Snuggle or separate?

Posted by David Beard, Globe Staff  January 3, 2009 09:36 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Joanna Weiss today writes in the Boston Globe that her household's sleeping arrangements have gone haywire with the arrival home of her 7-week-old son, her second child.

The main priority: getting all four people in the house to sleep, even if that means snuggling with the baby instead of separating from him for the crib immediately.

Other upsides: a mother's quick reassurance the baby is still breathing -- and the comfort of snuggling, before kids begin their lifelong distancing, bit by bit, from mom and dad.

Readers, how did you deal with a newborn? What worked best for you or for your friends? Let us know in our comments section.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

51 comments so far...
  1. All of our 3 kids slept in their cribs from night #1. We wanted to make sure they "knew" where their bed was. Of course, we loved to hold them, soothe them and feed them, but their crib is THEIR bed and our bed is OUR bed. My husband and I promised each other before our 1st child was born, that we would never lose our relationship as husband & wife while being a parent. If you let your kid sleep with you, goodbye intimacy. Not that sex is the most important thing because it is not, but it is important to remember and enjoy your relationship and put your marriage first sometimes (while the kids are sleeping in their OWN beds!!!!!!)

    Posted by CINDYMC January 3, 09 12:02 PM
  1. All of our 3 kids slept in their cribs from night #1. We wanted to make sure they "knew" where their bed was. Of course, we loved to hold them, soothe them and feed them, but their crib is THEIR bed and our bed is OUR bed. My husband and I promised each other before our 1st child was born, that we would never lose our relationship as husband & wife while being a parent. If you let your kid sleep with you, goodbye intimacy. Not that sex is the most important thing because it is not, but it is important to remember and enjoy your relationship and put your marriage first sometimes (while the kids are sleeping in their OWN beds!!!!!!)

    Posted by CINDYMC January 3, 09 12:39 PM
  1. My kids both slept with us on occasion, but never as a regular thing. I couldn't really sleep with either of them in my bed. If it truly works for your whole family, great, but I can't help but wonder about the statement in the article about the author's husband sleeping in random other locations around the house. That doesn't sound like it really works for him, or that it's sustainable for long. I think the best option for a young baby is one of those co-sleepers that fit onto the side of your bed (or a bassinet or other similar arrangement). It allows the closeness with a bit more safety and is less likely to drive the other parent away.

    Posted by akmom January 3, 09 12:53 PM
  1. If you indulge your children too much, they grow up to be self indulgent. You may giggle to think that the family bed leads to drug use, or promiscuity, but have you ever heard of "the cookie test"? Some behaviors, even in very young childhood, are windows to how strong your child will be when they grow to teenagers or even adults. Teach your kids to be strong. I am the youngest of a large family, with the advantage to seeing arguments of how best to raise your kids, and of the sibs, the their friends, who indulged - family beds, etc. - those kids have an inordinately high incidence of drug abuse and addiction. No kidding. in fact EVERY family who had a family bed I know of, has at least one drug addict kid. Not so for the others. I let my 4 year old come in my bed when scared, I cuddle him, for about 15 minutes, then I say, "are you ready to go in your bed now". he always is. Sometimes I push, hard, to have him sleep in his own bed, I sit for 10 minutes in his room, but he's stronger now that I have helped him BE strong. and recently, I gave him the cookie est, and he passed with colors. Be strong, kindly, affectionately, teach your kids to be strong. No offense, I have three kids as well, but bedtime should not be about you. well, always keep your relationship with your husband ,or again, you are asking for trouble. But getting your kids to be strong independent is not about you, it's about them. bite the bullet and do what is best for them.

    Posted by Mary January 3, 09 12:56 PM
  1. Bless you, Joanna, for bringing your baby to bed without apologies or shame! I didn't bring my first-born to bed and I was insanely sleep deprived for months. When my daughter was born I tried to get her to sleep in that cradle, but she would have none of it. With a toddler to take care of during the day, I needed enough sleep to function and having her sleep in bed with me was a great solution. Not only did I get enough sleep, I got to see her wake up every morning with smile on her face. I enjoyed every day of her infancy because of co-sleeping. Now she's three and sleeps in her own bed without any problems. By all means take the proper safety precautions with pillows and blankets, but bring those babies to bed as long as they are nursing at night and everyone will be happier!

    Posted by NoRegrets January 3, 09 01:01 PM
  1. My husband and I had no intentions of co-sleeping while we were preparing for the birth of our child. We read about it, thought it sounded nice but wasn't really for us. And then our daughter came home and made it abundantly clear where she would be sleeping if anyone wanted any kind of rest. We brought her to our bed in exhaustion, but soon grew to love having her with us. We took measures to make sure co-sleeping was safe for us all, and everyone was happier and better rested. As Ms. Weiss says, "there are true sleep-related syndromes out there, but was my daughter's need for cuddling really one of them?" Our daughter happily went to her own bed as a toddler, and no one was scarred by the experience.

    And let me assure you that my husband and I did not bid adieu to intimacy, nor did our relationship as husband and wife suffer because of our co-sleeping.

    Posted by Ali January 3, 09 01:02 PM
  1. Co-sleeping with an infant increases their risk of SIDS.

    Posted by JennyR January 3, 09 01:14 PM
  1. In my opinion, women who bring their children to bed do it to avoid having sex with their husbands.

    Posted by Shecky January 3, 09 02:45 PM
  1. Our daughter never slept with us, but she was in a cradle in our room, of course at first there was only one bedroom so it was not actually a choice. In her five years she has spent very few nights in our bed, and only when sick. She went through a phase where she was convinced that she was going to have an accident(more than 18 months after leaving diapers behind), and our pediatrician advised us to give in on this one. It was all in her head, but in our room she felt safe and didn't think about it. I was opposed to letting her sleep with us, because I didn't want her to develop a habit, but we listened to her doctor, and suprise suprise, he was right again.

    Posted by Zachary January 3, 09 02:50 PM
  1. I respect families' decisions about co-sleeping, and I think the most important thing is that the PARENTS are communicating and making a joint decision about how to handle it. Who cares what grandma/neighbors/friends think? Both my kids slept in our bed regularly when they were infants and I was a sleep-deprived, breast-feeding mom. And by four or five months, they were in their own cribs in their own rooms. My oldest now likes an occasional snuggle with us, the youngest couldn't be less interested in sleeping in our bed. However, my husband and I mutually decided though that it was important to preserve our bed as OUR bed. When our oldest went thru a long phase of wanting to sleep with us, we arranged a sleeping bag on the floor for him.

    Posted by ramona January 3, 09 03:07 PM
  1. The motto of our household is whatever allows us the maximum amount of sleep, is best. It works for us and we often wake up with 5 people in a queen size bed. All kids start out in their own beds so that we can have a night time relationship, but as they come in during the night, we gladly snuggle and we all enjoy the morning giggling and silly time we have to start the day. We are pregnant with #4 and we were just joking that it might be time for a King sized bed!

    Posted by snugglysleeper January 3, 09 03:20 PM
  1. Mary, nice try with the family bed = drug addict hypothesis but the plural of anecdote is not data. Children who have their basic need for security met as infants and toddlers naturally learn age-appropriate independence. Co-sleeping is not an indulgence, it's a natural and perfectly normal approach to sleeping that works for some families and not for others. I have friends whose children enjoy being in their own space for sleeping and for whom being snuggled up next to someone else would be disruptive and they've been that way from birth. I am at the other end of the spectrum, where my babies and I get a more restful night's sleep when we're close, either in the same bed or at least in the same room. My 11 & 10 year olds sleep all night in their rooms and have for years; my 4 year old sometimes comes in to go back to sleep with us if he gets up super-early, and my 3 year old snuggles in next to me in the middle of the night a few nights a week. I love waking up to one or both of my little guys snuggled around us and treasure this time because I know that soon enough, they'll be big kids who want their own space (all the time!). Co-sleeping is a great, practical way to prolong night nursing (which tends to also prolong day nursing - most moms I know who nurse past 12 months are co-sleeping and night nursing) and provides a way for parents in a dual-income family to have more contact time with their kids. Independence and strength are characteristics that develop naturally over time when you meet your children's needs - these are not things that you have to "force" on your children.

