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Co-sleeping vs. Independent Sleep: The Ultimate Guide for New Parents

Co-sleeping vs. Independent Sleep: The Ultimate Guide for New Parents

Did you know 9 in 10 families co-sleep, but only 9% actually planned for this ahead of the birth of their little one!? (The Lullaby Trust) So, whether we plan for it or not, a small human is most likely to end up in our beds at some point during parenthood.

 Let's look at the difference between independent and co-sleeping arrangements, weigh up the pros and cons of both, and get an understanding of how to co-sleep more mindfully if and when it happens.

Independent sleep

Lots of families set out anticipating separate sleep spaces for them and their babies, so let’s look at the options for this as well as some pros and cons!

What are the options for Independent sleep:

  • Cot

  • Moses basket

  • Sidecar crib

  • Baby box

  • Own room (After 6 months)


  • ‘Safer’ sleeping independently as they are in a safe sleep space on a firm flat surface with no loose items. It may help to minimise the risk of SIDS
  • Babies who are light sleepers may find these babies less disturbed by being in their own sleep space.
  • As a parent, you may feel you sleep better with them in a separate sleep space


  • Babies may be more upset when waking up alone and may mean they require more intervention from you when they do wake.
  • Feeding during the night requires you to get up out of bed and retrieve them, which may disrupt them.
  • It can be harder to transfer them to a separate sleep space if they fall asleep while feeding or being held.
  • There is a higher risk you may fall asleep whilst in an unsafe co-sleeping arrangement.


Co-sleep refers to a shared sleep space between a parent and baby or child.

TIP: The safest position to cosleep in is the C curve like this.

What are the options for co-sleeping:

  • Shared parental bed

  • Floor bed; a floor bed is simply a mattress on the floor in a childproofed room, meaning they can be left to sleep independently.


  • Can reduce stress for both parent and baby and means both are able to get more sleep.
  • Feeding can be easier & checking on them is more practical as they are right beside you.
  • Both youand baby may sleep better as a result of cosleeping, wakes may be less frequent and shorter in duration.
  • Attachment is benefited by close proximity and responsiveness. Often babies who co-sleep may not even cry upon waking and simply roll over for comfort or feeding when they require it.
  • Co-sleeping doesn’t last forever


  • It can be less safe due to higher exposure to risks like loose bedding.
  • Babies may be less able to regulate their temperature when cosleeping which could lead to them getting too hot.
  • Unsafe with other children and pets in the bed.
  • Children accustomed to cosleeping can be slower transitioning to independent sleep.

HINT: You may like yo try an adult sleeping bag, which is fitted around the feet and provides a warm and safe cover for you whilst cosleeping!

The general guidance for safe cosleeping involves:

  1. Remain with your baby at all times when they sleep in a parental bed
  2. Make sure you have a firm flat mattress and no loose bedding or pillows where the baby is sleeping
  3. Make sure that the baby cannot get trapped, wedged or fall out of the bed.
  4. Smoking, drinking or taking medication is not advised when cosleeping with a baby as this can increase the risk of SIDS.
  5. Do not cosleep with a baby that weighs less than 2.5 kg or is premature.
  6. Avoid co-sleeping on sofas.

Which means better sleep!?

This is dependent on several factors, including caregivers' sleep preferences and babies' sleeping styles. You are best positioned to decide what will be the best setup for you! It ultimately comes down to what feels the best fit for you and your baby!

Some studies have found that breastfeeding and cosleeping mothers experience less sleep disturbance than their peers due to less fragmented sleep. Babies are able to latch to feed and be comforted without significant disruption to a mother's sleep.

On the other hand, those who are really light sleepers may find the movement and noise of a baby sharing the bed more disruptive than getting up to tend to them!

What else do you need to consider before deciding on an appropriate sleep space?

Its not fixed: Your ideas and preferences may change throughout your childs development (or even a few times in a single night!) what matters is you are aware of your choices and can make safe choices for you and your baby.

Temperament: a child's personality plays a big role in their sleeping preferences. For more independent and confident little ones they may be perfectly happy sleeping in their own sleep space, whilst others may feel much greater need for parental comfort in order to relax. Neither is better nor worse, simply different!

Pets and siblings: these can impact how safely you can cosleep with a little one and should be considered when opting to do so.

For more tips and information, check out these resources or head over to our social media pages for hints and tips!

For advice and support head to The Little Sleep Company website

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