A slightly controversial topic, the fourth Baby B is Bedding close to baby. Unfortunately, co-sleeping has gotten a bit of a bad reputation and many parents are terrified when they so much as hear about it.
A necessary distinction that must be made is between bed sharing and room sharing, both of which are considered co-sleeping. Bed sharing involves the obvious- parents sleeping on the same surface as their children. Room sharing, on the other hand, has baby sleeping in the same room as the parents, but on separate sleeping surfaces.
Both of the above mentioned ways of sleeping have great benefits for the relationship between the parents and the child. Attachment Parenting followers believe that parenting duties do not end when the day is over and that the easiest way to respond to their child’s night time needs is to have him/her sleeping close by. However, close sleeping arrangements shouldn’t only be of interest to Attachment Parenting enthusiasts, as research has proven that babies who sleep in the same room as their parents have a lower risk of SIDS.
Somehow in the last decades, co-sleeping has gotten to be a practice that is not only widely unpopular in the Western World, but also often frowned upon. I wish people would take a minute to think about what human sleeping arrangements used to look like just a century or two ago. Having a separate room for every family member was an unthinkable luxury for most, and beds were often shared by many family members. Humans are certainly the only mammal that chooses to sleep away from their young. Most mothers do not feel comfortable having their baby far away from them, especially at night.
Since our modern adult beds are not designed for babies, bed sharing does have certain risks, especially when sleeping with a very young infant. However, there are several ways in which to co-sleep safely while ensuring that all parties are still comfortable, e.g. by using a co-sleeper, side-caring the baby’s crib, etc . For a list of safety precautions, please click here.
With my daughter, we room shared for about six months and then attempted to move her to her own room, mostly because my husband’s snoring would wake her up occasionally. However, when she started waking up every one to two hours a night to nurse, she quickly ended up being a constant occupant of our bed. When I found out I was expecting our second child, we decided that a king sized bed would be a wise investment…
With my son, we had a co-sleeper attached to our bed from the start. Slowly but surely, he ended up staying in our bed snuggled up to me. I especially loved this cuddle time because it was an occasion for us to just be together one-on-one (my husband was mostly passed out on the other side of the bed…)
For about a year now, we have had a great arrangement where R starts off in her own bed and then joins us in the big bed whenever she awakens- sometimes around midnight, rarely around five or six, most of the time somewhere in between. She comes in quietly, shuts the door behind herself, and squeezes in where she can find a spot. It is a lovely way to sleep together and I particularly love the extra snuggle time I get with my daughter, who is a busy toddler and not very interested in cuddling with me very much.
What I love most about co-sleeping is the extra sleep I have been able to get! Having a newborn was so much easier when he was right beside me and I could nurse him while dozing.
Tomorrow: Belief in the language value of your baby’s cry.
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