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WHY WE SLEEP WITH OUR BABY

(or, THE SATISFACTION OF SLEEP-SHARING)

The short answer to this topic is, "Because this way we get more sleep." For more on this highly controversial subject (no, we have no clue as to why it's highly controversial), read on.

THINGS YOU MIGHT WANT TO KNOW ABOUT CO-SLEEPING

I thought only hippies and third-world parents slept with their kids. Is this American? Well, maybe not mainstream white American, but there are quite a few of us weirdoes out there. I'd guesstimate probably one in five parents you talk to will sleep with their baby at least some of the time. And don't forget the sizeable amount of first-generation Americans who sleep with their babies because that's the way they do it in the home country. Also, don't forget that a lot of people who think sleeping with babies is strange find nothing unusual in sharing their bed with their dog. Is there something wrong with this picture, or is it just me?

But I don't want to sleep with my baby! Keep in mind that I am simply offering information on what has worked best for my husband and me. If your baby is truly fussy and you feel psychotic from lack of sleep, chances are that it will work for you too. If you really, really don't want to sleep with your baby in your bed, there are other ways to share sleep, such as having his crib in your room, or having a side-sleeper that hooks up to your mattress. Even sitting upright in a rocking chair with you both dozing is sharing sleep. It's not like there's only one option available.

Aren't you afraid he'll never leave your bed? Ask my brother-in-law's wife this question and she'll probably have to stifle giggles at your ignorance. You see, she's Japanese, and most Asian parents sleep with their babies. So do most African parents. Those so-called sleep experts who say that your baby will never learn to sleep on her own if she doesn't have a bed of her own in a room of her own and is left to cry on her own are full of poopy. Where do they think all those Asian and African adults who slept with their parents are sleeping today?

Now if, on the other hand, by never you mean, "For the next couple of years," no, I don't think he's getting out anytime soon. Just like any other aspect of babyhood, this requires slow and respectful weaning; with high-need babies, slow becomes slooooooow. No educated breastfeeding mother in her right mind would just all of a sudden go from eight feedings a day to none, because it would cause her pain and traumatize her child. On the same note, no co-sleeping parent should think that the day will abruptly come when they will dump their 18-month-old in a crib or toddler bed in his own room, say, "Tonight you sleep by yourself like a big boy!" and go to their room, leaving him alone to face the night.

If you're still not convinced, consider that in bygone days, many mothers were advised not to breastfeed because babies get "hooked" on it. Well, that's a good reason to deny your child something good for him--it might inconvenience you sometimes!

Aren't you afraid you'll roll over on him and smother him? No more afraid than I am that I'll roll out of bed. Mothers especially have a sixth sense about where their baby is, so in the early months it's probably wise to have Il Bambino sleep between mama and the wall or bedrail. Unless you're extremely overweight or have a size J cup or take drugs or something like that, you needn't worry either. Remember, they didn't used to call SIDS "sleeping with parents death." They called it "crib death." In fact, some studies seem to indicate that it's more risky to have your baby in his own crib than sleep with you.

We have a full-size bed, and we can't afford a new, larger mattress. This is where many books happily chirp, "Try the sidecar approach!" Look, it may work for an easy baby to push her crib against the side of her parents' bed. I certainly wouldn't know from experience. Those books neglect to take into account a high-need baby's need (there's that word again) to sleep pressed up against her mommy, simulating as closely as she can the womb she left. My advice is to beg, borrow, or buy a twin mattress and push it against the bed so your significant other can sleep on it. You can often find them cheap at garage sales where adult children have just finally left their parents' home.

How do I start? Do not, I repeat, do not, embark on the co-sleeping journey without reading up on it. You need to know the safety measures to take and how to wean your child from the bed, etc. Check the Resources page.

Do you guys ever Do It? Oh, for Pete's sake. When did the two of you become such a boring old married couple (or unmarried, for all I know)? I am trusting that you are not raising your baby in a studio apartment and that there are actually other rooms to take refuge in. When she's very little, the floor will suit either her or the two of you just fine temporarily. Or how about the living room, or the kitchen, or the guest bedroom...You didn't think there was only one place to have sex before you had kids; what makes you think that childbirth relegates making love to the master bedroom? What gets me is that it's usually guys who ask this question--guys who not more than five years previously would have been delighted to do it in the back seat of a Metro!

Do you like sleeping with Abishai? The joy of waking up every morning next to my two favorite people in the world is something I absolutely love. I wouldn't trade it for all the cribs in the world.

Interesting Link: See a list of 10 Reasons to Sleep With Your Baby here, written by a psychologist (really!).

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Why We Carry Our Baby So Much Why We Sleep With Our Baby How We Respond to Our Baby's Cries Resources for the Parent of a High-Need Baby
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