    Posted by Jen January 3, 09 03:25 PM
  1. Um - what the heck is the cookie test?

    Posted by EFM January 3, 09 03:41 PM
  1. If you are going to do this, please make sure you are aware of the devasting risks. My wife is a nurse, and has seen several infants brought to the ER because they were rolled on top of. None of them made it out of the hospital.

    Crushing is a very real and very dangerous risk when you combine over tired parents and a baby who is too small to alert you that you are on top of them. I can't think of anything more devasting than knowing your crushed your own child. I would much rather go without a little sleep than risk it

    Posted by D January 3, 09 03:57 PM
  1. My wife allowed the kids in our bed eliminating time for us, which in turn destroyed our marriage. I'm not saying that the the main reason, but it left us with no time for us to be together...

    Posted by Ricky January 3, 09 04:12 PM
  1. I think it's fine as long as it's done safely and EVERYONE is good with the arrangement. I wouldn't allow my daughter into our bed if it drove my husband away. I bet Weiss's husband would write a very different article about co-sleeping if he could do it anonymously.

    Posted by C January 3, 09 04:23 PM
  1. Correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't many babies died as a result of their parents unknowingly rolling over them in bed? Foam cushion or not, this seems like an easy way to smother a newborn.

    Posted by Melanie January 3, 09 04:26 PM
  1. Number 3 I think this statements goes to far about family beds, etc. - those kids have an inordinately high incidence of drug abuse and addiction. No kidding. in fact EVERY family who had a family bed I know of, has at least one drug addict kid.

    i am glad you will not have a drug addict kid.. because he or she never had teh chance to sleep with mama.. you are safe!! dont have those drug talks you throw out of your bed and taught them how to be tough and strong!!!

    Posted by tim January 3, 09 04:36 PM
  1. Mary, your generalization that co-sleeping has any correlation to drug abuse when older is ignorant nonsense. A myriad of factors produce addictions.

    Cosleeping is not for everyone. For us, it was a wonderful experience and I'm glad we did it. Our children are successful, happy people. I always found it odd that anyone would put a baby alone in a room down the hall and use a monitor to know when the baby needed something. Different strokes . . .

    Posted by Happy Mom to 3 January 3, 09 06:14 PM
  1. I read a book by an anthropologist who studies child-rearing across cultures: Meredith Small's "Our Babies, Ourselves." Her research confirmed my suspicions that families sleeping together is more the norm across the globe (and in human history) than is the European and North American practice of everyone in their own room, in their own bed -- surely a result of unprecedented mass affluence. For us, it was a practical decision: we noticed that when we slept together, we may not have slept as deeply, but everyone slept longer.

    Posted by VirginiaMom January 3, 09 08:02 PM
  1. I think that nursing moms usually resort to cosleeping in an effort to get some rest. Nursing every 3 hours in the beginning is a killer and it makes it very hard to function at all, particularly if you have an older child. I slept on a mattress with my youngest child in his room for the first few months when he was sick in an effort to get myself the maximum sleep. Now he's 9 months and sleeps well in his crib every night. But I completely understand why people co-sleep with their children - and before I had kids I would have felt that cosleeping was something I would do. It makes perfect sense and is almost necessary if you are night-nursing. Also, I think that women need some time after childbirth to care for the babies and not focus on their husband so much. Men should understand that and be willing to work with it. Also, EC (elimination communication) is pretty cool, one of my friends did this with her child and she was pottty trained very early. Good luck getting some sleep Joanna!

    Posted by Mom of 2 boys January 3, 09 08:13 PM
  1. Why do you need to make everything so difficult!

    You wrote, “Sometime near morning, the 4-year-old comes in to cuddle on my opposite side. My husband was never there to start with; he's been sleeping variously in our daughter's room, in the guest bed, or on the couch downstairs.”

    That statement says it all; who’s in charge at your house? Our 4 ˝ year old twins have always slept in their room and we sleep in our room. Period. It’s simple and it’s the same with naps, meals, bath time etc...

    Building a routine (which children crave) removes all the mystery and complexity that you pseudo intellectuals try to inflict into everything.

    Your article was an uninspired essay on how to raise a generation of self absorbed wimps. Congratulations, you’re perfect for ‘The Globe.”
    Geoff

    Posted by Geoffrey Myers January 3, 09 08:39 PM
  1. I believe in whatever gets you more sleep in the first 3 -4 months - then do it! I brought both kids in the bed occassionally in the first 3 months of their lives. But by 6 months, they were not allowed in our bed between 7 PM and 7 AM. When my oldest has a nightmare, I bring her back to her bed and lie next to her until she falls asleep or is secure enough for me to leave. Otherwise, everyone gets a great night sleep in their own bed/crib and my husband and I have a very healthy and happy marriage.

    Posted by Well Rested January 3, 09 08:49 PM
  1. How did our parents manage to survive all those years without bumbos, co-sleeping, electric cradle swings and all the other 21st century conveniences we all have? They managed and for the most part everone I know my age has turned out just fine!
    As a mother of a newly 4 yr old and a 5 mth old I guess I am old school. My babies went in to their cribs at 2 mths, AWAKE! They were sleeping through the night at 9 weeks. For my husband and me this was a necessity because we were not sleeping with a baby in the room/bed. The thought of bringing a baby in bed scares me. All I would think about was someome rolling over on top or a our blankets covering their head.
    I really think that this 30 something generation is raising kids to be a bunch of babies, maybe taking a page from generations past is not such a bad idea...

    Posted by mom of 2 January 3, 09 09:10 PM
  1. How did our parents manage to survive all those years without bumbos, co-sleeping, electric cradle swings and all the other 21st century conveniences we all have? They managed and for the most part everone I know my age has turned out just fine!
    As a mother of a newly 4 yr old and a 5 mth old I guess I am old school. My babies went in to their cribs at 2 mths, AWAKE! They were sleeping through the night at 9 weeks. For my husband and me this was a necessity because we were not sleeping with a baby in the room/bed. The thought of bringing a baby in bed scares me. All I would think about was someome rolling over on top or a our blankets covering their head.
    I really think that this 30 something generation is raising kids to be a bunch of babies, maybe taking a page from generations past is not such a bad idea...

    Posted by mom of 2 January 3, 09 09:10 PM
  1. As a cosleeping HUSBAND/DAD of three children, I am a huge advocate. What better way for your child to get to know the love and safety of his/her surroundings than going to bed between Mommy and Daddy. We made the mistake of not co sleeping enough with our first child (due to my ignorance and immaturity, my wife has always been an advocate!) but our second was in our bed for the first 18 months and our 1 year old still sleeps with us. I think it is the only way a nursing mom can get some sleep and fortunately for our family my wife has nursed all of our children.

    For the reader's who posted about sex and intimacy...come on..is the bed the only palce to have sex? And are we all so shallow that if we spend a few nights on the floor/couch/spare bed, that our intimacy suffers?

    Co-sleeping is a family decision and needs support from both parties. Dads step up and give it a shot, you may never go back..I have not. And while you are at it give a hand around the house, your sleep deprived, nursing wife will surely appreciate it.

    The co-sleeping = drug addiction is pure ignorance at best. I respect that co-sleeping is not for everyone, but the next time you are listening to your infant cry his or herself to sleep in the crib down the hall, ask yourself if they might be happier where they spent the first 9+ months of their existence in Mommy's belly.

