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When our first child was born, I was not at all clear on the moral perplexities of bed sharing….. Certainly, my mother had not shared a bed with me as a baby. No one I knew growing up in New York in the 1960s ever talked about sharing a bed with their child. Babies had their crib down the hall, were bottle fed and probably kept to a 4-hour feeding schedule. Vaguely, I knew my cousin had mentioned how important it was to breastfeed her son, but by that time, I was a teenager and not all that interested. Our oldest son was born in a midwife center in Germany and as it turned out by the time our childbirth course and my pregnancy yoga course was over, I had become convinced our baby would be close to me after birth. But, not in our bed. In some sort of bed put together next to our bed… Somehow I remember thinking it vital to maintain some space between parents and baby. Hmm. But, then...  readmore logo

Bed-sharing and sex

by Gena Kirby

"My kids are 3, 6 and 9, you don't ever stop feeling like you want your space back. Unless you intend to sell them or "accidentally" leave them at a pit stop on a road trip, I have bad news for you. You don't get YOUR space back. It's not yours anymore.

"Why not get creative? Weren't any of us horny teenagers (I will stretch that to Horny any-timers)? Why is the bed the only place left for us to make love in? I wasn't that crazy but in my day I have made love on the beach, against a tree, in a car port, on the beach, on a street, did I mention on the beach? After we had kids it was the car, the closet, the laundry room, my moms pantry (God, I hope she doesn't read this), and right next to the bed on the floor." go to Progressive Parenting

Real Men Sleep with their Kids

by Terry Bain

If you're a man with a new baby who's always telling people you're jealous of the bond between mother and child, and if your child isn't yet sleeping in your bed, I say to you: Bring your baby in, get to know him, sleep with him. If someday you want to share your child's daydreams, take a step in the right direction by first sharing his night dreams.

After many months of my son sleeping with us, I am intimately familiar with his needs, both at night and during the day—even if I'm not always the one who can fulfill them. (I can't, after all, nurse him or be his mother.) I feel as if I am in sync with him as I have been with no other human. I don't think I even knew what it meant to be so familiar with another human. And I cannot explain to you how exhilarating that is. You have to experience it for yourself.

From "Real Men Sleep with Their Kids", Mothering, Issue 132, September/October 2005

Co-sleeping and Bedsharing

by James J. McKenna Ph.D. and Edmund P. Joyce C.S.C., Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory, University of Notre Dame

"One of the most important reasons why bedsharing occurs, and the reason why simple declarations against it will not eradicate it, is because sleeping next to one’s baby is biologically appropriate, unlike placing infants prone to sleep or putting an infant in a room to sleep by itself. This is particularly so when bedsharing is associated with breast feeding." see

We do know there are lots of issues involved: independence, sexuality, intimacy, sleep needs. These reflect not only personal preferences based on our own childhoods but also the cultural expectations influencing our first parenting years. For example, sentences such as the following carry a lot of weight with a woman unsure of herself: "A review of the current scientific literature demonstrates that not only has bedsharing not been proven to be protective against SIDS but that it can, under a number of conditions, actually be hazardous." [View source]

This is based on a CPSC Report, sent out in a press release from the SIDS Alliance. (1999)

Many mothers hear such words and are afraid. Despite the fact that in almost all cultures around the globe today babies sleep with an adult. "It is only in industrialized Western societies such as North America and some countries in Europe that sleep has become a private affair." [View source]

Small, Meredith, "Our Babies, Ourselves: How biology and culture shape the way we parent," New York: Doubleday, 1998, p.112

Bedsharing in China

As expected, routine bed sharing in Chinese school-aged children is very prevalent, with 56 percent in 7-year-olds and 7 percent in 11- to 13-year-olds. Although bed sharing is an accepted practice in many Asian countries, we do not know if these Chinese numbers would apply throughout Asia. However, this rate is expected to be markedly higher than that found in Western children. A recent United States national survey conducted between 1993 and 2000 indicated that only 9.2% of infants usually share a bed with their parents. readmore logo

