The American Academy of Pediatrics cautions against sleeping with an infant in your bed because of the potential danger of accidental suffocation. But co-sleeping proponents say that as as long as you co-sleep safely, the advantages outweigh the slim risks.
Co-sleeping fans point out that in most of the world, the family bed rather than a baby crib is the norm. In fact, up until about 150 years ago, in the United States, babies and young children generally slept with their parents.
Attachment parenting guru Dr. Sears believes that co-sleeping is the ultimate in family bonding. “Since nighttime is scary time for little people, sleeping within close touching and nursing distance minimizes nighttime separation anxiety and helps baby learn that sleep is a pleasant state to enter and a fearless state to remain in,” said Dr. Spears.
ParentDish’s recent story “Should Your Family Share a Bed?” discusses the issue of the family bed for older kids — in today’s individualistic society, does it send a confusing message to toddlers?
As with most parenting issues, you’ll get a difference answer depending on whom you ask.
“As children get older in our culture, toddlers begin to separate,” Tova Klein, director of the Barnard Center for Toddler Development told ParentDish. “It can get confusing for a child sleeping with a parent at a time when they’re supposed to be separating.”
Dr. Ferber warns that once you’re kids get used to sleeping in your bed, it might be difficult to eventually get them out.
But others say that children who co-sleep feel more secure and confident when they eventually strike out on their own.
Like a lot of parents, my husband and I never set out to co-sleep. It was simply the path of least resistance. When our daughters were babies and they woke in the middle of the night to nurse, I would generally bring them into bed and we’d all fall back to sleep.
At some point (around six months), my husband informed me it was either the baby or him in the bed. I felt strongly that my husband should sleep in bed with me and not on the couch, so I moved the baby back to the crib and we’ve generally kept our kids out of the bed ever since.
I’m on board with Dr. Sears when he says that, “Wherever all family members get the best night’s sleep is the right arrangement for your individual family.” To get more information, check out Babble’s guide to co-sleeping.
Is The Family Bed right for you and your family?