    Happy co-sleeping!


    Posted by CP January 3, 09 09:52 PM
  1. When my daughter was 4 she was afraid at night and wanted to sleep in our room. We tried the family bed but my daughter tends to sleep with her head in my back and her feet in my husband's so she was the only one who slept. We loved having her near us though so we purchased a blow up bed and put it on the floor on my side of the bed. If she woke up during the night, I'd feel her hand slip into mine and in the morning she always came into our bed to snuggle. It was the best option for all of us. She's seven now and still, very occasionally, will ask to set up the bed in our room and if it's not a school night, we usually say yes.

    Posted by LNC January 3, 09 10:02 PM
  1. I could never bring my baby to sleep with me. I would be terrified of rolling over and crushing my baby. It happens. I did it to my cat once, but cats have claws. Babies are defenseless.

    Posted by Liz January 3, 09 10:02 PM
  1. Co-sleeping works out great for our family. For those who say it means no sex - where's your imagination? Is the bed at night really the only place you ever have sex? How boring.

    The slam at EC was completely unwarranted. Obviously the author doesn't understand how EC works, given the way she described it. We EC'd our daughter and she was reliably defecating in the toilet from 7 months. I'll take that over changing the "traditional" changing of a 2 year olds stinky mess anytime!

    Posted by P. Cross January 3, 09 10:35 PM
  1. We ended up co-sleeping after I got too exhausted to keep getting up every 45 min to an hour and a half and then spending up to an hour trying to get our son back to sleep after nursing, since he would wake up when I tried to put him back in his crib. And I'm so glad we did - I LOVE it. I love the cuddling - this time will pass all too soon. I really feel like I am taking the best advantage of every minute. It has in no way affected the relationship my husband and I have. He sometimes sleeps in the guest room when he needs sleep for work since our son wakes up often and is not always quiet about it. He loves his wife and son though and is 100% behind the decision, so that I can get some sleep too. Intimacy doesn't need to occur in our bed - plenty of other places for that. I'd have to say it has added some fun variety to our lives :D

    CP, thanks for being so open minded and supportive - you sound like my husband! Great post :)

    Posted by Cynthia January 3, 09 11:02 PM
  1. In general, Americans are quite odd in their tendency to insist that children sleep apart from their parents. Japanese not only sleep with their children in the same bed until the age of 5 or 6, but they also bathe with their young children. Having spent several years in Japan (doing anthropological research on families), I can state that I have rarely met anyone who is self-indulgent at all--quite the opposite. Furthermore, rates of SIDS are lower in Japan and fatigue by women during breast feeding is considerably lower in Japan than in the US, where women who do not co-sleep must awake completely to go to another room to give milk.

    I would argue that the preference to put young children in a separate room is a sign of considerable self-indulgence on the part of American parents.

    Posted by JT January 3, 09 11:18 PM
  1. I can't sleep well with the kids in the same room as me, let alone in the same bed. Sometimes I can't even deal with having my wife in bed (if she has a cold, for example) and will gladly sleep on my own. I can't imagine that I'd be a good father and husband if I was getting poor sleep for years on end. Likely I'd be divorced and my kids would hate me. Not to mention I'd likely have lost my job, too, and have poor health.

    Co-sleeping should be a joint decision by the parents. It would not work in our household. Advocates of the practice can go pound sand if they don't like my reasons, just like I'll not push my lifestyle on anyone.

    Posted by J January 3, 09 11:37 PM
  1. mom of 2, co-sleepers ARE taking a page from past generations. The whole separate-bed phenomenon is restricted largely to the US and other western countries and only for the past 50 years. Prior to the rise of middle-class affluence in the mid-20th century average families could not afford separate beds (never mind bedrooms!) for each member of their family. My mother is one of four and an early baby boomer and grew up with anywhere from 2-4 kids to a bed (with the youngest siblings sleeping with her parents) and shared a bed with her sister until her sister married and left the house. My father, also a baby boomer, is one of seven and even in their middle-class family they too slept at least two children to a bed until the oldest children moved out and freed up space for their younger siblings and this was the norm. Ask some older folks and I bet you'll see that the crib/separate bedroom idea was new ground for many families a generation or two ago and was a sign of newfound middle-class affluence. Attachment parenting and co-sleeping are very old-fashioned ideas - our grandmothers didn't have all of the conveniences that we have so to soothe a crying baby, they would put them in a homemade sling and carry thier babies close to them while going about their day - what an idea! I have a feeling that your idea of "past generations" is very short-sighted...look waaaayyyy beyond the 1950's for an idea of what old-fashioned parenting was...

    Posted by Jen January 4, 09 12:20 AM
  1. BTW - I am not talking about nursing moms, or kids under 6 months old. But I started needing sleep badly by month 3 or 4 of nursing and got rid of that 3AM feeding and started putting the babies in their own rooms at 4 months old, all of them, until they stopped needing their 3 Am feeding, then stopped needing their 6 AM feeding and by 7 or 8 months they slept from 10 or 11 PM to 7 or 8 AM and that was a good thing for them. Good for every member of the family and it was hard, to go in their rooms and pat them on the back, rub their back and then leave, "you can do it. you need sleep more than anything, it's important you sleep now. Morning will come, you will see, and we will play and be awake and do anything you want then." And they did do it. Nice long strong sleep and as I said, they all passed that marshmallow test by age 4 with no problem. Deferred gratification is something they knew well and wasn't even hard at all. and of the kids I know who parents run to them, or did, and always were so worried about them 'suffering', while their heart may have been in the right place, their brains were not, and I know those kids would grab that marshmallow in a nanosecond. Mom and Dad could not handle ever seeing them tough out a single thing in their lives. Just give them the marshmallow, what does it matter, right? Well, Apparently, if you can't by 4, that says something. Read about it.

    Posted by Mary January 4, 09 01:59 AM
  1. Whether it's co-sleeping (or not); breastfeeding (or not); day care (or not), parents make different choices for so many personal, cultural, medical and practical reasons. All parents could use more support and less judgment for these, often complex, decisions. I never intended to co-sleep with my daughter, but that's what's worked best for us. I would never insist, however, that this arrangement would be best for another family. I have never understood why parents are so judgmental about others' decisions.....I trust that most of us, anyway, are doing our best to negotiate the complicated world of parenting.

    Posted by SG January 4, 09 09:37 PM
  1. Hopefully, none of these co-sleeping arrangements will result in a smothered infant. How easy it would be to roll over on a small infant or for the infant to get caught up in all the covers. This well-meaning, seemingly obvious way for everyone to get some sleep could turn into a tragedy.

    Posted by Jet January 5, 09 08:55 AM
  1. We have two kids and they both slep in their cribs from the first night they came home from the hospital. I heard too many stories of parents that slep with their baby and when it came time for the crib the baby wouldn't sleep but just cry . When the kids were really sick and wanted to sleep with us that of course was the exception.

    Posted by mom2kids January 5, 09 09:16 AM
  1. #3: many of these are ridiculous, but I can't believe you're actually saying my kids are going to be drug addicts from having a family bed! Very funny. I guess I'll have to let you know.

    Posted by Nicole January 5, 09 09:37 AM
  1. We did whatever worked, to keep everyone sleeping. That meant cosleeping sometimes, having babies sleep in our room in swings or carseats, having babies sleep in their own rooms, etc. We've done a lot of shuffling around.

    Cosleeping is quite safe when parents are not extremely overweight and do not use drugs or suffer from other health problems that result in reduced consciousness.

    Our sleep arrangements did not diminish intimacy in our marriage -- we had four kids in four years. Some of these comments are hilarious. How do you think families managed to have many children when they were living in one-room cabins? Even with cosleeping, we have SO much more privacy now than people have in generations past.

