There has been a lot of press about co-sleeping and the family bed, both positive and negative. Backed by proponents of attachment parenting, it is one of those subjects that create fiery opinions on both sides of the fence.
It is certainly not a practice that is right for everyone but for those that support co-sleeping it is an important part of their family bonding experience.
Co-sleeping, sleep sharing, bed sharing, and the family bed are all terms used to describe parents having their babies and toddlers in bed with them as they sleep. Proponents of attachment parenting believe that lots of skin on skin contact and closeness to mom and dad help little ones develop into confident, well-adjusted adults.
Those that are vehemently against the practice feel that co-sleeping is dangerous for the child and does not promote independence. Further they feel it can create problems in the relationship due to loss of intimacy.
Co-sleeping has been practiced by many cultures and for thousands of years. It has only been in recent generations that it became normal to put a baby in another bed, as well as in another room.
I am not a specialist, nor do I have a medical degree, but I do have a lot of experience with co-sleeping because it was something that I did. There came a point when, as a new mom, I realized that I was not getting enough sleep. I never believed in letting a baby cry it out and so I would be up and down much of the night nursing, rocking, and comforting my babies.
One night I was so exhausted that I kept falling asleep in the rocking chair. I was so afraid that I would doze off and drop the baby that I took her back to my bed and pulled her to me.
That was the beginning of being rested despite being a new mom. When baby needed to nurse I instinctively pulled her toward me in my sleep, waking up only enough to ensure that she was latched on and comfortable. She slept better, I slept better, and the world was a happy place.
People told me that she would be in our bed forever, that it would put an undue strain on my relationship with my husband, and that she would be afraid to be alone. The same thing was said as I co-slept with each of the next seven babies.
Honestly, all of them moved to their own beds about the same time that they decided to stop nursing. There were no traumatic tantrums or overly-dependent children. Some of my children sleep more soundly than others; some are night owls and some are early risers but their sleep patterns have more to do with their own systems than co-sleeping.
My relationship with my husband didnâ€™t suffer. We did eventually divorce but it was long after the last child had left our bed and the problem was not a result of the co-sleeping. If you think that the only place for intimacy is at night in the bedroom, then you donâ€™t have much of an imagination. Sleeping with your baby does not need to interfere with intimacy if you just think outside the box a little bit.
Co-sleeping is not right for every family and few people are lukewarm about the practice. You either think it is fabulous or you hate it. Each couple will need to make their own decision based on their lifestyle and personalities. For us, it was the perfect solution. I am not a fun person when I am cranky from lack of sleep.
Did you practice co-sleeping? If so, what were your experiences?
photo credit: eyeliam