I never thought I would be that co-sleeping Mom with all those kids in her bed… but alas, three kids later I am and honestly… I don’t mind at all! My oldest son who is three is still in my bed, and upon our release from the hospital my newborn Addison will be joining us.
We have a co-sleeper that attaches to the bed I am hoping to get some use out of with her though. My youngest son who will be two never had much interest in sleeping in our bed and preferred the co-sleeper. Most important to me was having the children in my bedroom and close to me. Not just because of the ease in the middle of the night, but because of the lower risk for SIDS, and of course the bonding.
Before I had my own children I heard all about children loosing their independence from co-sleeping too long, or parents that would never be able to get their children to exit into their own beds. Sure, I was scared of that happening, but in reality… I would much rather meet the needs of my children than complain about what I think they should be doing.
Then I read a great article out of the United Kingdom the other day. Someplace in the world where co-sleeping is the norm, and not looked at like some kind of uber crunchy hippy parenting type thing to do.
Instead of looking at opinion or information based on behavior, the evidence discussed is backed up by actual scientific evidence, which was something new at least for me in the articles regarding co-sleeping. Some of the most interesting findings of these studies, at least to me, included:
A neurological study three years ago showed that a child separated from a parent experienced similar brain activity to one in physical pain.
One study that found some 70% of women who had not been comforted when they cried as children developed digestive difficulties as adults.
Sunderland argues that putting children to sleep alone is a peculiarly western phenomenon that may increase the chance of cot death, also known as sudden infant death syndrome (Sids). This may be because the child misses the calming effect on breathing and heart function of lying next to its mother.
“In the UK, 500 children a year die of Sids,” Sunderland writes. “In China, where it [co-sleeping] is taken for granted, Sids is so rare it does not have a name.”
The last piece of information I found most interesting… China doesn’t even have a name for SIDS because it happens so little. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could lower the rate of SIDS worldwide by helping to educate parents on safe co-sleeping.
Mind you, co-sleeping as a whole simply includes sharing the same bedroom… it does not need to be in the same bed by any means. Of course co-sleeping is not going to be for everyone, but it certainly is something more people should take a second look at.
As for my experience with independent children and co-sleeping… my three year old has co-slept almost from day one, and he couldn’t be more independent. He will sleep on his own, in his own bed without any issue, but I don’t force it. My youngest son who co-slept for months, has made the choice to sleep 100% on his own at this point with no interest in sharing our bed, or bedroom at this point.
I think the more you let children make their own choices sometimes, while they may seem like choices we as parents should be making for them, the better off the children, and family may be as a whole.