Among new family clients who co-sleep one common concern I hear from parents is the fear that I’ll tell them that they “can’t co-sleep anymore”. In fact I’m not against co-sleeping and I believe it’s possible for it to work quite well for some families.
The first question we need to answer is: are you co-sleeping for proactive or reactive reasons? In other words, have you made the choice as a family to co-sleep because you believe in it philosophically and it works well for your family? Or would you rather sleep separately but your children sleep with you because you can’t figure out how to get them to sleep in their own room?
If it’s the former, you are co-sleeping proactively and I’m happy to work with you on how to create an optimal co-sleeping solution that is safe for the baby and gets everyone the rest they need. (By the way, co-sleeping is defined as sleeping in the same room in close proximity to your child and is not to be confused with bed-sharing, which the American Academy of Pediatrics – somewhat controversially – recommends against. Remember, no matter what choices you make about where your baby sleeps, make sure to get expert advice and information about how to do it safely).
If you’re co-sleeping reactively because you don’t feel like you have a choice, we need to understand what is happening in your family and re-evaluate the choices you have made so far in order to find a sleep solution that will work best for everyone, including your children.
Conversely, some parents would really like to co-sleep but don’t because of outside pressure or other reasons that aren’t in line with their own values. In that case, we may consider the possibility of bringing your child into your room.
Although proponents of both sides will insist that theirs is the clearly superior choice while the other option is dangerous or damaging, the overwhelming evidence shows that in general families can either co-sleep or sleep separately in a way that is both physically safe and psychologically sound for everyone.
If you’re currently co-sleeping (or sleeping separately) and you’re not sure if you’re doing it proactively or reactively, try asking yourself, “If I could be sure that both options were safe and that both my child and I could sleep well, which would I choose?
There is no wrong choice; the key is following through in the right way and for the right reasons.
Latest posts by Dr. Carr (see all)
- Dr. Carr and Off to Dreamland Video Introduction - July 30, 2014
- Summer Travel Sleep Tips from a Child Sleep Expert - June 25, 2014
- Sleep Teaching Babies and Children Can’t Be One-Size-Fits-All - May 22, 2014