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How Do You Feel About Family Bed Sharing?

Some say co-sleeping increases bonding within the family unit; others say it inhibits childrens' independence.

Moms Talk is a weekly feature on all Lehigh Valley Patches in which local parents, caregivers and other members of the community are invited to share opinions and advice on parenting topics.

This week’s Moms Talk question relates to co-sleeping:

The image of a baby and parent dozing off together isn't an unusual one. And, while the practice of co-sleeping is common in other cultures, it’s somewhat controversial in the United States. Supporters of co-sleeping believe that parents should be responsive to a baby’s every need around the clock, and as a result, the parent's bed is just where an infant belongs. Opponents cite safety concerns; the American Academy of Pediatrics says co-sleeping increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Now we want to know what you think:

How do you feel about family bed sharing?

Our Moms Council members include: 

  • Lisa Amey of Upper Milford Township is a stay-at-home mom to an 8-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. A past president of the MOMS Club of Emmaus and longtime member of MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers), Lisa is an Independent Consultant for Arbonne International. 
  • Lisa Drew of Emmaus is a certified nutritionist and personal trainer, wellness and fitness coach with more than 17 years of experience. She is the mother of a 13-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy.
  • Jennifer Elston of Emmaus has almost two decades of professional experience in child development and counseling. She is currently a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful girls. Together with her husband, Chris, she owns Christopher Elston Photography.
  • Jeanne Lombardo of Nazareth is the mother of a 10-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. She’s new to the Lehigh Valley, having moved to Nazareth from Bergen County, NJ in January.
  • Lisa Merk of Lower Macungie is a stay-at-home mother of four boys – a 12-year-old and 6-year-old triplets. Lisa is a past president of the MOMS Club of Lower Macungie East. In her “spare” time, Lisa teaches piano to school-age children.
  • Zoila Bonilla Paul of Bethlehem is a stay-at-home mom to two girls – a 5-year-old and a 14-month-old. Zoila is a member of her local “moms’ club” and says she is “well-versed in the fun that children can bring.”
  • Beth Sharpless of Emmaus works part time in a local emergency department as a nurse and part time from home as a customer support specialist. She has two children -- a boy who is almost 2 and a 5-year-old girl. She says they love spending time outdoors and dancing.
  • Jennifer Willenbrock of Nazareth is mom to two beautiful daughters, ages 5 and 6 weeks. She was previously employed by Catholic Charities, where she worked in a girl’s group home in Philipsburg, N.J.  

If you would like to become a part of the Moms Council and/or have ideas for future Moms Talk questions, please email jennifer.marangos@patch.com.

