My Child
Sleeping with parents

Some people feel parents should share their bed with their babies and young children, and other people are against it. Even the experts can't agree. In some cultures, children sleep with their parents until they're old enough to take care of themselves, anywhere from age two to eight.

In Canada, many parents expect children to sleep in their own rooms, often starting a week or two after birth. Even so, a nursing mother can get some extra sleep in the early days by having her newborn beside her for those middle-of-the-night feedings.

As a general practice, it's a matter of choice for each family if you want to share your bed. However, babies should not sleep with parents who smoke or are severely obese, or who have taken alcohol or any drug that could prevent them from waking up if the baby had a problem. In addition, even when babies do not share their parents' bed, they are at danger if the parents have taken alcohol or other drugs that could prevent them from waking up if the baby had a problem.

If everyone is sleeping well and both parents are happy with the arrangement, then bed-sharing is probably fine, as long as the bed is firm and flat and there is nothing on it that could interfere with the child's breathing, such as a heavy comforter. Never sleep with your baby on a couch. On the positive side, your child may feel more secure being with you, or on the negative side, she could feel somewhat helpless and frustrated that she isn't more independent. It may also interfere with the sexual and marital relationship between you and your partner. You just need to make sure you're aware of how everyone involved is handling the arrangement.

Of course, occasional bed sharing, as a treat, is fine as long as you are not overtired or have other reasons to believe you might not wake up if your child had a problem. With toddlers and preschoolers, one alternative is to keep a sleeping bag on the floor by your bed that's ready for the child to use during stormy nights, or other scary times.

If you and your partner can't agree on whether or not to let your child sleep in your bed or if everyone is sleeping badly, or if your child is just being too demanding about sleeping with you, it's probably a good idea to discuss the situation with your doctor. You may also call the Parent Help Line to speak with a counselor (1-888-603-9100).