Bed Sharing Mythbusting
I’m so passionate about bed sharing. I’m just going start it strong. It’s what we have known as a family for at least part of each night Henry’s been here, and we are exploring what it looks like now with Thea too. I think bed sharing gets a bad wrap. Mainly from people who don’t bed share, which is intriguing and actually a bit frustrating. I wanted to write a blog which busts some common myths surrounding bed sharing so if you’re a new parent you don’t have to fear all the bad press it cops.
#1 – Bed sharing is unsafe
Bed sharing when done carelessly can be unsafe and solitary sleeping in baby’s own room when done carelessly can also be unsafe. Bed sharing is safest when it follows The Safe Sleep 7 guide (this can be found in a quick google search or you can just follow this link https://www.llli.org/breastfeeding-info/sleep-bedshare/). We also need to remember that WHO recommends babies to be in their parent’s room co sleeping (also known as room sharing) for the first 12 months to help reduce the chances of SIDS. Putting a newborn or baby in their own room away from the parents carries a different set of risks that are merely different (and similar) from bed sharing. I’m not judging parents for putting their baby in their own room, as Henry and Thea were and are in their own room for part of the night, but we need to keep in mind both sleeping arrangements have risks. The ideal and safest way to sleep our babies is by room sharing according to WHO, but whatever we choose, we just need to make sure we are doing it properly and safely. Being informed is absolutely key and instead of scaring parents with this myth, we need to support parents on becoming educated to do it properly.
#2 – Bed sharing kills your sex life.
Okay, family or colleagues, feel free to skip this point as I’m about to hellishly over share! This myth is popular among those who don’t bedshare and is used as a strong reason against why a couple should not share their bed with their children. I understand the logic as to why people think this way, but for many bedsharing families this is only a myth.
Intimacy can take place anywhere and and at any time. It’s doesn’t have to take place in a bed, and it can take place at many different times in a 24hr period. Bedsharing absolutely doesn’t have to kill your sex life. We’ve conceived three babies since having a toddler in our bed for part of the night, so if you need proof, there it is!
For us, I can’t say we are a ‘whole night’ bed sharing family. Henry makes his own way to our room from his own bed (he always goes down for the night in his own room) anywhere from 11pm-onwards so we do have our space in our room to ourselves for a part of the night and always have. Us putting him down in his room is a boundary we have stuck to and this works for us. To be completely honest, I rarely wake up through the night in the mood these days, so it really doesn’t bother me or my husband to have Henry in there in the wee hours. We’re honestly only using our bed for sleeping past midnight. Hold my night cream and unsexy bed socks.
Secondly, many factors can influence libido, including over working, parenting in general, stress in general, communication breakdowns, general health and well-being – the list goes on. In the past when we have had slower intimacy seasons, upon reflection, it has had more to do with health factors or stress factors rather than bed sharing. I can’t speak for everyone as everyone’s situation is different, but the bed sharing factor has never hindered us intimacy-wise personally. On the contrary, bed sharing has improved our physical intimacy as we have energy, we are happy, and we are rested. Our sex life was hindered before we explored bed sharing due to the complete exhaustion of getting up a thousand times a night to settle Henry in his cot or early wakings. For us, that was more of a buzz kill.
#3 – Bed sharing creates bad habits
Bad habits aren’t bad habits if they work for you and your family. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big believer in healthy and consistent routines especially at bed time, and we are pretty firm with sticking to age appropriate awake times, but I don’t believe you can spoil/hold/love/attend to needs too much. This point I feel is very much a myth created by the western world. In many eastern countries, it is uncommon to not bed share. I feel we have glorified the ‘sleeping through in their own room’ milestones in babies and toddlers and even children in our culture.
This notion that a child sleeping 12 hours in their own room is a target to be hit and then what? Do we not allow them to sleep with us if they have a nightmare? Are unwell? Going through a leap? Gaining new teeth? Are excited about their gifts under the tree? Baby sleep is not linear or a ‘pass/fail’ idea – in fact there have been quite a few nights where Henry has done a whole night in his cot or bed. But our kids are not robots. What works one night won’t work the next and that’s okay. Babies and children will always need us, including the 12 hours where it’s dark outside. It’s our own expectation that disappoints us, not our kids.
#4 – Parents don’t get a settled nights sleep if children are in the bed.
10000000% I’m very much rested even though my kids sleep next to me. And I’m writing this while feeding my 7 week old newborn. I think I’m rested BECAUSE my kids sleep next to me. We all feel safe. We all feel calm. I know I’m not going to have to get up through the night (especially a comforting thought when pregnant and suffering HG). Josh’s snoring bothers me more than my kids. With that said, both our babes are/have proven to be terrific bedsharers (Henry definitely is, Thea has been fine so far) as they aren’t noisy (Thea was when she first came home from being born but is fine now), they don’t toss and turn, they don’t think it’s a party or a novelty. We also have a king sized bed which helps comfort levels. I empathize with parents who wish to bed share but can’t due to their kids being party people. You guys deserve medals. Like, lots. We are lucky that we can bed share and be better for it the next day. It’s works, so we don’t fix what’s not broken!
#5 – They will be in with us forever
I haven’t raised teenagers, but I’ve been one, and I know that sleeping in my parent’s bed as a pre teen and beyond would be the last place I’d want to sleep through the night. I think many of us (even those who arent into bedsharing, I’d hope) can confidently myth bust this one. There will come a time that both kids won’t spend every night next to us anymore. It may slowly wind back to only a few nights a week, a month – and then there will come a time they don’t come into our room at all. I hope that our bed can always be a safe place for them to land, but I highly doubt they will want to spend all night there. And to be honest, that truth is the hardest truth I have come to accept about raising my little ones.
Bed sharing has meant so much to us all as a family. It symbolizes for us closeness, gentleness, safety, calm, relaxation, joy, home, protection, and has saved us many sleepless nights. I feel closer to Josh each night that passes (so gushy, sorry!) and it has helped me bond with my two babies tenfold when I actually allowed myself to enjoy it and got out of that ‘bad habit’ mindset. If we wanted to encourage Henry to become more of an independent sleeper, we could today – there are a million and one gentle and respectful ways to encourage independent sleeping at our disposal when the time is right. But at the moment we are just going with the flow. We don’t do it because we have to, we do it because we enjoy it.
Bed sharing is not for everyone, and I can totally appreciate that. It’s something that the couple have to both be on board with, together, and I understand that this can be rare. Also, if our babies don’t benefit from it either, there isn’t much point. Many families function best sleeping in separate rooms and we should be supporting that too if it works. This isn’t so much of a blog to convince you to take part, but more a blog to shed some light on bedsharing realities and provide some insight if it’s something you are wanting to explore. This blog is also a not-so-subtle reminder to never think you know better than another couple’s choices in how they parent their children. If everyone did it the same, we would be producing very boring generations of people. We all do it differently and that is special and interesting! If you’re a new parent and bed sharing is the one thing keeping you sane and awake during the day, keep it up! You can always encourage independent sleeping when you and your family are ready and your child is a bit older. But let’s not rush new or seasoned parents to do this. It’s not bad. It’s not detrimental if it feels absolutely right. Support them for making a choice that helps their family function happily. If it works, it works.