Lisa Merk March 11, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Being a diagnosed insominac, and a mother of multiples - I highly discourage this......there are many reasons, but we'll just go with the obvious here, adults live very stressful lives and need time and their own space to unwind and have room to themselves....it makes them better parents in the end! Also, if one or the other of you is having a restless night, you'll be keeping the other awake. Plus couples need time to connect and lets face it you can't do that with a child/baby in bed with you!
Scott Snyder March 12, 2012 at 11:59 AM
Hoo! Pretty judgy, there, Doc. You, ah, want to dial back the rhetoric just a tick? Perhaps a better tone for a civil public forum woul be, "It's a bad idea based on my experience, and here's why."
Salisbury Resident March 12, 2012 at 12:02 PM
I agree with the doctor. No need to say anything additional.
MS March 12, 2012 at 12:23 PM
My children are now 13 and 10, when my oldest was born he weighed 11 lbs 1 oz, at the time of his birth I worked days and my husband worked nights, for us, this was convenient and necessary as this kid woke up alot to eat and I was nursing, so yes, for us, this worked for our family. When my second child was born, she weighed a bit less, 9 pounds, she was also eating pretty regularly through the night and nursing, with her I had been given a gift of a beautiful cradle made by my father, she was right next to our bed in her cradle for a few months. There have been no ill effects on our family because of our decision to co sleep, but with both children, I would say it lasted maybe 6 months, and I don't regret it one bit. My children are both happy, healthy teenagers (one of them at least) and they both have many activities in their life that keep them busy. I think with any family, it depends on your family circumstance.....judging someone who does do this just isn't appropriate....you just don't know THEIR circumstances.
Lisa Amey March 12, 2012 at 12:43 PM
I was always too fearful of SIDS or rolling over on the baby to take them in bed with me at night. Once in a while, I would snuggle with my baby for a short nap after an exhausting night, but I never really rested. For those moms who are breastfeeding their babies and find it easier to keep them close at night makes total sense. I think it's difficult for kids who have been co-sleeping to transition into sleeping independently, and it can make for much parent frustration.
Sunday March 12, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Hi Lisa - I totally agree with you! Especially your last sentence, since I have seen that happen with a close friend of mine. My friend would be the first to tell anyone not to start that bad habit once your newborn is 6 months and older. She and her husband learned the hard way with their son. They had a terrible time transitioning him into sleeping by himself.
Jennifer Elston March 12, 2012 at 01:27 PM
I agree with Lisa Merk. Our youngest sneaks into bed at night every night and I never feel fully rested. I also agree with Lisa Amey.
LM Resident March 12, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I think Family Bed Sharing is a lot different than having a newborn in your room up until six months or so. The trend really is "family" bed sharing--children in the "family" bedroom for how ever long you or they want. Mayim Bialik (Blossom) is a huge advocate of this and just released a book called "Beyond the Sling" and is currently doing the talk show circuit promoting the book and the lifestyle. Oldest child is 6 and they have a family bed. Also believes you should breastfeed for as long as you can--still breastfeeding her three yr old. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/03/08/blossom-star-writes-about-new-approach-to-parenting/ She does state that these ideas are not for everyone -- but the book and her ideas are being pushed to everyone!
Louise (Roth) Gosma March 12, 2012 at 06:22 PM
I am not a young parent but I would never have wanted to share my bed with my children as babies or young kids. The earlier on they learn to be independent, the better adults they will become. I think sharing the bed as a family creates much too close of a relationship for when they are growing up and become teenagers and adults.
MS March 12, 2012 at 07:28 PM
I'm thankful for my experience and I think all parents are different and have to do what they feel is appropriate. I certainly wouldn't co sleep now at their ages but yes, there is still the random nightmare where they crawl into bed with me, all experiences I will cherish as they get older and will strengthen the bond we have. if my kids continue the close relationship we have now I will not be unhappy.
Jonathan Gerard March 13, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Different cultures differ on families sleeping together. But there's another issue that no one has yet mentioned. Exhausted mothers often have no energy for sex during the nursing months of a new child. And yet the father, who may gladly (or not!) have given his wife lots of space and rest during the final month or so of pregnancy and for month(s) after the birth, may have needs that are difficult for him to suppress. One common solution is for the mother to bring the baby into bed between them. (Where parents disagree over the wisdom of co-sleeping, it's usually the mother who wants the baby in and the father who wants the baby out.) The baby becomes what professionals call a "distance regulator." Mom uses the baby as a pretext to keep father at a distance. If this continues, a child can become an ally of one parent in a struggle with the other parent--further regulating the emotional distance between them. This is not healthy for the emotional life of anyone in the family. If one parent has an issue or disagreement with the other parent it should be contained between the two parents without a child being put between them, physically or emotionally. This topic is sometimes the unspoken subtext of a dispute over co-sleeping.
Walt March 13, 2012 at 01:25 PM
I'm a father of two daughters, now 21 and 19. After they were born we never even considered bed sharing. I am seriously offended by your comments. It makes men sound like predators that have no respect for their wives. I would hope women are also offended by your comments that they would use their newborn child as a shield to keep their husbands away from them. I had the utmost respect for my wife during her pregnancy and after her pregnancy. Most men I know feel this way. And what makes you think that women don't have needs and wants????? I wish I was better at putting my thoughts on paper to let you know how truly offensive I think of what you have posted.
kicks on 4th March 13, 2012 at 04:24 PM
We co-sleep with our 4 year old and have NONE of the "issues" others seem to state here. Our son sleeps perfectly fine ALONE for his naps and has never had a transition problem. We co-sleep because if works for us, my husband needs to wake up at 4am for work and I am not getting up at that time and this prevents our son from be disturbed- he feels secure and sleeps thru out the night. We have no disruptions that so many (not on here but in real life) have with their children, no bad dreams where they have to come in and wake you up, no fears when it thunders, etc. This has worked wonders for potty training unlike most I meet who have to change wet sheets in the morning- we never had any of that- we were right there when he need to go and works great for us. I totally discount the notion that infants NEED independence, they have slept for nine months inside you and the last thing they want it have to CRY IT OUT and be alone to learn independence. Our son slept far better as an infant when we napped with him and has he as ages he finds napping alone fine but for his deep lengthy rem nightly slumber it is with us. There is not only a cultural but a historical component to co-sleeping, and it doesn't effect the husband or the wife's desires. NO our son will not be sleeping with us when he's 16! Right now he is secure, and we all sleep well.
kicks on 4th March 13, 2012 at 04:59 PM
this child might have died had the family NOT co-slept! http://www.mothering.com/community/t/1347768/so-glad-we-co-sleep

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