1. Easier Breastfeeding - Breastfeeding mothers in a co-sleeping family are able to breastfeed without having to fully wake up. This allows baby to get the nutrition they require, while allowing mom to get the rest she so greatly needs. Because of this, co-sleeping encourages mothers to breastfeed longer and more often.
2. Ability to hear and help - We all hope that our children are safe, but in case of an emergency, it's important that we are able to get to them quickly. This is simply not something which can occur if we can't hear them. So, having a child in the room with us gives us a greater ability to hear them in case of emergency and respond more quickly. According to sleep researcher James McKenna, reminds parents that "co-sleeping gives the parent the best opportunity to hear the baby in crisis and to respond." He adds that "since protection from SIDS may be related to the frequency and duration of breastfeeding, and because babies breastfeed more when co-sleeping, this practice may help to protect some breastfeeding infants."
3. Lower SIDS Risks - During the early months of a child's life gaps in breathing are normal. While no one knows just why, some infants have been known to stop breathing and forget to restart, resulting in suffocation. Some studies have shown that co-sleeping mother's breathing can provide a signal to her infant to take another breath, which then prevents this SIDS situation from ever happening! In the event that this system fails, mother is close and is able to take action by arousing baby or even preform infant CPR in extreme situations. A breastfeeding mother and baby tend to have coordinated sleeping and dreaming cycles, making her keenly sensitive to her baby. If she is sleeping close by, she can awaken if her baby is having difficulty. But if the baby is alone, this type of life-saving intervention cannot take place.
4. Nighttime Risks Virtually Eliminated - While no one wants to think about them, there are many nighttime dangers for a child alone. Every year thousands of children die in fires, are stolen from their bed, attacked by pets, suffocate after vomiting, or fallen prey to any of the other various dangers of the night. The presence of a parent eliminates nearly all of these risks!
5. Suffocation Risks - When researching Bed Sharing you'll usually come across more than one article or list which states a great danger of suffocation. First, let me state that this is not only a great mis-conception, but in most cases downright wrong! While there IS a danger of infant suffocation in water-beds because the infant is unable to push themselves up or roll over when needed, and when a parent is intoxicated, normal co-sleeping actually protects from suffocation risks rather than adds to them. There is a greater risk of suffocation for children when parents are unable to attend to real suffocation risks such as vomiting during sleep, asthma, or strings from sleepwear around the neck.
6. Sexual Abuse Prevention - Another misconception about co-sleeping is that there is a sexual angle. Can I just say that's ridiculous! First of all, family beds were the norm for centuries, child molestation was not, nor is it today! In fact, parents who co-sleep with their children are known to develop deeper emotional bonds with their children and are LESS likely to resort to abusive behavior of ANY kind. In addition, in homes where children are at risk of being molested or abused by one parent, co-sleeping serves as a protection for the child. When children sleep alone it's easier for a parent, family member or friend to both access the child and to hide their activity...
7. Abuse Prevention - An exhausted parent is far more likely to abuse their child than a well-rested one. And a well rested child is happier and better behaved generally as well. Since the child isn't having to sit and cry in order to awaken mom & dad just to get what they need, they are able to sleep deeper & longer - and so are mom & dad!
8. Overall Health - Infants cry as a way to signal that they are in need of something. But prolonged crying is stressful to all family members. So the sooner the baby stops crying because their needs are met, the less stress for the entire family. Since added stress has been proven to affect everything from mental health to heart health, it makes sense that cutting everyone's stress by allowing your child to go though the night without crying makes a healthier family all the way around. A mother sleeping next to her baby can utilize the instinctive response a new mother has to her baby's first whimper, thus preventing the need for the hard crying that is so stressful to the baby and to all other members of the family.
9. Sibling Bonds - Children who sleep near each other have deeper sense of love and trush for one another. This tends to manifest in no only less sibling rivalry as children, but in a life long bond. Family members who are unable to form bonds through the day because of absance due to school or work, can partially make up for this by spending time at night together and by early morning family quality time which if often missed otherwise.
10. Heart Health - Coma patients have been shown to have a healthier herat rate, heart rhythm and blood pressure when there is someone in the room with them. It is reasonable to assume that both children and adults would have similar health benefits having others in the room with them through the night.
Many people I have spoke with seem to feel like co-sleeping is spoiling a child or as if it will endanger the relationship they have with their partner. However, it's reasonable to point out here that for thousands of years, families had just one bedroom, yet, children were not "spoiled" nor were the parents deprived of "couples time." Although, admittedly, parents do need to get a little more creative from time to time, but that comes with having children - co-sleepers or not. Rather, children who are cared for during the night as well as the day has a constant reassurance of love and support and never has to face fear, anger or abandonment emotions night after night. This leads to a child who has a stronger, more loving bond with parents and who are better able to cope with stresses as they arise in their day to day life as they grow.
As John Holt put it so eloquently, having feelings of love and safety in early life, far from "spoiling" a child, is like "money in the bank": a fund of trust, self-esteem and inner security which the child can draw on throughout life's challenges.