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The family that sleeps together
March 8, 2011 7:21 AM   Subscribe

TODAYMoms contributor Mayim Bialik, PhD (yes, Blossom Russo) writes about sharing a bed with her two children, ages 5 and 2. "Do I sleep as well with my kids in our bed as I would without? No. But it will be over soon, and it’s not weird to want to be close to your children when their physiological and psychological development dictates that they need to be held close."
posted by roomthreeseventeen (101 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah, basically. All of our kids have their own beds but two (a 3 and a 5) consistently end up in ours at some point in the night.

With your first kid you are scared to death that anything that happens twice in a row is a setup for a lifetime of trouble. After you see a kid grow out of every. single. one. of these behaviors, you get a little more relaxed. You find ways to nudge them along out of it without freaking out.
posted by DU at 7:27 AM on March 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Plenty of people sleep in close quarters with their young kids all across the planet. Like she says it's not 'weird' and I think it's important that theoretical frameworks in mainstream understandings of these things don't become a self fulfilling sort of phenomenon in which the circumstances of the society its being developed within (wealthy enough to have rooms for each kid, etc.) seem the only rightful way to go about things.
posted by the mad poster! at 7:28 AM on March 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


Your favorite child rearing practice sucks.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:29 AM on March 8, 2011 [23 favorites]


A mother’s body is designed to adjust to help her newborn achieve optimal body temperature; talk about smart!

Possibly true, but this Father's body is designed to fall heavily asleep, heat itself up to 95 degrees celcius and flail its limbs around all night in what might otherwise be conceived as perfect machine for baby squishing. That's why this Father puts his son to sleep in the room across the hall.
posted by Jofus at 7:29 AM on March 8, 2011 [41 favorites]


This seems pretty unremarkable aside from the fact that it's written by a TV actor. Some parents sleep with their children; others don't. They all turn out fine. I know that as an older kid (4-11ish), whenever I was sick, hurt, or frightened, I made a beeline to my mother's bed, the safest, most comforting place in the world.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:29 AM on March 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


OMG NOOOOOO! You are going to warp your children!!!!1!

Seriously, my dad told me the most comforting advice when my first child was born. He told me that my children are going to grow up to be who they become despite my best efforts not because of them. Sleep with your kids, don't sleep with your kids, whatever, as long as you aren't some abusive or neglectful asshole, your kids are probably going to grow up to be pretty normal.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:30 AM on March 8, 2011 [35 favorites]


Also, I sleep with a pack of dogs, so I'm really the last person to call Mayim Bialik weird.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:30 AM on March 8, 2011 [19 favorites]


we slept with our babies from the day they were born. i mean, i carried them in my womb for 9 months, why separate them from me after coming out. and for kids who nursed at all times of day, co-sleeping was just convenient.

THING1 was moved to his bed by the time i became pregnant with THING2, so that's at 2+ but he'd sneak into ours anyway. after THING2 was born, there was a time when the four of us were in bed, you know, due to natural neediness from THING1. but we put THING1 in his bed and i kicked out THING2 by 15 months (maybe earlier, cant remember). THING2 is a beast of a sleeper and once I stopped nursing him at random times in the night, i was ready to reclaim my bed. and yet the kids both slept in the same bed in their room until THING2 was maybe closer to 4.

i guess it's because in NYC space is at such a prime that families and/or siblings sharing a bed isnt uncommon when they're little. i dont see why people need to freak out about kids wanting what is just normal behaviour --the safety of sleeping with the people who are supposed to protect them at all times.

my kids now have their own bunk and love sleeping in their own bed. it's me who misses those messy family bed nights :)
posted by liza at 7:33 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Our child shared our bed with us for a long time before I heard the term "cosleeping" or "family bed," and it went on for years. It was felt like the most natural thing to do. (We are programmed to keep a defenseless child close, aren't we?) I wonder if those years of security helped in her eventual development as an extremely independent and social young woman? Who knows. Sure, it may not be perfect for the grownups, but it's pretty much part of parenting to sacrifice certain things for the wellbeing of the child.

The above comments pretty much summarize my thoughts on parenting: whatever. (Well, that and be kind!)
posted by kozad at 7:33 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't encourage my son to crawl in bed with his mother and I. But he does it anyway, knowing full well that any time he feels alone, scared, etc. we are right there and will happily make room for him. But he has his own bed. He has been in a "big boy bed" with no guard rail since he was about 14 months old. He does very well with it.

