Monday, April 23, 2012

Top Ten {Tuesday}: The Co-Sleeping Edition

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little BlessingsJoining up once again with Many Little Blessings for Top Ten {Tuesday}. Be sure to stop by and check out Angie's post and some of the other writers linked up.

Today I'm writing about sleep. Specifically, co-sleeping with children and the many misconceptions that surround this idea. I've included some additional resources at the bottom of this post.

1. Co-sleeping and bedsharing are not the same thing. Co-sleeping simply means sleeping in the same area/room. This could be bedsharing (i.e., on the same sleeping surface, in the same bed), but it could also be a mattress on the floor, a bassinet nearby, a co-sleeper attached to the side of the bed, or even a completely separate bed in the same room.

All three Agents sick with the flu (February 2011)
2. But it's dangerous! Um, not really. As with just about every other aspect of parenting, there's a safe way and and not-so-safe way.

3. What about sex? Yes, what about it? Sex after children is always a matter of logistics: they pretty much need to be out of the house or sound asleep. Even if your children sleep in a separate room, they would still need to be asleep. And they still might wake up and interrupt you. If you are worried about them hearing you, move somewhere else. (I don't know about yours, but our house is really super cool in that it has more than one room.)

4. Children need to sleep alone. Why? Do you like sleeping alone? Do you see many other mammals sleeping alone? Exactly what "skill" does sleeping by yourself foster?

5. But they'll never be independent. Are you really concerned about your newborn being dependent on you for comfort and security? or your toddler? or your five-year-old? Because if so, you have way bigger issues than co-sleeping vs. separate sleeping.

Sleepy Agents J and A
6. They will never want to leave your bed or your room. Never? Do you personally know many parents of co-sleeping teenagers? I didn't think so.

7. Children should not "bother" you at night. It makes my heart sad when I read articles (or friends' status updates) where folks say they are "done" parenting at the end of the day. I understand the need for everyone to rest. I understand the need to have balance and time to yourself. But, parenting is a 24-hour-a-day gig. Period. You can't put your children away in the evening and take them back out the next morning. (This is true even if you're not co-sleeping, but I thought I'd throw it out there.)

8. If baby sleeps next to mom he/she will want to nurse all night long. This one may be true. Or not. Breastfed babies who sleep right next to the "source" may nurse more at night. Or, they might feel so comfy and secure next to mom that they may sleep longer stretches without nursing. All babies are different!

9. Parents (mom especially) won't get enough sleep if the baby is in the room all night. Personally, I've found the opposite to be true. I can respond to baby's needs quickly and quietly before anyone is even fully awake. The few nights I've had to haul myself out of bed with a sick baby/toddler, who wanted to nurse sitting up or just be held upright, I thought I would about perish from exhaustion the next day.

E and J snuggled up
10. What about SIDS? The fact is, most SIDS cases occur in cribs, not in co-sleeping (or bedsharing) situations. You may also want to note that most of those "kids are safest in cribs" and "co-sleeping is dangerous" campaigns are sponsored by the Juvenile Products Manufacturer Association (JPMA) . . . as in the folks who make cribs.

Have you co-slept with your children? What has your experience been like? What would you add to this list?

12 comments :

  1. Awesome- Love it. A close friend lives in Japan and bed-sharing there is pretty much expected. From what she tells me, SIDS is rare there also.
    All I have to do now is get rid of my 4 year old bed-sharer before the new one comes in July :)

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    1. Would he be content to be on a mattress on the floor in your room? That's how we "kicked out" our bedsharers :-) They're all still in our room, sleeping on the floor near our bed, but we're trying the separate room thing after the move, per Agent E's request. We'll see how that works out. She keeps insisting she and J need bunk beds, but I don't even want to go there.

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  2. With my first son I hadn't heard or co-sleeping and what I had heard was that it was not "normal". When my second son had major troubles falling asleep after waking in the night I often brought him into my bed and he slept better. He was a light sleeper so now he and I share a room in separate beds and he joins me if needed. When we move houses I want to work out a new arrangement to include big brother because he ends up in bed with daddy often, but daddy has to get up early for work. Thanks for writing about this topic. I find that it is mostly younger North Americans who find it hard to understand. Many older people shared rooms with siblings and that was okay.

