Hello, my name is Jillyn and our daughter sleeps in bed with us.
I know many feel that this is a stupid, selfish, uninformed, dangerous thing to do. Many wonder why i would "risk" my child's life like that. Others believe that we'll never get her out of our bed. And even others believe that you cannot have a sex life if your child sleeps in your bed.
But i know the truth.
I am not risking my daughter's life. She will sleep in her own bed someday. And we can have a sex life.
First, we must get one thing clear. Co-sleeping and Bedsharing are not the same thing. Bedsharing is the act of having your child IN BED with you. "The term co-sleeping refers to any situation in which a committed adult caregiver, usually the mother, sleeps within close enough proximity to her infant so that each, the mother and infant, can respond to each other’s sensory signals and cues." (James J. McKenna Ph.D.)
It is important to know these differences since many people claim that co-sleeping is dangerous. Yet having your child sleeping in a crib in your room is considered co-sleeping and there is nothing dangerous about that. In fact "merely having an infant sleeping in a room with a committed adult caregiver (cosleeping) reduces the chances of an infant dying from SIDS or from an accident by one half!" (James J. McKenna Ph.D.). Yes, you read that right. Just having your child sleep in your room reduces the risk of them dying by SIDS or an accident by 50%!
And then to say that bedsharing is dangerous is not entirely true. It is completely possible to create a safe sleeping environment for your child in your bed. There are rules you need to follow, just like there are rules for safe crib sleeping.
"The key to any sleeping arrangement in any household is safety and understanding and elimination of potential risk factors. While no sleeping arrangement can be a 100% guarantee that there will be no problems, there are many things that parents do not know about creating a safe sleep space for their children. In the CPSC study, most deaths occurred simply because parents did not put into practice safety precautions for their babies. According to the National SIDS Alliance, approximately 2,700 babies die each year from SIDS; the vast majority of those sleeping alone in a crib. In the CPSC study, 515 died between 1990 to 1997 directly as a result of poor safety in co-sleeping. Since much research has linked co-sleeping to decreased SIDS incidence, it is imperative that parents educate themselves about safety rather than blame the sleeping arrangements for causing harm." (Jay Gordon M.D.)
So, how does one bedshare more safely?
Katie Allison Granju, author of Attachment Parenting: Instinctive Care for Your Baby and Young Child (which is a book i highly recommend), recommends these safety factors when co-sleeping (many can be applied to crib sleep as well):
- When using a standard, off-the-floor bed, be absolutely sure that your baby cannot roll or fall off the sides.
- Young infants should sleep between their mother and the bed rail, not between both parents or beside an older sibling.
- Make sure that your mattress or futon provides a firm sleeping surface. Never, ever allow an infant to sleep on a waterbed, featherbed, beanbag, deep pillowtop mattress or other inappropriately soft surface.
- Never sleep with your baby if you are under the influence of drugs, alcohol or prescription medication that makes you unusually groggy or sleepy.
- Exceptionally obese parents should use a sidecar arrangement (crib attached to the side of the bed) rather than having a young infant in the bed with them.
- Do not overload your bed with excessive pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals.
- Never fall asleep on a couch, sofa, or overstuffed chair with your baby.
- Do not stuff too many bodies into a bed with a small baby.
- Make sure that your baby isn’t overdressed. Remember, the body heat in a family bed makes most bedtime bundling unnecessary.
- Dress your baby in safe sleepwear. Flame retardant with no strings or ties, just as you would if she were sleeping alone.
For me personally, i feel much better having our daughter sleeping next to me at night. The main reason we chose to bedshare in the first place was because i felt it was safer for our children. I will admit it took me a couple weeks before i felt ok having Rainbow in bed next to me because i was just so exhausted i was afraid i wouldn't be aware of her. During her first 2 weeks of life we actually had her sleeping in a box (we had cut the sides down on) between us. But when she was two weeks old my sister gave me the courage and helped me with having her sleep next to me (my husband was out of town and she slept next to me keeping an eye on us). But after an incident a few night ago my reason of feeling it is safer is even stronger.
I had finished nursing Rainbow and was settling down in bed with her. I was holding her on my chest, to calm her down before i laid her to rest next to me, when i dozed off. Suddenly i woke with a start (i don't know how long i had been asleep) and realized that i couldn't hear or feel Rainbow breathing (she is normally a very noisy breather). I immediately started to shake her (gently, but firmly) to which she responded by fussing and waking up. It took me quite a while before my heart stopped racing.
I don't even want to think about what might have happened had she not been in bed with me. She didn't make a sound. If she had not been in bed with me, i would not have known she had stopped breathing. The thought makes my heart stop. I already know the pain of loosing a child...i cannott imagine how much worse it would be knowing that i could have prevented it if she had been next to me. I am so thankful i have Rainbow next to me every night....
Now as for the claims that we will never get our daughter out of our bed i just have to roll my eyes. Really? She'll never leave our bed? I highly doubt we're going to have an 18 year old in bed with us. Even a 10 or 6 year old. Why? Because i believe when a need is filled in a child, it goes away. If we fulfill our child's need to be close to us and feel safe, then eventually that need will go away and they will be fine on their own. So no fears in that catagory. (and as a side note i will say that as a child i had many problems sleeping alone and was terrified many nights. I knew i wasn't welcome in my parents bed so i really had no place i felt safe. I actually ended up sleeping with my sister many nights because i was so scared. And as an adult i am still afraid of the dark and i hate to be alone at night. I wonder if i had started my sleeping life in my parents bed if things had been different.)
And as for never having a sex life well...i beg to differ. If there is a will there is a way! You might just have to get a bit more inventive which is never a bad thing :)
I would love to say more on this topic, but i have a daughter who is begging me to nurse and go to sleep, and this is a request i cannot say no to. Nothing is better than holding my daughter close as i rock her and provide her with life from my breasts and then lay down next to her as we both drift asleep.
So i'll end this with some amazing resources for you to read (some of which i got my quotes from) so you can come to your own conclusions.
And as for a parting question, how many of you co-sleep or bedshare? How many of you grew up co-sleeping or bedsharing?