September 18, 2014

The Family Bed and Your Baby’s Sense of Self

Many families world-wide are used to the kids climbing into mom and dad’s bed to snuggle in post-nightmare, or just for kisses and cuddles. However, some families are turning this into a routine by introducing the concept of “the family bed.” Though extremely common in Asian and African cultures, the subject is somewhat taboo in the United States. Is the concept of the family bed good for your baby, and if so, what do you need to know?

Friends and Family
Who Co-Sleeps?

A family bed, or “co-sleeping,” is far from a new concept. Many families in Asia, Africa and Southern Europe have been using this practice for generations, raising healthy and happy kids. In fact, in countries like India, it is reported that up to 93% of children sleep with their parents until age 10. The idea of the family bed is becoming more prevalent in the United States too, as parents look for more natural ways to raise their children.

Sleeping As a Family: What The Experts Say

The tradition of sleeping together as a family is a long-standing one in many cultures, but it would appear that the jury is still out for many professionals. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that your baby sleeping with you increases the occurrence of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), where other experts point out the potential for smothering by a parent simply rolling over in their sleep. Conversely, there are also experts who maintain that it is an essential aspect of “attachment parenting,” and children raised this way have stronger bonds with their parents.

Why Co-Sleeping Works

If you’re a nursing mother, you probably already see the value of co-sleeping or “the family bed.” New moms can just pull out their nursing pillow, feed their babies, and both can happily go back to sleep. Studies have shown that nursing moms who co-sleep get better rest than their counterparts, as well as have an easier time breastfeeding. Additionally, further studies have shown that kids who grow up in a co-sleeping environment are generally more independent, socially well-adjusted, comfortable with intimacy and had higher self-esteem as adults.

Why It May Not

When you share a bed with your child, you’re sharing everything with them. For example, skin irritations and daddy’s loud snoring just to name a few. There are also additional concerns about a baby getting smothered by an adult rolling over or accidentally being knocked to a hard floor. Quilts and blankets must never be used, which can disrupt the sleep habits of some adults, as can children who awake at odd times and need attention.

The Dreaded Sex Question

When parents think about the idea of common sleeping arrangements, more than likely the first thing that comes to mind is, “Where do we have sex?” While it may be common in other cultures for the parents to get romantic while their children are sleeping right next to them, many in Western cultures feel uncomfortable with that. Experts hold differing opinions on this, and it really comes down to a matter of choice. Basically, if you and your spouse want some “quality time” and don’t feel comfortable with your kids in the bed, you may need to look at other areas of the house.

Co-sleeping, or the family bed, can be an excellent way to form a bond with your children and with your family as a whole. While it may have its drawbacks, the potential future outcomes for your kid’s adult life cannot be ignored. Deciding to ditch the crib is a decision that can only be made by you.

As a Vietnamese, Debbie Nguyen is very comfortable with the family bed concept. As a mother to a preemie, she had to have her baby close by. Sites like http://www.kidsii.com/comfortandharmony/c-176-nursing-pillows.aspx can be helpful when browsing for pillows that help with breastfeeding, in or out of the bed.

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