It is nice to wake up and realize he is snuggled up against us though, but it isn't so nice when he squirms and digs his heels into my kidneys while trying to make me into a more comfortable bed pillow.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:33 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I wish the co-sleeping stigma would go away. There's the premeditated, theory-based co-sleeping, and then there's the "Holy shit I need to sleep tonight or else I'm going to put a 'Kids, Free to Good Home' sign on our front lawn and take up recreational daytime drinking" practicality. We tried every method to get our first child to sleep in his crib. After three years, he slept in a twin bed. After 4, he slept there by himself. And now, it's such a small part of my parenting experience that I'm annoyed about how much guilt I felt at the time.
posted by bibliowench at 7:36 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think Mayim Bialik is wrong. There again, that's just in my opinionation.
posted by Jofus at 7:36 AM on March 8, 2011 [15 favorites]


Sleeping in the same bed as your kids is not weird. Sleeping in the same bed as Blossom might be a little weird.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:40 AM on March 8, 2011 [15 favorites]


Whoah.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:41 AM on March 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


Sleeping in the same bed as Blossom might be a little weird.

1980s TV harkens back to a more innocent time, to Reagan's America. Small Wonder. A-Team. Magnum P.I. Sharing a bed with Blossom is just another very special episode of Metafilter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:42 AM on March 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


I think it is kind of crazy that everything gets so covered with a stink of the sexual these days. I slept with my family when I was young. It eventually had to stop because I casually mentioned to some adult that "I sleep with my sister sometimes" and somehow they thought that a 6 year old sleeping with a 4 year old was some kind of abusive or incestuous or inappropriate thing? Having to abruptly stop because of the disapproval of some random unrelated adult was a very unpleasant experience, and then my younger sister of course did not understand and would sneak into my room anyway and I would be punished... All because we were kids and like many kids we just naturally wanted to sleep in groups.
posted by idiopath at 7:43 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


When your article has to include "it's not weird", it's probably weird.
posted by danwalker at 7:43 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, duh, TODAYMoms is part of the TODAY show site, so that explains why Bialik takes the "yes, I know I appear to be a radical dirty hippie pinko, but" stance. MeFi is the choir, but she ain't preaching to us.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:45 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


(That "well, duh" is directed at myself for overlooking the obvious, as is my wont.)
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:46 AM on March 8, 2011


I am so FPposting that essay about teaching goats to swim, written by Paul Reiser.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:46 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


A mother’s body is designed to adjust to help her newborn achieve optimal body temperature; talk about smart!

My son's body was designed to claw, scratch, pummel and bruise anything in close proximity to him while he slept. He could cuddle for about 30 minutes, after that it was like sleeping next to a cat in a bath. He slept in his own bed.

He'll be 16 in a couple weeks. He seems to have turned out OK.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:47 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Personally, I am just glad to learn that at least one child TV actor turned out okay, never mind about her kids.
posted by briank at 7:49 AM on March 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon:1980s TV harkens back to a more innocent time, to Reagan's America. Small Wonder

Coincidentally, Tiffany Bissette just wrote a piece explaining why it's not weird to share a cabinet with your kids.
posted by dr_dank at 7:49 AM on March 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


caution live frogs: " It is nice to wake up and realize he is snuggled up against us though, but it isn't so nice when he squirms and digs his heels into my kidneys while trying to make me into a more comfortable bed pillow."

That's been my experience. :)

When they're asleep, they're snuggly little angels. Getting to sleep: my daughter kicks. And squirms. And flails about. My son once swung his arm so hard he gave me a nosebleed. They're three now. We make them sleep in their own beds as much as possible, so Mommy and Daddy don't lose their minds.

But there's nothing sweeter than waking up, groggily cracking open one eye and seeing a smiling face just inches from your own: "Daddy Daddy! Good morning! I want breakfast!"

Hopefully it isn't 2:30am when that happens.
posted by zarq at 7:49 AM on March 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


Coincidentally, Tiffany Bissette just wrote a piece explaining why it's not weird to share a cabinet with your kids.

When your article has to include "it's not weird", it's probably weird.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:50 AM on March 8, 2011


Hopefully it isn't 2:30am when that happens.

Yeah, they're on their own internal clocks, and when they're up, they're UP.
posted by mikelieman at 7:52 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, as another dog sleeper, I can't consider myself holier than Blossom.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:52 AM on March 8, 2011


For the record, my husband and I sleep with our cat, until about 5am when she gets really annoying and has to be evicted.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:53 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


My wife and I sleep with both a dog and a cat. Throw in the dust mites and we've got at least 4 species in there.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:55 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I went looking to see if she has a blog and found out Ms. Bialik's been posting over at "kveller"
posted by zarq at 7:56 AM on March 8, 2011


I'm going to blame my Rhode Islander wife for the fact that I thought Dr dank was talking about sharing a milk shake.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:59 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


The dogs sleep on the floor of our room.

