Let me begin this post by stating, there is several different researches out there on co-sleeping, therefore, if you are on the fence with this topic please take the time to do the research for yourself. This is my personal opinion, beliefs, and take on co-sleeping.
When I had my first child, I had no one to tell me what to do exactly, well except my family members, they of course “knew” how to do everything! There was no one that could tell me definitively if I did A then B would happen or vice versus, so everything was trial and error. It didn’t help that I was teen mother. After I left for college and begin to study psychology, I begin to formulate my own beliefs and thought processes on raising children. There were so many different principles, beliefs, and theories, and each one of them had something that resignated to my heart. When I had my second child, I knew that I wanted to do some things differently starting with breastfeeding! I started by putting my little one in the basinet next to my bed. Those first few days we struggled. We struggled with breast feeding and we struggled with sleeping. I was exhausted! A few days later, my Granny past away, she was an intricate part of my life, and I was devastated. Suddenly, I wanted my babies close to me. I had always had dreams of my kids cuddling in bed with me and us watching family movies, but that dream seemed so silly. I could always hear people telling me I was insane for wanting my kids in my bed, and I believed them, until this moment in my life. I had so many fond memories of cuddling in bed with my Granny and us watching movies or sharing stories. I had these memories all the way through adulthood. Every time I went home to visit her, I was never to old to get in bed with her and cuddle. What a blessing to have these sweet, fond, precious, irreplaceable memories! I immediately threw common critics out the window and decided to put my baby in the bed with me. My life changed forever!
Suddenly my baby was actually breastfeeding, it wasn’t a struggle anymore, I was getting more sleep than I hadn’t gotten in months, and life was good. As I continued this journey in co-sleeping, I realized the bond I was building with my baby was one that could never be broken. As she got older, I noticed how secure she was didn’t seem to have any mistrust issues going on, and I immediately thought about Erik Erikson trust and mistrust stage. This felt good for me. I remember taking her to the pediatrician when she was two and the pediatrician telling me to put a baby gate up at her door to keep her from coming into my bed at night, because she needed to sleep in her bed. The thought of my baby standing their terrified and screaming was horrifying to me. Like all advice I listened pondered over it, but realized it wasn’t the right advice for my family and tossed it the minute we walked out the door. I decided co-sleeping would become part of my parenting style. I knew that one day this sweet baby girl would no longer have a desire to sleep in our bed. For all those people that ask, won’t they be in your bed forever? Today at 11 she sleeps in her own bed. *gasp* There are still those sweet moments that she will come and lay in bed with us and we will snuggle and cuddle and I hold those moments so dear to my heart. Since making the decision to co-sleep, I have had 2 other little ones and currently 2 little ones co-sleep with me!
When I decided to pursue my Masters in Family Therapy, I remember learning about attachment and did this spark a flame in me! I remember thinking this is exactly why I co-sleep with my babies. When people ask me why do I co-sleep, I say to them aside from the fact I can get a good night sleep? I mean seriously isn’t that enough as a new parent? When they want more than just that, I give them my spill. So why do I co-sleep? For starters when I think about birth and how scary that must be for an infant it is enough to make co-sleeping seem only natural. Let’s really think about that process for a second. Your in a place that is warm, cozy, you can hear your mothers heart beat, her voice, she is near you all the time, and you feel so safe and secure. THEN all of sudden something happens and you are being forced out of your home the only place you know pushed into a world of chaos. It’s cold, scary, bright, there are strangers passing you around, you have no idea what is happening. Strangers are poking you, pulling you, and torturing you. *side note: This is why I am an advocate for home births* No wonder babies cry!! They finally stop crying when… they are bundled tightly and close to mom again. Just that thought alone is enough to want to make sure my precious little baby feels safe and secure at all times in this big scary world. The next step to my pro co-sleeping is the anti crib in me. A crib is a baby prison. Let’s just call it what it is. Seriously could there not be any other design for a crib? (surprise there is) I remember watching babies in their cribs balling and sticking their little hands through the bars, it was heart wrenching for me. I thought once again from a baby perspective. They must be thinking, why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this? And to be totally honest my thoughts were, we are not dogs so why do we cage our children like they are? My anti crib became my pro co-sleeping. For me, putting myself into the shoes of an infant made me more and more pro co-sleeping. My other line of thought process became, what did mothers do before cribs. What did mothers during cave times do? Naturally, they more than likely co-slept! Aside from what else with they do with their child, I would imagine they had to protect their young from other animals such as lions, tigers and bears. Oh my! What other way to protect your young during the night, but to co-sleep with them. These are the reasons I co-sleep. For me, it seems like the only natural thing to do. We are the only animal species that will die as babies if we don’t have another persons touch. What does that say about our species? That speaks volumes to me. For me it isn’t about detaching, as that is so harmful and can even kill us, but about attaching and having someone to protect us, make us feel safe and secure. For me, this is what co-sleeping does. It is the natural progression after birth to building a secure attachment and bond.
