1. You will sleep better. Getting out of bed several times a night to soothe or feed your child is
simply exhausting. If you sleep with your baby, you will be able to meet his needs quickly and easily when
they arise, and before they escalate. You may even find that you are so in sync with each other that you roll
over and offer a breast a few moments before your child begins to root around - and neither of you will wake
up for this. Other common reasons for night waking, such as loneliness and fear, are avoided entirely through
the family bed.
2. It will help you to be a more nurturing parent. The strain of dealing with night waking pushes
many parents to the limits of their endurance. They may resort to brutal tactics, such as leaving babies to
cry it out or placing locks on their children's doors. Cosleeping allows you to meet your child's needs and be
available as a parent during the long night hours, without placing undue stress on yourself or weakening the
trust your child has in you. Your child will grow in confidence at her own pace, rather than being forced into
premature and illusory independence before she is ready.
3. It makes breastfeeding easier. Breastfed babies get a significant portion of their milk intake
from night nursing. This is normal and beneficial. It has positive health benefits in suppressing the mother's
ovulation (part of the mechanism by which breastfeeding protects against cancer). It is also beneficial to
children both physically and emotionally in helping to prevent premature weaning: many active babies and
toddlers will be too distracted to nurse much during the day, so they compensate for it at night. If you
breastfeed in the family bed, you can give your child free access to the breast without tiring yourself out.
If you are a mother who works outside of the home, nighttime nursing is the ideal way to stimulate your milk
supply and make sure your child is able to have as much of your precious milk as possible.
4. It may help to reduce the risk of SIDS. In Japan, which has the lowest rate of SIDS in the world,
and in many other countries where cosleeping is also the norm, rates of sudden infant death syndrome are a
fraction of those in the United States. While scientists are still investigating the role the family bed
plays, two factors appear significant. First, breastfed babies in general have lower rates of SIDS, and
breastfeeding is easier and more likely to continue longer when mother and baby sleep together. Second, when
mothers and babies sleep together, their heart rates and sleep cycles change in tandem. Babies are born with
an immature neurological system, and are biologically designed to sleep with their mother. Having mother
nearby where she can provide external stimulation to breath regularly, and move smoothly into and out of
periods of light and deep sleep may serve a protective role for the infant.1
5. It is fun! More than anything, I think you will find that sleeping with your child is fun - for
you and for her. Together as a family, you will create many warm and happy memories and lay the foundation for
your child to become a respectful, responsive and nurturing parent in her own right.
6. It helps to prevent sleep problems. Many parents hear dire warnings that letting babies into bed
with them will only result in sleep problems. In fact, the opposite is true. Many so-called sleep problems are
the result of trying to force children to sleep alone. Many sleep behaviors that Western society defines as
dysfunctional are really part of the natural human design. Human infants were not meant to sleep deeply for
hours or spend long periods of time in total isolation. Forcing them to do so before they are ready only
results in unnecessary distress, which alters their developing nervous systems and may contribute to panic
disorders and other stress-related problems in adulthood.2 Another benefit of
the family bed is that children - and their parents - do not come to dread bedtime. Instead of seeing it as a
time of isolation and fear, it is a time to snuggle close and be together. Avoiding bedtime battles makes
family life a lot more pleasant for everyone.
7. It strengthens family bonds. When one or both parents are away at work all day, a long stretch of
time at night when the family can be together is a wonderful gift. After busy, stressful days, the family bed
is a safe haven in which to soothe frayed nerves and nurture tender bonds. Another important benefit is that
cosleeping helps babies form healthy attachments to people, not objects. In our materialistic society, it is
common (and perceived as normal) for children to become bonded to physical objects rather than their parents
and siblings. Is it any wonder that we grow up to be adults who have difficulty maintaining human
relationships and try to find happiness through endless consumption?
8. It is convenient. The family bed is convenient under normal circumstances, but you'll be
especially grateful for it at other times, such as illness or during the upheaval of a family crisis. The
comfort and closeness of the family bed will nurture your child when times are rough. When you travel, there
is no need to bring a portable cot or worry about getting a child to fall asleep in a strange place: all that
matters is that you are there together.
9. It is safe. Like any other aspect of family life, from driving in the car to mealtimes,
cosleeping is perfectly safe when practiced responsibly. It also offers safety advantages over crib use.
Leaving a small child unattended is never without risk, whether it is in a crib or any other device. The
Consumer Products Safety Commission records approximately 40-50 crib-related deaths each year, as well as
thousands of serious injuries.3 When you sleep with your child, you become
acutely and sensitively attuned to her, and can respond quickly to any problems that arise. One night in the
early weeks after my daughter was born, she began to choke on some mucus that was caught in her throat. Within
seconds I had awoken, turned her over, rubbed her back, and made her cough it up. There is no way I could have
helped her as quickly if she were not sleeping by my side.
10. It saves money. One of the largest and most expensive pieces of baby equipment most parents buy
is a crib. The crib is the centerpiece of the whole nursery, something many parents are led to believe is a
necessary part of preparing for a new baby. In fact, babies don't care about color-coordinated crib bumpers
and wallpaper borders. All they want is to be held close and warm in their parents' arms at night.