There are few parenting choices more divisive than where to put your baby to sleep. Parents tend to feel very passionately about their parenting choices and often either don't understand or flat out disagree with people who make different choices; and the choice to bed-share is no different. With luck, the people who disagree aren't too vocal or too condemning, and the people who don't understand will seek out information. Still, there are certain questions that bed-sharing parents are absolutely tired of hearing, even if those questions are posed with the best of intentions.
When I first put my baby in my bed, I was at my wit's end. I was exhausted and completely frazzled, and my son was a 4-month-old baby who just so happened to be a freakin' terrible sleeper. Restlessly, he'd wake up every 30 to 45 minutes, nurse for 15 minutes, and then take another 30 or 45 minutes to fall back to sleep. Postpartum hormones coupled with sheer exhaustion do not a happy mama make and, before too long, something had to give. I'd read about safe bed-sharing and knew that it wasn't dangerous if done correctly, but I was still worried. Then my body did something amazing: it responded, naturally and instinctively, to the presence of my baby. I knew just where to put him. I knew just how to lie so that he was safe. I didn't move unless I was completely awake and aware.
In other words, bed-sharing saved me. I was suffering from postpartum depression (PPD), so if I would've added insomnia to my already fragile mental state I would've come undone. So yes, I want people to understand how important bed-sharing was for me and my family, but there are certain questions I'm pretty damn tired of answering.
"Isn't That Dangerous?"
Simply put? No. Bed-sharing can be done safely, as evidenced by several studies and thousands of years of evidence. In fact, there is evidence pointing to crib sleeping as more dangerous for newborns, as over half of the babies in the United States sleep in unsafe crib conditions.
I refuse to judge a parent for deciding to put their sleeping newborn in an other room, so I ask for the same in return. That's all.
"Isn't Your Partner Jealous?"
Is my partner jealous of a newborn baby who completely monopolizes my time? Probably. However, he's a reasonable person and understands that right now, in this season of our lives, this tiny and completely dependent person needs me a bit more than he does.
"So, You Just Don't Have Sex Then?"
I have two children, so obviously my partner and I have sex. After all, my kids do sleep and there are more places in our home to have sex than just our bed.
"Isn't Your Kid Old Enough To Sleep Alone?"
Well, technically I'm old enough to sleep alone, too. However, I choose to sleep next to my partner because he's warm and comforting and all snuggly and stuff. In other words, I don't fault my child for wanting to sleep next to someone. Most people do.
"Don't You Think Your Kid Will Grow Completely Dependent On You?"
I can't even begin to list the studies that have proven the aforementioned is nothing more than a false assumption. So, in short, no. Bed-sharing does not make clingy children. Meeting a child's needs for closeness and support does just the opposite, actually.
"Will Your Kid Ever Be Able To Sleep Alone?"
Really? I mean, right now my kid is 18-months-old. Check back with me when he's a 10-year-old kid and I assure you, he'll be in his own bed.
"Aren't You Afraid You'll Squish Your Kid?"
The very first time I put my baby in my bed, after four weeks of exhaustion and misery, I was desperate for sleep. I was nervous, but I was willing to try anything to get some rest. After a few nervous nights, I realized that my body knew what to do. The worry declined and the enjoyment in having my baby close increased. (And the sleep. The sleep definitely increased.)
"Do You Go To Bed With Your Kid Every Night?"
Nope. I lie down with him until he's asleep, and then I get up. As I much as I would like to be able to go to sleep as early as my son does, it's just not feasible for most (any?) adults.
"Doesn't Your Kid Keep You Up All Night?"
Well, sometimes. Other times, no. When my kid wants to nurse, he nurses, and sometimes I don't even have to wake up to accommodate his need to breastfeed. If I do wake up, it's just long enough to help him latch, then I go right back to sleep. I don't have to get up and I don't have to stay up, so it's kind of the best.
"You Know You're Spoiling Your Kid, Right?"
Milk spoils. Babies don't.