    Posted by Jennifer Boyer January 5, 09 10:29 AM
  1. Our son went from bassinet in our room to crib in his own room in the first few months. Then transitioned from falling asleep in arms to falling asleep on own at age 2. He has been pretty good about trying to accomplish the task we set out. Next stop toilet training! As a child and family therapist, the only caveat with regard to sleeping arrangements is to carefully consider whose needs you are addressing. If you consider well, then all options can be appropriate choices.

    Posted by Peter January 5, 09 10:49 AM
  1. there are some nights my son sleeps in our bed but most nights he does not. he is quite sick for the past week now so there is no way he'll stay in his crib for more than a couple hours. he is 10 months now and everytime we do something that makes him sleep the night, he outgrows it and goes back to waking up through out the night. generally i just put the pacifier in his mouth and he goes back to bed, but some nights i just dont have the energy to wake up multiple times and i cave and bring him in bed. i would much rather not have him in bed but sometimes its that, or get no sleep and have a horrible angry day. our relationship definitely suffers from our son that is for sure, from co sleeping to her going to sleep early and leaving me with the baby. many nights are spent on the couch

    Posted by chuckhndrsn January 5, 09 10:58 AM
  1. It's obvious that so many different variations work for people. My first born son came into our bed when he woke for his first night feeding and spent the rest of the night with us - he liked it and I got much more sleep. It probably only lasted 4 months. My daughter came into our bed to be fed from her basinet in our room, but as soon as she was done, she was pushing against me to go back to her own bed. First one was a sipper and second one was a guzzler, so maybe that explains it. Both were normal, happy, loud & curious kids. Both slept in their own rooms most of the time as toddlers, but had bouts of wanting to be with us. It never impacted our sex lives. They've grown up to be happy, independent and ambitious kids. No addictions, no early sexual activities, and doing very well in high school and college. Being with them as much as they needed when they were babies and toddlers had absolutely nothing to do with raising them to be responsible and hard working.

    Posted by JB January 5, 09 10:59 AM
  1. Do whatever it takes to get you through the night and helps you to be a better parent to YOUR child. There are no hard and fast rules about parenting, and it is different for every kid. Good luck and stick with what is best for you, your child and your family as a whole - your instincts usually turn out right.

    Posted by J-Cupcakes January 5, 09 11:28 AM
  1. Our daughter slept in her crib from night one, but in our room. At 6 weeks, we moved her out. By 7 weeks, she (and we) were sleeping through the night and now, at 8.5 months old, we haven't had any issues.

    Posted by phe January 5, 09 11:48 AM
  1. I am really glad to read so many positive comments about co-sleeping. My oldest was a terrible sleeper. He would sleep for 1/2 hour - then be awake for two. And that would go on for 24 hours. Even my pediatrician gave up on him. He will outgrow it. Yeah --- at age two. Our entire family was totally sleep deprived.
    But that was the time, when we all were brainwashed, that babies should sleep in their own bed.
    When our second came along - I said to heck with it all. He went to sleep in his own bed, but when nursing time came, I would take him in my bed, he would nurse and we would all go to sleep. Morning time came - he would find the nipple and nurse - and I would get another few minutes of zzzs. Fortunately my husband was all in agreement with this arrangement.
    I just wished I had done the same with my older son.

    Posted by Pingo January 5, 09 02:03 PM
  1. I have a lot of recent experience on both side of the coin. I have a 2 1/2 yr old who I nursed. She woke up 3 or 4 times a night for the first 14 mos of her life. With her we were determined that she would always sleep in her own bed. So I would drag my exhausted body out of bed every 1 or 2 hours at night and soothe her back to sleep. I tried all the tricks and read all the books and still we had night time troubles with her until the age of two. When my baby was born by oldest was 21 mos and I knew there was no way I could work full time, care for both children or even function without sleep so I set up a twin bed in the nursery where I co-SLEPT with the baby. SLEPT being the key word. She still woke every 2 or 3 hours to nurse but I could do it without waking fully. On nights that I was overly exhausted I could transfer her to her crib next to my bed so I could stretch out. It was wonderful. At 8 months she started wanting her own space so we moved her to her crib. where she sleeps great from 8pm to 5am. I have a lot of regrets for forcing my oldest to sleep alone and for putting myself through all the sleep deprived misery.

    Posted by melt January 5, 09 03:10 PM
  1. We had our daughter sleeping in her own crib by three months, and it worked out fine. Under no circumstances would I allow our child (whom I am very doting and affectionate with, BTW) to sleep in our bed. My strong feeling is that the marriage bed is for the married couple, and that is the extent of the guest list.

    Posted by MichiganChet January 5, 09 03:14 PM
  1. I had no choice but to sleep with my son with a disability when he was a few weeks old and had just come home from the hospital (at the time, we had no idea he had a disability, only that he had a few problems because he was 3 weeks early). He was not regulating his body temperature at night and when I told the doctor and asked what I should do, he said sleep with him skin to skin but with a diaper on. I did this for 1 month until I noticed his temperature regulating when he started gaining weight. It is probably the only reason he made it!! He did not have a problem sleeping in his own bed afterwards - not at all. He is now a sweet and lovable little guy and at 13 still comes in my room in the morning and gives me a hug and kiss.

    Posted by Charlie January 5, 09 03:24 PM
  1. My son slept in bed with us from the day we brought him home. I had problems breastfeeding him from the start, and if I tried to feed him after he had been crying for a few minutes, it would take me a while to get him to latch on properly. With him sleeping in our bed, I was able to feed him as soon as he would start to wake up and I was able to get the sleep I needed. Everyone told me that he would never get out of my bed, and he would be 5 years old and still wanting to sleep with mommy and daddy, but he is 11 months old now and he decided all by himself that it was time for him to sleep in his crib. I noticed he was having trouble falling asleep in bed with me, so I put him in his crib and he went right to sleep, and slept right through the night. I actually miss him sleeping in bed with us. It was our bonding time ever since I went back to work. If I ever have another child, I would have no problem with them sleeping in our bed like our son did. When they are ready to sleep in their own bed they will

    Posted by Jamie January 5, 09 03:50 PM
  1. We slept with our baby in one of those tiny beds in between us until she was too big for it, about the time she quit nursing. The fussing and crying upon the transition from parents bed to crib lasted less than a week, she took to the crib fast.

    Putting a newborn straight to crib is dopey simply because when the baby is in bed with the mom, nursing is so much easier, practically doesn't require fully waking up.

    The idea that infants have any "lessons to learn" is nonsense. They develop better independence and secure attachment if they are cuddled when tiny.

    Posted by Experienced mom January 5, 09 08:46 PM
  1. SG put it well - every family is different. I wasn't sure how I would manage, but after having many difficulties with breastfeeding, and being told at 2 weeks that feedings would have to occur every 2 hrs around the clock, I decided it was best for everyone for me to move into the guest room with the baby. That way I could co-sleep safely with her (and she could nurse as needed without me having to risk tripping on my way to the crib, possibly with her in my arms - which I did once or twice) and my husband could get the sleep he needed to be a supportive husband and father. My mom always said by 3 months we were in our cribs, so at that time I tried the same and my baby slept soundly for 8 hrs straight! (I was sad to think that she didn't need me at all!) I still had to wake up at least once to express breastmilk so as not to diminish my supply, but ever since we made the decision to do what seemed right for us in regards to sleeping, we have been a happier (and more intimate) couple. Good luck to those who are struggling - try to follow your instincts. You'll be happy you did!!

