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The Family Bed

The family bed is also called sleep-sharing. This term can include any of the following:
  • Having your child sleep in your bed
  • Having your child sleep in a crib next to your bed with the side down so the crib and the bed are "connected"
  • Having your child sleep in a cradle or crib next to but separate from your bed
  • Having your child sleep on a mattress on the floor in your room
Some parents initially place the baby in his/her own bed in the eveving and then bring the baby to their bed when he/she first awakens during the night. This routine has the added benefits of allowing baby to have a different bedtime than the parents and allowing the parents some time alone while still achieving many of the benefits of the family-bed.
Benefits of sleep-sharing include:
  • Babies sleep better because they feel safe and secure next to their mother, because they are more relaxed, and because their needs are met more quickly
  • Mothers sleep better because the baby cries less, nursing is easier, and the baby goes to sleep faster and easier (allowing mother to get more sleep)
  • Bonding between parents and child improves significantly (especially important for parents who work and do not get to spend much time with their baby during the day)
  • Some research shows a lower incidence of SIDS with babies who sleep with their parents
  • Children who share sleep with their parents generally have a healthier attitude towards sleep and may experience fewer sleep disorders in the future
  • Sharing sleep with your baby may also help your him/her become more self-confident and independent (contrary to what many people think).
I first heard of the family bed concept when I became pregnant and began researching natural childbirth and parenting issues. Prior to reading about it, if someone had suggested to me that I should sleep with my baby, I too would have thought it a weird concept. However, once we had our baby I questioned whether I wanted to put him in a lonely, cold room down the hall. He had just spent 9 months inside of me - why would I leave him all alone for 8 hours a day?
The amazing thing is that at first I did it all for the baby. And then I realized how much I enjoyed having him close to me. Now when I hear people saying negative things about the family bed, I feel sorry for them for having missed out on this beautiful experience. Parenting is a two-way street. Give to your child and he will give back to you.
The following links take you to pages that offer more information on the family bed. Also be sure to check the books page for good books on the subject.
  • Go Ahead--Sleep With Your Kids
      An article written by a father who had previously tried the "Ferberizing" approach to child raising, but after it failed, embraced the family bed concept. Informative and interesting.
  • Family Bed FAQ
      A central site for questions and answers about the Family Bed concept.
  • The Family Bed
      Sleeping together, still the norm for families in many parts of the world, seems to be enjoying a resurgence among Americans.
  • Ten Reasons to Sleep Next to Your Child at Night
      Good support for the Family Bed concept.
  • The Family Bed: An Expert's Opinion
      A medical doctor's look at the Family Bed concept. Also read lots of comments submitted by readers on their experiences. Very interesting.
  • The Family Bed
      One mother's experience and advice. Very interesting and easy to read. Also touches on the history of the family bed
  • Rethinking "Healthy" Infant Sleep
      Mother-infant co-sleeping often accompanies nighttime breast-feeding. New research suggests that co-sleeping affects infant physiology and patterns of arousal, raising questions about currently accepted norms for "healthy" infant sleep. This research article also discusses how babies receive signals from their parents during their sleep.
  • Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears are big supporters of the family bed. See their articles on attachment parenting on the attachment parenting page.

Great Books!

Nighttime Parenting : How to Get Your Baby and Child to Sleep by William M.D. Sears

    This is a great book. If you are at all thinking about the family bed, I recommend it! It discusses the benefits of the family bed, night nursings, sleep cycles, sleep problems, SIDS, etc.

The Family Bed by Tine Thevenin

    Also a great book if you are considering the family bed!

Three in a Bed : The Healthy Joys and Remarkable Benefits of Sharing Your Bed With Your Baby by Deborah Jackson, Tom Newton (Illustrator)

    I haven't read this one yet but plan to.

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