The Pros and Cons Of Co-Sleeping With Your Child
I slept with my parents until I moved out of the house. I’m joking, but I slept with them well into elementary school. I never even realized co-sleeping with your children was controversial until I was pregnant and reading as much baby information as I could possibly digest.
My Childhood Co-Sleeping Experience
I still remember it like it was yesterday. My dad trying to make me sleep in my own bed, and my mom saying, “Just leave her!” My dad carrying me back to my bed when they thought I was asleep. Me waiting until he was about to lay me down, and saying, “I’m not asleep yet!” My dad staying with me in my bed to try to get me to transition. This went on for several years.
I have thought about my sleep story when I have heard parents discussing their children’s sleep habits, and I especially have pondered on them since becoming a parent. I have tried to remember why I was like this. It caused so much drama for my parents and me.
Was I scared to be alone? I remember being a little scared. I also think it was some type of attention game, but mainly, I believe I just really wanted my parent’s presence while I fell asleep. Think about it. It’s one of the few times in the day when you have your parents, and they’re not cooking, cleaning, talking, or whatever their favorite tasks.
Co-Sleeping With Our Children
Jock slept for a few weeks in the crib until his first whim, then I slept in a chair holding him. I know. It breaks all safety rules. Then after about 6 months of the chair only and a really sore back and rear he moved in between Chris and me in our bed in his Nap Nanny. I know. They’re now recalled. Then he transitioned to just sleeping in between us.
Did I mention that it would take him about an hour to go to sleep (bless his heart) all the while holding him in a cradle position (bless my heart) and bouncing? Oh, and we were so happy that he loved books we would read like five or so before all this took place.
When we found out I was pregnant with the second, we bought Jock bunk beds. Long story short, he wouldn’t sleep in those until months later when we invited his older cousin to come stay, and he slept with Jock in the bunk bed. After he left, Jock just kept right on sleeping in his room, so he made it into his bed before he turned two. There were times he woke in the wee hours of the morning and came and slept with us, but we did have some time alone.
Then Luke came, and the story pretty much repeated itself. By the grace of God, he goes to sleep pretty quickly. This meant one parent in Jock’s room getting him to bed, and the other parent in our bedroom with Luke. His crib was set up in Jock’s room, and I just knew I was going to get him to sleep in there with Jock while Chris and I slept together. Never happened.
When Jock was 3, and Luke was 1, we moved to a new home in a new town, and the boys’ rooms are upstairs. Jock has slept in his bed maybe 20 times. For the most part, we now have both kids in our bed every night. We still read a lot of books before bed. The kids usually are finally out around 9:00. I know. Gasp.
I’ll be the first to admit. If there is one area I had to pick that I fail at with my kids, it’s sleep! If I could pick one area for our family to get an intervention, it would be in the sleep department.
The Cry It Out method is definitely not for our family, so I would need something different. We tried that with Jock. We made it 3 minutes the first night and 7 minutes the second night.
Throughout the first three years of this chaos, I read every sleep book, website, and listened to any advice I could. I read about all the people who tuck their kids in at 7:00 or earlier in their own bed, kumbaya, and then go have wine, and movie and snuggle on the couch time with their partner. We tried a lot of it. With each strategy, we got our hopes up. We thought we really had our game plan down. This time was going to be it for us, and NOPE.
What Does the Research Say About Co-Sleeping With Your Children?
In my research, I found that there are a ton of opinions on whether it is good for your kids to sleep with you or not. Much of the research contradicts each other.
Interestingly enough, it depends on what country you live in. In most societies around the world, children sleep with their parents at least for the first several years of life. According to anthropologist Emmy Elizabeth Warner, in 90 percent of cultures, infants sleep with their parents, not in cradles or cribs. It has become custom in the U.S to make your child as independent as possible as early as possible.
Related Article: Safe Co-Sleeping Guidelines
Some of the positives of co-sleeping with your children:
- Easier to breastfeed
- Sense of security
- Promotes family bonds
- Raises self-esteem
- Kids seem to deal better with peer pressure (true for my brother and me)
Some of the negatives of co-sleeping with your children:
- Parents have less sex
- Safety risk for child
- Children seem to wake more in parents bed
- Children seem to have more issues falling asleep even throughout adulthood (true for myself, not sure if this is the reason)
- Less sleep for parents because they wake at every whim
Related Article: Everything You Want to Know About Co-Sleeping and Bed Sharing
Why do I share my story?
I have found all of these positives and negatives to be true in my experiences. So at the end of the day, you just have to decide what’s best for your family culture. The best way to do it is the way that causes your child to be at their best – physically and emotionally.
I don’t think it’s worth going through all the drama at night because some psychologists and child development specialist say it’s not right. If it really doesn’t bother you to have your kids in your bed, go with your heart. When I reflect, the reason it got chaotic is that I was trying to make happen what I was reading should happen. I compared my story to the stories in the articles I was reading. I should have stayed in my own lane!
Moral of the Story
I wouldn’t trade the years of co-sleeping because I love the cuddles. I love to stare at the boys sometimes until I fall asleep. When they wake and cry out my name, I’m there. I think we have a closer bond because of it. A lot of fun moments and serious talk came from them being in there. All of this will pass too quickly, and I’ll miss being sandwiched between the two of them.
There are nights when one of them takes off running out of the bed. Sometimes one of them starts laughing for no reason, and it turns into pandemonium. Every once in a while, one of them escapes and takes off running through the dark house, I start to question it all again. But I know this is all part of the journey of having children. I try to light-heartedly embrace these moments.
The Boys Make the Decision to Sleep In Their Own Beds
In December 2017, we were about to get into our bed, and Jock announced that he was going to sleep in his own bed. Luke followed it with, “Me too!” while pointing at his chest. We took them upstairs, and they haven’t slept in our bed since. They haven’t even asked to.
Chris and I take turns praying and reading with the boys before bed. Then we lay with them until they fall asleep.
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