The Family Bed: A Personal Story

The Family Bed: A Personal Story

I grew up in a one bed-room apartment in India, living with my father, mother, maternal grandparents and my younger brother. It was the life I grew up with as ‘normal’ and thought no more of sharing a bed with my parents or grandparents than I did of the fact that we were bathed and fed even once we started primary school. It was what was done in Eastern cultures and sometimes still is. Time moved slower then and it seems like a luxury now, having grandparents around to be my second parents - it really was a village that raised a child. 

Each day was a long extension of school, playing until it got dark, being bathed and read to for hours, hand-fed by my grandmother from the same plate as my brother - eating the same food that everyone ate for dinner and falling asleep when we were tired - after which we were carried to a bed and slept with a parent or grandparent. Concepts such as bedtime routines, regular dinner times, sleeping alone in a single bed or room, separate meals for children and parents were unheard of.

Like parents have for thousands of years, and like our primate ancestors, my parents shared their bed with me, providing me warmth and reassurance. Indeed, in many cultures that are centered around the family like India, China, South Amercian and African countries - it seems cruel to leave a baby alone in a different room to sleep on their own. Hearing such stories from researchers, these mothers express pity for children in more developed countries who are left alone at night. 

Which brings us to The Family Bed. Co-sleeping has long been a cause for contention between families, the healthcare industry, doulas, well-meaning family and friends, and babies themselves. We each have our views about the benefits and risks of co-sleeping and often the term itself is not very well understood. 

Through my next series of posts, I’d like to clearly define what Co-sleeping and bed-sharing is and the differences between them, what good co-sleeping practices look like, the risks and benefits of bed-sharing, and how to make an informed decision about what is right for you.

Cover Image by Simon Matzinger from Pixabay

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