Co-sleeping may sound like a hippy-dippy practice only maintained on communes and by Maggie Gyllenhaal’s delightful character in Away We Go, but it’s actually far more common than you might realize. In fact, studies have shown that co-sleeping is widely practiced and widely underreported. Why? Parents simply don’t want to admit they’re co-sleeping, because of stigma and presumed risks. Because yes, the practice has ben linked to sleep-related deaths — but there are absolutely ways to co-sleep safely, as the celebs ahead (and so many of us moms who also do this, either out of desire or necessity) can show. In fact, a Yale University study showed that the number of parents and kids who co-sleep nearly doubled between the ’90s and 2018.
Board-certified lactation consultant Leigh Anne O’Connor tells SheKnows that not only is co-sleeping safe when practiced correctly; it actually decreases the SIDS risks if the parent is nursing the co-sleeping baby. “The baby and their breastfeeding parent attune to each other in a specific way when they are breastfeeding. The baby picks up the breathing pattern of their parent,” O’Connor explains. As for co-sleeping with older kids? Well, there’s really not much of a risk at all there — other than, you know, a potential kick to the eye and/or a dent in your sex life.
And although co-sleeping has spurred major debate, there are plenty of celebs who swear by it for reasons as varied as the families themselves. Plus, co-sleeping is just one spoke of the whole attachment parenting wheel — along with practices like extended breastfeeding, baby-led weaning, and baby-wearing — that hopes to encourage family bonding and closeness in a safe, natural way. Who can argue with that? (You can, of course — but if you choose to do so in the comments, please do it kindly. Alanis Morissette may be watching.)
A version of this story was originally published in March 2016.
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