    Posted by trustyourself January 5, 09 08:51 PM
 
51 comments so far...
  1. All of our 3 kids slept in their cribs from night #1. We wanted to make sure they "knew" where their bed was. Of course, we loved to hold them, soothe them and feed them, but their crib is THEIR bed and our bed is OUR bed. My husband and I promised each other before our 1st child was born, that we would never lose our relationship as husband & wife while being a parent. If you let your kid sleep with you, goodbye intimacy. Not that sex is the most important thing because it is not, but it is important to remember and enjoy your relationship and put your marriage first sometimes (while the kids are sleeping in their OWN beds!!!!!!)

    Posted by CINDYMC January 3, 09 12:02 PM
  1. All of our 3 kids slept in their cribs from night #1. We wanted to make sure they "knew" where their bed was. Of course, we loved to hold them, soothe them and feed them, but their crib is THEIR bed and our bed is OUR bed. My husband and I promised each other before our 1st child was born, that we would never lose our relationship as husband & wife while being a parent. If you let your kid sleep with you, goodbye intimacy. Not that sex is the most important thing because it is not, but it is important to remember and enjoy your relationship and put your marriage first sometimes (while the kids are sleeping in their OWN beds!!!!!!)

    Posted by CINDYMC January 3, 09 12:39 PM
  1. My kids both slept with us on occasion, but never as a regular thing. I couldn't really sleep with either of them in my bed. If it truly works for your whole family, great, but I can't help but wonder about the statement in the article about the author's husband sleeping in random other locations around the house. That doesn't sound like it really works for him, or that it's sustainable for long. I think the best option for a young baby is one of those co-sleepers that fit onto the side of your bed (or a bassinet or other similar arrangement). It allows the closeness with a bit more safety and is less likely to drive the other parent away.

    Posted by akmom January 3, 09 12:53 PM
  1. If you indulge your children too much, they grow up to be self indulgent. You may giggle to think that the family bed leads to drug use, or promiscuity, but have you ever heard of "the cookie test"? Some behaviors, even in very young childhood, are windows to how strong your child will be when they grow to teenagers or even adults. Teach your kids to be strong. I am the youngest of a large family, with the advantage to seeing arguments of how best to raise your kids, and of the sibs, the their friends, who indulged - family beds, etc. - those kids have an inordinately high incidence of drug abuse and addiction. No kidding. in fact EVERY family who had a family bed I know of, has at least one drug addict kid. Not so for the others. I let my 4 year old come in my bed when scared, I cuddle him, for about 15 minutes, then I say, "are you ready to go in your bed now". he always is. Sometimes I push, hard, to have him sleep in his own bed, I sit for 10 minutes in his room, but he's stronger now that I have helped him BE strong. and recently, I gave him the cookie est, and he passed with colors. Be strong, kindly, affectionately, teach your kids to be strong. No offense, I have three kids as well, but bedtime should not be about you. well, always keep your relationship with your husband ,or again, you are asking for trouble. But getting your kids to be strong independent is not about you, it's about them. bite the bullet and do what is best for them.

    Posted by Mary January 3, 09 12:56 PM
  1. Bless you, Joanna, for bringing your baby to bed without apologies or shame! I didn't bring my first-born to bed and I was insanely sleep deprived for months. When my daughter was born I tried to get her to sleep in that cradle, but she would have none of it. With a toddler to take care of during the day, I needed enough sleep to function and having her sleep in bed with me was a great solution. Not only did I get enough sleep, I got to see her wake up every morning with smile on her face. I enjoyed every day of her infancy because of co-sleeping. Now she's three and sleeps in her own bed without any problems. By all means take the proper safety precautions with pillows and blankets, but bring those babies to bed as long as they are nursing at night and everyone will be happier!

    Posted by NoRegrets January 3, 09 01:01 PM
  1. My husband and I had no intentions of co-sleeping while we were preparing for the birth of our child. We read about it, thought it sounded nice but wasn't really for us. And then our daughter came home and made it abundantly clear where she would be sleeping if anyone wanted any kind of rest. We brought her to our bed in exhaustion, but soon grew to love having her with us. We took measures to make sure co-sleeping was safe for us all, and everyone was happier and better rested. As Ms. Weiss says, "there are true sleep-related syndromes out there, but was my daughter's need for cuddling really one of them?" Our daughter happily went to her own bed as a toddler, and no one was scarred by the experience.

    And let me assure you that my husband and I did not bid adieu to intimacy, nor did our relationship as husband and wife suffer because of our co-sleeping.

    Posted by Ali January 3, 09 01:02 PM
  1. Co-sleeping with an infant increases their risk of SIDS.

    Posted by JennyR January 3, 09 01:14 PM
  1. In my opinion, women who bring their children to bed do it to avoid having sex with their husbands.

    Posted by Shecky January 3, 09 02:45 PM
  1. Our daughter never slept with us, but she was in a cradle in our room, of course at first there was only one bedroom so it was not actually a choice. In her five years she has spent very few nights in our bed, and only when sick. She went through a phase where she was convinced that she was going to have an accident(more than 18 months after leaving diapers behind), and our pediatrician advised us to give in on this one. It was all in her head, but in our room she felt safe and didn't think about it. I was opposed to letting her sleep with us, because I didn't want her to develop a habit, but we listened to her doctor, and suprise suprise, he was right again.

    Posted by Zachary January 3, 09 02:50 PM
  1. I respect families' decisions about co-sleeping, and I think the most important thing is that the PARENTS are communicating and making a joint decision about how to handle it. Who cares what grandma/neighbors/friends think? Both my kids slept in our bed regularly when they were infants and I was a sleep-deprived, breast-feeding mom. And by four or five months, they were in their own cribs in their own rooms. My oldest now likes an occasional snuggle with us, the youngest couldn't be less interested in sleeping in our bed. However, my husband and I mutually decided though that it was important to preserve our bed as OUR bed. When our oldest went thru a long phase of wanting to sleep with us, we arranged a sleeping bag on the floor for him.

    Posted by ramona January 3, 09 03:07 PM
  1. The motto of our household is whatever allows us the maximum amount of sleep, is best. It works for us and we often wake up with 5 people in a queen size bed. All kids start out in their own beds so that we can have a night time relationship, but as they come in during the night, we gladly snuggle and we all enjoy the morning giggling and silly time we have to start the day. We are pregnant with #4 and we were just joking that it might be time for a King sized bed!

    Posted by snugglysleeper January 3, 09 03:20 PM
  1. Mary, nice try with the family bed = drug addict hypothesis but the plural of anecdote is not data. Children who have their basic need for security met as infants and toddlers naturally learn age-appropriate independence. Co-sleeping is not an indulgence, it's a natural and perfectly normal approach to sleeping that works for some families and not for others. I have friends whose children enjoy being in their own space for sleeping and for whom being snuggled up next to someone else would be disruptive and they've been that way from birth. I am at the other end of the spectrum, where my babies and I get a more restful night's sleep when we're close, either in the same bed or at least in the same room. My 11 & 10 year olds sleep all night in their rooms and have for years; my 4 year old sometimes comes in to go back to sleep with us if he gets up super-early, and my 3 year old snuggles in next to me in the middle of the night a few nights a week. I love waking up to one or both of my little guys snuggled around us and treasure this time because I know that soon enough, they'll be big kids who want their own space (all the time!). Co-sleeping is a great, practical way to prolong night nursing (which tends to also prolong day nursing - most moms I know who nurse past 12 months are co-sleeping and night nursing) and provides a way for parents in a dual-income family to have more contact time with their kids. Independence and strength are characteristics that develop naturally over time when you meet your children's needs - these are not things that you have to "force" on your children.

    Posted by Jen January 3, 09 03:25 PM
  1. Um - what the heck is the cookie test?

    Posted by EFM January 3, 09 03:41 PM
  1. If you are going to do this, please make sure you are aware of the devasting risks. My wife is a nurse, and has seen several infants brought to the ER because they were rolled on top of. None of them made it out of the hospital.

