18 Nov 2011 1 Comment
Since there has been a lot of discussion about co-sleeping in the news lately following a controversial ad campaign in Milwaukee, I thought I’d write my thoughts on it. I think that rather than discouraging co-sleeping altogether, we need to be encouraging safe co-sleeping practices instead.
I think that co-sleeping is very natural and people have co-slept since the beginning of time. Co-sleeping is an unquestioned practice in the Philippines where I grew up. It is the norm until the children are ready to be in their own bed, in their own room. They also don’t do sleep training (e.g. cry it out) but kids learn independence anyway and in the 20 years that I have lived there, I have never heard of kids having “negative sleep habits” or “sleep disorders” because they co-slept with their parents. Interestingly (and I think it says a lot when), statistics shows that cultures, especially Asian countries that routinely practice co-sleeping, in any form, have very rare instances of SIDS.
When Jordan was born, I wanted to do everything right. With all the horror stories I read about SIDS, I bought a co-sleeper since I was too scared that I might roll over him and suffocate him if he’s in the same bed with me. Having my newborn sleep in a completely different room just didn’t seem right to me. I felt like he would be safer if he was closer to me where I could easily check on him. The co-sleeper was working great until he outgrew it in 4 months. He wouldn’t sleep in his crib and would never self soothe so I tried that Ferber method, let-him-cry-it-out for a few weeks — and my son and I were in tears for hours.
Honestly, I tried it because I felt pressured to teach my son to self-soothe and sleep by himself, and the only thing it accomplished was to give me stress and make me angry that I actually had been that impressionable and had put us both through that ferberizing agony. I know it works for some babies but it’s definitely not for everyone. Needless to say, we started co-sleeping when Jordan was about 7 months old. We stopped sleep training and he gradually learned to sleep longer and eventually through the night like the rest of us do – in his own time, when he was ready.
I’m not putting down the way other people raise their children, but having your baby go through sleep training and sleep in a separate room is a strange concept to me and feels unnatural. I like co-sleeping and no sleep training. I find it a natural way to parent. Even on those nights when I have been edged out of bed almost completely, or when I have to wake up several times a night. My boys are growing right in front of my eyes and it won’t be long before they won’t want to cuddle with me anymore.
To each their own though. Each mom is a great mom if she raises her kids, tends to their needs, protect and love them, no matter how they do it. Whether they co-sleep or not, sleep train or practice attachment parenting.