So who changed the thought process on co-sleeping…. MEN of course! Hence the above ^^^ picture! Seriously, there is no evidence or concrete information on when co-sleeping became taboo or frowned upon. I, however, have come in contact with several women that talk about their husband’s frustration with co-sleeping or how their husbands wouldn’t agree to co-sleeping, and the number one question I get is how do you still get your groove on with your kids in the bed?! This is how I envision the change occurring. Man, “we aren’t able to procreate like we should, because of this child. I have built this safe shelter for us, we no longer need to worry about bears or tigers trying to eat him.” Wife, “What do you suggest we do with him, let him sleep on the cold concrete?” Man, “I will build something for this child to sleep in.” And voila the first crib was invented! Ok, Back to reality! I didn’t know that the bedroom or the bed was the ONLY place to get busy. My husband and I tend to be creative and actually enjoy our creativity and how co-sleeping aides in helping us keep the spice alive in our relationship. In need of some ideas on how to keep the spice alive while the baby is in the bed, watch my youtube on this very topic. If you haven’t guessed by now, I am an advocate for co-sleeping! Surprise!! For me, the advantages far out weigh the cons or what some try to consider the dangers. According to some research, Co-sleeping may promote long-term emotional health. A study done with Infants who slept with their parents versus those who slept alone, found the children who co-slept were happier, less anxious, had higher self-esteem, were less likely to be afraid of sleep, had fewer behavioral problems, tended to be more comfortable with intimacy, and were generally more independent as adults. These qualities are the qualities I want in my children and honestly I see many of these qualities in my older children. Not toot my own horn, but, toot toot! Often times, we are approached by people astonished at how well behaved my children are. (probably because there is so many of them) This can be attributed to many things, but for the sake of this article I will attribute a portion to co-sleeping!
Am I saying that those children who do not co-sleep with their parents are doomed? Absolutely not! Co-sleeping to me is another avenue of parenting another avenue of approach, and like all things there will be cons, pros, critics, and supporters. Parenting is the only job that doesn’t require training, however, is the hardest job you will ever have. It’s always trial and error, literally on the job training and you have to do what feels right for you, your child, and your family. Remember the difference between abuse and discipline is love. As long as you parenting as your TRUE SELF and coming from a place of love, it will work itself out beautifully! The key is being true to your beliefs and loving.
I wan to leave you with a quick inspiring story that changed my perspective on birth. I hope you enjoy!
A pair of twins were having a conversation while in the womb.
Twin A – Tell me, do you believe in life after birth?
Twin B – Of course. After birth comes life. Perhaps we are here to prepare for what comes after birth.
Twin A – Forget it! After birth there is nothing! From there, no one has returned! And besides, what would it look like?
Twin B – I do not know exactly, but I feel that there are lights everywhere … Perhaps we walk on our own feet, and eat with our mouth.
Twin A – This is utterly stupid! Walking isn’t possible! And how can we eat with that ridiculous mouth? Can’t you see the umbilical cord? And for that matter, think about it for a second: postnatal life isn’t possible because the cord is too short.
Twin B – Yes, but I think there is definitely something, just in a different way than what we call life.
Twin A – You’re stupid. Birth is the end of life and that’s it.
Twin B – Look, I do not know exactly what will happen, but Mother will help us…
Twin A – The Mother? Do you believe in the Mother? !
Twin B – Yes.
Twin A – Do not be ridiculous! Have you seen the Mother anywhere? Has anyone seen her at all?
Twin B – No, but she is all around us. We live within her. And certainly, it is thanks to her that we exist.
Twin A – Well, now leave me alone with this stupidity, right? I’ll believe in Mother when I see her.
Twin B – You can not see her, but if you’re quiet, you can hear her song, you can feel her love. If you’re quiet, you can feel her caress and you will feel her protective hands.
Source: Originally written in Hungarian by Útmutató a Léleknek, translated by Miranda Linda Weisz
While a great interpretation of perspective!