Plus de sommeil pour la maman qui allaite

One of the biggest challenges of becoming a parent is getting through the sleepless nights without leaving your health (physical and mental). Some babies will sleep like dormice from birth, others will take more than two years to put on between 8 and 12 hours of sleep.

As an exhausted parent, you wonder how you will cope. We are starting to read blogs on infant sleep and learn from those around us. Some will tell you about a “foolproof trick” or a special technique, while others will simply tell you to be patient.

So, if you don’t want to let your child cry (5-10-15 technique, for example) and spend whole nights rocking and breastfeeding your offspring is not an option, what is left?

The co-sleeping is not unanimous

In Quebec as in the rest of North America, the co-sleeping technique (sharing the bed or shared sleeping) was declared risky for the health and life of an infant several years ago. Sleeping in the same bed as your child has been associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

The recommendations of the National Institute of Public Health and the Canadian Pediatric Society remain the same: the safest place for a baby to sleep is his own bed (cradle, bassinet, bunk) in the parents’ room (the first six months).

Mais que faire quand on n’y parvient pas? Quand bébé ne dort tout simplement pas seul dans son lit?

L’UNICEF de son côté explique aux mères qui allaitent comment dormir avec son bébé de façon sécuritaire.

Alors si vous choisissez de dormir dans le même lit que votre bébé, il est important d’être bien informé.

Des études confuses

Plusieurs études ne font pas la distinction entre le cododo sécuritaire (voir les 11 règles de sécurité) et le dodo sur un divan ou dans un fauteuil. D’autres (surtout plus anciennes) ne distinguent même pas le SMSN de la suffocation, de l’hyperthermie ou de la strangulation. Les conclusions ne reflètent pas du tout la réalité d’un partage de lit fait dans les règles de l’art. Il n’y a donc pas de consensus clair dans la communauté scientifique d’un lien entre le partage de lit et le SMSN.

D’un point de vue anthropologique, le partage du lit a permis à l’espèce de survivre. Imaginez : laisseriez-vous votre bébé seul dans le noir sur un lit de paille alors que des animaux affamés rodent autour de votre gite (caverne, abri, campement)?

Ailleurs dans le monde, les cultures sont nombreuses à encourager le cododo. Il s’agit même de la norme pour bon nombre d’entre elles.

Les avantages du cododo

De plus en plus de professionnels de la santé s’ouvrent à la technique de partage de lit (infirmières, médecins, consultantes en lactation, etc.) pour de nombreuses raisons :

  1. Permet un meilleur sommeil des parents. Les mères qui font du cododo n’ont pas à se lever (et donc à se réveiller complètement) pour nourrir leur enfant. Avec l’expérience, elles allaitent même en dormant. Il a aussi été prouvé que le cododo synchronisait les cycles de sommeil de la mère et de l’enfant.
  2. Facilite l’attachement. Grâce au peau à peau et au contact physique prolongé, le lien d’attachement entre la mère et l’enfant est plus facile.
  3. Le cododo favorise l’allaitement. Le sein étant plus accessible rapidement, les mères qui dorment avec leur bébé allaitent plus longtemps de façon exclusive. Il a d’ailleurs été prouvé que l’allaitement protégeait contre le SMSN.
  4. Favorise une meilleure régulation physiologique du bébé. En expirant, la mère augmente l’apport en CO2 (dioxyde de carbone) autour du nez du bébé, stimulant ainsi sa respiration. Le bébé se réveille aussi plus fréquemment, mais se rendort plus rapidement et facilement parce qu’il s’apaise en étant auprès de sa mère. Aussi, la mère vérifie inconsciemment (plus de 20 fois par nuit!) l’état de son bébé (température, respiration, position…).
  5. Entraîne des phases de sommeil profond plus courtes. Selon l’anthropologue James McKenna, le cododo diminue la durée des phases de sommeil plus profond (3 et 4) du bébé; ce qui pourrait réduire les risques de SMSN.
  6. Lower probability of baby sleeping on tummy . It’s not yet clear why, but babies who sleep next to their mothers almost always do so on their backs (or on their side when latching on). The prone position is the number one risk factor for SIDS.
  7. Long-term benefits for the child . According to lactation consultant and nurse Isabelle Côté, children who have shared their mother’s bed have more social activities, have fewer two-year-old seizures ( terrible two ), are less anxious and less fearful, have a greater feeling of satisfaction with life and even have a better neuro-affective response to stress in adulthood.

The risks of co-sleeping

There are also risks in bed sharing .

