Let’s start by stating the obvious: Sharing a bed with your kids definitely sucks sometimes. No one wants to be kicked in the face or woken up by a baby sticking their finger in your eyeball. And as much as I’ve heard the theory that bed-sharing actually affords you more sleep because you don’t have to get up and walk across the house to feed your baby, I know that as babies get older, it can make for a less peaceful sleep at times.
And yet, many of us are hooked on sharing a bed with our kids. I, for one, have been doing it for 10 years and counting. And neither I nor my kids are worse off because of it. In fact, we all love it (most of the time!).
Obviously, bed-sharing is not for everyone, and we all need to make decisions about this kind of thing that work best for everyone involved. But those of us who do it will tell you that there are actually many things we absolutely love about it. And even though we might prefer a fuller night’s sleep at times, we would not trade these years of sharing sleep with our kids for anything.
Here are some of the things that draw us to it:
1. You don’t have to leave your bed to feed your baby.
Especially in the early months, this can make a profound difference in terms of your quality of sleep. It gets to a point where neither you nor your baby have to be fully awake to feed, and it’s awesome. (If you share a bed with an infant, you must practice safe bed-sharing. Click here for some safety rules.) I had some pretty wakeful toddlers too, and it was always a bonus not to have to get out of bed to soothe them. Lazy mamas unite!
2. It’s a great way to reconnect after a busy day.
Let’s face it: Life is ridiculously busy. Of course, most us can find time to get cozy and connected with our kids during the day. But for some of us, nighttime is one of the best times to let go and be fully present with our kids. Nights can be a really special time to bond and make up for lost time during the day.
3. Sweet sleep sounds, warm cheeks, and angelic sleeping faces.
There is nothing more beautiful than a sleeping child. Nothing. When they’re asleep, everything difficult about parenting melts away, and you remember why you had your little imps in the first place. At night, their skin is buttery soft, their hair is like silk, and there is just simply nothing sweeter than snuggling up to a sleeping child.
4. Getting your kids to sleep when you are away from home is easy.
Lots of people say that sleep routines fly out the window when they are on vacation. It makes sense, because your child has to adjust to a whole new sleeping space. But when you bed-share with your kids, it generally means that they feel pretty good about sleeping anywhere because cozying up to their parents feels like home, and that can be brought with you anywhere you go.
5. Waking up to your kids’ smiling faces is everything.
Sometimes it also involves a toe in your eyeball, but there is nothing more delicious than seeing your child’s sweet face upon waking. It sets a pretty good intention for the day, if you ask me, and even if you are completely exhausted, starting the day with a hefty dose of love can give you a pretty amazing energy boost.
6. Sometimes bed-sharing kids will sleep later in the morning because you are there to soothe them back to sleep.
Okay, I know this isn’t always the case. But I always noticed that my friends who bed-shared had kids who slept later than my friends who did not. My totally non-scientific theory is that when kids wake up alone, it’s harder to fall back asleep, especially when the sun is already out. But when they are with you, you can snuggle them close, and they are more likely to catch a few extra early morning zzz’s.
7. You know right away if your kid is sick.
Sharing a bed with your kids definitely means that you will be barfed on more frequently, but it also means that you will catch on if anything is off with your kids health-wise. I have felt my kids heat up with fevers the minute they started and been able to treat them on the spot. When my asthmatic kids have started to have middle-of-the-night attacks, sleeping beside them has meant that I can start their medication before they head into a full-blown asthma attack. I always feel more secure when they are close by during times like these.
8. It makes our kids happy.
There are some exceptions, of course, but most kids just really love sleeping near their parents. It makes them feel warm, happy, and safe. And let me assure you, it absolutely does not stop them from being independent. Almost all of the bed-sharing kids I know are confident kids who don’t have trouble separating from their parents during the day, and in most cases, don’t have trouble with the occasional separation from their parents at night either.
9. It makes for some awesome sibling bonding.
My kids have never slept directly next to each other because I’m pretty sure they’d keep each other up all night. But that doesn’t mean they don’t often end up tangled together at some point. Sometimes — if you’re lucky — you’ll find your kids cuddling or embracing at night. And that right there is basically the most beautiful thing you will ever lay eyes on.
10. It just feels right.
I know that the family bed is not for everyone. But for those of us who do it, it just feels like the right thing, on an instinctual level. We feel like being with our babies, toddlers, and maybe even older children at night is just what we are meant to do, and having them close by us is where they are meant to be at night.
If you’ve never shared a bed with your kids, or if you’ve had a bad experience with it, you might look at us bed-sharers like we have four heads. It just seems totally foreign to someone who has never done it, and the logistics of it just don’t even make sense. (For those of you asking: Yes, you can share a bed with our kid and still have an active sex life. As long as you have more than one room in your house, you are good.)
But for those of us who do it, our secret is simply that we really enjoy it. Even when we only have 3 inches of bed to ourselves — even when we spend our nights with a little body draped across ours — there is nowhere else we’d rather be. Most of the time.