Why Aren't We Sleeping With Our Babies? (VIDEO)

07/28/2016 05:06 pm ET Updated Jul 30, 2017

Why Aren’t We Sleeping With Our Babies?

Since the dawn of time mothers have been sleeping next to their babies, without ever even thinking about it. In fact, they not only sleep with their babies, but remain in constant, close contact with them, especially during the first year. Separating baby and mom at night is a very new practice.

Disclaimer:

This article isn’t intended to be divisive. It was written for expectant parents, parents of newborns, infants and toddlers....you don’t need anyone’s permission to sleep with your babies. It’s not only “ok”, it can actually be safer.

Did you get the memo?

You’re not going to smother your baby, nor will you hurt your baby if you sleep side by side. In fact, the opposite might be true.

In Japan where co-sleeping and breastfeeding (in the absence of maternal smoking) is the cultural norm, rates of the sudden infant death syndrome are the lowest in the world. —Dr. James McKenna

Co-sleeping is a term that can range from sleeping in the same room as your baby to sharing a bed with your baby. It’s been very well-documented that sleeping beside your baby is biologically, anthropologically, physiologically and psychologically better for the mother and the baby.

Why?

Mothers have carried their babies for over nine months. She has a familiar smell, familiar movements and sounds for the baby. Being with the mother is the ultimate refuge and source of security.

By putting a baby in another room, or even in a separate crib, we won’t be able to sense the distress signals if/when they happen — we can’t sense when baby needs us. When we sleep side by side with him, we get more accustomed to feeling his emotions, desires and needs.

Because separating baby and mother breaks that precious cycle of bonding and hormones, we can even create a baby that needs us MORE not, less. This can be immediate or can create more needy children past infancy and even into adulthood.

It may sound counter intuitive, but the closer mother and baby stay together, the stronger the bond grows, and the less baby will need us as she grows.

Human infants are vulnerable, slow developing, and rely on their parents’ care for survival years. Humans are born with about 25 percent of their adult brain size (most mammals are born with much more than that).

Compared with other mammals, human infants take the longest time to grow up, and they remain in a biologically dependent state for the longest period of time. In this immature state, human babies are, for the first few months of life at least, unable to efficiently regulate their body temperature without mother being in proximity, and they are unable to make effective antibodies found in mothers’ milk to protect themselves from bacteria and viruses. —Dr. James McKenna

Anthropologist Ashley Montague has said that “human infants are ‘extero-gestators’” because they complete their gestation after birth. When we are born, we are meant to remain in close contact with our mother and father. Human babies are extremely dependent on their parents’ care. Without it, they won’t survive.

Fear for profit

So much misinformation has been circulating for several generations. And those affected most are western mothers and their babies. Simply put, the research that has been done is flawed. The comprehensive research as of late is based on our anthropological, biological backgrounds...the way we have been raising families since the beginning of human kind and even leading back to our primate ancestors. It would scare us to know how many marketing dollars have been spent trying to scare all of us parents, and to convince mothers that it’s unsafe to keep our babies close. The wide popularity of products like cribs, bassinets, even baby monitors are the result of this fear mongering. The way we sleep and how we’ve been placing our babies into cribs outside of our own rooms goes against our biology, our history as well as the research coming out today (which is evidence based and very comprehensive).

Baby doesn’t sleep well in your bed?

There are so many factors that come to mind when I hear this from parents. Believe it or not, even how we birth our children will affect how ‘cuddly’ they are. If baby sleeps better on another surface (not in your bed), that’s great to recognize. There are many options: a co-sleeper attached to the bed or even a separate cot/crib.

First time hearing this information?

If you didn’t know the benefits of co-sleeping, I hope this article is only the beginning for you. Keep researching. Instead of continuing to defend the choices we’ve made as parents, why don’t we try to understand new ideas we read about? According to the latest known scientific facts, it’s proven to be better for baby and the mother to sleep side by side. Parents: it’s high time we take matters into our own hands.

If you didn’t know the benefits of co-sleeping, I hope this article is only the beginning for you. Keep researching. Instead of continuing to defend the choices we’ve made as parents, why don’t we try to understand new ideas we read about? According to the latest known scientific facts, it’s proven to be better for baby and the mother to sleep side by side. Parents: it’s high time we take matters into our own hands. If anything else, I want this to give you some relief and allow you to experience a different way.

Varying Levels of Attachment

Of course abandoning a baby under a year old will lead to inevitable death — that’s an extreme. But what about babies who aren’t abandoned, but simply left to fend for themselves, especially at night?

The simple answer is that they don’t thrive and develop as well as they could sleeping in close proximity to their mother. Many experts still recommend that parents leave the baby to self-sooth during the night; letting the baby “cry it out.”

This technique of sleep training was popularized by Dr. Ferber, later dubbing it “the Ferber method” or “Ferberization.” It includes allowing the child to cry for a certain amount of time before receiving external comfort.

Even Dr. Ferber himself has now stated publicly that his original message was misunderstood. And that he is, in fact, not an advocate of allowing baby to cry for extended periods of time: “Ferber once said that parents who want to co-sleep should, quote, “examine their own motivations.” In his new book, he now says co-sleeping works just fine for many families.”