Mini-me sleeps in his own room - and has since 2 months old. (Prior to that he was in a porta crib at the foot of the bed and the dogs slept in the living room).

At 10 months old, he was having a hard time putting himself to sleep, and in the span of one evening he learned how to pull himself out of his crib and he learned that it wasn't such a good idea.

I think we went through a week of rough sleep when we moved him to his own room, and then a rough week when his teeth came through at 6 months, and then another rough week at that 10 month mark, but beyond that he's happy going to sleep and goes out like a lightswitch.

On the occasion when he has been brought to bed with us (generally a 4:00 pickup and cary in) I spend the evening being boxed out (kept away from mommy) by him and kicked in the throat while he taps on mommy's face to see if she's awake.

In November, he outgrew the portacrib which we used to use at his grandparent's and they got him a big boy toddler bed, which he stayed in and asleep - until the last visit a few weeks ago. We found him up and wandering around his room playing with toys during nap time. Night time was similarly slightly more active, but yeah he now is a moblie master of his own destiny - only held back by the baby gate to his room there.

Now, as for the baby gate, the gates at home, and his crib? Well... I saw him half climbing up his crib the other morning (and I've caught him with one leg over the gates in the rest of the house - begging the question of: how did you get there?!?!?) so I know we're at a crossroads where he is about to fundamentally shift both his sleep habits and the usage of gates to contain him permanently.

At least he can't operate the child lock on the toilet... yet.

As a benefit to him sleeping in his own room for that long, Mini-her is expected mid-July.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:59 AM on March 8, 2011


Funny that so many people here have slept with their kids. Goes along with the paradigm
of nurturing liberals and strong Daddy conservatives, I guess. Although my politically liberal
sister went along with what is probably the majority opinion in this country: put 'em in a
crib and let 'em cry 'till they get used to it. (Picking them up for 2 minutes every twenty minutes or whatever the latest "wean them from the bed" instruction manuals say...)
posted by kozad at 8:00 AM on March 8, 2011


I have no problem with kid(s) sleeping with parents. Our kid did until she didn't want to anymore.

Wait. I have another opinion to share. It would be a total drag being married to this woman.
posted by Danf at 8:01 AM on March 8, 2011


Funny that so many people here have slept with their kids. Goes along with the paradigm
of nurturing liberals and strong Daddy conservatives, I guess.


Please don't do this.
posted by odinsdream at 8:02 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


mikelieman: " Yeah, they're on their own internal clocks, and when they're up, they're UP."

Ain't that the truth.
posted by zarq at 8:02 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Serious question: Where do you have sex when you do this? I understand that the sex lives of many parents take a hit after the kids are born, but just how much of a hit? A two year old and five year old are old enough to follow Mayim and her husband wherever they go - do you think they just wait until they're sound asleep then go do it in one of the kids' rooms or what? Or maybe they only have sex when the kids are at Grandma's?
posted by amro at 8:08 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think it is kind of crazy that everything gets so covered with a stink of the sexual these days.

yes, that's the exact problem. I mean, part of the problem is that the sexual intrudes where it shouldn't and people get extra careful but there's hopefully a happy medium in between where everything doesn't get layered with "the creepy"
posted by the mad poster! at 8:09 AM on March 8, 2011


kozad: " (Picking them up for 2 minutes every twenty minutes or whatever the latest "wean them from the bed" instruction manuals say...)"

Mad About You: "The Conversation" / End Credits.
posted by zarq at 8:11 AM on March 8, 2011


Blossom is writing about parenting for a network sponsored mommy blog. Darlene Connor is hosting and producing a rip-off of The View a program that discusses "the days headlines with opinions told through 'the eyes of mothers.'"

This makes me feel totally like I should be more of a grown up, even though when my actual friends from my childhood had kids, it didn't make me feel that way at all.

Also, on the "what about the sex?" issue of bed-sharing, I think the "just do it somewhere else" solution seems like it could mean that, weirdly, sharing a bed with your kids might actually improve your sex life -- or at least shake it up a bit. Win/win.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:11 AM on March 8, 2011


I shared a bed with my mother until I was six, not because it was a parenting choice for her, but rather because we lived in a two bedroom house, and my Grandparents had the other bedroom.

My son is 4 1/2 and I still cosleep with him. Bedtime - stories, singing, snuggling until we both fall asleep - is the best part of my day, and I sleep so much better with him next to me (or, as last night, him at a 90 degree angle to me with his legs draped over my back). He sleeps better too.