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    1. I do find it kind of odd how most folks I know seem to think separate rooms for siblings is essential. My sister and I always shared a room. We had one double bed--that's all that would fit! My girls will share a room at our new house . . . and I can't imagine it any other way. (Neither could they . . . in spite of what E will tell me every once in a while when J makes her mad :-)
      You are moving soon, too? Hope it's going well. We are so ready here.

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  3. I had honestly never thought about the difference between co-sleeping and bed sharing. Lightbulb moment here.:) On paper, everyone here is supposed to sleep in their own bed, but in actuality, people sleep wherever they sleep. Sometimes all the kids cram into one room and sometimes I find kids all over the couches. They are always welcome to sleep on the floor in our room and sometime make their way to our bed. Whatever works

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  4. We did co-sharing for a while when my boys were younger. For us at the time it worked. We didn't do it for long but I believe every family is different and unique.
    I particularly like number 7. Putting them away and taking them out in the morning. Bahahahahaha too funny and unfortunately how some parents view parenting.

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  5. Love it! #9 is one of the ones I hear most often but I sleep SO MUCH better when they're in the room. I'm not sure if they wake up less or not, I have a theory that since I know they're right there my subconcious doesn't feel the need to wake me up at every little sleeping baby noise.

    My oldest moved, of her own choosing, to her own bed in her own room just before her second birthday. She's been in there a few months now and we've never had the typical toddler night drama that my friends talk about so much. She's never tried to crawl into bed with us in the night, but once or twice we've found her curled up in her little brother's bed with him in the morning... all snuggled up together... but how can you be mad at that? ;)

    P.S. I found your blog through a comment on Jessica Bowman's. I like it.

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    1. My kids do the snuggling up to each other in the middle of the night thing all the time. Cutest. thing. ever. I was also just checking out *your* blog after seeing your comment at Jessica's site. I found your FB page for your photography and "liked" it. I was hoping to find one for the blog, too, as I'm sort of a FB follow-y kind of gal more than anything else. Loved poking around at some of your old posts, though. And love love love the blog name. I really wish I had given mine more consideration and come up with something snazzy. Alas, I did not. Sigh.

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  6. I've never done co-sleeping, except those rarities that happen about once a year. Just curious, wondering at what age you stop.

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    1. Well, our oldest is five and sleeps on a mattress on the floor of our room. She wants her own room when we move in about 5 weeks. Likely she and her 4-year-old sister will share the bedroom next to ours and my son (18 months) will continue to sleep on a mattress on the floor in our room for a while. All three stopped sleeping in a co-sleeper attached to the bed between 10 months (youngest) and 2 years (oldest).

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  7. I could not have survived early motherhood without co-sleeping. Mine both slept in my bed for the first year and a bit. Then they moved into a shared room but still often come into my bed some time during the night. Especially my almost 3 year old youngest son. I often wake up in the morning, my arms wrapped tightly around him and I have NO IDEA how he got there :)
    I totally agree with your point about siblings sharing, too. so many people seem confused why my children almost 3&5 share a room when we actually do have a spare room. I shared a room with my brother and although I didn't always love it, it is a chance to form a very special relationship with your siblings. They are already seperated for most of the day (my daughter goes to school), so at least they have each other in the evenings.
    and it really bugs me when people talk about kids having to be able to sleep by themselves but in the next moment they tell you how their partner was out of town for the weekend and how they could barely sleep in an empty bed. And they don't ever seem to see the hypocrisy. Is sleeping with others a priviledge you earn as you get older?

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    1. Agree completely. Our new house will have the space to give each of the girls their own rooms, but they are going to share. (And hubby and I are going to have an actual "office" instead of a jumbled mess in the corner of the dining room :-) And the last part of your comment . . . ugh. When hubby is gone I NEVER sleep well . . . this kind of "logic" makes me crazy, too.

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