Mamahood Tuesdays: Our Family Bed

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When I was pregnant, my husband and I worked at a frantic pace to complete our daughter’s nursery. We were working like our butts were on fire. I stuffed the drawers with itty bitty clothing and lined the shelves with the many stuffed animals we received as gifts. I fluffed the crib bumper and straightened out the shams. I laid out the changing station with diapers and wipes and a cushy changing pad. We set the stage perfectly for our little angel’s arrival.

Eight and a half months later, I’m not quite sure why we worked so hard to finish a room that is used only to play in and for storage. We have yet to change her on the changing pad. The stuffed animals have barely been touched. The most used piece of furniture in her room is the dresser which has seen more outfits than I’ve ever had in 27 years!

And, then there’s the crib. Our daughter has yet to sleep in her crib. We lied her in it once, for a second, and she looked at us like, “Uh, what’s this?” Our cat, though, loves it dearly. She is immensely grateful that we created such a plush and lavish bed for her. It’s her favorite day time napping spot. Wait, now that I think of it, it’s her favorite all day napping spot.

We are a family of co-sleepers, or as others put it we have a family bed. I knew we’d have a family bed from the second I got pregnant. I never once thought I might be causing my child harm by snuggling next to them each night (emotionally, not physically, for the latter we got a comfy little bed we placed between my husband and I for when she was still tiny, tiny). I never worried about what it would be like to get her out of our bed. I didn’t consider what would happen when we had more kids. I didn’t worry about making my daughter co-dependent. I still don’t worry about these things. I just enjoy every second of it.

Most people tell us that it’s in everyone’s best interest to get Baby D out of our bed sooner than later. The majority tells us we’ve already made some poor parenting choices (not in so many words but their fake smiles imply it). Some people even think it’s not natural to sleep in a family bed. Others think we’re selfish and aren’t putting our daughter’s needs first. Still others think we need to learn to discipline our child to be independent and stay in their crib.

To me, it seems like the most natural thing in the world. I carried this baby inside me for 9 months and she slept in our bed those whole 9 months. So why would I kick her out when she’s just arrived? I spend way too much time at work and by the time I get home, it’s time for her bath, a bedtime story and down to sleep. Nights are a special time to connect with my daughter. Cultures the world over have family beds and no one thinks a thing of it. Why doesn’t anyone assume that by co-sleeping you create in your child a sense of security, and therefore, a sense of confidence? Why do people assume the worst?

My husband and I are on the same page, thank goodness! He even suggested we get a king size bed for baby number 2 so we can all fit. I won’t lie that in the beginning both my husband and I complained of back problems and not enough sleep. But, really was it the co-sleeping or just the natural way of things in the first several months of parenthood? I’ll say it was the latter. Does it kill our sex life? No, I guarantee you it does not. A baby in general brings challenges to the romance department not co-sleeping (like your bed is the only to get down and dirty…c’mon people get creative!).

The choice to have a family bed is a private and precious one. It is along the same lines as breastfeeding. However private and precious the decision, both are hot topics that welcome snickers and shaking heads of disapproval. I find it sad that so many people can’t accept that parenting isn’t black and white. It is unique to each family. I have to admit, though, that it’s interesting to me that I always hear anti-family bedders voicing their opinion and spewing unwarranted advice but never do I hear co-sleepers shaking a finger at crib parents. I would never think to look down on someone’s choice to lay their child to sleep in a crib. Each family has to make the choices that makes them stronger, makes a happy baby and makes for happy parents.

Our choice is a family bed. A child grows up so quickly and as a first time parent, I want to soak up every possible second of my daughter’s life. I want to lie down next to her and fall asleep to the barely there rhythm of her breathing. I want to wake up to her big grin and bright eyes as she swats me in the face. I want to cuddle up next to her in the middle of the night and feel her instinctively roll towards me. I want to see the joy on her face when she first wakes up and sees her mother and her father right there beside her. I want to wake up to the sound of her cooing as she discovers the sound of her own voice.

We’re a go with the flow kind of family, so we have no immediate plans to send her packing. We believe that when she is ready to sleep on her own she will let us know. We trust that she will be able to communicate to us that she needs her space. She does that now. If we hold her too tight or too long, she wiggles her way out. In the same way, she is welcome in our bed, her bed, until she’s ready to wiggle her way into her own bed.

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One comment

  1. Carla,
    Thanks for the wonderful post. I have two children (ages 2 and 4) and our eldest slept with us up until the second was born. Even then, we started out with a crib in our room so that she wouldn’t be scared and so that we could reach her easily if need be. She sleeps in her own room now, which is right across from ours, but sometimes sneaks into bed with us when she gets has a bad dream.
    I believe a parent’s bed should be a safe haven for children and your decision will make for more confident and secure kids.
    Thanks for sharing!!!

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