Do you sleep with your kid in your bed? You do! Shhh, let´s keep this between friends, for many people around will tell you it´s wrong. And you might want to avoid this unfunded criticism as much as I do.
There are many methods out there to teach kids to sleep on their own. There are cry it out methods like Ferber and Sears and no tears methods. There are many resources on this available.
More than methods to teach a baby to sleep alone, there are friends, family and acquaintances talking about it if they hear you are co-sleeping. It´s just amazing how everyone has an opinion on this, even those with no kids. All around is so easy to find people that will swear that co-sleeping is a bad habit and it will make your kid too dependent on you.
Wide researches on the subject will talk differently. Scientific studies show that babies benefit from co-sleeping. (check here and here for nice articles about this). For a quick view on the benefits, I can mention that the practice lets parents and children sleep more, it decreases SIDS risk, secure attachments and it gives more independence later in life (unlike the popular assumptions).
Just think of a kid who has attention anytime that he needs and then is pushed off when it´s night time. Many kids will stop trying, not because they are used to being alone, but simply because they realize it´s useless to call for company.
I also think it´s wonderful to sleep in separate rooms. I had this for a while but when Luísa realized she could sleep with mommy, that was it for my chances on having my own room. If you succeeded in having separate rooms, congratulations, I´m sure you have an awesome time at night!
Co-sleeping has a big risk for very young babies. One might suffocate them while sleeping. That depends on how heavy one sleeps and that it´s up to one to consider. I have Luísa in my bed since she is two, so I never had that worry.
One thing about our life is this: We live alone, why wouldn´t we sleep together, after all? It´s so nice to feel each other´s warmth through the night. And being Luísa´s biggest fan, I absolutely love to hear her sleeping sounds.
Besides, it makes it so easy to put her to sleep. We go to bed, I read two books for her and if this is not enough, I run my nails on her back while reading my own book. Beautiful.
There is one big thing that is not so good about co-sleeping. And this thing doesn´t involve the child´s development and attachment at all. Can you guess what it is? Yes! Having sex with your partner! Basically if you co-sleep you are not free to use your bed as you wish. That´s it. That´s the biggest downside of co-sleeping. But I´m sure if you sleep with your kid, you can just go and have sex somewhere else, right?
That looks to be a big concern for the people who know me. Because I´m a single mother, they tell me I´ll have problems to find a boyfriend like this (sleeping with Luísa). How will I do it?
Well, I did have Luísa in a separate room until she was two years old. I loved my independent room. I strongly believed that I would use whatever method I needed to keep things that way. She slept through the night and when I was needed I was there. It was wonderful. Too bad I didn´t have any boyfriend back then than to enjoy this bed freedom…
By the time she turned two, I put her in a bed. That translated to her being free to leave the bed and therefore come to my bed as soon as she awoke at night.
I have to tell you I did try to make her stay in her room. I had a couple of horrible nights with her screaming while I would make her stay there. But the struggle wasn´t for me, I couldn´t take it. I felt too guilty rejecting her and it simply didn´t look the natural thing for us. By then I had a boyfriend, and you know what? He said I should just let her come to my bed. Why not?
Then we had the typical “bed dance” I know happens with many couples. The first nights that she came we would sleep all together, but then, after she came, either he would go to her room or I would (I loved going to sleep on my own…)
Well my relationship with that guy didn´t last very long and it was just me and Luísa again. Now she owned my bed. I would put her to sleep directly in my bed. And soon enough I had a new boyfriend, who had to deal with the fact that I slept with Luísa till then (he wasn´t very keen on this), but I managed to put her to sleep in her own room again and have a few hours of freedom (and then HE was out…). Well, I´ll spare you the details about how we worked this out. I´ll just say is doable.
The truth is that lately I am so enjoying to have her by my side. It´s been some months only the two of us again. I love to wake up in the morning with her and cuddle and role in bed and play for a good 15 minutes before we get up. It´s simply my favorite time of the day (even better than surfing!). Even when she is still asleep in the morning, I can´t help but watch that little body and enjoy her breathing next to me (I even enjoy her morning breath – parents know what I´m talking about). How could this be wrong?
I did a good research on this topic while I was struggling to have a room of my own. And I found so much information about how good it is to follow the kids need to sleep together that I became a fan of co-sleeping.
How long will this take anyway?
I realize that this won´t take that long. A few years more and she will be into sleeping at her friend´s houses or inviting a friend over, God knows if I´ll have to deal with a teenager slamming the door and closing herself in her room with headphones on. So I´ll just enjoy her warmth while it´s available. I absolutely love it!
How about you? Do you co-sleep? Have you unsuccessfully tried to separate rooms like I did? Do you have a room just for yourself and love it? What in your experience are the good and the bad aspects of it?