The image of a baby and parent dozing off together isn't an uncommon one. But the practice of co sleeping, or sharing a bed with your infant, is controversial in the United States.
When I had my son, adopting family bed, seemed to be the right thing to do, not to mention the most healthy and natural for my baby. To me and the father of my son, leaving the baby sleep in a separate room, was just not an option. How could I sleep knowing that my baby wasn't next to me? what happens if he needed me and I was not close to him. To cuddle him, to breastfeeding him, to reassure him that everything was ok, that he was safe and protected next to us.
After the violent birth experience I had, I think my baby had post traumatic stress disorder. He will have difficulties to peacefully sleep. Many times while in his sleep, I'll look at him and notice facial expressions, similar as to when some one is having a night mare. I spoke with some professionals which told me that this was very possible. They encourage me to practice family bed and keep my baby close to me at all times.
So for two years I carried my son on a baby sling and practice family bed for about 4 years. This I can say today was one of the most wonderful experiences I ever had. The bonding and especial connection that we as a family developed was incredible.
Choosing this option allowed me to easily breastfeed, get more and better sleep and develop a healthy and strong healthy relationship with my son. Today 9 years later, I know I made the right decision. In my many years of professional experience, I have observed and see many things. Things that have break my heart and let me with a sense of impotency, not been able to make some parents understand, that the old method of "leaving the baby cry until it falls sleep" or "sleeping in a different room by itself" is a very unhealthy choice for babies.
I had encountered clients who asked me for help, their baby could not sleep at night and cried most of the night. When I asked when the baby sleep, they showed me the baby's room. A room located across the house, quite distance from the parent's bed. But they had a baby monitor, so every time the baby cried or woke up, they had to walk all across the living room to reach the baby's room.
I explained to them (and many others) that at night time is when everything is quiet, dark and without much "human activity". I told them that babies, have bad dreams just like us. That they feel lonely and not safe without been close to her parents. I explained that breastfeeding was more inconvenient since she needed to wake up, walk to the baby's room, nurse him and put him back to sleep. Then return to the bedroom and try to fall sleep one more time. Then, having to wake up again a few times during the night. To me this not only is very inconvenient but unhealthy for both mother and baby.
Most parents still believe the old myth that you should not respond to your baby's needs and let him cry to sleep in a different room, so the baby won't get spoiled. Not understanding that babies cannot be spoiled, you can spoil a toddler but not a baby less than two years of age!
Some parents want to sleep in the same room with the baby, but are afraid of hurting the baby, rolling over him; even fear of the baby falling out of the bed. There are many studies that show the health benefits of practicing family bed. Proving that not only co-sleeping is healthier practice, but even safer than leaving the baby sleep on it's own.
- Tips for co-sleeping parents:
- Place the baby next to the mother on one side of the bed, but NEVER between both parents.
- Place pillows on the side of your baby, even better use a co-sleep bassinet, attached to the side of your bed.
- Don't smoke, drink alcohol or take any drug if you practice family bed.
- Breastfeeding your baby on the bed but never let him use your breast as a pasidifier!
- If you still don't feel comfortable sleeping with your baby in the same bed, but want to have it as closed to you as possible, use a bassinet that can be attached to your bed. See below for ideas on how to find the best co-sleeping bassinet for you.