|Subject: Should older sibling
leave the family bed when baby arrives?
Q. I have read your book and thoroughly
enjoyed it. I have been very confident in the way we have raised our
2-year-old son thus far. We have a very secure attachment and it has
been a wonderful experience. We have co-slept with our son since he was
first born. He turned two a few weeks ago.
My husband and I are starting to think about
having another child so we thought it would be easier on everyone when
the new baby is here if our son slept in his own bed. There has also
been some pressure from family members that it is time for him to get in
his own bed.
Has he received all the benefit from the
co-sleeping at this point or does he continue to receive benefits if we
continue to co-sleep and for how long? Is there a "too long"?
I don't want him to feel as if he is being pushed away from us. Also if
there is another child I don't want him to feel like he is not a part of
the family if we are all in one room together and he is in another. But
I also don't want any wakeful nights from baby number 2 to disturb him.
Of all the research I have read it never really discusses how long to
co-sleep. I now it is a personal thing but I am just looking for some
advice and support. Thank you!
- Name withheld
A. Ideally, cosleeping lasts as long as the
child needs it. How long is that? Well, if we take our cues from those
cultures - like India - where children remain with their parents until
they decide to leave, it can be many years.
Cosleeping is one of the easiest and most
beautiful ways to bond with a child. My son (an only child) left at
about age 12. I am convinced that cosleeping all those years helped
immensely to bring about the wonderful closeness and trust we share now
that he is 25 (see Confessions of
a Proud Mom).
Parents expecting a second child often consider
moving the older child to his own bed after the birth. However, many of
the cosleeping reasons I list in Ten
Reasons to Sleep Next to Your Child at Night still hold for older
children, especially at those times when they are being asked to cope
with stressful experiences. Since the birth of a sibling is a naturally
stressful and jealous time for the older child, every attempt should be
made to be sure that he still feels loved and accepted. Feelings of
jealousy and rejection can remain within a child well into adulthood,
affecting his self-esteem and self-confidence.