[QUOTE=OnTheFence]This is why I am on the fence. First, let me say I cosleep/coslept with my children, and I am not opposed to it. I also breastfeed and support breastfeeding. Just wanted to make this clear.
Going on kid number four, reading literally dozen of parenting books, thousands of web pages and talking to numerous mothers I have found that their seems to be a push for extremes, a lack of discipline among the AP crowd, and a sense of martyrdom for the right thing.
Cosleeping can be wonderful, but it can also become a pain in your side -- literally. I find it appalling when I find mothers say that it doesnt interfere with intimacy (that they can have sex elsewhere) and that the lack of sleep doesn't affect how they function during the day to other mothers. Frankly I don't believe them and think they are trying to blow smoke at the rest of us who are questioning if this is something we should continue, limit, or change. I've read enough about sleep deprivation, especially in women, to know that it can bring on depression, health problems, hormone problems, forgetfulness and problems with concentration. I've also read a great deal about children who can't sleep through the night -- the truth is, developmentally a 6-12m old child can sleep up to six hours without waking -- unless they have health problems. While yes, some nightwaking is expected in toddlers -- frequent night waking is not healthy. Toddlers need sleep for optimal neurological development and physical development, lack of sleep can cause behavioral problems (moms around the ap/nfl community jump to say its diet instead of looking at sleep), and frequent night waking can be a discipline problem. (I have BTDT have the t-shirt) Also, cosleeping can affect marriages and intimacy, not for everyone but it can and to discount this is misleading and just plain wrong.
If a mom is having trouble sleeping because of cosleeping, or the child, its time to do something different. "Sleep training" doesn't have to be abusive or bad, in fact it can incredibly help families and children. I am not suggesting letting a baby CIO, but a toddler, well, they can turn it on as fast as they can turn it off. This is when a parent needs to discern wants vs needs. Its not always the right thing to do to stick your boob in the kids mouth just because they want it to pacify themselves on it. And if you choose to stop night nursing, or quit cosleeping and do something different, don't feel mommy guilt over it -- I seriously doubt your children will be emotionally scarred from the event. As I have said before, our family psychiatrist has said in 20 years of working with families and children that he has never had a child, teen or young adult come in with behavioral or emotional problems because their mother sleep trained them -- however he said he couldn't count the number of times that families and children had come in and had problems with sleep or problems dating back to bad sleeping habits as toddler or young preschoolers.
I really hope that I am just reading your post the wrong way, but it comes off to be very condescending and well, "know-it-all"ish. Every mother is different and I find it completely "appalling" that you are judging EVERY mother who co-sleeps by saying that they are lieing, sleep-deprived, sex-less martyrs. That's a little ignorant, don't you think? I mean, how can you possible assume that NO co-sleeping, night-nursing mothers are functioning well during the day and how can you possibly know where and how often other couples are intimate?? Just because this is the way co-sleeping may effect you does not even indicate that it may be the way it effects everyone. That is such a broad assumption.
And as far as night-waking being "unhealthy" in toddlers, how exactly would you define this? All toddlers and babies awake 4-6 times per night, so go right back to sleep on their own while others *prefer* help. So how exactly is this unhealthy? If a toddler awakens 3 times and nurses for a few minutes while quickly returing to sleep, how is this any more unhealthy than the brief night-wakings that occur in crib sleeping, self-soothing toddlers? Again, I think it is very broad of you to just state that frequent nightwaking in toddlers is unhealthy. How many nightwakings are unhealthy? How long do the night wakings need to last in order for them to be unhealthy? And lastly, what does this have to do with co-sleeping? Most co-sleepign toddlers quickly return to sleep after briefly nursing. Do you consider this "unhealthy"?
Yes, co-sleeping can affect marriages if one partner is unhappy but I don't find anything "misleading" about this. Even Dr. SEar's writes that both parents need to be in agreement. If they are, then they will make time for intimacy, it's not that hard, at least in my situation.
"however he said he couldn't count the number of times that families and children had come in and had problems with sleep or problems dating back to bad sleeping habits as toddler or young preschoolers."
Do you consider co-sleeping to be a bad habit? I don't. Actually, my dd has a very consistant bedtime routine, consistant nap schedule, and goes down to bed without a fuss every night. Yes, we have our nights where she wakes a lot(usually due to an ear infection) but for the most part, she has great sleeping habits. I don't understand what you are trying to imply. That co-sleeping and night-nursing in general is a "bad habit"? That's really not fair.
One thing I do agree with is that if a situation is not working, fix it. I don't think there is anything wrong with setting limits on nursing as long as the child's feelings and emotions are also being taken into account. I tried to night-wean my dd and she was an emotional mess during the day. Her normal independent, curious personality turned whiny, clingy, and just plain unhappy. We then discovered that the reason why she has started waking so frequently (which is why I tried night weaning) was because she had a lingering ear infection. She has constant ear infections and I should have known something was up. Anyway, now she is down to waking 1-2 times briefly nurses, rolls over and goes back to sleep on her own. I know for some it is not that easy and they need to make a change. IMO, there is nothing wrong with that. I just don't think that it is fair to assume that everyone who is co-sleeping is creating some kind of "bad sleeper" and "bad habit". Everyone is different and what works for one family may not work for another.
Co-sleeping, night-nursing, cd-ing, momma to Paige 2-2-04