by Jessica M. Lang, Holistic Health Practitioner
Most families share sleep at one time or another. Whether it be when a child is sick, when they have a bad-dream, or if they are away on vacation and staying in someone else's home. Many moms have told me that they bring their child into their bed when their spouse is traveling for work. My husband and I share sleep with at least one of our children every night of the week.
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We never set out to have a family-bed. Co-sleeping was not something that I had ever heard of before my son, Nathan, was born. I got him an Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper Bassinet , we figured he'd sleep there for a few months and then he'd go into his own room. We had already decorated his room, we got him a fancy pecan colored crib. He never slept in it. He never even napped in it. (It did make a great laundry basket, though!) Sharing sleep just came natural to us, as it does for many families.
Dr. Jay Gordon, a nationally recognized pediatrician has endorsed the family bed for decades. He advocates benefits, of safe co-sleeping, for the whole family in his book "Good Nights, The Happy Parents Guide to the Family Bed (and a Peaceful Nights Sleep!). He reiterates that families that share sleep are happier, healthier and have a deeper bond. Dr. Gordon quotes, Dr. Thomas Anders, M.D, a professor of psychiatry at the Univeristy of California, Davis, School of Medicine:
Co-Sleeping encourages family closeness.
In his book, Dr. Jay Gordon, also shares words from a 22-year old family bed gradute, Rachel. Rachel says:
I remember feeling like every night was a slumber party for a time. My older sister was sleeping in a palette next to my parents' bed, and my brother and I were sleeping in or near the bed...We were all very close, both spatially and emotionally, and we have carried that closeness throughout our lives.
I have to say, I agree with these statements. I've witnessed the love that is shared by my two children when they wake up together in our family bed. They immediately look for one another and cuddle, hold hands and smile, in such a sweet, sleepy way. Nathan, our oldest, does have his own room and his own bed, but he is welcome in our room whenever he needs to be with us. I especially love when I wake up at 3 or 4 to nurse the baby and notice that Nathan has joined us, it always makes me smile, even in the wee hours of the night.
We are a family unit, why would be HAVE to sleep apart? We play together, eat together, and we share sleep. When I asked my son, Nathan, what his favorite thing about sleeping in mommy and daddy's bed was he replied said "Going like this to Brady, so he can go to sleep." (Motioning his hand as if he were rubbing the baby's back) I don't think the family bed is right for everyone. But its definitely right for us.