The concept that some people are implying that I have this approach that I use for children who are not sleeping well is a complete misunderstanding. ― Dr. Richard Ferber

Other experts, such as Dr. James McKenna also talk about the flawed beliefs created out of misunderstanding: “The scientifically inaccurate and misleading statement ‘never sleep with your baby’ needs to be rescinded, wherever and whenever it is published.”

To be completely transparent, we had our son in a crib the first two months of his life. He would fall asleep after nursing, I would put him down, and he would start to fuss not more than 20 minutes later. I was done. I needed help.

Maddox in his crib at one and a half months
Maddox in his crib at one and a half months

Thankfully, I came across information that liberated me. It gave me permission to bring my child into my bed, without feeling guilty. This brought us both much needed sleep and I didn’t even have to get out of bed to nurse him. And now, after two children and a third on the way, I’ve never looked back. I’m a huge advocate of staying close to baby and I share this information at every opportunity.

Me and my children ~ Costa Rica
Me and my children ~ Costa Rica
Olivia and Maddox
Olivia and Maddox
Our favourite place to be
Our favourite place to be

I am very aware of, and compassionate for mothers who have to work outside of the home. Sleeping in separate rooms may seem like the most convenient answer. But I know in my heart there is a better, easier way. In fact, I’ve consulted with many working mothers and their families to facilitate sleep for everyone. And yes, fathers have a major role to play in this.

While mothers are the first person the baby needs (not just wants, but really needs), other members of the family can be just as important and even life saving. The baby simply needs to feel protected, secure, and loved. And that can be accomplished by sleeping next to and being cared for by a loving family member.

Something important to note is that human babies are actually designed to wake frequently during their first two years — it’s part of their defense mechanism — and it’s all part of our natural design. Mothers who sleep with their babies are much more in tune and aware of their child’s needs. As their children grow, these mothers can sense if their babies are in distress, even when they’re not with their mothers! Furthermore, babies who sleep alone from birth can also have trouble sleeping as older children, teenagers, and even adults.

Sleeping with our babies has been proven to:

  • Decrease SIDS
  • Help regulate newborn’s breathing
  • Decrease or prevent Post-Partum Mood disorders.
  • Reduce anxiety and fear in the baby
  • Increase trust, bonding
  • Improve quality of sleeping into adulthood
  • Facilitate development of the child
  • Encourage better overall health of the child

When baby is first born, it’s often routine in hospitals to take her away for assessment. Then baby is often placed in a small bed beside mama. This isn’t optimal. Especially if/when the breathing becomes irregular, baby needs to stay with mama.

Newborns still see themselves as attached to their mothers. They aren’t aware that they are separate beings yet.

If/when separated, they experience a deep fear and feeling of anxiety and abandonment. Experiments have been done where children separated from their mothers too early believe the parent is never coming back.

Early separation can lead to severe abandonment issues. It sounds counter-intuitive, but strong attachment to one or more caregiver early on leads to greater independence as the child grows. Weak attachment or separation of mother and child can cause a child to feel insecure, needy or more dependent at an older age.

It’s pretty clear that when forced to self-sooth, babies will be given a clear message that their desperate cries for help will not be answered, and this can push them into a ‘fight or flight’ state. Feelings of abandonment, fear, distrust for everyone and the world around them abound.

Human mothers have been sleeping with their babies since the beginning. Why stop now?

Watch this trailer to learn why letting bedtime become cry-it-out time should stop being recommended to parents:

To all mothers /parents: I want to encourage you to stop resisting the natural flow of bonding. I know first hand how exhausting it can be. But follow your intuition and surrender to what is naturally known to us. If you’re a brand new parent or expecting a baby, please consider sharing your bed with them. At the very least, consider co-sleeping in the form of sharing a room with your baby.

This practice not only creates an everlasting bond and builds trust well into adulthood, but it’s also been proven to save lives.

~~~

Bio:

Margaux is the CEO of one of the most popular organic, natural, cruelty-free deodorants, “The Best Deodorant In The World”, a company she started out of her kitchen. It can now be found in stores and online world-wide. Her passion is helping families understand the importance of eliminating toxins, living sustainably and using amazing, natural products that don’t harm our bodies, animals or planet.

Margaux consults with parents on how to start a company like hers from scratch, and how to create an income while staying home with their children. She is a compassionate, heart-centred entrepreneur who works with parents and company owners, both new and already established. Operating by two very simple philosophies: “People over profit” and “Profit With a Purpose”, she has been able to follow her heart and make an impact in her client’s lives. When she is not with her husband and 3 children, much of her time is spent with parenting experts, birth practitioners, medical professionals and natural living celebrities.

She has built close friendships with many of the world’s most accomplished and respected practitioners, authors, speakers, doctors, midwives, doulas, parenting experts and celebrities in the birth, parenting and entrepreneurial spaces.

Margaux just completed a book Ultimate Guide To Organic Grocerieswith Joanne Young, who is personal chef to Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady.

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