It is quite natural for babies to want closeness, day and night. Most of us still prefer to share our bed with a loved one, and the need for physical closeness is never truly outgrown.Having said that, your children will not be in your bed forever. Most children want to have their own bed sooner or later! Studies have shown that bed sharing is not only safe when practised sensibly, but also helps children grow into secure and well-adjusted adults.
No one has to get up – especially convenient in winter. Baby feels warm and safe. Parents feel secure knowing baby is right there with them. If baby has kicked off her blanket, she can simply be tucked in again. For many babies, this is the only place they get any significant stretches of sleep. If you are away from home, baby’s sleep may not be interrupted as much. Baby can help herself to the breast without really waking mummy. (A co-sleeping mother may breastfeed more often, but still gets the same amount of deep sleep as a mother with her baby in a separate room.) Can deepen the bonding between parents and baby. Promotes breastfeeding, increases milk production and inhibits ovulation. Co-sleeping decreases the amount of crying at night. When co-sleeping is practised as a parenting choice, it is generally a positive and satisfying experience for both parents.
Parents may not sleep very well with baby sleeping between them – some babies thrash their arms and legs, and make a lot of noise while asleep. Parents’ movements may disturb baby during sleep. Parents may feel a loss of privacy and intimacy. Some babies help themselves to a feed more regularly than the mother would prefer. Even the staunch family bed supporters admit it works best with only one child at a time. Not so easy with two or more! It may be hard to leave baby with a babysitter for the night. You may need to buy a bigger bed!
You should not sleep with your baby on a couch, on a waterbed, if you and/or your partner smoke, if your toddler already shares your bed, if you have been using alcohol or medication that makes you very drowsy.
Many parents prefer to create a special little space for their children to sleep, and go to a lot of trouble to make the nursery cheerful and cosy for their baby. Most parents agree that it would be nice if their children could all sleep in their own rooms – preferably right through the night! Even through this is a relatively new ‘trend’ in human history, it is widely accepted in Western culture that each child has their own bed, if not their own room, and many parents see this as the ideal.
Parents may sleep more soundly, not hearing every noise baby makes. Parents have their bed to themselves, with more privacy. Parents’ movements do not disturb baby during sleep. You may desperately need some time to yourself and body space, especially if you have spent the whole day nurturing your children.
Parents may lie awake worrying if baby is OK. Someone has to get up if baby calls. Parents and baby may miss each other during the night. Parents can experience separation anxiety too! Many families do a combination of these options. You might decide to have baby in your bed until she reaches a certain age, or you might prefer to have baby sleep the first half of the night in her own bed, and the rest of the night in the family bed. If the family bed is not working, try putting baby in her own bed. If she is not sleeping at all in her own bed, try the family bed! Don’t worry what others will say or think. You are the one who has to get some sleep, not them!