Q&A: Co-sleeping, Polio, Breastfeeding, and Class Size
Welcome to Ask ParentData. It’s Q&A Friday! A reminder that you can submit questions for future weeks here. As always, the first question is available to all subscribers (today: co-sleeping), and there are a few bonus ones behind the paywall (polio, small class size benefits, breastfeeding duration). If you’re enjoying this, or any of the content of ParentData, please consider supporting us by becoming a paid subscriber.
Co-sleeping with a 1-year-old or sleep train them in their own space? I actually like co-sleeping, but are there reasons we should keep a kid in their own space?
What I love about the phrasing of this question is you’re clear on your preferences. In this case, in the end, that’s going to be a big part of the decision, so it’s important to acknowledge it up front.
To start, though, there are two issues to raise with co-sleeping. The first is that co-sleeping with an infant is associated with an increased risk of SIDS. I talk a lot about this in Cribsheet. One very important note from that discussion is that the increase in risk is much, much larger if parents are drinking alcohol heavily or smoking, and if there are covers and pillows in the bed. If you do choose to co-sleep with an infant, it’s important to educate yourself about how to do it as safely as possible. There is still an elevated risk with it, but it is very small, and may be outweighed by other considerations.
I mention this because it’s a key part of the co-sleeping discussion, but with an older baby (like yours), this SIDS risk is negligible, so I do not think it should be part of your consideration.
The second issue is that research has shown that children who sleep in their own room by four months sleep better than those who are room sharing — also better at nine months and at two years. So it is possible that moving your child to their own space would improve their sleep. How valuable this is depends, at least in part, on the quality of sleep you and your child are currently getting.
It sounds like you are happy with your current setup, which suggests to me that you’re getting enough sleep and so is your child. In which case, there is no data-based reason not to stick with it.
The one final consideration I’d give you, in thinking about this decision, is to work down the time tree a bit. Is there some point at which you will want your child in their own room? If you know you’ll eventually need to make this transition, you may want to think about the right timing and how you’ll do it. For some people, they’re happy with co-sleeping as long as their kids want to (your 11-year-old will almost certainly not want to). For others, they see a parent-oriented end date. This is worth thinking through deliberately, so you do not find yourself in a situation you didn’t expect (or one where you and your partner are having conflict about it).