Last week I wrote about sleep training. Today, here are some of my thoughts on co-sleeping, after starting the kids on their own.
A while ago, the boys’ aircon stopped working. It had been threatening to do so for a while now, so on occasion, the whole gang would be camping out in my room. Scout in her cot, Mittens on a mattress on the floor, and Abacus on our bed (because there’s no more space for any more mattresses!). It’s a bit of a squash and a squeeze, but I have to admit I enjoy having them all together!
An article on the benefits of co sleeping has been doing its rounds on Facebook, and recently I’ve also been reading How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm by Mei-Ling Hopgood, which talks about how some cultures prefer their children to be more independent from birth (including sleeping by themselves), whereas some cultures keep their children as close to them until they’re much older. Here also is a lovely article on Milla Jovovich, who apparently loves co-sleeping with her 2 kids. Do a quick google and you will find many millions of other articles advocating co-sleeping.
With both boys we started them off in their own cots in their own rooms. It wasn’t difficult going over to feed them (or maybe I was younger then), and it was nice having our bed all to ourselves. At the moment they share a room, but the boys still like to have someone in the room when they’re falling asleep. And they still like sleeping with us. On occasion they’ll both huddle onto one bed to fall asleep together (but one might wake up crying if the other has kicked him while sleeping…). Often, the husband will camp out with them in their room. Sometimes it’s because I make him, so that I get some peace from the snoring 🙂
Scout has slept in our room since birth, not really by choice and more by necessity due to lack of space. We have her cot right next to our bed but when she was a baby more often she slept with us on our bed (using The First Years Close and Secure sleeper). She doesn’t move a lot during the night, as compared to the boys, which means she is at a much lower risk of falling off the bed, and I have not been head or face butted or kicked during the night, otherwise I’d definitely have had her in her cot. Once while sleeping Mittens slammed into my nose so hard I was in pain for a few days and could even feel it while I was eating. These days, she chooses to sleep in her own cot, even though it’s still next to our bed. Btw, our bed is flanked by the window on one side and her cot on the other, so there is much less risk of falling.
So having been on both sides now, my opinion is that there is nothing wrong with co-sleeping. Sure it might be a squeeze, but there is nothing more precious than waking up in the morning to those little faces. Unless you get kicked in the face often, then you probably need a Plan B.
The article above mentions that co-sleeping gives children the sense of security, and security is very important in meeting the emotional needs of a growing child, as well as an important component in growing their intelligence. Also, as I mentioned in my previous post, I know from experience that even though they might start out as babies in their own rooms, they will always want to have mummy or daddy around until they’re much older. Who wouldn’t? Even I would rather have someone else in the room with me rather than sleep alone!
In our family, often the hubby ends up sleeping with the boys while us girls are together. With 3 young kids it’s a feat if we get through the night without a single child waking us up! It’s also common for parents of 2 or more kids to split up and sleep with a child each, and also for families to all sleep together in the same room. I know a few families of 5 who do this, mostly all on mattresses on the floor to avoid falls. My husband often jokes that we could live in a 3-room flat since we only really need one bedroom!
Some people say good habits are inculcated from young, but if you ask me, bad habits are things like smoking, littering, gambling, being rude, spending too much time on your mobile device (oops) etc. Isn’t it natural for children to want to be within the security of their parents, even when they are sleeping? Of course, if your child doesn’t mind sleeping alone, then congratulations! You “strike Toto”! But if he doesn’t, well, the days are long, but the years are short.
Pick an arrangement, or come to it by trial and error, that suits your family’s needs, and enjoy their childhood while it lasts. Eventually the kids will be willing to sleep in their own beds, and sometimes they might surprise you. Don’t read too much into what the “experts” say, be it friends, kaypoh aunties, or famous authors, because it’s your family and you, you’re the real expert.
What are the sleeping arrangements like in your family?