Dear Dr. Michelle:
I am getting ready to have my first child and I want the baby to sleep with us in our bed. My husband says he does not care either way, but other family members and friends tell me this is a bad idea because it will cause my child to have future adjustment problems. Is this true?
Congratulations on the soon to be arrival of your first baby! I am not surprised that you are getting a lot of feedback about this issue; it is a controversial subject that is filled with strong opinions on both sides. The important thing to remember is that they are just that – opinions. As you read the multitude of advice on this issue, you will find strong arguments that support each side and it can be difficult to know where to land.
In the end, this is a personal decision that only you and your husband can make together. I suggest you both remain open-minded and wait to finalize your decision until after the baby is born. There are a lot of factors that go into childhood sleeping arrangements that you won’t know until your beautiful baby is in your arms like your baby’s temperament, sleeping/eating patterns, and just as important, your own adjustment to meeting your baby’s unique needs. After your baby arrives, consider the following factors to make your final decision:
- Consult your and your baby's physician about any possible medical issues that need to be considered;
- Evaluate you and your husband’s size and determine how you will safety ensure adequate space to prevent anybody rolling onto the baby or the baby rolling off the bed;
- Assess your own sleeping habits. Are you a light sleeper/heavy sleeper? Will your baby’s presence or absence prevent you from getting adequate sleep?
- Factor in the ease of feeding. Will you bottle feed or breastfeed?
- Remain in agreement about the baby sleeping in the shared bed;
- Make sure you can live with the consequences related with either option:
- how will you allow time for adult intimacy with adequate boundaries?
- at what age do you expect your child to sleep in their own bed and how will you make that happen when the time comes?
- if you choose to have your child sleep separately, how will you teach your baby to sleep through the night?
As you consider your options, together, agree on a decision that best fits your situation and needs. If the decision you made is not working for your family, do not feel defeated or guilty about changing your mind. Sleeping arrangements can change through time as developmental needs change.
Dear Dr. Michelle blog posts are informational in nature. The posts are not meant to take the place of consulting your physician, mental health professional, or other qualified health providers regarding your well-being or the well-being of others. Submitting a question does not establish a client/therapist relationship.
Submit Your Question on mental health and/or family relations to Dr. Michelle K. Murray.