"In Peru, ... childcare is shared across all members of the family. Babies sleep primarily with their parents until they're around 5 or so and then they sleep with other members of the family (my one cousin slept with her grandmother until gmother died when cousin was 21). it's completely bizarre for someone to be sleeping alone. in fact, it's sort of rude and NOT received well. at the VERY least someone should be sleeping in the same room as you if not the same bed. as for the nightwaking, yup...the kids wake up at night a lot. and the moms nurse them back to sleep or sling them back to sleep or the dads do or the cousins do or the grandparents do...whoever's up and not exhausted does it." readmore logo

"I can perhaps speak for Japan, for the people that I knew and have known there. Mothers in Japan generally stay at home. Babies and toddlers sleep with the mother, usually on a futon on the floor or sometimes on a frame. The mother conforms to the baby's schedule. The babies in Japan are no more likely to sleep all night than an American baby. The mothers do get fatigued, just as any co-sleeping mother would, so they nap during the day with the baby. Sometimes a grandparent will live with or near the family. These will help out with watching the child during the day so the mother can nap. Fathers have told me that while the mother is co-sleeping with a nursing baby, they will move to another room, or at least into another futon. They will often co-sleep with the older children at this time." [View source]

by Unagidon, from forum, thread on cross-cultural sleep patterns, July 2005.

Sleeping with the Baby

by John Seabrook

"I am a co-sleeper. That is, my wife and I sleep with our ten-month-old son...This puts us on the wrong side of the federal government’s recent edict about co-sleeping, which is that parents should never sleep with children younger than age two." Read full article in the New Yorker

Co-sleeping among Cameroonian Nso families

"Forty-three wage-earning and 35 farming Nso mothers were interviewed at home about their formal schooling, economic activities, living conditions, children's sleeping arrangements, and night care. The findings provide ethnographic evidence that the Nso have a cosleeping culture, and that wage earning is an index of social and cultural change and exerts a substantial influence on sleeping patterns. The traditional pattern in the farming family is that mothers share the bed only with the infant, engage in no bedtime routines or schedules, and plan to wean their children later than do mothers in wage-earning families. The wage-earning mothers share a bed with an infant and others, predominantly the father. They also have bedtime routines and schedules and plan to wean their children approximately five months earlier than do mothers in farming families. The results are discussed with respect to the Nso culture and sociohistorical changes related to changes in economic livelihood and urbanization. [View source]

Yovsi, R. D. and Keller, H. (2007), The Architecture of Cosleeping among Wage-Earning and Subsistence Farming Cameroonian Nso Families. Ethos, 35: 65–84. doi: 10.1525/eth.2007.35.1.65


Co-sleeping in the UK

"An evolutionary perspective on human infant sleep physiology suggests that parent-infant cosleeping, practiced under safe conditions, might be beneficial to both mothers and infants. However, cosleeping is not part of mainstream parenting ideology in the United States or the United Kingdom, and little evidence is available to indicate whether, and under what circumstances, parents sleep with their newborn infants. We present data from an anthropological investigation into the practices and attitudes of new and experienced parents of newborn infants regarding parent-infant sleeping arrangements in a community in the northeast of England. Despite not having contemplated cosleeping prior to the birth, new parents in our sample found it to be a convenient nighttime caregiving strategy, and one which was practiced regularly. Infants slept with both their parents, some being habitual all-night cosleepers, but commonly beginning the night in a cnb and sleeping with their parents for several hours following the early morning feed." [View source]

Ball, H. L., Hooker, E. and Kelly, P. J. (1999), "Where Will the Baby Sleep? Attitudes and Practices of New and Experienced Parents Regarding Cosleeping with Their Newborn Infants." American Anthropologist, 101: 143–151. doi: 10.1525/aa.1999.101.1.143


tatami and slippers

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