I am a big advocate for cosleeping with your infant and toddler. I love this snuggle time and cherish it as a way to reconnect physically with my child after a busy day. I cannot imagine placing my newborn baby in a crib and having to get up every time the child needed to breastfeed. Cosleeping, for me, means a better nights sleep for both my child and me. That being said, cosleeping is not right for everyone, and I respect the choices parents make.
The Natural Child Project featured a wonderful parenting site this month called Tribal Baby. Tribal Baby asks the question, “‘How would we raise our baby if we were in a tribe?’ This is the question we asked ourselves when deciding the best way to raise our baby. Our research tells us that many of the things that our ancestors did through necessity, are still the most beneficial things for our baby today.” Sleep sharing is a topic featured on this great parenting site. Tribal Baby lists many natural consequences for “Night Nesting”:
*’thermal synchrony’ in which I regulate baby’s temperature with the temperature of my own body.
*’sleep synchrony’ in which our sleep patterns begin to match so nightly arousals are far less disturbing, are not even noticed a lot of the time.
*regulation of baby’s arousal patterns
*regulation of baby’s body temperature
*regulation of baby’s metabolic rate
*regulation of baby’s hormone levels
*regulation of baby’s enzyme production (which improves antibody levels and thus ability to fight bugs.)
*regulation of baby’s heart rate
*regulation of baby’s breathing (baby has lower oxygen levels when alone)
*regulation of baby’s immune system (the skin to skin contact releases oxytocin to boost baby’s immune system)
*bonding continues through the night as well as during the day
Of course, cosleeping is not appropriate for an intoxicated parent and you do have to adapt your habits with pillows and covers to ensure the child’s safety. We have followed Dr. Sears’ advice and placed our crib beside our bed as a sidecar, with one crib wall removed. This has extended our queen sized bed to accomodate the extra little one.
Many parents worry that if they cosleep with their child, that they will have trouble ending the family bed tradition. In my experience, children can be eased into their own beds by transitioning first to a futon or mattress on the floor beside the parents’ bed, to eventually their own bed. My daughter handled the move to her own bed without tears or struggle. Of course, we still spend a lot of time snuggling in both of our beds.