When my husband and I first started talking about having a family, we had our list of things we would not allow our children to do.
They would not throw tantrums in public.
They would eat what we prepared for them.
They would not back talk.
And they certainly would not sleep in our bed. After all, that was our space and we did not want children in our bed with us.
It didn’t take long before we realized we had no idea of what it would be like to be parents!
When we made that pledge, we did not know the challenges life would throw at us. We did not know I would wind up pregnant with identical twin girls and be hospitalized three times, the final time for almost five weeks. We did not know that two days after being born, one of our twins would die. We did not know a lot of things before we had children.
As parents do, we adjust to life. Our parenting techniques adjust as the situation requires. And over time, our views on co-sleeping changed.
We did well enforcing the “no sleeping in our bed” with our first child, although we probably would have slept more if we’d just allowed him to crawl into bed with us. He was three and a half before he stopped waking up in the middle of the night.
Our second child was off to a great start. We moved her into a toddler bed at a young 18 months of age to prepare for the arrival of the twins.
And then I went into the hospital. My husband, who spent long days at work and then time with me in the hospital, often got home after the children were asleep. He missed them, and he started bringing our almost two year old daughter into the bed with him, so that he could at least have some time with her.
And there it began. Over two years later, she still comes to get in our bed in the middle of the night every night. We created a monster of habit. (My child is not a monster, she just does not want to get out of our bed!) 🙂
When she was smaller, it was easier to just let her crawl into the bed with us. Rather than getting up and soothing her back to sleep, she would just nuzzle in and fall right to sleep. And we were tired.
So we let her stay. Now she is four. Part of me loves the fact that she crawls in bed, snuggles up to me, kisses me, and loves on me. That is our special time. But by about the fifth time she kicked me, stolen the covers, or nearly edged me off the bed, I start to wonder if perhaps it is time to figure out how to get her back into her own bed. Permanently.
Co-sleeping can have many benefits, but if you are co-sleeping with an infant, make sure you know the associated risks.
The American Pediatrics Association (APA) encourages parents not to co-sleep with infants. Infants should sleep on their back in their own beds to avoid, the risks of suffocation, accidental death, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) – a condition in which the baby dies without explanation during sleep, and also with suffocation.
The March of Dimes provides the following information:
Why is co-sleeping risky?
During co-sleeping, a baby can be smothered by pillows, suffocated by an adult, or caught someplace where they are unable to breathe.
How is SIDS related to co-sleeping?
About half of all SIDS deaths happen when a baby shares a bed, sofa or sofa chair with another person. To lower your baby’s chances of SIDS, don’t co-sleep if:
- Your baby is younger than 3 months of age.
- Your partner or other children sleep in your bed.
- You smoke, even if you don’t smoke in bed.
- You’re very tired.
- You’ve had alcohol, used street drugs or taken certain medicines, like antidepressants. These things can make it hard for you to wake up or respond to your baby.
There are always two sides to each coin, and many groups still advocate for the benefits of co-sleeping with an infant. They provide guidelines for safe co-sleeping. The website Co-Sleeping provides safety tips and guidelines. There are even special infant bed attachments that allow you the benefits of co-sleeping while still providing a safe place for the baby. If you choose to co-sleep with an infant, make sure you understand and follow the safe co-sleeping guidelines.
As with all parenting decisions, do your research, weigh the risks, and determine what is best for your own family.
Do you co-sleep? Why are why not?