Saturday, December 12, 2009

Attachment Parenting and The Family Bed

Even though my years of sharing a family bed are mostly over, it is a time I will always look back at as the best decision Steve and I ever made together. Having our children in bed with us just always felt right. My all time favorite book that was read over and over again is Nighttime Parenting by Dr. Sears. Reading Dr. Sears book made me realize how natural it is to have your child sleep next to you and has been a natural part of parenting until recent years.

Sleeping with my children allowed me to know them in a way that I don't think I would have ever known them. I learned that Sophia needed to sing herself to sleep, that Alexander woke up often with nightmares when he was a toddler and quickly fell back to sleep when he could cuddle with me. I learned that Sophia scratched at her eczema all night long and I could gently rub areas and help ease her back to sleep.

My family has many fond memories of our family bed. For many years we had a twin size bed next to our king size bed and I would wake up in the morning with both kids and I in one little corner cuddled up together. My mom bought us the book The Biggest Bed in the World which we loved and read often together in our biggest bed. We have the memory of Alexander and I laying next to each other listening to the pitter patter of little feet when we first moved into this house and realized we had squirrels living in our attic. We have tons of memories of funny stories that were shared after the lights went out. My most precious memory though is how when the kids woke up and saw our faces, they immediately smiled.

I have heard all the cons of sleeping with your child, but in all honesty, I will never believe them. After sharing a family bed for many years, I have seen too many benefits. I have experienced the gift of having my children with me 24 hours a day and it is just too wonderful to not think that is how we were meant to be.
Here are a few articles on co-sleeping that you might enjoy:
Ten Reasons To Sleep Next To Your Child At Night
Shunning the Family Bed. Who Benefits Most?

Family beds, breastfeeding and attachment parenting have been on my mind lately, more as reflections than wanting new information. We of course have weaned from the breast (I told everyone that my children would naturally wean when ready and they did!) and rarely have a family bed anymore although our dog Izzy has replaced the kids, but attachment parenting is something that stays with you a lifetime. I had this post ready to go and then did a few things around the house and wondered what made me feel the need to write about the family bed. Maybe it is because my family is moving into a new phase of our life - we are becoming a family of teenagers. With that is much excitement and I never wish my children to be any other age than the age they are now. But, it does challenge me to remind myself that the attachment parenting style I made my own when my children were infants, toddlers and children is the same style I need to use today. When I honor who they are and give them breathing room to be that special person, life is wonderful.


  1. Cathy:
    Teens bring new challenges, but my boys (even when Adam was recently here)always slept in our bed and as they got older, they always came in and laid at the foot of the bed to talk or laugh & sometimes to sleep. Justin once said it was the safest place on earth and when he needed to talk it was better than the couch! You did the right thing and your kids are amazing!

  2. Good one on The Life and Adventures of Cateepoo - it helps a lot!

    We clearly share similar parenting experiences and views.
    I've been reading one that I'm hooked on -
    I have a feeling you'd get a lot out of it.

    Incredible job on your blog; keep it up.


  3. Great post Cathy. It is very encouraging to me. Sophie is long-term nursing as well and will wean when she is ready. She also sleeps with us.

    My inlaws don't like it and claim that she'll "never sleep by herself in her own bed" which is actually a quite ridiculous comment since she won't be 30 years old and still sleeping with us. I've read that it establishes better sleep habits and when children do move to their own bed, they feel safe and comfortable with it because of the foundation that you provided for them.

    Oh well, the point is that what matters most is our decisions for our daughter are based on what is best for her and not what anyone else thinks. You and Steve clearly kept that ideology in mind when raising your children and I am inspired by it as well, plus your loving nature and parenting methods. Thanks for posting this :)

  4. Heather,
    It cracks me up when people say kids will still be sleeping with us as teenagers and beyond. My kids do still like to snuggle with us every night before heading to their own rooms but I think that is because we are meant to sleep with others. As a married couple we sleep together for many reasons but mostly it is comforting to us, why should it be any different for children? Our kids know that even today if they need to jump into bed with us, they are welcome. We are never off limits to them. Sophie is a lucky girl to never have to sleep alone.

  5. We, too, love our family bed! Although Jesse weaned himself out of it a few years ago, Libby still sleeps in our bed every single night. I read an anthropology journal article when Jesse was a baby about the benefits to primate babies when they sleep next to their parents. It confirmed what I already knew in my heart -- that it made no sense to put my baby in another room (or bed) at night and to use a baby moniotor when I could be aware of his needs if he was right by my side.

  6. soon as I posted that comment Libby walked by with a blanket and told me, "I have to go and get a spot in the bed before it's all taken up! Last night I was just left with a little sliver."
    Thank goodness for king-sized beds.

  7. Hannah – I love this! Thanks for sharing it.

    Alexander and Sophia both sleep in their own beds now (well, sometimes they still come in) but they both lay with us before going to sleep every night. I love it! We each have our spots and pillows (I am Sophia’s pillow). I hope they never outgrow this routine.

  8. I loved sharing the bed with my babies. I think it made us so close. Ashley was the first twin to move on to her own room and now hates anyone being in her bed. Matthew even as a teenager still likes to sleep with mom and snuggle up. I think alot of this is he feels he is protecting me while daddy works nights. Thank you for sharing Cathy because I feel that having my twins in bed with me was the best thing ever.