I am a fan of several attachment parenting pages on Facebook, many of which post information that I find very relevant to my own beliefs. Yesterday, in an outrage, one such page shared the photo below.
While I’m sure that the intentions of this ad campaign was to prevent infants from being suffocated or dying from SIDS, it sends the wrong message, in my opinion. Babies are able to successfully co-sleep. My oldest child co-slept with me until she was over two years old. She only stopped when my second child was born (and totally against her will, might I say). I have co-slept with each one of my four children at some point or another. My 13 month old has co-slept with us since the day he was born. He has a gorgeous crib in his bedroom, but he has never slept more than a few minutes in there. This is due mostly to my beliefs that he’s only a baby once (which is TRUE, as we all know), and that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with holding him and making him feel loved and secure until he falls asleep. Many nights I nurse him to sleep (and, yes, I am still breastfeeding my 13 month old and I have no plans to stop anytime soon). Co-sleeping allows me to be close to him should he need anything during the night. If he develops a fever in the middle of the night, the closeness allows me to feel the spike in his body temperature, causing me to wake up and treat it sooner. If he gets hungry during the night, I’m right there to feed him. If he has a bad dream, I’m right there to comfort him. Him being this close allows me to prevent the cries before they happen, and I wouldn’t change anything about that.
The problem I have with this ad campaign is that it gives the impression that ALL co-sleeping is bad. If you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then you shouldn’t co-sleep. You also shouldn’t use pillows and heavy blankets when your baby is small and unable to remove those objects on their own. Babies shouldn’t co-sleep in a room where people are smoking either. In fact, if you are a smoker, you shouldn’t be doing it indoors around your kids at all. That would include in your car! I’m a former smoker, and I’m guilty of smoking in the car with my older three children. I have been smoke-free for two years now. When you know better, you do better, right? But, I digress.
While on my quest to find some favorable statistics for co-sleeping, I came across THIS.
This debate is surely not to be resolved anytime soon. In addition to the “safety” issues of co-sleeping, there’s the “spoiling” debate. My mother-in-law called me last night to discuss our holiday plans and I mentioned that my son was lying in bed next to me asleep. She said that I was “going to spoil that baby”. I giggled and told her it was too late for that. She’s not alone in her opinion. My husband tells me constantly that I need to get him to sleep in his crib. He’s seen what a task it can be though, so he gives in, and since he’s not here a lot of the time, I win this debate in our house. Even my older children (specifically my 7 year old) ask me, “Is Tristan sleeping in his own crib yet?”.
Am I slightly jealous of moms who talk about their babies sleeping for 12 hour stints at the age of 8 weeks? Kind of, but just because at times I’m a bit sleep deprived. I don’t regret a single second of the time I’m spending with my kids by sleep sharing. Can you bond without sleep sharing? Of course you can. This is just what works for my family.