Co-sleeping is the practice of sleeping with your baby in bed with you. However, there are many variations to co-sleeping. Some variations may include:
- Putting the baby to sleep in a crib until the parent goes to bed then bringing the baby into the adult bed
- Using a co-sleeper ( a bed that attaches to the parents bed)
- Using the parents bed as the only bed the baby sleeps in
- Putting baby to sleep in a crib until the first feed in the night.
It is more common then people let on becasue many people are closet co-sleepers or have they use one of the variations of co-sleeping but don't consider it co-sleeping.
Many cultures around the world co-sleep because they believe that it is irresponsible to put their baby to sleep in a room all alone. It is believed that since the baby is so helpless that they should never be left out of reach of an adult. However, in Western culture most babies are considered "good babies" when they sleep through the night by themselves or when they can put themselves to sleep.
Co-sleeping is ideal if the baby is breastfed because it minimizes the amount of time both mother and baby are kept awake at feeds. Once breastfeeding is established moms can often just roll over, latch baby on then drift back to sleep. As well, babies don't fall into as deep of a sleep as they do when they sleep alone, minimizing the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Co-sleeping also helps to keep up moms milk supply, especially if the mother work away from the baby during the day.
For more details on the information listed above visit James McKenna's website at the University of Notre Dame http://www.nd.edu/~jmckenn1/lab/culturalarticle.html