Co-sleeping, Bed Sharing, and the Family Bedroom

Posted 04-22-2011 at 12:06 PM by brewanothercup

At my son’s nine month baby checkup, the pedicitrian was someone we hadn’t seen before. She asked us all the usual questions and when I went to explain how the baby slept in bed with us, I felt something inside of me brace myself for the response.  I literally took a deep breath and told her he sleeps wonderful snuggled between us.

There are a lot of parenting things I find myself bracing for responses – for babywearing, for bed sharing, for cloth diapering.  I still remember what I used to think when I heard some of these things; I couldn’t imagine it and was so used to the “norm” of cribs and disposibles that I could hardly wrap my brain around why people would do something different.

I never understoood why people let their babies sleep in their rooms or their beds, and I cannot believe we are these people now.  I’m so happy we are, because waking up besides the two people I love most in the world is amazing.  I love the early morning and late night snuggles, the way he wakes up babbling and playing with my hair.  I couldn’t imagine now waking up with his feet tucked into my side to stay warm, and being able to watch him – at eye level – peacefully doze after a feeding is priceless.

There’s more to bedsharing and co-sleeping that just happiness, though. Breastfeeding mothers who share rooms or beds report they get more sleep throughout the night, and studies have shown that babies and mothers tune their sleep patterns so they are waking and in deep sleep at the same time. When people ask how I’m sleeping now that we have a baby, I don’t lie: I tell them this is the best sleep of my life.  It truly is.

Like I suspect a lot of parents do, I worried about SIDS and sleeping arrangements. I think that’s a personal decision every family has to make with their own research; that being said, we co-slept until my son outgrew his handmade cradle, and then we decided he was old enough to bring to bed with us because he was more mobile.  As working parents, I think continuing to share our bedroom with our son allows us to feel more connected to him.

In a psychology class at the University of Michigan I wrote a paper on the sleeping patterns of Americans versus native cultures; my classmates and I discovered that virtually none of us had co-slept with our parents for any extended amount of time.  When I interviewed my mother, a non-American, she said she wanted to foster independence and didn’t want to create a child who needed someone else for comfort.  There’s research to support that attachment parenting styles, including co-sleeping arrangements, foster this independence, too, because it allows children to more explore their world once they have sought out comfort.

At the end of the day, I think we all do what we believe is best for ourselves and our families; this is what works for us and even though I may brace myself for what over people think, I don’t mind. It works and I’m happy we stumbled upon this choice sooner than later.

Filed Under: Family Health, General


5 Responses to “Co-sleeping, Bed Sharing, and the Family Bedroom”

  1. Laundry Lady on April 22nd, 2011 3:01 pm

    That’s interesting that you brought your baby in the crib once he was mobile. That was around the time we had to stop letting our daughter sleep with us. I loved having her in bed with us, but no one was sleeping once she could crawl. It was miserable. When she was a newborn she nursed every 2 hours, sometimes almost an hour. It seemed easier to keep her in bed with us. It was summer, so we threw off the blankets and laid her between us in a sleep positioner. I miss that sometimes (she’s almost two now). But not enough to be kicked in the stomach two or three times an hour. You have to go with what works for you.

  2. Melissa on April 25th, 2011 7:52 am

    Thank you for this post. I am pregnant for the first time and I am very intrigued by the idea of co-sleeping. I really appreciate getting ideas from people who are actually co-sleeping with their children. I do have a question of a more delicate nature though. How do you, shall we say, try to make a new brother or sister while your first child is there in the bed or room with you? That just seems like an activity that the child should not be present for :) I hope you don’t mind the personal nature of this question, but it is truly a concern of mine.

  3. elizlind on April 25th, 2011 6:49 pm

    I can answer your question Melissa! It’s really simply – you find another place. Most people I’ve ‘spoken’ with online about co-sleeping all do the same thing. We simply go to another room.

  4. blueeyedgirl on April 26th, 2011 12:29 pm

    Nice note. I am not a cosleeper or an attachment parent at all, so our philosophies on babies are probably different. But I appreciate that you make decisions based on what you believe is best for your family and not out of fear. Snuggle time every morning sounds wonderful to me. :)

  5. twinboymama on May 5th, 2011 8:04 pm

    I love this blog. With twins there was no way I was going to walk across the house and feed them every 2 hrs. We did not put them in our bed because we have 3 large dogs and 2 sleep in the bed. we were afraid a dog might lay on them. They have slept in our room every night in a bassinett or their crib. Do what works for you is correct.

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