Parents have been sharing their sleep space with their infants and children for thousands of years. The idea of a crib and a separate bedroom is a relatively new one — moms several hundred years ago would have found the idea quite odd and unnatural. The modern push toward early independence has changed the mainstream mindset so parents today feel they need to separate themselves from their newborns from the beginning.
Just one facet of attachment parenting, bed sharing is beneficial in many different ways. One of the top reasons moms give is easier access to breastfeeding. Dani, mom of 3-year-old Laura, says, "When I was in the hospital, the nurses showed me how to side nurse — and after that I was hooked." Often a mother is able to sense her baby waking and position her to nurse before she becomes upset and cries. Both Mom and Baby then drift off to sleep with minimal disturbance.
Also, moms who co-sleep generally get more sleep than those who choose a crib paired with a separate bedroom. Brittney, mom of 1-year-old Bella, agrees. "When she was a newborn I never had the terrible lack of sleep that a lot of parents go through," she said. "Once we got in the groove of things our whole family was able to get a full night's sleep every night."
Elizabeth, mama of girls Evelyn and Aubrey, had a similar experience. "It's so much easier to wake up at the first signs of fussing, rather than the full-on crying they'd be doing if I had to hear them over a monitor and then get up and tend to them," she said.
Tonya, mother of 13-year-old Sebastian, got negative feedback on their sleeping arrangement but went with her instincts. "I was never worried about all the things people told me, like he would be a 'sissy' or he would never graduate to his own room," she said. "I even had a woman tell me it was abuse! Most of my parenting philosophy on things like that was that he'll do it when he's ready with my help. So far, so good!"
While some worry co-sleeping will put a baby in danger, it is not the case as long as you practice safe co-sleeping. Here are some safe sleeping tips that you will want to keep in mind if you decide to sleep with your child.
Jen, whose mother co-slept with her when she was a baby, loves the bond she has with her family. "I'm really close to my parents, especially my mom," she said. "I know so many people who don't have the bond that I do with my mom and I feel bad for them for that because I wouldn't trade it for the world. My mom is the most important person in my life."
While co-sleeping isn't for everyone, it is a valuable option. What choice will you make?
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