    Crushing is a very real and very dangerous risk when you combine over tired parents and a baby who is too small to alert you that you are on top of them. I can't think of anything more devasting than knowing your crushed your own child. I would much rather go without a little sleep than risk it

    Posted by D January 3, 09 03:57 PM
  1. My wife allowed the kids in our bed eliminating time for us, which in turn destroyed our marriage. I'm not saying that the the main reason, but it left us with no time for us to be together...

    Posted by Ricky January 3, 09 04:12 PM
  1. I think it's fine as long as it's done safely and EVERYONE is good with the arrangement. I wouldn't allow my daughter into our bed if it drove my husband away. I bet Weiss's husband would write a very different article about co-sleeping if he could do it anonymously.

    Posted by C January 3, 09 04:23 PM
  1. Correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't many babies died as a result of their parents unknowingly rolling over them in bed? Foam cushion or not, this seems like an easy way to smother a newborn.

    Posted by Melanie January 3, 09 04:26 PM
  1. Number 3 I think this statements goes to far about family beds, etc. - those kids have an inordinately high incidence of drug abuse and addiction. No kidding. in fact EVERY family who had a family bed I know of, has at least one drug addict kid.

    i am glad you will not have a drug addict kid.. because he or she never had teh chance to sleep with mama.. you are safe!! dont have those drug talks you throw out of your bed and taught them how to be tough and strong!!!

    Posted by tim January 3, 09 04:36 PM
  1. Mary, your generalization that co-sleeping has any correlation to drug abuse when older is ignorant nonsense. A myriad of factors produce addictions.

    Cosleeping is not for everyone. For us, it was a wonderful experience and I'm glad we did it. Our children are successful, happy people. I always found it odd that anyone would put a baby alone in a room down the hall and use a monitor to know when the baby needed something. Different strokes . . .

    Posted by Happy Mom to 3 January 3, 09 06:14 PM
  1. I read a book by an anthropologist who studies child-rearing across cultures: Meredith Small's "Our Babies, Ourselves." Her research confirmed my suspicions that families sleeping together is more the norm across the globe (and in human history) than is the European and North American practice of everyone in their own room, in their own bed -- surely a result of unprecedented mass affluence. For us, it was a practical decision: we noticed that when we slept together, we may not have slept as deeply, but everyone slept longer.

    Posted by VirginiaMom January 3, 09 08:02 PM
  1. I think that nursing moms usually resort to cosleeping in an effort to get some rest. Nursing every 3 hours in the beginning is a killer and it makes it very hard to function at all, particularly if you have an older child. I slept on a mattress with my youngest child in his room for the first few months when he was sick in an effort to get myself the maximum sleep. Now he's 9 months and sleeps well in his crib every night. But I completely understand why people co-sleep with their children - and before I had kids I would have felt that cosleeping was something I would do. It makes perfect sense and is almost necessary if you are night-nursing. Also, I think that women need some time after childbirth to care for the babies and not focus on their husband so much. Men should understand that and be willing to work with it. Also, EC (elimination communication) is pretty cool, one of my friends did this with her child and she was pottty trained very early. Good luck getting some sleep Joanna!

    Posted by Mom of 2 boys January 3, 09 08:13 PM
  1. Why do you need to make everything so difficult!

    You wrote, “Sometime near morning, the 4-year-old comes in to cuddle on my opposite side. My husband was never there to start with; he's been sleeping variously in our daughter's room, in the guest bed, or on the couch downstairs.”

    That statement says it all; who’s in charge at your house? Our 4 ˝ year old twins have always slept in their room and we sleep in our room. Period. It’s simple and it’s the same with naps, meals, bath time etc...

    Building a routine (which children crave) removes all the mystery and complexity that you pseudo intellectuals try to inflict into everything.

    Your article was an uninspired essay on how to raise a generation of self absorbed wimps. Congratulations, you’re perfect for ‘The Globe.”
    Geoff

    Posted by Geoffrey Myers January 3, 09 08:39 PM
  1. I believe in whatever gets you more sleep in the first 3 -4 months - then do it! I brought both kids in the bed occassionally in the first 3 months of their lives. But by 6 months, they were not allowed in our bed between 7 PM and 7 AM. When my oldest has a nightmare, I bring her back to her bed and lie next to her until she falls asleep or is secure enough for me to leave. Otherwise, everyone gets a great night sleep in their own bed/crib and my husband and I have a very healthy and happy marriage.

    Posted by Well Rested January 3, 09 08:49 PM
  1. How did our parents manage to survive all those years without bumbos, co-sleeping, electric cradle swings and all the other 21st century conveniences we all have? They managed and for the most part everone I know my age has turned out just fine!
    As a mother of a newly 4 yr old and a 5 mth old I guess I am old school. My babies went in to their cribs at 2 mths, AWAKE! They were sleeping through the night at 9 weeks. For my husband and me this was a necessity because we were not sleeping with a baby in the room/bed. The thought of bringing a baby in bed scares me. All I would think about was someome rolling over on top or a our blankets covering their head.
    I really think that this 30 something generation is raising kids to be a bunch of babies, maybe taking a page from generations past is not such a bad idea...

    Posted by mom of 2 January 3, 09 09:10 PM
  1. How did our parents manage to survive all those years without bumbos, co-sleeping, electric cradle swings and all the other 21st century conveniences we all have? They managed and for the most part everone I know my age has turned out just fine!
    As a mother of a newly 4 yr old and a 5 mth old I guess I am old school. My babies went in to their cribs at 2 mths, AWAKE! They were sleeping through the night at 9 weeks. For my husband and me this was a necessity because we were not sleeping with a baby in the room/bed. The thought of bringing a baby in bed scares me. All I would think about was someome rolling over on top or a our blankets covering their head.
    I really think that this 30 something generation is raising kids to be a bunch of babies, maybe taking a page from generations past is not such a bad idea...

    Posted by mom of 2 January 3, 09 09:10 PM
  1. As a cosleeping HUSBAND/DAD of three children, I am a huge advocate. What better way for your child to get to know the love and safety of his/her surroundings than going to bed between Mommy and Daddy. We made the mistake of not co sleeping enough with our first child (due to my ignorance and immaturity, my wife has always been an advocate!) but our second was in our bed for the first 18 months and our 1 year old still sleeps with us. I think it is the only way a nursing mom can get some sleep and fortunately for our family my wife has nursed all of our children.

    For the reader's who posted about sex and intimacy...come on..is the bed the only palce to have sex? And are we all so shallow that if we spend a few nights on the floor/couch/spare bed, that our intimacy suffers?

    Co-sleeping is a family decision and needs support from both parties. Dads step up and give it a shot, you may never go back..I have not. And while you are at it give a hand around the house, your sleep deprived, nursing wife will surely appreciate it.

    The co-sleeping = drug addiction is pure ignorance at best. I respect that co-sleeping is not for everyone, but the next time you are listening to your infant cry his or herself to sleep in the crib down the hall, ask yourself if they might be happier where they spent the first 9+ months of their existence in Mommy's belly.

    Happy co-sleeping!


    Posted by CP January 3, 09 09:52 PM
  1. When my daughter was 4 she was afraid at night and wanted to sleep in our room. We tried the family bed but my daughter tends to sleep with her head in my back and her feet in my husband's so she was the only one who slept. We loved having her near us though so we purchased a blow up bed and put it on the floor on my side of the bed. If she woke up during the night, I'd feel her hand slip into mine and in the morning she always came into our bed to snuggle. It was the best option for all of us. She's seven now and still, very occasionally, will ask to set up the bed in our room and if it's not a school night, we usually say yes.

