I apologize up front for that scattered nature of this. There’s just no good segueing from one thought to another in this. But please, do read it through.
Why bed-sharing and not co-sleeping? Well, there is a significant difference in the two. The first specifically means sleeping in the same bed as mum and dad. The latter meaning a variety of sleeping arrangements including bed-sharing. Co-sleeping can also include bub lying next to the bed in a cot or something similar as well as just simply sleeping in the same room or space, even if in a crib. We have Liam in our bed so I use the term bed-sharing.
I’m going to start this one off with an earlier post on my site:
“Reason #2 Why I love bed-sharing:
Last night, while Mrs. K was feeding Liam in bed, he popped off, rolled over and looked at me lying next to him. An ear to ear grin immediately overtook his face and giggling commenced. I, being a sucker to not pass up a good moment my son, started giggling back at him. In the blink an eye, Liam went from almost asleep, to hysterical laughter; to which my wife promptly intervened “Am I going to have to separate you two? It’s past his bed time.” She grabbed Liam, and while rolling to nurse him from her “fuller” side, the grin remained and eye-contact never broken until a fresh boob was given to him. W/O bed-sharing, moments like these wouldn’t exist.”
We didn’t originally set out to bed-share. Liam, for the first few months, slept right next to our bed in a little infant rocker thingy, making it easy for Mrs. K to get to him when he roused and wanted fed. It was so nice and comforting having him in the same room as us. When he outgrew the rocker, he moved to his pack and play, also right next to our bed. The pack and play just wasn’t working for him and he often ended up in our bed. Fast forward about a couple weeks of this; no more pack and play, we upgraded to a king size bed and voila, bed-sharing commenced. And we love it! It creates special moments we otherwise wouldn’t have.
Yes, there are wrong and right ways of bed-sharing. A firm, flat mattress is a must, so if baby rolls on his belly he’s able to lift his head up and not sink into the mattress. A bumper/side rail needs to be installed so no rolling out of bed. No pillows and sheets / blankets near baby for suffocation reasons. As for rolling on baby – our bodies are somehow hardwired to know of baby’s ware-a-bouts in bed. I believe we instinctively sense the other. Liam will be in a dead sleep near me, reach out in his sleep and roll towards Mrs. K’s bossom for a sleep-feed, and neither Mrs. K nor Liam are consciously the wiser.
With that, I see questions and comments all the time, whether on-line or in person:
· Won’t you roll over on him and kill him? Most cases of infant death in bed-sharing situations were caused by mom/dad being inebriated somehow, whether from alcohol, some kind of prescription/illegal drug, or a smoker.
· Apparently your love life doesn’t exist. Well, if your only place for intimacy is the bed, then you might have bigger problems to solve. Our bed is for sleeping. When Liam’s asleep, we have an entire house for hanky-panky, including a second bedroom and a shower. Who would of thought that you can be intimate outside the bedroom?!
· You’re creating a monster when he gets older and won’t leave the bed. From everything I’ve read; that’s simply not the case. They’ll want their space eventually, just as children can wean themselves when they’re ready.
I think a lack of general knowledge and knowing what other options are available lead to a misunderstanding of bed-sharing / co-sleeping. We live in a society where all we see and told is that our children are to sleep in their own cribs in their own room, away from what their biologically programmed to need and want; which is mommy / human presence. All parents are bombarded with lists of needs for their unborn children from box-stores. Ever register at a chain store? About half the store is dedicated to cribs and monitors and mobiles; and a lot more is dedicated to all things nursery. Every independent baby store we’ve been to offer zero cribs. Interesting. We unwittingly bought an expensive crib that’s never been used. The plus side I guess is that Liam will be able to use it into adulthood with conversion rails.
We are the only mammals that don’t sleep with or next to our young. Bears don’t dig another den for their cubs to sleep in; rabbits don’t burrow a different hole for their bunnies; why do we? When, along the evolutionary lines, did humans think of settling their young out of arms reach when sleeping at night? Baby chimps sleep clinging to their moms. Another thing only us human mammals do is sleep through the night. Babies aren’t equipped to sleep through the night. Bed-sharing lessens the “up” time throughout the night by minimizing baby’s fusses. They’re attended to before they even get themselves worked up. Mom doesn’t have to go down a hall to fetch an already worked up child and then calm them back down to go back to sleep. Liam wakes ups, feeds, falls asleep within the span of 5 mins, and only a couple of times a night, if that. Talk about taking care of bub and getting your zzzzz’s!
There are many benefits to co-sleeping/ bed-sharing. Some of which can be read here.
And if you’re wavering for less bias information: here.
I’m going to wrap this up by saying this works for us on every level. We love it and wouldn’t change it for anything. I get that it’s not for everyone. But everyone should be made aware that it is an option outside of a crib down the hall, and that in choosing to co-sleep or bed share, you are in no way alone or an outsider. You’re not different and shouldn’t feel that way. It’s completely normal in all aspects to have a family bed. What is weird is that somehow as a culture, we shifted the paradigm to what it currently is, a society where mom and dads private space trump a new, helpless family member. We’ve accepted this shift and those who go against it, my family included, are the outsiders. But it’s slowly changing and re-shifting ever so slightly, little by little and at least becoming known as an alternative. With more awareness more knowledge reaches the light of day and that’s where things begin. With knowing.