Posted on Nov 12, 2011 | Comments 0
We have spoken before about the history of co-sleeping and its possible benefits, and have also looked at the reasons why so many modern child care experts now do not favor the Ferber method of letting the child ‘cry it out’.
There is now mounting evidence that the more natural instinct of keeping a baby close to the mother letting the baby derive heat, security and comfort from the mother should be followed. Scientists from South Africa have found that being close to their mothers makes infants sleep better and also helps to reduce their stress levels.
Infant stress levels double if they are put in a cot straight away after birth, this new research says; that separating infants from the parents after birth actually increases infant stress levels.
This new research seems to support the emerging theories about the many benefits of skin to skin contact between new born babies and their mothers (in some cases having a life saving impact on a premature infant, superior to that of placing the baby in an incubator).
Not only is the stress level of a baby seen to rise, the baby is also less likely to sleep soundly when they are separated from the parent. In western societies, the idea of co-sleeping is still frowned on by many as being a ‘lazy’ way to raise an infant.
There is also the very real apprehension of increasing the risk of cot death (SIDS) and the fear that the parent may roll over and injure the baby in the case of co-sleeping.
For these as well as other reasons, it is standard procedure for hospitals separate new born babies from their mothers. In light of this research as well as the common sense understanding that keeping mother and baby close together is instinctive, natural and right, it may be time to review this standard operating procedure.
Even if some of us do scoff at the idea that parental separation is a major stressor for a baby (saying my babies turned out just fine being in a separate bedroom or similar), the possibility of the baby sustaining a profound impact from the maternal separation is not to be discounted.
It is certainly something to think about and weigh against any real requirement of separating the baby from the mother early on. And finally it is about seeing what really works well for each individual baby, and then modifying parenting methods accordingly.
Posted in: Baby Sleep