Update: Nothing like a shocking picture to make you think. But would it change your behaviour? The city of Milwaukee in the US is taking a “raw” approach at warning parents of the dangers of co-sleeping with their babies. Huffington Post reports
SERVE marketing designed an advertisement for the city’s Health Department that features a baby sleeping next to a knife. The text above the photo reads: “Your baby sleeping with you can be just as dangerous,”
Bevan Baker, Milwaukee’s Commissioner of Health, acknowledged that some might find ads to be a bit extreme.But what is even more shocking and provocative is that 30 developed and underdeveloped countries have better [infant death] rates than Milwaukee,”
Do you sleep alone? Or do you share with a partner. What about sharing a bed with your children? Author and Mamamia contributor Kate Hunter’s bed is a child-free zone. She writes:
“About the time the word ‘parent’ became a verb and we started worrying about our style of ‘parenting’, the term ‘co-sleeping’ also entered the language. It refers to what was once known as, ‘being kicked in the lower back all night.’ Not that I would actually know – our kids have never shared our bed. Not even when they were teeny-tiny babies.
Some may take exception to this, but raising a Labrador puppy prepared me well for the first years of parenthood. I knew from noisy, messy experience that once you let a puppy (baby) leave its box (cot) and snuggle into your bed (bed) he would be there for the duration. So, from day one our babies slept in their own cots in their own rooms (by that I mean not ours – baby and toddler shared). I schlepped down the hallway to feed and change and rock and pat a bazillion million times. Maybe I’d have got more sleep if I’d kept them closer, who knows?
A UK study recently reported that 40 percent of couples share a bed with their children. And this is having a ‘devastating’ effect on their relationships. This isn’t surprising because often, ‘the couple’ does not actually share their bed with the child; one adult gets fed up and retreats to the child’s small but blissfully empty bed. Physiotherapists have a name for the resulting condition: Thomas The Tank Engine Back – it’s inevitable when a grown man is forced to sleep in a three year old’s bed.
Co-sleeping is divisive. Some people (like me) will do anything to avoid it, while others couldn’t live (or sleep) any other way.
The Daily Mail reports:
“A formidable battery of experts is drawn up on either side of this divide.
Margot Sutherland, author of The Science Of Parenting, cites research showing co-sleeping makes children likely to grow up into calm, healthy adults.
On the other side, parenting guru Gina Ford believes sharing a bed with your offspring leads to exhaustion and puts strain on the family. Now, a nationwide survey of 3,000 adults has come down firmly on the side of Gina. It suggests that though 40 per cent of parents allow their young children to share the marital bed, at least every other night they aren’t too happy about it.
A quarter of the couples surveyed had regular arguments about bed-sharing, and almost half of the parents who did ended up sleeping in separate rooms. (Unsurprisingly, 48 per cent admitted their love life suffered as a result.) Ten per cent of men said they felt rejected, and 57 per cent of parents wished their child would sleep in their own bed.
Perhaps more surprisingly, the practice didn’t seem to make children happier: most parents felt it made them clingy.
Dr Angharad Rudkin, a clinical psychologist who works with children and families in Hampshire, discourages co-sleeping.
‘If your child is the one who initiates getting into bed with you, then it’s not unhealthy,’ she says. ‘But it’s unhealthy if it’s you who initiates it. When bringing up children, it is hard to keep everyone happy, but a father sleeping in a separate room every night should ring alarm bells. He may well feel pushed out and jealous.”
Recently, our littlest (nearly five) has taken to appearing at our bedside when she’s felt sniffly, had a bad dream, or been annoyed by a koala egg in her bed (seriously). And I haven’t had the energy to argue. Also, I suppose, I wanted to see if I’ve missed out anything by actively avoiding co-sleeping.
I don’t think I did. Yes, I love watching her sleep. I drink in the smell of her. The way her fingers curl as she dreams makes my heart float. I’m less besotted by her ability to move her body like the hands of a clock until her father and I are clinging to the edges of our bed like Kate Winslet on that floating door in Titanic.
“What, without getting too personal, are the sleeping arrangements at your place? Oh, what the hell, get as personal as you like.”
Before we open this post to comments, it is worth noting SIDS and kids safe sleeping recommendations which are:
- Sleep baby on the back from birth, not on the tummy or side
- Sleep baby with face uncovered (no doonas, pillows, lambs wool, bumpers or soft toys)
- Avoid exposing babies to tobacco smoke before birth and after
- Provide a safe sleeping environment (safe cot, safe mattress, safe bedding)
- Sleep baby in their own safe sleeping environment next to the parent’s bed for the first six to twelve months of life
So what is your experience? When you were a kid did you ever sleep in the same bed with your parents? Where does everyone sleep in your house now?