    Posted by LNC January 3, 09 10:02 PM
  1. I could never bring my baby to sleep with me. I would be terrified of rolling over and crushing my baby. It happens. I did it to my cat once, but cats have claws. Babies are defenseless.

    Posted by Liz January 3, 09 10:02 PM
  1. Co-sleeping works out great for our family. For those who say it means no sex - where's your imagination? Is the bed at night really the only place you ever have sex? How boring.

    The slam at EC was completely unwarranted. Obviously the author doesn't understand how EC works, given the way she described it. We EC'd our daughter and she was reliably defecating in the toilet from 7 months. I'll take that over changing the "traditional" changing of a 2 year olds stinky mess anytime!

    Posted by P. Cross January 3, 09 10:35 PM
  1. We ended up co-sleeping after I got too exhausted to keep getting up every 45 min to an hour and a half and then spending up to an hour trying to get our son back to sleep after nursing, since he would wake up when I tried to put him back in his crib. And I'm so glad we did - I LOVE it. I love the cuddling - this time will pass all too soon. I really feel like I am taking the best advantage of every minute. It has in no way affected the relationship my husband and I have. He sometimes sleeps in the guest room when he needs sleep for work since our son wakes up often and is not always quiet about it. He loves his wife and son though and is 100% behind the decision, so that I can get some sleep too. Intimacy doesn't need to occur in our bed - plenty of other places for that. I'd have to say it has added some fun variety to our lives :D

    CP, thanks for being so open minded and supportive - you sound like my husband! Great post :)

    Posted by Cynthia January 3, 09 11:02 PM
  1. In general, Americans are quite odd in their tendency to insist that children sleep apart from their parents. Japanese not only sleep with their children in the same bed until the age of 5 or 6, but they also bathe with their young children. Having spent several years in Japan (doing anthropological research on families), I can state that I have rarely met anyone who is self-indulgent at all--quite the opposite. Furthermore, rates of SIDS are lower in Japan and fatigue by women during breast feeding is considerably lower in Japan than in the US, where women who do not co-sleep must awake completely to go to another room to give milk.

    I would argue that the preference to put young children in a separate room is a sign of considerable self-indulgence on the part of American parents.

    Posted by JT January 3, 09 11:18 PM
  1. I can't sleep well with the kids in the same room as me, let alone in the same bed. Sometimes I can't even deal with having my wife in bed (if she has a cold, for example) and will gladly sleep on my own. I can't imagine that I'd be a good father and husband if I was getting poor sleep for years on end. Likely I'd be divorced and my kids would hate me. Not to mention I'd likely have lost my job, too, and have poor health.

    Co-sleeping should be a joint decision by the parents. It would not work in our household. Advocates of the practice can go pound sand if they don't like my reasons, just like I'll not push my lifestyle on anyone.

    Posted by J January 3, 09 11:37 PM
  1. mom of 2, co-sleepers ARE taking a page from past generations. The whole separate-bed phenomenon is restricted largely to the US and other western countries and only for the past 50 years. Prior to the rise of middle-class affluence in the mid-20th century average families could not afford separate beds (never mind bedrooms!) for each member of their family. My mother is one of four and an early baby boomer and grew up with anywhere from 2-4 kids to a bed (with the youngest siblings sleeping with her parents) and shared a bed with her sister until her sister married and left the house. My father, also a baby boomer, is one of seven and even in their middle-class family they too slept at least two children to a bed until the oldest children moved out and freed up space for their younger siblings and this was the norm. Ask some older folks and I bet you'll see that the crib/separate bedroom idea was new ground for many families a generation or two ago and was a sign of newfound middle-class affluence. Attachment parenting and co-sleeping are very old-fashioned ideas - our grandmothers didn't have all of the conveniences that we have so to soothe a crying baby, they would put them in a homemade sling and carry thier babies close to them while going about their day - what an idea! I have a feeling that your idea of "past generations" is very short-sighted...look waaaayyyy beyond the 1950's for an idea of what old-fashioned parenting was...

    Posted by Jen January 4, 09 12:20 AM
  1. BTW - I am not talking about nursing moms, or kids under 6 months old. But I started needing sleep badly by month 3 or 4 of nursing and got rid of that 3AM feeding and started putting the babies in their own rooms at 4 months old, all of them, until they stopped needing their 3 Am feeding, then stopped needing their 6 AM feeding and by 7 or 8 months they slept from 10 or 11 PM to 7 or 8 AM and that was a good thing for them. Good for every member of the family and it was hard, to go in their rooms and pat them on the back, rub their back and then leave, "you can do it. you need sleep more than anything, it's important you sleep now. Morning will come, you will see, and we will play and be awake and do anything you want then." And they did do it. Nice long strong sleep and as I said, they all passed that marshmallow test by age 4 with no problem. Deferred gratification is something they knew well and wasn't even hard at all. and of the kids I know who parents run to them, or did, and always were so worried about them 'suffering', while their heart may have been in the right place, their brains were not, and I know those kids would grab that marshmallow in a nanosecond. Mom and Dad could not handle ever seeing them tough out a single thing in their lives. Just give them the marshmallow, what does it matter, right? Well, Apparently, if you can't by 4, that says something. Read about it.

    Posted by Mary January 4, 09 01:59 AM
  1. Whether it's co-sleeping (or not); breastfeeding (or not); day care (or not), parents make different choices for so many personal, cultural, medical and practical reasons. All parents could use more support and less judgment for these, often complex, decisions. I never intended to co-sleep with my daughter, but that's what's worked best for us. I would never insist, however, that this arrangement would be best for another family. I have never understood why parents are so judgmental about others' decisions.....I trust that most of us, anyway, are doing our best to negotiate the complicated world of parenting.

    Posted by SG January 4, 09 09:37 PM
  1. Hopefully, none of these co-sleeping arrangements will result in a smothered infant. How easy it would be to roll over on a small infant or for the infant to get caught up in all the covers. This well-meaning, seemingly obvious way for everyone to get some sleep could turn into a tragedy.

    Posted by Jet January 5, 09 08:55 AM
  1. We have two kids and they both slep in their cribs from the first night they came home from the hospital. I heard too many stories of parents that slep with their baby and when it came time for the crib the baby wouldn't sleep but just cry . When the kids were really sick and wanted to sleep with us that of course was the exception.

    Posted by mom2kids January 5, 09 09:16 AM
  1. #3: many of these are ridiculous, but I can't believe you're actually saying my kids are going to be drug addicts from having a family bed! Very funny. I guess I'll have to let you know.

    Posted by Nicole January 5, 09 09:37 AM
  1. We did whatever worked, to keep everyone sleeping. That meant cosleeping sometimes, having babies sleep in our room in swings or carseats, having babies sleep in their own rooms, etc. We've done a lot of shuffling around.

    Cosleeping is quite safe when parents are not extremely overweight and do not use drugs or suffer from other health problems that result in reduced consciousness.

    Our sleep arrangements did not diminish intimacy in our marriage -- we had four kids in four years. Some of these comments are hilarious. How do you think families managed to have many children when they were living in one-room cabins? Even with cosleeping, we have SO much more privacy now than people have in generations past.

    Posted by Jennifer Boyer January 5, 09 10:29 AM
  1. Our son went from bassinet in our room to crib in his own room in the first few months. Then transitioned from falling asleep in arms to falling asleep on own at age 2. He has been pretty good about trying to accomplish the task we set out. Next stop toilet training! As a child and family therapist, the only caveat with regard to sleeping arrangements is to carefully consider whose needs you are addressing. If you consider well, then all options can be appropriate choices.

