We didn’t start out deciding to any sort of bed-sharing arrangement with E, and we didn’t at first. He slept in a pack n play in our room and I woke up 4 to 8 times a night to nurse him, rock him back to sleep etc. Basically, he was a totally healthy newborn with totally normal sleep patterns. I brought him into our bed a few times on difficult nights, but never laid him down because J was uncomfortable with it.

When he was about 3 months old I was so sleepy and nursed him to sleep in our bed then accidentally fell asleep… and didn’t wake up until 6 hours later. Neither did E. It was like pure magic. He woke me up with a little stirring, I nursed him, and he slept for another 4 hours and when we woke up I felt like a new human being. Normal again! Guess where he’s slept every night since then! ;)

I’m not sharing this to make anyone feel bad for their choices or pressured into something they aren’t comfortable with. In fact, I didn’t feel comfortable with a newborn sleeping in our bed at first and neither did Jason, but unfortunately a lot of our discomfort was based on faulty “facts” and pressures from our western cultural norm (that really isn’t normal at all when considering how babies are designed). I’ve learned that a lot of people are “closet” co-sleepers, so it’s difficult for a new parent to learn anything about how it practically plays out. I for one, am happy to shed some light on the topic, both from personal experience and some tidbits from the books and studies I’ve read. We’re so content (and well rested!) with our current set up that we’ll be bed sharing from the start with babe #2. 

>>> Here are some things I love about bed sharing: 

We all sleep all night! I have just as much energy as I did before I had a baby and don’t feel tired until bedtime. J says the same. Before E slept with us he would wake up every time I got out of bed and was starting to have difficulty concentrating at work. Post bed sharing? He sleeps great!

J and I love listening to little squish’s sweet noises and deep sighs as he’s drifting off to sleep and waking up.

That tiny little hand on my arm. or chest. or face.

When E does "wake up" to eat he doesn’t have to cry and usually doesn’t even open his eyes… he wiggles in close, latches on, then goes right back to sleep. This requires me to wake up for approximately 10 seconds or less.

I’m close enough to monitor every little thing that’s going on.. if he’s sleeping well, has a fever, is stuffy, etc… things I’d never be able to tell over a monitor from another room.

>>> Here are some myths and why I think a lot of parents feel hesitant about bed sharing:

"It’s dangerous" This myth is primarily based on a research study that was done in the late 90s. The study itself was quite helpful, but MANY articles sense then have and continue to misconstrue the facts of the study… which of course causes a lot of confusion about the safety of bed-sharing. The study included bed sharing parents who were under the influence of drugs, alcohol, and/or prescription sleep medications. Others also practiced un-safe bed sharing with too many pillows, heavy blankets, waterbeds, spaces between the mattress and headboard (where the baby could roll and get stuck) and other things that posed a risk of suffocation to the baby. When common-sense safety is used, bed sharing is actually far safer and results in far fewer cases of SIDS and infant death than babies who sleep alone.

“Your child will never be independent” Research actually indicates quite the opposite. Studies show that children who slept in a family bed are actually more independent than their peers, more confident, have fewer behavior problems, are less influenced by peer-pressure, and are less likely to need any type of counseling or therapy as a teenager and into adulthood as compared to independent sleepers.

“It will affect your relationship with your spouse” This one especially cracks me up. Believe it or not, they did a survey on this, and found that parents who practiced bed sharing were actually intimate more often than parents who did not practice bed sharing. Maybe it’s because they get more sleep and therefore have more energy? Maybe it’s because a baby in the bed encourages, ahem… creativity? Whatever the reasons, I can tell you that mine and J’s relationship is perfectly healthy and having a baby in our bed has in no way inhibited our relationship ;)

>>> And here are some facts:

When practiced safely, bed sharing actually drastically decreases the risk of SIDS and infant deaths.

Children who co-sleep with their parents grow up to be more independent, more confident, and have fewer behavioral problems compared to their peers.

Parents who co-sleep get an additional 45 minutes of sleep per night on average compared to parents whose baby slept in a separate room.

Parents who practice bed sharing have more sex than the parents of infants who sleep independently.

There is a growth hormone in babies that encourages growth, brain development, and maintains healthy systems. This hormone spikes when the baby is touching its mother (and why the big recent push for “kangaroo care” and “skin to skin” especially for premies). But this isn’t just true of newborns.. all babies continue to rely on this growth hormone as they grow. One study found that even an hour away from the mother causes this hormone to drop. Cortisol (a stress hormone) is responsible for this. Many parents may assume that as long as their baby is not crying, they are not experiencing stress. However, research has shown that babies who sleep alone and do not cry experienced the same levels of cortisol (and reduction of growth hormone) as babies who were crying, alone in their crib.

Children who grow up bed sharing tend to maintain closer and healthier relationships with their parents and others.
. . .

If you’re considering bed sharing, I highly recommend reading “Good Nights”, “The Other Baby Book” and “No-Cry Sleep Solution” for some great tips for healthy, happy sleeping.  =)

Ps. This arrangement would not be an example of safe bed sharing ;)

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