What happens when parents and children share a family bed? Love and family

Parents of young children dream of quiet nights. Does a large family bed help everyone sleep better? Pediatricians and sleep doctors have different opinions.

“At least once a week.” “Every night.” “regularly until they are ten years old.” When asked if their children visit them at night, parents in their circle of friends are more unanimous than almost any other family topic. In some families, the game of “change your bed” is played in reverse and parents move in to live with their children. Or the children come to the parents, after which one of the parents moves to the crib. Because sharing a bed that was originally intended for two adults with children seems more comfortable than it really is. There’s rolling, kicking, and pulling on the covers until parents bend at their feet, or flee on the sofa – or buy a family bed.

The space is so big that it doesn’t matter how many people are in it

Anyone looking for examples on the Internet will be jealous: beds 2.30, 3.20, even 4 meters wide look like comfortable mattress dormitories in mountain huts. The beds of the family are assembled by the parents themselves or they are commissioned by a carpenter and they all have one goal: to provide enough space for the family at night so that it does not matter how many people turn to them.

“Only those who feel safe and relaxed can sleep.” Herbert Raines upholstery

But why do many children prefer to sleep with their parents – when they have such cozy children’s rooms with sleeping caves, bunk beds or a starry sky? “Only those who feel safe and relaxed can sleep,” says Herbert Raines Poulster, a pediatrician, scientist, and author of numerous educational guides. Therefore, tired children usually become very clingy, climb into their arms, allow themselves to be carried to bed and enjoy sleep with the company.

If they then wake up alone in their room at night—either because they have to go to the toilet, or have a bad dream or are thirsty—and no one is there,” then their high security program activates and makes a sound, says Herbert Raines Poulster. This means nothing but That the child – depending on his age – begins to cry, calls the parents or groping in their bedroom.

“A child cannot lift a fly off his face at night,” says the pediatrician. During the day, parents would never think to leave such a defenseless creature alone for hours. On the other hand, at night, they don’t mind not seeing offspring for eight hours—especially when kids reach kindergarten or elementary school age. But even children aged three to ten years spend a lot of time near someone they trust during the day. “Why should it be different at night?”

In 70 percent of cultures around the world, bedrooms are shared

Sleep as a private matter is a very German phenomenon anyway. In nearly 70 percent of cultures around the world, family members have always shared a bedroom, American anthropologist John Whiting conducted research in the 1960s. There is certainly often a need for space. But even if there is room for their children’s room, as is the case with many German families, sons often decide to stay near their parents’ bed.

So there are good arguments in favor of sleeping in the family bed, for “co-sleeping” (here you sleep in the same room), “common bedding” or “bed-sharing” (here the bed is also shared). However, very few parents plan an XXL sleeping area for everyone. Reservations in the circle of friends as well as in online forums can be summed up in three points: 1. At least as long as the children are young, sleeping together is dangerous due to sudden infant death. 2. Once the kids move into the master bedroom, you’ll never get rid of them. 3. Parents have a right to privacy – and a love life.

In fact, doctors and scientists have advised against it for a long time – precisely because it increases the risk of sudden infant death, according to the results of several studies. Researchers have now discovered that a wide range of factors cause babies to die suddenly at night in their first year of life. Bottle-fed babies are at much greater risk than fully breastfed babies because babies wake up more frequently at night and have lower deep sleep stages: “In most cases, alcohol, drugs, cigarette smoking, or sleeping pills play a role for parents,” Rains says. polyester.

If these risk factors do not apply, in his opinion there is nothing wrong with letting the child sleep in his parents’ bed – if he is in his own sleeping bag, the parents do without pillows, thick duvets and there is fall protection. Outside. “Children should definitely sleep in the same room during their first year.”

Sleep medicine does not believe in sleeping in the same bed

Alfred Watter, a pediatrician and sleep physician from the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine, also advocates co-sleeping in the first year of life. On the other hand, he doesn’t think much about sleeping in the same bed as an infant. “If first-year-olds sleep in their own bed in the parents’ room, preferably in the parents’ bed, then they can be breastfed at night without any problems,” says Watter. The recommendation of the Working Group of the Medical Scientific Societies is that “babies should sleep in their cot, especially in the first three months of life, and if the parents are smokers, after that as well.”

“The more the children’s need for closeness is satisfied, the more secure their bond becomes and the easier the separation process becomes later.” jota eichenauer

The experts also give all clarity when objecting to corruption. “The more children’s need for closeness is satisfied, the safer the bonding becomes and the easier the separation process later on,” says Juta Eschnauer, president of the Association of Midwives in Baden-Württemberg. A family bed can help a child sleep well and relax early in his or her own room. “At some point, this is also part of the process of developing independence and further socialization,” Watter says.

This leaves the question of sex, which inevitably has to be neglected in the family bed – at least that’s the fear many in parent forums feel. Practice family sleepers respond bluntly, “I definitely don’t need your bedroom to have sex!”

Of course, not every family needs an XXL bed. There are also kids who like to sleep well in their own rooms. And with siblings, it is often enough for children to sleep together in one bed or one room. Then the parents take their bed to themselves again.

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