We all have a friend, a colleague, a neighbor who hasn’t slept for ages because of her/his child’s irregular sleeping pattern. Or maybe it is you who is dealing with this yourself. In that case, have you tried co-sleeping?
Although there are many institutions that advise against it, it is proven to be very beneficial for both child and parents.
Because Micah slept through night right from the start, in the early stage of motherhood I decided to leave it that way and not to take him with me in our bed. Especially since it was over 45 Celsius degrees in Kenya at that time and our first home felt like a grill at night. When we were traveling though and there wasn’t a baby crib available I noticed that Micah wasn’t used to sleeping with someone and that he could be very restless lying close to me. I realized that sharing the same bed would be a good thing for him to learn to attach, bond and trust.
When he was a little older, sometimes after a toilet visit during the night he started to ask if he could stay with me in my bed. We started co-sleeping every now and then; every time he asked for it I would take him with me. Although I don’t regret doing it right from the start, since it was a conscious decision, if I would do it again, I think I would have, especially with children who are adopted I think it is very beneficial and healing.
So when my friend, who didn’t experience a good night sleep for almost three years because of her restless toddler confided to me that she was at her wits end, we discussed co-sleeping. She had read about herself and decided to give it a try. The next morning she called me. Her voice was full of excitement. She and her son just woke up after a 7 hour sleep together. Yes, in the beginning it felt a bit unconformable not having the bed all for herself (she’s a single parent), but once she relaxed more it felt heartwarming.
When I suggested co-sleeping the other day to an acquaintance, who was telling me she was exhausted and found it very hard to leave her baby crying during the night (after breastfeeding), but that she didn’t want to teach her that mommy would always be available, I asked her: “Why is that a bad thing?” “I just want a proper sleep myself as well, to be a good mother, wife, colleague during the day”, she said. “How is that working out for you so far?,” I asked. She changed the subject and I don’t know if she has tried it, but I hope that she did.
But here’s a question, that I asked myself afterwards: Shouldn’t a child trust that you will continually be available during the night, as you are during the day, especially in the early stage of childhood?
Co-sleeping is even more relevant in today’s lifestyles, especially when your child is still a baby. As more and more mommies are separated from their baby during the day, sleeping with their child at night allows them to reconnect. And make up for missed precious moments and touch time during the day.
Studies reveal that sleeping face to face will help your child to breathe better.
For those who are afraid of the risks of SIDS during sleep-sharing: infants tended to sleep more often on their backs or sides and less often on their tummies, a factor that could itself lower the SIDS risk.
And of course, needless to say your sleep environment must be hygienic and safe.
One implicit rationale for having babies and children sleep separately from their parents is to encourage greater independence in the child. Ironically, most research suggests that co-sleeping fosters greater independence and autonomy as children grow, according to Kids Internet Radio. The notion that earlier experiences affect later functioning is the sine qua non of psychological and development theory. Satisfaction of infants’ and children’s need for attachment, attention and human contact, such as occurs in co-sleeping, establishes greater confidence and esteem in children, according to Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory. (source: livestrong).
Warning, if you’re open to co-sleeping and share it with other people you’ll be at risk to the you’ll-be-sorry” reasons that will come to you.
By the way, co-sleeping at our home doesn’t include the dog, but when I found these two together during a nap in the afternoon..my heart melted.