This scenario is familiar to many parents. . . Baby has just nursed or been rocked and sung to and appears to be sound asleep. Then, as soon as his body touches the crib mattress, or shortly thereafter, he wakes up crying.
His parents try the "mommy bear" with the heartbeat; the thing that shakes the crib to simulate riding in a car; leaving in the crib a piece of clothing the mother has worn so baby has something with her scent on it. They try everything, perhaps even resorting to letting their baby cry, but it hurts the parents--especially Mommy--inside to leave their little baby alone and crying, and it doesn't seem right.
But babies are meant to sleep alone in a crib or cradle, right? That's not true. The use of cribs and having babies sleep in separate rooms is cultural, and many people believe that babies are not meant to sleep alone.
Wherever the baby and his parents sleep best is the right arrangement for them, and many parents have found that the best choice for them is the family bed. Parents all over the world sleep with their children--even many parents in the USA! It's much more common than one might think, and it's a perfectly normal and loving way to parent your child.
The family bed can benefit the whole family: it provides a loving way for parents to meet their child's needs, and it helps them to get some sleep at the same time. Many newborns crave the security of sleeping next to their mommy, and many mothers also instinctively feel the need to be near their baby.
Co-sleeping helps create good sleeping habits and a positive attitude toward sleep. Newborns are less likely to get day and night confused when they sleep with their mommy. Plus, as a child grows up, his memories of nighttime (and of waking up in the morning, cuddled beside his mamma and daddy) will be pleasant ones--as will his parents.
Parents who work outside the home may find that they want to be close to their child after having been away. Many parents feel that spending the nighttime hours together helps them "re-connect" and gives much-needed quantity time to their child.
Research suggests that sleeping with your baby reduces the
chances of SIDS. It also makes breastfeeding easier
and more convenient. If a mother sleeps with her baby and
nurses throughout the night, it's a great way to help boost her milk supply. Laying down during the day with
baby and nursing him to sleep can give many opportunities
for mother and baby to nap.
People have all sorts of warnings about the family bed. They say, "Your child will stay in your bed forever." Or "Your child will be too dependant." These are not true! Children eventually want to sleep in their own room, and meeting their needs for dependence at an early age will encourage them to have a true, strong independence when they are ready. As parents meet their child's needs, he will grow into independence at his own rate.
When my first child was a baby, I tried to make her sleep in her own bed. She didn't like it, and trying to make her sleep alone caused us much lost sleep and needless crying. When she finally started sleeping part of the night in her own crib, I slept terribly; I was always going in to check on her.
We sleep with our new little baby, and it is such a joy! I feel secure, and he feels secure, and we all sleep amazingly well.