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Is It Advisable to Still Co-sleep With Your Toddler?Co-sleeping as your child grows may be a common practice, but there are reasons you should rethink it.by Lei Dimarucut-Sison .
From the time a baby is born and maternal instincts kick in, a mother almost always feels protective of her child that she would never let him out of her sight, especially during the period of infancy. In the Philippines, it is perfectly normal and acceptable to share a bed with your baby for the following reasons: nurturing the mother and child bond, convenience in breastfeeding, and the feeling of security, although the American Academy of Pediatrics cautions against co-sleeping with a baby 6 months old and younger, as it may put his life in danger.
Allijiah Meneses, mom to a one-and-a-half-year old child, says “When my daughter sleeps beside me, I feel like she’s safer. I could check on her anytime, and if she cries, I can easily give her what she needs”. Mom El Jarabe agrees. “Co-sleeping is our way to form a deeper relationship between me and my toddler”, she says.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Benefits of co-sleeping
As mentioned above, there are benefits to co-sleeping for both parent and child, such as:
- The child sleeps better because of the comfort of your presence and touch.
- As a result, moms (and dads) sleep better, too.
- Breastfeeding is easier—especially during the first few weeks of life.
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- Prolactin levels increase. Prolactin, or the “mothering” hormone, could be the chemical basis for mother’s intuition. This hormone increases in level through nipple stimulation, and helps mom feel calm and relaxed.
- Babies thrive better. Studies show that babies who co-sleep are physiologically and emotionally more sound than babies who sleep alone. They are found to be more content, with less behavioral problems, show less anxiety, and develop better self-esteem than children who sleep alone.
- Co-sleeping promotes parent-child bonding. Parents that co-sleep appreciate the closeness of their family even more.
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Co-sleeping with toddlers
As your baby grows into toddlerhood, however, you may need to think about transitioning him into his own bed, as co-sleeping may no longer be advisable. When exactly is that time? According to Paula A. Alonzo, M.D., a pediatrician at The Medical City, it’s when your child has outgrown his crib or when he’s literally climbing out of your bed.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
More importantly, the dangers of co-sleeping are as real as day. One of these is overlaying, or the possibility of the adult accidentally rolling over the child and suffocating him while he is deep in sleep.
Some others worry that a mom being available to breastfeed ‘round the clock may promote over-dependence, and make weaning from the breast difficult for the toddler.
Space may also be a problem as your child grows (we all know how kids toss and turn at night), and, relative to that, a couple’s alone time may suffer with a third person sharing the bed with them (these parents tried to get intimate, but got caught).
Get your toddler to sleep on his own
One way to encourage your toddler to sleep on his own is to find a "transitional object," such as a blankie or a stuffed toy, that may bring comfort to him when he goes to sleep even when you are not around. According to sleep coach Gabrielle Weil, the toddler age is a good time to start sleep training and introduce the idea of independence. “Separation anxiety is a definite reality up to around 18 months, but sleep is still manageable,” she says.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
To make the transition easier, Dr. Alonzo suggests to take it slow, and to make sure you tuck your child in bed in the first few instances. “Be prepared to stay in his room for at least an extra 30 minutes the first night, before his crying subsides. Also make sure that when he starts to cry again, you’ll be there in an instant.”
Studies also suggest to have a good dose of laughter with your child before bedtime. This helps your child feel connected with you, allowing him to go to sleep feeling secure and safe even if you're not lying on the bed with him. As a bonus, laughter also causes the body to produce melatonin, a hormone responsible for inducing sleep, so you could expect your child to rest soundly after a round of funnies.
Understandably, transitioning your toddler to sleep on his own is a big change and may bring feelings of worry or even fear to you as a parent. He may also take a while to adjust to the new set-up, but weigh the pros and cons and you might see how it could work out well in the end, not only for your child, but for your own health and well-being too.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
With additional text by Alizia Mariano
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