My 17- and 21-month-old daughters have taken to co-sleeping with one another. Each night my older daughter, Sandy, climbs into my younger daughter, Clementine’s, crib, causing me to look at the co-sleeping debate in a new light. As a foster parent, co-sleeping with my babies in my own bed was not an option, and I like to play by the rules. Additionally, each baby must have their own crib. However, apart from locking them in separate rooms, I have limited control over the situation — Sandy is a stealth climber!
So, what do I think about co-sleeping siblings, also called co-bedding, other than it being incredibly cute? I honestly wasn’t sure at first, so I set out to do some research. It turns out, there isn’t much out there. My first go-to is always the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). They do not support co-sleeping of infants with siblings (or adults) due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) but my daughters are only four months apart, so I set out to find information on twins. Most of the sibling co-sleeping warnings refer to the size and strength difference such as an 8 year-old sleeping with a 6 month-old.
I imagine that parents of twins oftentimes have questions of when and for how long to place babies together in a crib. The AAP does not specifically refer to twins in regard to this matter. I stumbled across a Durham University study which concluded that co-bedding did not appear to be more risky than separate sleeping for twin infants under three months of age. Additionally, co-bedded infants did not wake more frequently in the night than those sleeping separately, and infants sleeping in close bodily contact with one another did not exhibit increased core temperature (another SIDS risk).
Most helpful to me and my situation with Clementine and Sandy’s co-sleeping was the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s (NICHD) definition of SIDS as deaths in infants less than 1 year of age that occur suddenly and unexpectedly, and whose cause of death is not immediately obvious prior to investigation. Both girls have cleared the at-risk age. Subsequently, I’ve decided to use my own judgement and let Clementine and Sandy co-sleep. Sandy and Clementine’s weight differs by only one pound and while Sandy is the more agile of the two, Clementine is equally as strong. Neither girl will hesitate to protest when being annoyed or squished by the other.
Moving forward, I will continue to put the girls to bed separately and follow the NICHD Safe Sleep Environment recommendations which includes keeping cribs empty, babies dressed in light sleeping clothes, and not letting anyone smoke in the apartment. We all share a room and I’ll continue to check on them throughout the night, but I’ve decided not to wake them up to separate them. Honestly, I like that they sleep together. Sandy has always wanted to sleep in my bed with me and I’ve been emotionally torn between following the rules and giving her all of the cuddles and holding that she wants. Sandy sleeping with Clementine seems like the perfect compromise — and Clementine loves it just as much as Sandy. While it may take them a little longer to go to sleep at night because they are playing and babbling, they at least go to bed happily.
What do you think? Do your children co-sleep?