Here in the Blush household we practice what is known as bed sharing, or the family bed. We decided to use this sleep method for several reasons. First and foremost it is easier on mom (me). I don’t have to physically get out of bed to breastfeed my baby during the night, so I am better rested come morning. A happy momma is a happy family 😀
Additionally it provides emotional security to our babies at night. Biologically, children are not designed to sleep away from their parents, especially as helpless newborns/infants. Imagine a primitive people taking their children to a separate part of the forest to sleep, their kids would be at risk of attack by animal or insect and would remain at risk of other natural threats in their sleep. Being left alone at such a helpless time in their life is an indication of abandonment and causes great emotional turmoil at a very critical time in their development. We found it important to provide our children with feelings of security from the day they were born so they could grow into confident and independent adults.
It also allows for precious bonding and intimate moments that would otherwise be lost through separation. Laying in bed and giggling as a family as we fall asleep, little hands reaching over to feel that you are still there at 3am, and waking up next to our daughter’s smiling face have been some of the greatest blessings of my life. Sometimes as we fall asleep or begin our morning routine, I wonder how anyone could stand to miss such amazing moments with their children. Especially if they aren’t able to spend the entire day together.
This method of bed-sharing has worked out great for our family, although we’ve reached a few hurdles now that we’ve had our second child. The first obstacle involves MY ability to sleep. You see, we began the process of transitioning Aliana to her own full sized bed before William was born (She was nearly 18 months on the day of his birth). Despite our initial success during the pregnancy(she was sleeping until 5 or 7am in her own bed, then joining us), we have hit a wall of obstacles. The new baby has created a level of separation between Aliana and I during the day that is very new to both of us. You see, we used to spend every waking moment together, but midwife mandated bed rest has left us spending much less time together during these initial weeks of William’s life.
This has created a situation where Aliana REALLY craves my companionship at night. She begs for me while being rocked to sleep by dada, physically fighting against naps, and calls out for me randomly throughout the night. This has resulted in her spending most nights in our bed again, and me being uncomfortably sandwiched between two children, which has greatly diminished my ability to get a good nights’ rest. And when I say sandwiched, imagine a baby on one breast and a toddler on the other shoulder with her arm around my neck. I so much as shift and they both move with me!
At this point I think we failed in preparing for such an abrupt change in her life. She is making up for daytime separation with nighttime clinging. I think establishing a bedtime routine with dada months before William was born would have helped a lot. Even though we DISCUSSED creating such a routine, our dada suffers from a slight work-a-holic syndrome and we were unable to make that happen. Since we can’t change the past, I am now seeking solutions to the situation that leave everyone emotionally sound and well rested.
This search brought me to a wonderful website that I wanted to share with you. Please check out Attachment Parenting International’s website for great tips on bed sharing and co-sleeping. I will update the blog with info as we find a solution that works for our family! Until then, happy reading and sweet dreams!
Excerpt below is from: http://www.attachmentparenting.org/principles/night.php
Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
API’s Eight Principles of Parenting
The following is a condensed version of this Principle. If you have questions about this Principle or how to apply it to your family situation, please contact an API Leader near you or post your comments and questions to API’s forums.
“Is your baby sleeping through the night yet?” is often the first question people ask a new parent. The truth is that most babies do not sleep through the night, yet it is a myth that is perpetuated from generation to generation. Babies have needs at night just as they do during the day; from hunger, loneliness, and fear, to feeling too cold or too hot. They need the reassurance of a loving parent to feel secure during the night. Many babies do go through a phase where they sleep for longer periods of time only to begin waking at night during different developmental stages. They may wake occasionally during nightmares, teething, illness, growth spurts, or during times of transition in their lives. Babies are very sensitive to their parents’ stress, which can affect their sleep patterns.
Parents can help their children learn that bedtime or naptime is a peaceful time; a time of quiet connection and snuggles. Even though young children may outgrow needing to eat during the night, they might still require comfort and reassurance.
Parents who are frustrated with frequent waking or who are sleep deprived may be tempted to try sleep training techniques that recommend letting a baby cry in an effort to “teach” him to “self-soothe”. New research suggests that these techniques can have detrimental physiological effects on the baby by increasing the stress hormone cortisol in the brain, with potential long term effects to emotional regulation, sleep patterns and behavior. An infant is not neurologically or developmentally capable of calming or soothing himself to sleep in a way that is healthy. The part of the brain that helps with self-soothing isn’t well developed until the child is two and a half to three years of age. Until that time, a child depends on his parents to help him calm down and learn to regulate his intense feelings.