    Posted by Peter January 5, 09 10:49 AM
  1. there are some nights my son sleeps in our bed but most nights he does not. he is quite sick for the past week now so there is no way he'll stay in his crib for more than a couple hours. he is 10 months now and everytime we do something that makes him sleep the night, he outgrows it and goes back to waking up through out the night. generally i just put the pacifier in his mouth and he goes back to bed, but some nights i just dont have the energy to wake up multiple times and i cave and bring him in bed. i would much rather not have him in bed but sometimes its that, or get no sleep and have a horrible angry day. our relationship definitely suffers from our son that is for sure, from co sleeping to her going to sleep early and leaving me with the baby. many nights are spent on the couch

    Posted by chuckhndrsn January 5, 09 10:58 AM
  1. It's obvious that so many different variations work for people. My first born son came into our bed when he woke for his first night feeding and spent the rest of the night with us - he liked it and I got much more sleep. It probably only lasted 4 months. My daughter came into our bed to be fed from her basinet in our room, but as soon as she was done, she was pushing against me to go back to her own bed. First one was a sipper and second one was a guzzler, so maybe that explains it. Both were normal, happy, loud & curious kids. Both slept in their own rooms most of the time as toddlers, but had bouts of wanting to be with us. It never impacted our sex lives. They've grown up to be happy, independent and ambitious kids. No addictions, no early sexual activities, and doing very well in high school and college. Being with them as much as they needed when they were babies and toddlers had absolutely nothing to do with raising them to be responsible and hard working.

    Posted by JB January 5, 09 10:59 AM
  1. Do whatever it takes to get you through the night and helps you to be a better parent to YOUR child. There are no hard and fast rules about parenting, and it is different for every kid. Good luck and stick with what is best for you, your child and your family as a whole - your instincts usually turn out right.

    Posted by J-Cupcakes January 5, 09 11:28 AM
  1. Our daughter slept in her crib from night one, but in our room. At 6 weeks, we moved her out. By 7 weeks, she (and we) were sleeping through the night and now, at 8.5 months old, we haven't had any issues.

    Posted by phe January 5, 09 11:48 AM
  1. I am really glad to read so many positive comments about co-sleeping. My oldest was a terrible sleeper. He would sleep for 1/2 hour - then be awake for two. And that would go on for 24 hours. Even my pediatrician gave up on him. He will outgrow it. Yeah --- at age two. Our entire family was totally sleep deprived.
    But that was the time, when we all were brainwashed, that babies should sleep in their own bed.
    When our second came along - I said to heck with it all. He went to sleep in his own bed, but when nursing time came, I would take him in my bed, he would nurse and we would all go to sleep. Morning time came - he would find the nipple and nurse - and I would get another few minutes of zzzs. Fortunately my husband was all in agreement with this arrangement.
    I just wished I had done the same with my older son.

    Posted by Pingo January 5, 09 02:03 PM
  1. I have a lot of recent experience on both side of the coin. I have a 2 1/2 yr old who I nursed. She woke up 3 or 4 times a night for the first 14 mos of her life. With her we were determined that she would always sleep in her own bed. So I would drag my exhausted body out of bed every 1 or 2 hours at night and soothe her back to sleep. I tried all the tricks and read all the books and still we had night time troubles with her until the age of two. When my baby was born by oldest was 21 mos and I knew there was no way I could work full time, care for both children or even function without sleep so I set up a twin bed in the nursery where I co-SLEPT with the baby. SLEPT being the key word. She still woke every 2 or 3 hours to nurse but I could do it without waking fully. On nights that I was overly exhausted I could transfer her to her crib next to my bed so I could stretch out. It was wonderful. At 8 months she started wanting her own space so we moved her to her crib. where she sleeps great from 8pm to 5am. I have a lot of regrets for forcing my oldest to sleep alone and for putting myself through all the sleep deprived misery.

    Posted by melt January 5, 09 03:10 PM
  1. We had our daughter sleeping in her own crib by three months, and it worked out fine. Under no circumstances would I allow our child (whom I am very doting and affectionate with, BTW) to sleep in our bed. My strong feeling is that the marriage bed is for the married couple, and that is the extent of the guest list.

    Posted by MichiganChet January 5, 09 03:14 PM
  1. I had no choice but to sleep with my son with a disability when he was a few weeks old and had just come home from the hospital (at the time, we had no idea he had a disability, only that he had a few problems because he was 3 weeks early). He was not regulating his body temperature at night and when I told the doctor and asked what I should do, he said sleep with him skin to skin but with a diaper on. I did this for 1 month until I noticed his temperature regulating when he started gaining weight. It is probably the only reason he made it!! He did not have a problem sleeping in his own bed afterwards - not at all. He is now a sweet and lovable little guy and at 13 still comes in my room in the morning and gives me a hug and kiss.

    Posted by Charlie January 5, 09 03:24 PM
  1. My son slept in bed with us from the day we brought him home. I had problems breastfeeding him from the start, and if I tried to feed him after he had been crying for a few minutes, it would take me a while to get him to latch on properly. With him sleeping in our bed, I was able to feed him as soon as he would start to wake up and I was able to get the sleep I needed. Everyone told me that he would never get out of my bed, and he would be 5 years old and still wanting to sleep with mommy and daddy, but he is 11 months old now and he decided all by himself that it was time for him to sleep in his crib. I noticed he was having trouble falling asleep in bed with me, so I put him in his crib and he went right to sleep, and slept right through the night. I actually miss him sleeping in bed with us. It was our bonding time ever since I went back to work. If I ever have another child, I would have no problem with them sleeping in our bed like our son did. When they are ready to sleep in their own bed they will

    Posted by Jamie January 5, 09 03:50 PM
  1. We slept with our baby in one of those tiny beds in between us until she was too big for it, about the time she quit nursing. The fussing and crying upon the transition from parents bed to crib lasted less than a week, she took to the crib fast.

    Putting a newborn straight to crib is dopey simply because when the baby is in bed with the mom, nursing is so much easier, practically doesn't require fully waking up.

    The idea that infants have any "lessons to learn" is nonsense. They develop better independence and secure attachment if they are cuddled when tiny.

    Posted by Experienced mom January 5, 09 08:46 PM
  1. SG put it well - every family is different. I wasn't sure how I would manage, but after having many difficulties with breastfeeding, and being told at 2 weeks that feedings would have to occur every 2 hrs around the clock, I decided it was best for everyone for me to move into the guest room with the baby. That way I could co-sleep safely with her (and she could nurse as needed without me having to risk tripping on my way to the crib, possibly with her in my arms - which I did once or twice) and my husband could get the sleep he needed to be a supportive husband and father. My mom always said by 3 months we were in our cribs, so at that time I tried the same and my baby slept soundly for 8 hrs straight! (I was sad to think that she didn't need me at all!) I still had to wake up at least once to express breastmilk so as not to diminish my supply, but ever since we made the decision to do what seemed right for us in regards to sleeping, we have been a happier (and more intimate) couple. Good luck to those who are struggling - try to follow your instincts. You'll be happy you did!!

    Posted by trustyourself January 5, 09 08:51 PM
add your comment
Required
Required (will not be published)

This blogger might want to review your comment before posting it.

About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

Submit a question for Barbara's Mailbag


Ask Barbara a question

Barbara answers questions on a wide range of topics, including autism, breastfeeding, bullying, discipline, divorce, kindergarten, potty training, sleep, tantrums, and much, much more.

Send your questions to her at:
meltzbarbara (at) gmail.com.
Please include your name and hometown.
Moms
All parenting discussions
Discussions

High needs/fussy baby

memes98 writes "My 10.5 month old DS has been fussy ever since he was born, but I am getting very frustrated because I thought he would be much better by now...has anyone else been through this?"

More community voices

Corner Kicks

Dirty Old Boston

Mortal Matters

On Deck

TEDx Beacon Street

RSS feed


click here to subscribe to
Child Caring

archives