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Many people will tell you that taking your baby into your bed is
"the greatest mistake you'll ever make." Most books on infant care
will teach you tricks to get your baby to sleep alone and through the
night. When people who have babies of similar ages, they often talk
about whose baby is the first to sleep in her or his own crib and
through the night. There is this big cultural
pressure on us to let our babies sleep alone. There is also a big
industry revolving around this: many people go to great expenses to
decorate a nursery with a fancy crib, fancy wallpaper and everything.
Then there are all those gadgets that are supposed to "help" a baby
sleep alone: tapes that play heartbeat and womb sounds, mobiles that
make noise, teddy bears that snore and so on. Yet, a baby is happiest
in her or his parent's arms. All those gadgets are just poor parent
Anyone who has a baby that starts crying in the
middle of the night feels an irresistible urge to go and pick up the
baby. Yet, the experts tell us that we should not do that.
What are they so afraid of? Is it so bad to make a
baby happy? Is it so bad to make ourselves happy? I think not!
Here are some reasons why it's a good idea to take your baby into you
- A young baby needs to nurse several times at night.
- If your baby is in bed with you, you can nurse
her or him without disrupting your sleep much.
- If your baby is another room, she or he may wake up
partially, and go back to sleep without nursing. If you have
the baby in your room, you're more likely to catch all the cues
- As night feeding can make up one third of a young baby's
calorie intake, it is important to nurse a young baby at night.
Sleeping together is the best and most painless way to do
- Babies who sleep alone often have nightmares or wake up scared
and start screaming.
- If you have your baby with you in bed, she or he will be
aware of your presence, your breathing, your smell, your
- Babies who sleep with their parents seldom cry at
- If they do cry, it doesn't last long, as a parent is
available to hug or nurse them within a second.
- Perhaps the strongest argument for sleeping with your baby:
- A baby who sleeps in her or his parents' bed usually wakes
up smiling, babbling, or talking.
- There is nothing as delightful as a baby who wakes up with
big smile on her or his face, and few things as dreadful as a
baby who wakes up screaming, as most babies who sleep alone
will do regularly.
- Babies who sleep with their parents are considerably less
likely to die from SIDS.
Why are people so worried about sleeping with their babies?
- Many people are afraid of rolling over their babies and
- A person who is asleep is nonetheless aware of what's
around them. You will not roll over your baby.
- If you are drunk, however, or have taken drugs or
medication that makes you drowsy, then you shouldn't have a
baby in your bed. If you or someone you know has a baby and is trying to stop chronic alcohol abuse, seek an alcohol rehabilitation program immediately.
- Many people think that a baby who sleeps with her or his
parents will be overly dependent (or develop other problems).
- This is all made up. It is not based on anything
anyone has observed.
- A baby who sleeps with her or his parents eventually want
her or his own bed.
- She or he will then sleep alone. You should still let your
child join you in your bed if she or he feels scared or lonely
at night. This too will pass at its own pace.
- Remember: children who are forced to develop faster than
they are wired to will become overly cautious and
- Children who receive all the attention and love they need,
and are allowed to take their developmental steps when they are
ready become secure, comfortable individuals.
- This includes letting your baby or child come to your bed
as long as she or he wants to, child-led weaning, and child-led
- Respect your child, and don't forget that your child is a
human being who has needs and feelings. Everything else should
- Remember the torture parents and babies used to go through in
the sixties (and still do in some places):
- Babies were kept away from their parents in the hospital
nursery, and brought to their mothers to feed every four hours
(or not at all, and their mothers were give
lactation-suppressing drugs). Feedings were limited to a few
minutes (out of a baseless fear of sore nipples).
- Mothers often couldn't sleep at night, and would go to the
nursery door and look in to see their crying baby, who they
were not allowed to have until the scheduled time.
- There the mother would stand, her now engorged
breasts aching, and tears in her eyes. And the baby would be
- Today, most people have realized that this unnecessary
cruelty does not help anyone. Most hospitals will allow you to
room in with your baby. If your baby stays at the well baby
nursery, you'll be able to have her or him whenever you
- The situation with sleeping arrangements at home is very
similar to the cruel hospital situation described above:
- Your baby is screaming. If she or he is old enough to talk,
she or he is probably calling out your name.
- You are standing outside the baby's door, a tear dropping
from your eye every time your baby calls you.
- You know that if you go in and hold your baby, everyone
will be happy.
- But the experts tell you that your baby needs to sleep
through the night alone, so you don't allow yourself to go to
- Forget what the experts say, listen to your baby, listen to
your heart! And don't worry, people who have slept with their
babies can tell you in no uncertain times that their babies are
happier and more independent as a result.
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