This is the second in an occasional series on our experience of co-sleeping with our baby (and toddler, as he becomes later on!). You can see the series list here.
The most common question people have about co-sleeping may actually be about sex, but as I said in the comments to the first post in this series, the most common question people actually ask us is, ‘When will SBJ get his own bed?’
Most people are genuinely curious, and open-minded and kind about it. Thanks, guys! Underlying the question for some people, though, is the idea that we might be stunting his developing independence by co-sleeping. In modern Western culture, this is a fair concern, so I thought I’d respond to it today.
One of Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is ‘Begin with the End in Mind.’ A picture of what kind of 18-year-old son I hope to have in the house in coming years helps me figure out how to parent SBJ now.
But that’s not the same thing as treating him like an 18-year-old now. I want him to learn to drive but I’m not giving him his own set of keys just yet. I want him to be independent, but, as Pippa said on the first post, ‘before independence comes dependence.’
I want him to sleep in his own bed at some point. And, yes, well before 18! But just as allowing a child to crawl doesn’t get in the way of her learning to walk later on (and in fact, is all part of the developmental process towards good walking), allowing a child to sleep in his parents’ bed when a baby and toddler doesn’t mean he will never learn to sleep independently. I’ve not come across a skerrick of evidence that suggests co-sleeping is problematic for appropriate independence development.
At sixteen months old, SBJ isn’t independent in any way yet (though he might answer differently). He’s not continent, he can’t make his own toast and his idea of importantly drying his own self after a shower leaves him still pretty wet and slippery. He can’t reach the door handle to leave the apartment, let alone the pedals of the car (thank goodness). So why he should be expected to sleep independently if he doesn’t want to is a mystery to me.
In fact, letting him sleep with us, is, in our case, a sort of fostering of independence. As I described in the first post, we only co-sleep because SBJ wants to. He makes it very clear that his preferred way of sleeping is cuddled up to one of us. As soon as he wants to sleep elsewhere, that will be just fine with us.
Anyway, enough of the slightly defensive apologetics! The next post will be about the practicalities of co-sleeping with a toddler who is mobile.
I’ll round off with this story from the marvellous Lucy at Lulastic and the Hippy Shake (as well as a guru on attachment and gentle parenting, she does amazing thrify and crafty and activisty posts, so do have a wander around her beautiful site):
A few weeks ago Ramona woke up in the middle of the night, full of beans. She sleeps in the middle of the two of us, so if she wakes one of us can cuddle her back into dreamland. This time she woke up instantly, and gleefully, and she shouted “LEEEG! Where ARE YOUUUU? There you are! Other leg?! Where aaare youuuu?? FOUND you!”
Yes, YES, my friends. She was playing hide and seek with her limbs.
After stifling my giggles I stroked her head and she snuggled back down into a deep sleep.
People ask us a lot if Ramona, just over two, will ever have her own room. I suspect she will one day, but we are in no hurry at all to usher her out. It is too much of a crack up! Ha. But, really, I still just find it the most perfect way for us. I know that she sees it as her place too for now, and that that won’t last forever- it won’t be long before she will be hankering after her own space I am sure.
This is part of an occasional series on our adventures in co-sleeping. You can see the series list here and find out from the comments that heaps of people are doing this! Please feel free to leave a note with your own experiences or thoughts.
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