The one fly in the ointment is that there is no longer a bed in the house large enough for us all to sleep in the same bed (we don't own a queen or a king bed, just a standard double), so my son and I sleep in his room and my husband sleeps alone with his CPAP in "our" bedroom. I'm hoping soon we can make the investment in a King bed so we can all sleep in together, but this works well enough, for now.

The day that my son asks me to stop cosleeping with him, I'll stop. But right now, every night, I ask him if he wants me to stay after he falls asleep and he always says yes. This morning when we woke up he hugged and hugged me and said we should never get up because we were "warm and snug all together".

I firmly believe that parents who don't cosleep with their kids are missing an amazing bonding experience.

(And no, it hasn't become an issue with our sex life. That may be because, for us as a couple, sleeping and sex have always been separate issues.)
posted by anastasiav at 8:12 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where do you have sex when you do this?

You work it in. Once a kid arrives, sex does slow down, plus even if the kid is not in the bed, you need to plan it. My pediatrician (4 kids) was a big family bed advocate, and he used to say the same thing. . .you fit it in.
posted by Danf at 8:12 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is it bad that I'm laughing about armo asking about when folks have sex, and then the mad poster quotes "it's so bad everything is about sex" ...
posted by k5.user at 8:13 AM on March 8, 2011


For the record, my husband and I sleep with our cat, until about 5am when she gets really annoying and has to be evicted.

My cat sleeps on my bed most nights, and there are a number of nights when he decides it's our bedtime at an earlier hour than I do, and he fusses at me until I turn in. It gets annoying when I'm trying to watch a movie and I have to listen to Trilby squawking or deal with him being bad by climbing up on things in an effort to get me away from the computer. I don't see why he can't either go to bed by himself knowing I'll be along in awhile or sleep in my lap, as he's happy to do either on other nights. No, some nights he wants to settle in for the night and he wants me beside him when he does.

His attitude does seem more "natural" to me than mine in a lot of ways, though. Sleeping with another living creature, one you're bonded to and trust, is way more emotionally satisfying than sleeping alone.

I don't think there's anything wrong with co-sleeping. Though if you do it I don't see how you'd have any more children after the first.;-)
posted by orange swan at 8:13 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


@amro: Not to get too specific, but there are some large changes in habits.
First, there is sleep deprevation post baby - so nobody thinks about sex.
Second, women's bodies have some major changes which take at least 3 months to rectify - so nobody thinks about sex.
Third, once your past that, there's a littany of additional tasks that have to be completed, which means your actual time for sex is less.
Fourth, early morning sunday sex is replaced by Bob the Builder and Handy Manny. I have a real thing against construction workers now.
Fifth, its pretty awesome when it does happen - because it winds up being a cheer for not only finding the energy, but for scheduling it in.
Sixth, no more alternate room sex, and shower sex is a bad idea as your kid is dismantling the house while you aren't watching him.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:16 AM on March 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


The day that my son asks me to stop cosleeping with him, I'll stop.

I've read that virtuoso pianist Glenn Gould and his father used to take turns sleeping with his mother at late as his teens — I don't know when it stopped. You may want to draw the line yourself at some point.
posted by orange swan at 8:18 AM on March 8, 2011


Anecdata.

I held a different opinion on this than my wife. Our daughter slept with us constantly from age 7 or so. One night I did a google search and with .234535 seconds found 20000000 references on this.. Randomly checking the top 15 or so that looked like they were from academic or reputable sources, the score was 14 against, 1 neutral.

I don't think the issue is its going to kill your kids. Its going to kill your marital intimacy.
posted by sfts2 at 8:20 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


First, there is sleep deprevation post baby - so nobody thinks about sex.
Second, women's bodies have some major changes which take at least 3 months to rectify - so nobody thinks about sex.
Third, once your past that, there's a littany of additional tasks that have to be completed, which means your actual time for sex is less.
Fourth, early morning sunday sex is replaced by Bob the Builder and Handy Manny. I have a real thing against construction workers now.
Fifth, its pretty awesome when it does happen - because it winds up being a cheer for not only finding the energy, but for scheduling it in.
Sixth, no more alternate room sex, and shower sex is a bad idea as your kid is dismantling the house while you aren't watching him.


To me, all of these other limitations are reasons to keep the marital (or whatever) bed just for your and your significant other. And yeah, I get that maybe this is one of those things that I'll feel different about if when I have a kid.
posted by amro at 8:23 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


if/when
posted by amro at 8:24 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Neither of my two kids (currently 4.5 and 1.5) has ever spent more than an hour in our bed. Any attempt to bring them in, even if they're sick with a fever, results in endless fidgeting and very little sleep. It just doesn't work. In their own beds they'll both sleep 12 hours straight and rarely wake.

