Jul 6, 2011

The Family Bed

     Mark and I chose to co-sleep with Tallulah before she was even born. This concept, both old and new, is a growing trend in the United States. Out of the many ways co-sleeping can be arranged, we chose the "Family Bed". 
     Many people might argue with this decision, but there are many advantages of this arrangement. Firstly, we have very rarely lost sleep due to a fussing or crying baby (like everyone told us we would). Our baby doesn't lose sleep, either. The baby stirs and almost wakes up at night, but since she is right beside me I am able to nurse or soothe her back to sleep before she fully wakes up. There's no nighttime separation anxiety. No bedtime hassles. There's the ease of breastfeeding during the night - when we are able. Some studies have suggested that co-sleeping helps to protect against SIDS. And, of course, waking up next to a smiling baby is the best benefit. We believe that co-sleeping is the best way to nurture and provide security for our baby.
     Family bed proponents, led by pediatrician and child-development expert Dr. William Sears – the father of a child-rearing philosophy known as “attachment parenting” – are often nursing mothers who say that taking their infants into bed with them not only makes breastfeeding easier, it allows them to be more responsive to their baby’s needs in general.
     The practice of co-sleeping, which certainly encourages bonding and security, has been a cultural norm all over the world for centuries, and it’s still practiced widely outside of North America.
     Despite dire warnings and widespread approbation of the "family bed" in the United States, a growing number of American parents are challenging conventional wisdom each and every night -- with support from a new wave of medical and parenting experts including Dr. William Sears and Minnesota author Tine Thevenin (The Family Bed and Mothering and Fathering), and researchers such as Dr. James McKenna of the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. Emerging research and anecdotal evidence have demonstrated the many benefits of family sleep-sharing. Scores of modern parents have decided that co-sleeping actually provides a safer, sounder sleep for everyone in the household. While some parents inadvertently fall into the practice after guiltily allowing their kids into their bed and discovering better sleep as the result, others make an informed decision to create a family bed after careful consideration of this controversial nighttime arrangement, as we did.
     I cannot even imagine waking up to Tallulah crying from another room and wondering "how long has she been crying", "how much did I sleep through", or any other thought that would go through my mind. 
     Mark and I are both proponents of attachment parenting and Continuum Concept parenting and our "Family Bed" is an integral part in that. It definitely feels more natural and instinctive than just letting our infant "cry it out". Babies are instinctual. They don't cry in order to manipulate you. They cry when they need something or when something isn't quite right in their world, even if that something is merely that you are not there when they need you to be there. 

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