I have always been pro sharing sleep, my first son spent the first six months of his life in my bed and first year in my room - at the time I was newly widowed and spent so much time away from my son during the day while I was at work that I hated to be parted from him when I didn't have to - including while we slept.
After marrying a wonderful man and finding happiness in a marriage that I thought I would never find again, I was expecting my second child. We looked at cots and bassinets and started putting together a nursery for him, but somehow it just didn't feel right. The more I read parenting info the more the attachment parenting mindset made sense to me. I started reading forums and magazines like Mothering and realised that I agreed with the shared sleep philosophy and all it entailed. Now to convince my huband of this... unlike me he had a traditional South African upbringing and all the ideas that go with it. Anyhow I shared some of the info I had read and realised very quickly that my wonderful husband would prove to be even more wonderful, he agreed with my ideas and was happy to have our baby share our bed. I even convinced him that giving birth to our baby at home was the best option for us, even though we live on a farm and are some distance from the nearest hospital, but that is another story alltogether.
Our youngest is now a year old has slept with us from the begining and we just love having him in our bed. Though even with a king-size bed things were getting a bit cramped as he tends to stretch out across the bed. I then got the idea of putting a single bed next to our bed. We are fortunate in that we live in a really old farm house and the rooms are huge, so this is an option. I adjusted the legs of the bed so that the beds would be the same height and made a fitted sheet that fits over both beds. The single bed is now in the corner of the room, so that my son cannot fall off during the night - he learned how to get off the bed without falling off about two months ago, but I still worry he may fall off while asleep. I now sleep in the middle of the bed and no longer have a bedside table - which will take some getting used to, but there is now enough space for all of us - even my oldest (he sometimes sits on the bed with us and watches a movie) and the really great thing is that should we be fortunate enough to have another baby while this one still sleeps with us, there will be enough room for everyone to sleep safely. Now if I could just convince my body it is ready for the next one, but with Ryan still breast-feeding who knows when this will happen?
Sharing sleep or co-sleeping really is an amazing way for both parents to bond with baby, and I find nothing easier than just feeding my baby when he is hungry during the night without having to leave my bed. While this is not an option that will work for all families I stronly recommend that it is something that is considered by future parents as an option. While many may say it is not safe to sleep with your baby in your bed, there is a lot of research out there that shows, that as long as a few simple rules are followed, it is a truly safe and rewarding experience for the whole family.
After all babies have only been sleeping apart from their parents in recent history, a few hundred years ago nobody had even heard of cots...
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~Three in a Bed: the benefits of sleeping with your baby by Deborah Jackson Mothering.com article Three in a Bed by Deborah Jackson
~Safe Co-Sleeping article by Elizabeth Pantley (author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution)