Of all the things for parents to argue or disagree about, whether or not children should sleep in their parent’s bed can be a ‘deal breaker.’ If mom feels like co-sleeping is fine and cozy and dad is spending more time on the couch, resentment is sure to set in. This can be the beginning of an end to a marriage. When it comes to answering this question, it should be done within a marriage and family as well as be based on the needs of the children and the adults living in the home.
It is difficult to find professionals that will stand up for co-sleeping. On the other hand, those that are against it are a loud and obnoxious group who can make parents who sleep with their children feel as though they are violating some law. For the sake of fairness, both sides of the issue should be presented.
Yes, there are some safety concerns that come with co-sleeping. Many parents have rolled over on infants and smothered them. This is especially dangerous in early infancy when baby is little and mom and dad are exhausted. During these months, parents who like the idea of co-sleeping may want to invest in one of those little ‘cribs’ or attachments that allow the baby to be right there but do have a definite boundary so they cant be smothered with a body, pillow or blanket. On the flip side, mothers who are breast feeding may find that one of the beauties to breast feeding is you don’t have to get out of bed to feed a baby and that the transition between wake and sleep is much less noticeable. There is also nothing quite as relaxing, bonding as a sleeping infant lying on your chest, listening to your heart beat, and slumbering in warmth.
When babies grow up, co-sleeping can easily turn into a hard habit to break. Many toddlers start out sleeping in their own bed for a few years and than after a stint with an illness where they were allowed to sleep with mom and dad, realize they like it better. Then, they can be difficult to want to move. The professionals agree whole-heartedly that an important aspect of growing up is autonomy in every respect and that young children should be able to soothe themselves back to sleep and stay in their own beds without a problem. Many suggest that kids who don’t are more prone to having issues as they get older. For the millions of co-sleeping parents, they seem to think that this is all rubbish. No matter what strides parents make to keep their kids little and dependant, they all do exactly the opposite in their own time. If parents are comfortable having cold feet poke into their ribs and their king size bed being all but taken up by a 3 feet high toddler, so be it! Let them stay there. Lots of parents love sleeping with their children and find that the bedtime routine is much easier that way and that there is a closeness there unattainable elsewhere.
Speaking of routines, new parents especially feel like they have to follow some sort of rules in a book about how to get their child to sleep. Crying it out, going in and patting their bottom or any other procedure will work over time. However, the parents who co-sleep may just feel that a child should go to sleep happily, in loving arms and peacefully without having to go through such a fuss. After all, parenting advice is largely based on opinion and rarely takes into account the individual child it is meant to control. If your child doesn’t like to be alone, has a hard time falling asleep, is afraid of the dark or even better, just wants some extra snuggle time with you after a long day apart, what is the real harm in that? Few 13 year olds are sleeping with mom and dad and the child will wake up one day and realize that being that close to his parents is just weird.
Professionals and experts also think that the family bed causes a great divide in marriages. Perhaps this is true, especially if one parent isn’t excited about the idea. However, there are plenty of other places and beds to have sex together and after a few years of marriage and a couple kids, most parents really do just want to go to sleep at bedtime. This is why the subject of whether children should sleep in their parent’s bed is something that should be answered together!
Essentially, the whole issue really shouldn’t be an issue at all. Whether you share the family bed or let your toddler cry it out night after night is a personal decision and it has to be made by going with what works for you, your family and your child. The ramifications of either choice are not long lasting and will not cause any permanent psychological damage to a child. Parents that believe in the family bed derive something very special out of the experience that can’t be discounted simply because some experts or pediatricians think it’s wrong. Your pediatrician doesn’t live in your home, doesn’t truly understand your bedtime routine and as long as health and well-being are not being jeopardized; should have no influence over your decision or how you feel about the issue. Parents that strictly are against the family bed are also justified in their decision and are setting a clear boundary between their space and their children’s place in the home. Whether marriages are happier or children are better off one way or the other is anyone’s guess.
Should children sleep in their parent’s bed? If things in your home seem to work out more smoothly because you sleep with your child and you don’t feel resentful about it, then yes, absolutely co-sleep away. If you are uncomfortable with it for any reason, then, no – they shouldn’t. With so many other issues to worry about in life and with these early years being so short, families need to do what is right for them, in their own time and consider the best interests of the individuals involved. This is a personal decision and should remain one with the absence of judgment or criticism coming from either side. It should also be a choice that is made early on in life yet remains flexible enough to be changed should the need arise. Children are famous for going through phases and often what works right now, isn’t going to work out well in the years to come.