This section of the web site consist of features which are either regular article written by journalists or stories and experiences shared by us regular parents. If you want to share your story with us please feel free to do so. You can also comment on the article by using the comment boxes provided.
Vir 'n afrikaanse weergawe van die web werf gaan na - www.moederskip.co.za
Module: Sleep Environment
Facilitator: Erica Neser
The Family Bed
Independent sleeping is relatively new in human history and the family bed was the norm until about 100 years ago, and still is in most parts of the world. Certainly, no prehistoric cave-dwelling parents would have had separate caves for their babies!
It is quite natural for babies to want closeness, day and night. Most of us still prefer to share our bed with a loved one, and the need for physical closeness is never truly outgrown. Having said that, your children will not be in your bed forever. Most children want to have their own bed sooner or later! Studies have shown that bed sharing is not only safe when practiced sensibly, but also helps children grow into secure and well-adjusted adults.
You should not sleep with your baby on a couch, on a waterbed, if you and/or your partner smoke, if your toddler already shares your bed, if you have been using alcohol or medication that makes you very drowsy.
Baby in her own room
Many parents prefer to create a special little space for their children to sleep, and go to a lot of trouble to make the nursery cheerful and cosy for their baby. Most parents agree that it would be nice if their children could all sleep in their own rooms – preferably right through the night! Even through this is a relatively new ‘trend’ in human history, it is widely accepted in Western culture that each child has their own bed, if not their own room, and many parents see this as the ideal.
Many families do a combination of these options. You might decide to have baby in your bed until she reaches a certain age, or you might prefer to have baby sleep the first half of the night in her own bed, and the rest of the night in the family bed. If the family bed is not working, try putting baby in her own bed. If she is not sleeping at all in her own bed, try the family bed! Don’t worry what others will say or think. You are the one who has to get some sleep, not them.
Indicate which statement is true:
1. Deciding where your baby will sleep
a) is best left to the experts
b) should be done according to what your friends and relatives advise
c) should be should be done before your baby is born, preferably before you get pregnant
d) is a very personal matter
2. The following people must reach consensus on where baby will sleep
d) The neighbours
3. Your child will start sleeping through when
a) you let her sleep in your bed
b) you sleep in her bed
c) she is ready to sleep through
d) she leaves home
4. The best sleep environment for baby is
a) in your bed
b) in her own bed
c) in a cot next to your bed
d) where everyone in the family gets the most sleep
e) in the Bahamas
5. Babies should preferably be
a) ignored when they cry at night
b) sleep trained before they are born
c) seen and not heard
d) loved to bits, even though they don’t sleep through
6. Your baby may sleep in your bed
a) as long as she wants to
b) until she moves out of the house
c) until you have another baby
d) until she has her own baby
e) as long as you’re comfortable with it
7. If your relatives criticise your sleeping arrangements, you should
a) nod politely and do whatever works for you and your family
b) agree with everything they say, and do whatever works for you and your family
c) leave your children with them for a weekend
d) distract them and eat all their chocolate cake when they’re not looking
8. A co-sleeping mother
a) sleeps less than a non-co-sleeping mother
b) sleeps more than a non-co-sleeping mother
c) breastfeeds more often but gets the same amount of sleep as a non-co-sleeping mother
d) will have synchronised sleep cycles with her baby
e) don’t know and too tired to care
9. When in the family bed, babies sleep
a) parallel to their parents
b) across both their parents
c) at 90o with their parents
d) upside down
10. Memorise the following statements
a) My baby will turn out fine, not because of everything I do, but in spite of it.
b) No-one is a perfect parent.
c) There is no “right” or “wrong” place for my baby to sleep.
d) I am doing a good job, even if my baby wakes every hour.
11. Practical assignment
a) If your baby is asleep, go into her room very quietly and watch her angelic face
b) If your baby is awake, give her a long, sweet kiss and cuddle
c) If your partner is awake, give him/her a long, sweet kiss and cuddle
Congratulations! You are now ready to start the next module of Parenting 101!