The family bed

There is an easier way. When Tine Thevenin's The Family Bed was published in the 1970s, sleeping with your children was controversial. A lot of families did it, but few admitted it! But more and more parents are finding that the family bed is their ideal arrangement, bringing them peaceful nights and happy babies.

I sleep easily with my baby beside me, sharing in the same security she must feel. With my daughter in my bed, I don't have to wonder whether she's choking, or breathing, or too hot or cold, or if I'll hear her when she wakes up, or get to her in time if there's a fire. I can be certain that she is safe and content.

One of the reasons for our societal shift away from the family bed is an emphasis on autonomy and independence that solitary sleep seems to represent. Critics claim that sleeping with your baby will "spoil" him, and that he'll grow up clingy and dependent. But babies and young children are dependent on their parents, and that dependence is only outgrown gradually, at the child's unique pace. Developmental psychology teaches that before a child can seek to become independent, he must feel secure, and trust that the world is a safe place where his needs will be met. When parents respond quickly to baby's cries, use a sling or baby carrier during the day, and a family bed at night, children grow up to be more, not less, independent, confident, and self-assured.

Sleeping with your baby is an easy way to give him this security. One of the first things new parents learn is that babies needs don't go away just because the clock says 10pm (or midnight, or 4am ....) Parenting is a 24-hour job. Working parents especially often feel that they barely have any time to enjoy their child before the nightly bedtime battle. With a family bed, it is possible to get a good night's rest, and teach your child that you are there for him day or night. It's funny how night-time fears (parent's or child's!) disappear when everyone is snuggled up together.

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