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Should we let our child sleep in our bed? Not long ago most child-care experts would have answered with an emphatic "No!" and maybe even "Under no circumstances." Now the answer is more often "Do what feels right for your family." There are a growing number of experts who are telling mothers that they can do what they feel is right for their children without fear of "ruining" them! This includes co-sleeping, also called shared sleep or the family bed. Noted child-care expert T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., reconsidered his ideas about co-sleeping after hearing from parents on the issue. In a June 1979 article in Redbook he said, "When I advised against bringing children into their parents' bed in an earlier article, I received many letters from parents who felt that sleeping alone is a custom our society unreasonably demands of its small children. I was impressed and have learned a great deal from the letters that expressed this point of view. I hadn't realized how many parents did NOT believe in helping a child learn to sleep alone at night. Their letters and their arguments made me reevaluate my rather rigid ideas on handling sleep problems in our culture."
If you share your bed with your children you are not alone. Surveys show that 25 to 30 percent of American parents routinely let their children sleep with them, either for part or all of the night. The United States is one of the few countries that has a cultural bias against parents sharing a bed with their children. It was a common tradition in the U.S. until the twentieth century when child-care experts began warning parents that they must teach their children to sleep alone or create psychological scars. It continues to be a common tradition in many other cultures and not just because of limited space. It is common in Japan, for example, where they emphasize the nurturing aspects of family life. Parents don't sleep alone, most people do not like sleeping alone, why would a baby?