So said a friend of mine. He’s a father of 9, so perhaps he has some wisdom and insight to share. Perhaps not!
The context was that we were in conversation with a brand-new dad and I asked how things were going. He said they were adjusting to waking up a lot during the night, etc. I asked whether the baby was in the room with them or in another room (because, obviously, you get less sleep if you have to wake up, plod down the hall into the baby’s room, nurse the baby without falling asleep and dropping him, putting him back down in the crib, and then plodding back to your own bed; than if you just roll over and sleep-nurse), and he said, in the room with them, and we discussed co-sleepers, bassinets, and separate cribs a tiny bit, then the seasoned dad chimed in with his “words of wisdom.”
But, it’s not really wisdom, and I’ll tell you why — it was prejudice, pure and simple. (You’d have to know this guy — a really fun guy to be with — I guess his kids have kept him young — so I’m not telling this story so that you’ll think he’s a jerk, because he’s not. He’s just got a strong opinion about this, apparently, and not based on what seemed to be solid facts.) He said, “Don’t EVER put your child in bed with you. Because once you start, you’ll NEVER get them out of bed.” [At that point, I’m thinking, oh, do any of your kids still sleep with you? Or, did you have problems with this aspect of parenting, personally?] And he continued without a pause, “Some of these kids are STILL sleeping with their parents at 5, 6, 7, and I just don’t think that’s right! I mean, when are they going to get out of bed?? They shouldn’t be sleeping with their parents when they’re TWELVE!!”
Ok, so everybody’s got an opinion, and a right to their opinion. I do know of one set of parents who had a late-in-life child who was pampered and spoiled in general, and slept with her parents all her life. Even into her teens. Even when her mom went on a trip, this girl wanted to sleep in her parents’ bed with her father. Anybody uncomfortable with that? Just a little bit? There wasn’t anything perverted going on, but I will admit to a little discomfort. I will also say that I would be willing to bet that cases like these are extremely rare. From the numerous conversations I’ve had about a “family bed” — with people who actually practice it (presently or in the past), not just people who have merely heard about it, like my friend — most of the kids will at some point start sleeping in their own beds of their own accord.
I managed to squeeze in a little bit of a good word for cosleeping, at least in the early months, when babies wake up and need to nurse most frequently, but unfortunately, I was called away before I could give more of my own experience as an example. When my oldest child was born, I wanted to co-sleep, but he was so restless that I ended up putting him in his crib for the bulk of the night when he was about 6 weeks old. With my younger son, I felt like I got better at it, or something — instead of trying to have a space for the baby, as well as a space for me and a space for my husband, I just tucked the baby in the crook of my arm and we all slept. I did have a bassinet right next to the bed that I put him into to start the night, and sometimes during the night — mostly because he would be ready to go down for the night much before I was ready to go to sleep, so I’d put him in the bassinet, where my getting into bed later wouldn’t disturb him. But even as early as 6 months old, and certainly by 9-10 months old, he got to the point where sometimes he would stop nursing and start kicking and fussing, or sometimes just roll over, and I figured out that he was asking to go to his own crib by himself. So, I’d put him down, and he’d go to sleep without a fuss. Most of the time, he still nursed himself to sleep, but frequently he would… just stop. But not sleep. Not in my bed, anyway! His own choice, that he made quite well known.
For a website with a lot of articles on co-sleeping, check out The Natural Child Project.
By the way, do you know that co-sleeping is in the New Testament? Yep. In the parable of persistent asking — the man asks his friend to give him some bread late at night because of unexpected company, the friend replies, “Do not bother me. Behold, the door is locked and my children are in bed with me. I cannot rise and give you [the bread.]” So, if anybody says that you shouldn’t co-sleep, you can say that co-sleeping is Biblical. So, there. 🙂