life much more bearable and less stressful.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.