October 25, 2007

Sleeping Like a Baby

At 2:32 on the morning of January 26, 1999 (three days after this picture was taken), I was awakened suddenly by the gentle touch of a solitary index finger. I looked up and saw 10-month-old Mary Margaret sitting up in my bed, looking at me. I pulled her close, and she nuzzled up with her head between my collarbone and my left jaw. For the next 30 minutes she lay still, gently rubbing my chest in a circular motion.

"In most of the world, sleeping next to your child is a necessity: families of limited means live in cramped quarters," Tara Parker-Pope reported Tuesday in The New York Times. "But in the affluent West, the practice is widely frowned on, not just by grandparents and friends, but by the medical community at large."
Still, it is far more common than many people think. Nearly 13 percent of parents in the United States slept with their infants in 2000, up from 5.5 percent in 1993, according to a report last month in the journal Infant and Child Development. ...

Ask parents if they sleep with their kids, and most will say no. But there is evidence that the prevalence of bed sharing is far greater than reported. Many parents are "closet co-sleepers," fearful of disapproval if anyone finds out ...
Consider me officially out of the closet. Every one of our children has slept with us. Susie and I are what the Times reporter calls "intentional co-sleepers -- those who sleep with their children because they want to breast-feed for a long stretch and believe bed sharing is good for a child's well-being and emotional development." Exactly.

The Times report says that oftentimes sleep-sharers "feel guilty because pediatricians frown on co-sleeping. The American Academy of Pediatrics has said babies should sleep close to their parents but not in the same bed." Of course, the AAP also wants to further socialize the healthcare system and wants me to get rid of the .357 Magnum revolver in my closet, so phooey on their recommendation. I'm not losing any sleep over it.