Different Opinions on Co-Sleeping
I hope you can help. I’m a first-time mom and my baby is 5 months old. I breastfeed, support attachment parenting, and co-sleeping. My baby currently sleeps in bed with me and my husband, however, my husband has not ever supported the co-sleeping. He tells me it is because he is concerned about our baby’s safety. He read(s) articles that say babies who co-sleep suffocate. I want to continue to have my baby sleep with me, it feels right but I also must respect my husband’s concerns. And unfortunately, the medical field doesn’t support sleeping with your child. And my mother in law is pro bottle and pro crib. Is there a compromise? Any assistance to recommend?
Family Who Disagree With Co-Sleeping
Over the years I have consulted many mothers who faced the same dilemma you are now facing. In Dr. Bill’s medical practice when a mother reveals, “My mother-in-law advised me…” he encourages the baby’s mother to simply reply with: “I’m doing what my doctor advised me to do and what the science I’ve read most supports…” That should be enough.
When Your Significant Other Disagrees with Co-Sleeping
Your “hubby dilemma” is also very common. Here’s a step-by-step way to win your husband over:
1. Give him resources to read, such as the “father nursing” section in The Baby Book and our book, Becoming A Father. Concerning the articles he reads about co-sleeping not being safe, get him the most recent and scientifically-sound book on co-sleeping –Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Cosleeping by Dr. James McKenna. He is the professor of Anthropology and Director of the Mother/Baby Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. McKenna has been a long-time trusted friend and adviser to Dr. Bill, who also did the forward for Dr. McKenna’s new book. Dr. McKenna makes a very science-supported point that safe co-sleeping, as we list in The Baby Book, is the safest place for baby to sleep. It is so compelling that your husband is likely to say, “Wow, I didn’t know that. It makes sense!”
This was one of the reasons that we wrote so much about “father nursing” in nearly all our books, especially The Baby Book. We go through many ways that fathers can “nurse” (“nursing” means comforting). Many dads who have done this have become fans and supporters of attachment parenting.
2. Sometimes it’s necessary to sit down and kindly explain to your husband that your “mommy brain” is wired to know where your baby should sleep and what style of attachment parenting to practice. Ask him to please trust and support your mother’s instincts.
3. Regarding your question about compromise, the answer is yes. Over the years we have found that many mothers get so “attached” to their baby that they forget to take care of themselves and their marriage. Therefore years ago we added a seventh “Baby B” – balance. A baby needs a happy, rested mother and a happy marriage. Try to think of more ways you can spend quality time with your husband.
4. Also, when a man sees an anxious, troubled, and sleep-deprived mother, naturally he is going to question your style of parenting. Let him see the bright side of what you are doing, such as: “Honey, I know this style of parenting is taking a lot of my time, but my mother’s instinct and what I have researched tells me that it’s the best investment I can make into our baby’s emotional, physical, and intellectual health. The time at my breasts, in our arms, and in our bed is a short period in the total life of our precious child, but the memories and health effects will last a lifetime.”
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Written By: Martha Sears, R.N.
Martha is the mother of Dr. Bill’s eight children, a registered nurse, a former childbirth educator, a La Leche League leader, and a lactation consultant. Martha is the co-author of 25 parenting books and is a popular lecturer and media guest drawing on her 18 years of breastfeeding experience with her eight children (including Stephen with Down Syndrome and Lauren, her adopted daughter). Martha speaks frequently at national parenting conferences and is noted for her advice on how to handle the most common problems facing today’s mothers with their changing lifestyles. Martha is able to connect with both full-time, stay-at-home mothers and working mothers because she herself has experienced both styles of parenting. Martha takes great pride in referring to herself as a “professional mother” and one of her favorite quips when someone voices their concern about her having eight children in an already populated world is: “The world needs my children.”