|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.
- 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.