The Family Bed
Linda Wechter-Ashkin PhD NCSP BC-TMHC ADHD-CCSP
Many parents ask me what I think about the family bed. Will they scar their children for life if they allow them to snuggle with them at night instead of putting them in their cribs. Well, I don’t have absolute answers, but I can tell them what I think. When Rikki was a baby, we lived in a studio apartment so I would put her in her crib at night a foot away from me and all was well. But when she was 4 months old, we moved to Florida and her bedroom was down the hall. We painted it pink and had cut outs of Minnie Mouse all over the walls. When she saw it for the first time, she had a big smile on her face. And then we tried to put her to sleep in her room and she had a quite different look on her face. Night after night we tried until one night, I was just too tired, and I brought her into my bed to snuggle and for the most part that was the end of that. She slept in our bed in Sunrise and Alex joined us shortly after. We moved to Boynton Beach and moved from a Queen-sized bed to a King just to accommodate us all plus dogs and cats. When they got a little bigger and it was hard to fit us all in the bed, they slept on cots next to our bed and transferred there after cuddling for a while. Neither child still sleeps in my bed, both live in their own homes, have their own partners, and seem pretty well adapted despite nightly snuggling. I’m not sure if it was the right thing but I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world.
I do sadly know of a family where the mom rolled over on her baby during the night and the baby smothered. I also know stories of babies that have fallen off the bed and damaged their skulls. I know the safety concerns that I may have ignored at the time. And I am so grateful that I never paid the price for my decision. As a parent you will make so many decisions with either very little information or such a wealth of information that clarity is difficult. Some of the decisions you make will end in beautiful memories and some will end in regrets. Just do your best. You won’t do it all right. But you won’t do it all wrong either if you are making decisions with a lot of love and a little knowledge. Don’t listen to judgment. Listen for God’s whisper. So, my answer to what I think about the family bed is what do you think about the family bed and what did God whisper to you personally about it?