  1. Risk of accidental suffocation . The baby could suffocate if a parent rolls over, if a blanket prevents them from breathing, if they lie on their stomach on a mattress that is too soft, or if a pillow or cushion blocks their airways.
  2. The SIDS . If parents smoke , the risk of SIDS is doubled. By sharing a bed with our baby, we increase the risk that it is too hot (blanket, temperature of the room, etc.).
  3. Physical hazards . The baby could fall from the bed or get caught (between the mattress and the wall or headboard, for example).

Safety instructions: an ESSENTIAL!

To reduce these risks associated with co-sleeping, there are some basic rules to follow. (The safety guidelines are much the same whether your child is sleeping in their own bed or by your side.) It is important to know that if you are not able to follow all of these guidelines, it is recommended that you put your child to sleep. child in a bassinet or cradle next to your bed.

  1. Do not co-sleep if you are not breastfeeding , if you smoke, if you are not the mother, or if you suspect another risk.
  2. Do NEVER sleep on a sofa , chair or other furniture that is not a bed The risk of an incident is greatly increased. This is why some experts offer voluntary co-sleeping in bed: to reduce the risk of a tired mother falling asleep in a chair or sofa while breastfeeding a demanding baby.
  3. The child should sleep on a firm mattress (no soft surface, water bed and beware of memory foam) in a cool room (between 16 and 20 degrees).
  4. There must be sufficient distance between the mattress and the wall so that the child does not get stuck. Ideally, the mattress should be on the floor and away from the walls.
  5. Remove blankets, soft pillows and cushions from the bed. (You can opt for a thin sheet up to the waist). No blanket should cover baby’s head.
  6. NEVER let an infant sleep alone in an adult bed.
  7. Do not sleep with your baby if you have consumed alcohol, drugs, or other medicines that could make them fall asleep.
  8. Do not sleep with your baby if you are extremely tired (more than usual).
  9. The child must not sleep between the two parents. If another child is sleeping in the bed, the mother should separate him from the infant. The other parent must be informed of the baby’s presence in the bed.
  10. The mother should be lying on her side, with the arm extended forward and with the knee bent and slightly raised. The child is in the crook of the arm, on the back or on the side (when breastfeeding).
  11. Long hair should be tied back.

According to studies from 2004 and 2006, mothers who exclusively breastfeed and co-sleeper have the most hours of sleep of all new mothers.


It is normal for you to feel aches and pains the first few nights of co-sleeping. Take the opportunity to have your spine checked. Chiropractic care will help you get through this more difficult step. This is especially true for moms who used to sleep on their backs or change positions often during the night.

Note that it is important to keep your lower arm (on which you are lying) at shoulder height. Do not mount it above your head, you may injure your joint and shoulder muscles.

Source: .

Some reading suggestions to learn more about the safety rules to respect in a co-sleeping.

If co-sleeping is not an option

Co-sleeping may not be an option in your case: because you are not breastfeeding, because you are afraid or uncomfortable, because you are in pain, because your mattress is too soft, because that you smoke, because it doesn’t match your values, etc. There are other solutions for you. Manufacturers offer small portable beds that fit on the parent’s bed. Bassinest offers the Halo, a swivel cradle that keeps baby close to you, while leaving him on his own sleeping surface. Co-sleeping type beds are not approved by Health Canada.

Here are some reading suggestions:

  • Baby sleeps at night , Cathryn Tobins, L’Homme editions.
  • A peaceful and tearless sleep , Elizabeth Pantley, Art de taming editions.

Accept reality

Co-sleeping or not, as a parent we must learn to lower our expectations. It is normal for babies not to sleep six hours at a stretch from birth. The infant has specific needs for affection, closeness and nutrition. If he wakes up frequently, it is simply to ensure his survival. Even some experts claim that frequent nocturnal awakenings are beneficial for the neurological development of the child. Think about it next night!

Sometimes we just have to learn to appreciate those quiet and sweet moments at night, when we live at a different pace, alone with baby. The next day, we’ll take a nap and the dishes will wait!


Baddock et al. (2006), “Differences in Infant and Parent Behaviors During Routine Bed Sharing Compared with Co-Sleeping in the Home Settings”, Pediatrics , 117 (5), 1599-1607.
Research by James McKenna:
Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (2008), ABM Clinical Protocol # 6: /10.1089/bfm.2007.9979
Quillin et al. (2004), “Interaction Between Feeding Method and Co-Sleeping on Maternal-Newborn Sleep”, Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing , 33: 580–588.