Many babies want to sleep in their parents’ bed. They like the body warmth, the comfort and sometimes the nursing. But many parents like their babies to sleep in their own cribs!
If your baby wants to sleep with you, consider the following tips:
Your Baby is Normal
Throughout the ages, babies have slept next to their parents. In olden times, no one had multi-room homes in which a baby could have his own nursery. The cradle was in the parents’ room and just as often, the baby was in the parents’ bed. Mothers nursed their infants throughout the night until they weaned them around the age of two or so, depending on the culture. Modern life is so different! Working mothers, bottle-fed or supplemented babies, room-to-room intercom systems and a completely different lifestyle has resulted in an era of babies separated from their moms at night. If your baby doesn’t appreciate the innovations of the culture, don’t worry – he’s in good company! Normal babies want to be held day and night. They like to sleep on people’s bodies. In our nuclear family, this usually means that babies want to be with their parents. In previous times, babies may have been happy to sleep with any number of people who nurtured them – siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles and whoever else was nearby and available.
You are Normal Too
You want a good night’s sleep so you can function and feel well the next day! While many parents do enjoy sleeping with their babies for the first couple of years (Dr. Sears calls this “attachment parenting”), many parents just can’t sleep with someone kicking around them in bed, pulling at their nightgown for all-night feedings, or otherwise disturbing their peace. If you can’t sleep well with your baby in your bed, it’s important for everyone’s well-being that you find a way to keep your child OUT of your bed! A tired, resentful parent is not only miserable, but also at risk for doing some poor daytime parenting as well.
If you are one of those parents who don’t mind the baby being in bed with you, then definitely go for it! There is nothing wrong with a baby sleeping with his parents. Do some research on safety issues; you will find all sorts of information showing that babies who sleep next to their parents have less risk of SIDS (sudden-infant-death syndrome) and conflicting research showing that they have more. You will have to draw your own conclusions. However, keep in mind that many, many people are currently sleeping with their babies and we’re not hearing about a high fatality rate from this practice. If we did, the practice would have been legally prohibited by now. Some parents find it easier to have the baby in bed with them than to have to get themselves out of bed a couple of times a night to tend to the child in another room. Such people say that they feel more rested having the baby by their side than they do having him down the hall.
Keeping the baby out of your bed. You will almost certainly have to tolerate some amount of crying in order to train a baby to stay in his own room. Whatever method of education you use, (and there are MANY!), the child will likely complain with tears and temper for a number of days or even weeks. However, once the crying has stopped and the baby has caught on to the fact that his bed is elsewhere (because you have consistently refused to take him into your bed), you may find that your child sleeps peacefully throughout the night. Both you and the baby can get quality sleep. Sometimes, the baby will still awaken once or twice in the night for feedings or even attention. However, you and your spouse may be able to take turns at nightime care and both of you will be more rested than you might be with the baby right in your bed.
It is important not to make exceptions once the child has been trained to sleep in his crib in his own room. If he is ill, keep him in his own room – even if YOU have to sleep there too. If you are going back to bed, give yourself peace of mind by keeping a baby monitor on loud and clear. Moving him into your bed because he has an earache or because you’re on vacation or because he’s teething, can completely disrupt the baby’s ability to stay in his own bed. You may find that you have to go through the entire training process all over again.