Posting a poster like this is just wrong and misleading:
I originally wrote the following post for the New York City Moms blog, which no longer exists. After seeing these horrific posters scaring parents about co-sleeping, I’m reposting it here.
Co-sleeping is safe – when practiced SAFELY. There are guidelines to be follow and responsible behavior is warranted, as there always is when parenting.
Yes, We Co-Sleep. There, the Secret is Out.
We co-sleep. There, I said it, the secret is out. Actually, this isn’t much of a revelation to my blog readers or to anyone who knows me, but I seem to be one of the few parents who don’t have a problem with telling people that my son, now almost 3 1/2 years old, sleeps next to me every night.
Did I plan to co-sleep? Not really.
I was entertaining the idea before the baby arrived; and I certainly wasn’t opposed to it. I knew there was no way I was going to put him in his own room all by himself, and we set up his beautiful crib right next to our bed. But once my son was born, that was too far away.
I breastfed him on demand, and instead of having to get up every hour, I had him right next to me. He’d latch on and off we were again to dreamland, compared to other moms who have to get their baby from the nursery or warm up a bottle. I’d wake up a lot, making sure the blanket never covered him past his belly button, but I’d almost do it instinctively in a kind of semi-sleep and had pretty restful nights right from the start.
My son was a very content baby, yet if I tried to put him down in his crib, he’d cry and cry. Co-sleeping was the charm.
I suspect that is what many parents find — maybe to their surprise or against their prior objections: co-sleeping feels natural, wanting to be close to your child is natural, and it works since everybody gets more rest.
After a little investigative questioning, I usually find out that many parents co-sleep with their small children, yet they don’t feel comfortable telling the whole world about it. Why, I wonder, do so many parents feel like they have to keep their co-sleeping arrangement a secret?
I suspect it has to do with not wanting to be judged by older generations, our parents and grandparents, who in most cases put us in a separate room the day they took us home and let us cry — “and see, you turned out just fine!” And we don’t want to do things very differently because it might make them think we criticize their parenting style or hurt their feelings.
I tried that Ferber, let-him-cry-it-out method for two nights — and my son and I were in tears for hours.
I was in the room with him because I wanted him to at least know that I hadn’t abandoned him, but the whole time a voice inside me kept screaming, “Why does this feel so wrong to me? Having him not next to me goes against every instinct I have as a mother! Why am I forcing something on us when co-sleeping is working so beautifully?”
I tried it because I felt pressured to teach my son to self-sooth and sleep by himself, and the only thing it accomplished was to make me angry that I actually had been that impressionable and had put us both through that “ferberizing” agony.
Another reason why talking about co-sleeping might be such a taboo is that people wonder how you can be intimate with your partner while a child is also in the bed. What cracks me up is that we are so bashful when talking about sex in America, but when it comes to co-sleeping, all we think of is how not enough sex is happening in the bed. Obviously second children are born to co-sleeping families!
Co-sleeping lets children (and parents) sleep more contently and — when done safely — some studies even suggest that co-sleeping helps protect against SIDS. For more info, Kellymom has a wonderful list of resources, articles, and research studies on this subject.
Humans started out co-sleeping, having babies sleep in their own rooms is a pretty new concept — one that doesn’t seem to work for many families today, considering how many I know who share a family bed.
So co-sleeping parents of the world, stand up tall for what works for your family and don’t be shy to announce, “Yes, we co-sleep.”
Times change — heck, my mom went grocery shopping while we were napping! — and co-sleeping with our children is how a lot of us are parenting nowadays. It’ll be interesting what the next generation ends up doing.
Here are the comments I received on the NYC Moms Blog:
Leon Hoffman said… Why are there more books on sleeping than on any other developmental issue? Because all parents want to ease, as much as possible, their children’s transition from wakefulness to sleep. Each family and each child have different needs, therefore what works for one family does not always work for another family.
Co-sleeping (or using a family bed) may be a source of comfort or may be a source of tension in the family. Parents have to try to work this out as best they can.
Reply April 04, 2010 at 05:49 AM Dagmar Bleasdale said in reply to Leon Hoffman…
Hi Leon, thank you for your excellent comment. Just my point: do what works for your family. I think as long as everyone in the family is happy with the arrangement, go for it. Once one member of the family isn’t happy anymore, you need to find a different solution to avoid resentment and problems. Best, Dagmar
Reply April 04, 2010 at 06:06 AM Sheryl @ Little Snowflakes said… We also didn’t plan on co-sleeping – it just happened naturally…it was the only way I could get rest. My son also resisted his crib, and would only sleep snuggled next to me. At first I felt guilty about it – that my son “should” sleep in a crib…but I eventually gave into it and now my husband and I love co-sleeping with our now 2 year old. Lately he has been waking up and saying I love you mommy. What could be better than that?
Reply April 06, 2010 at 06:37 AM Natalie said… We do partial co-sleeping. My two start out the night in their own space, then migrate when they need us. It gives us some time with the bed to ourselves, but we are still able to enjoy the cuddle time and convenience benefits… only have to get up and get a baby once! The toddler can climb in on his own. ;)
Reply April 08, 2010 at 06:33 AM Nanci Harvey said…
I have had five kids the first four I did the “right” thing and they slept in a cradle next to my bed till about three months then went to a nursery down the hall. It was okay and I didn’t really know or hear anything else. I did breast feed but always put the baby back in the cradle. THEN I had my last daughter she was colicky and very small and just a very unhappy girl from the star. I breast fed her to and there was just no way she was going to sleep anywhere but with me. So we slept together for four years. It was great for her and me. Now I tell others about this as at least as and option to the crib down the hall. Nanci