Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Is it okay to share your bed with your kids? By SHAMALA VELU

Sleep is good. That is, if you have a good night's rest and have not been muscled out of the bed by your kids.

If you are a parent wondering if you are doing the right thing by sharing your bed with your child, you are not alone.There are many parents who wonder if co-sleeping with their children is the right thing to do. Co-sleeping with babies is deemed a controversial issue as many believe it puts young infants at risk.Some experts say parents can hurt their baby if they accidentally roll over onto them. What will happen if baby gets smothered by a pillow or other bedding material?

That said, many parents believe sharing the bed with their brood helps to foster a bond between parent and child. It gives everyone a sense of security and everyone has a good night's rest. Experts are opposed to this, saying co-sleeping inhibits a child from becoming independent. So, should parents support co-sleeping?

Two parents share their opinions on what they think about co-sleeping with their children.
Monika Ramasamy, mother of two aged 5 and 11:
“I felt more comfortable having my babies in the bedroom with me, as I was feeding them every hour initially and it was more convenient to have them right beside me. However, they slept in their own baby cots. I would not advocate sleeping in the same bed unless they are sick and need that extra comfort and closeness for recovery.

The first month I woke up every one or two hours to feed them. Of course, I did not have a good rest at all, but it would have been worse if I had to walk to a separate room each time! Also, in a way, it calmed me down having them close, as it was safer in case they suddenly had trouble breathing.I definitely wouldn't want my baby to sleep in the same bed, as they are very vulnerable and automatically I wouldn't sleep well just for fear of hurting them in my sleep.

My son only moved to his own room because I was waking up so often for his newborn sister who stayed in her baby cot in our room as well. It was not feasible any more to disturb his sleep so we convinced him to move into his own room at age seven!

I am afraid our daughter still stays with us in her own bed but in the same room. We are working on the process of convincing her to stay in her own room but she doesn't seem to be quite ready yet (she is only 5).
It is my opinion that each child is different. My children don't have problems falling asleep on their own, as their bed-time is much earlier than ours.I think if they go to bed with their parents at the same time, it will be hard for them to fall asleep on their own.My children went through a phase where we had to be strict although they were crying their hearts out as we left the room. But that lasted only about a week and then they were fine.One must create a sleeping habit which does not depend on other people. Children must learn to sleep on their own, whether or not they have a room to themselves or share the room with their parents.

I personally enjoy having my kids in the same room, otherwise we wouldn't have allowed it. I think the desire for closeness goes both ways. However, I think there comes a time when parents are ready to have their own personal space in the bedroom again. It is certainly more difficult to get a child used to his or her own room when he or she is older than say, when they were still babies.

Nur Fathinatul Huda Md Nor, mother of two aged 3+ and 2+:
“I personally think co-sleeping with baby is a normal thing to do. My babies slept with me since the day they were born. I find it very calming. When they were newborns, I put them on my chest. It is also very convenient to breastfeed the baby. Both the mother and baby feel warm and comfortable. I found out that sleeping with my baby stimulates more milk production and I can breastfeed on demand. I think it creates time for bonding as I can cuddle, kiss and play with my babies when they are next to me.

My first boy, Azmihani Al Rayyan Mohd Azmi, is 3 years 2 months, and my girl, Salsabeel Jannah Al Rayyan Mohd Azmi, is 1 year 6 months. They have been sleeping with me ever since they were infants. With my first child, I had some difficulties putting him in a cot for the first few days. He did not sleep long and kept crying in the middle of the night. When he slept with me, it was much easier. I believe he was more comfortable and secure. Now, I practise safe co-sleeping by putting our bed next to the wall; my daughter sleeps nearest to the wall and I sleep next to her. My son sleeps between me and his father. This prevents them from falling down. It also prevents the father from rolling on the baby since she is furthest away.

I believe the first five years are the most critical period for a child. As young children, they need to be constantly hugged and cuddled. They also need close contact with parents. I believe giving children hugs makes them feel safe and secure. This promotes good behaviour and they will learn to respect their parents; not only when they are young, but as they become young adults as well. My son sleeps with us because I still nurse him. ( I nurse them in tandem). However, we have started training him to sleep in his own small bed, beside ours. He tends to wake up at night and come over to sleep with us, but I believe he can sleep in his own bed, when he is ready.

We have provided a room for him and started talking to him about moving to his own room. He agrees, provided we buy him Upin and Ipin toys to sleep with! I think he is still young. In my heart however, I'm also not really confident to let him sleep alone yet. I wake up about three times at night (at 1am, 3am, 5am) to nurse my babies. I don't find it stressful or burdensome as they are breastfed on demand while I am in bed.
Parents must see what works best for them, making sure safety comes first.”

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