When you first brought your baby home, you knew you’d have to struggle through a few months of sleep deprivation with your newborn. What you didn’t know — because most parents won’t admit to it — is that your sleep struggles might continue into the toddler and even the preschool years. If you feel like you’ll do anything for a good night of sleep, you’re not alone. And for some families, bringing kids into the master bedroom is just what the doctor ordered.
Types of Room Sharing
When you think about cosleeping, you probably picture your whole family piled into one big bed like a litter of puppies. But the truth is that there are many different options for shared sleeping arrangements. Snuggling your baby in your bed all night long is one option (and if you choose that, make sure you follow safe cosleeping guidelines, such as laying your child on his back, using a firm mattress, no pillows or blankets and refraining from smoking and alcohol use.). You can also use a cosleeper–a bed that attaches to the side of your bed and gives your child a nearby but separate sleeping surface. Or you can put the crib or toddler bed in your room, giving your child the comfort of knowing you’re close by without letting him stretch out across your bed. And for occasional room sharing with older children, there’s always the tried-and-true method of a sleeping bag on the floor.
Benefits of Room Sharing
For some families, room sharing is a dream come true. For young babies, the advantages of easy access to breastfeeding, improved sleep for parents and reduced likelihood of SIDS are so great that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you share a room (but not a bed) with your baby at least until he’s six months old. For older toddlers, the reassuring presence of a parent nearby can make bedtime easier and reduce night wakings.
Disadvantages of Room Sharing
But room sharing can also be a nightmare. If your child is a light sleeper, she might wake at every snore or rustle from your bed. And if you’re a light sleeper, then you might jerk awake every time your child rolls over. It can also affect your sex life — no matter how deeply your child sleeps, it’s hard to get in the mood when your kid is right next to you — although some parents find that making the master bed off-limits gives them an excuse to get it on in creative places.
The Best Sleep for Everyone
Ultimately, the decision about whether to let your kids sleep in your room is a personal one. It’s okay to experiment with different sleeping arrangements to find what works best for your family. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that everyone gets the best and safest sleep possible.