I don’t remember exactly when I first learned about a “new” trend in parenting called the “family bed” or co-sleeping with children, but I know it was before I became a mother. I was a writer for the local daily newspaper at the time, and in the list of subjects I covered were parenting and social services.
I remember interviewing parents and experts on both sides of what was then an issue. The focus of the story wasn’t a yea or nay on the concept of letting your children – specifically for that story, babies – sleep with you, but tips to do it safely if you did. At the time, the pediatricians said “No” while a lot of parents were saying “Yes.”
When Trey was born, we put him in a basinet next to our bed until we were ready for him to sleep in his crib across the hall. Trey was a good sleeper, and we were too exhausted from working and being new parents to even consider the pros and cons of having him sleep with us.
That turned out to be a good thing, too, because we soon discovered that although Trey slept well, he was a traveler. Once he began to roll over, scoot and flip, we never knew where in the crib or bed we would find him the next morning. On the rare occasions where he would sleep with us, someone – usually my husband – would have to eventually abandon the bed. We were amazed that someone so small could take up so much real estate.
After a terrific couple of days in Nashville last week to visit Trey, Kinsey and grandson King, I can attest that Trey’s son completely inherited the traveler gene. King and I slept together in a big, king-size bed. It was not, however a “King” sized bed. He roamed all over the bed – over covers, under covers, upside down, feet on pillows, pillows on floor, feet off the bed, head at the footboard and even diagonally when I got up to go to the bathroom.
He is only 5 years old, but moving inert weight to one side of a bed isn’t easy. Like his father before him, he slept well. No matter how I tugged and tried to roll him, his eyes stayed shut, and he never even flinched.
And as soon as I would get him to his side of the bed, he would stretch, kick and roll right back over.
Were the snuggling, talking, giggling and hugging before he went to sleep worth losing a couple of hours of rest during the night?
Of course. Like I said, he’s 5 years old. The time is coming quickly when the question, “Do you want to sleep in Gigi’s bed?” won’t even be asked.
Which is probably what the whole family bed discussion was about anyway.
Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons.