We are regularly asked how Edmund sleeps. We respond that he sleeps GREAT, usually waking up once to eat and going right back to sleep. Lately he's been lasting till 6-6:30, which is REALLY nice! It could be that we are lucky, but I confess I think it is because we've chosen to let Edmund sleep with us. When we mention this, a common response is a slow wag of the head from side to side or an, "Uh-oh...you'd better nip that in the bud before you regret it later..." There is also the safety factor. Let's get that one out of the way.
The following things make for safe cosleeping: both parents aware that the child is in the bed, a nice firm mattress, nothing covering the baby's head (duh!), no spaces between the frame and mattress that would be possible for baby to slip in and suffocate, neither parent under the influence of any alcohol or drugs, non-smoking parents.
Cosleeping is common across many cultures (and interestingly enough, related deaths are much more rare every where else). In the US, however, it is more controversial. Why are Americans in general so adamant about independence from such a young age? Common advice from the "experts" say that we shouldn't cosleep or rock our babies to sleep or run every time they fuss, that they need to learn to self soothe. There seems to be a fear that our children will be too dependent on us or others. Everything we've read says that the opposite is true: that the closer we keep our babies to us and the quicker their needs (not selfish manipulative desires) are met, the more independent they will become. Based on several studies, this seems to be true of babies who cosleep or are "worn" in wraps or slings. They cry less, are more content, and as they grow actually become more independent than other children.
It makes sense to me. We want our infant to be dependent on us. We want him to learn trust and security in these early months and years, to know that we'll always be just a step away so that when he's ready to venture out, he can do so with the confidence that he'll be okay. There will be so very many years ahead when Edmund and our subsequent children will grow to become independent from us. We treasure these times when they do need us and desire to keep them close during these years, until the time is right for them to begin venturing out.
We realize there are varying opinions on the topic and are not advocating that everyone should cosleep or specifying how long we think it's appropriate. It just seems to be one of those topics that's worth asking why we as Americans might intially be so opposed to it. Are those reasons valid or are we missing something?"
Dennis, Heidi, and Edmund