Pros and Cons of the Family Bed

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Letting your kids sleep in your bed - aka co-sleeping - is a hot-button topic, regardless of the child's age. Nursing moms might find that sleeping with the baby makes nighttime feedings easier, allows more bonding time and promotes sounder sleep. Those who do not co-sleep with their newborns may not do so for fear of hurting the child, hurting the relationship with their partners, or they may feel it "spoils" the child. Either way, there are valid arguments for both sides. Many pediatricians - including Dr. Richard Ferber, the doctor who invented "ferberizing" - agree that the best sleeping arrangement is the one that works for your family. Of utmost consideration, however, is the child's safety. The risk of sudden infant death syndrome is slightly higher in the family bed. There are several factors that increase the risk: parents under the influence of drugs or alcohol, whose awareness of a baby in the bed may be reduced; pets or other children in the bed; an overly soft mattress, such as egg crates or a waterbed; and large spaces between mattresses and head and footboards into which babies can slip.