So each to their own. I think it's one of these things where you have to let human nature dictate the arrangements. Ideology doesn't come into it.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:27 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bialik's Erdős–Bacon number is 7. Under international law, that entitles her to raise her kids pretty much any way she likes.
posted by steambadger at 8:28 AM on March 8, 2011 [16 favorites]


I and my husband sleep with two dogs (the third is a loner and sleeps on his own). I don't have any opinion about kids sharing the bed, but I do know that Rick Santorum would consider our sleeping with the dogs just more proof of our gay abnormal "man on dog society down the toilet" degeneracy.
posted by blucevalo at 8:38 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why should my newborn have to sleep alone when I didn't have to?
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:45 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Serious question: Where do you have sex when you do this?
HA! In your dreams.
posted by bibliowench at 8:50 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Our son comes into our bed sometimes in the middle of the night, which is okay (but crowded) until he starts with teeth-grinding. On those nights, I often end up in HIS bed.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:50 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I sleep with the fishes.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:51 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


My siberian husky doesn't like to get up on the bed to sleep anymore, but when she did, she always curled up in a neat little ball at the bottom of the bed, taking hardly any space, and (as a natural miracle of insulation) hardly even warming the covers.

Now I have young belgian sheepdog as well, who doesn't like to sleep on the bed unless he gets a pang of angst at some wee hour of the morning at which point he resolves it by launching himself at the bed and arranging every part of his body into the closest possible contact with me. And that's fine; I welcome the company. But I have noticed an interesting anatomical anomaly in the fact that "every part of his body" actually turns out to comprise over three hundred elbows.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:51 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


> At 10 months old, he was having a hard time putting himself to sleep, and in the span of
> one evening he learned how to pull himself out of his crib and he learned that it wasn't
> such a good idea.

I don't remember when our first child started sleeping solo in a crib but I do remember that it didn't matter much because he was a miraculously perfect baby as regards bedtime. He faded out by himself at pretty much the same time every evening and slept all night long right from the start. (I thought "Gee, babies are a snap!" and kept right on thinking that until we had another one, who was Entirely Different.)

But I absolutely do remember when he became independently mobile. Previously he had still been at the stage when you could safely put him in the middle of a bed and turn away for a moment without him squirming to the edge and falling off. So we planned a sleep-out hike to the Cohutta wilderness area (northwest GA, very beautiful), me carrying a pack with enough stuff for 2.1 people, mom wearing the baby pack. We found a nice place to camp, set up tent, unrolled 2-person sleeping bag in tent, placed baby in the middle of it. Mother turned away to dig diapers out of the pack; I went down to the creek to get coffee water. When I climbed back up the creek bank and could see the door of the tent again, there was #1 Son on hands and knees, entirely out the tent door and headed off into the howling wilderness looking very pleased with himself.
posted by jfuller at 8:51 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am pleased to learn by this thread that the fact that we let our cats sleep in the bed and sometimes are led to "decide" whether or not we are going to bed by one of these cats is not completely unheard of.

However, since we so easily led around by the cats, I think this is yet another example of why kids are a bad idea for us.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:53 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


We've coslept with all our kids, and are currently sleeping with 7-week-old baby number 3, so finding time/space for sex has clearly not been a major problem. In fact, we bought a crib when expecting the first, and neither she nor the second ever spent a night in it. I gave it away two weeks before I found out I was pregnant with the third. We have no plans to replace what was really just an expensive laundry-storing bin.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 8:58 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


awwww! i want an Erdős–Bacon number *pouts*
posted by liza at 9:06 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


We have one of these for our now four-month-old son. We used it with my daughter, too. It's a sidecar cosleeper; it attaches firmly to the side of the bed, with about a 2" drop from our mattress to the cosleeper mattress. It means that the baby has his own space with his own firm mattress and light blanket, and no fears of anyone rolling on top of him, and yet I still don't have to get up (or even sit up) to feed him in the middle of the night. We transitioned my elder child out at about a year, but this one sleeps better, so I'll probably start trying to night-wean at 8 months or so.

As for sex? He's four months old. We wait until he's sound asleep in the cosleeper and then we giggle our way through it. But yeah, there are whoooole bunch of reasons why sex is frequently off the table for several months; the crushing sleep deprivation, the torrential flood of postpartum ick, the medical instructions to put nothing in the vagina for six weeks, the hormonal changes . . . I could elaborate, but I don't want to derail.
posted by KathrynT at 9:09 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Its going to kill your marital intimacy.

Only if your marital intimacy sinks or swims on what you do in bed.

Serious question: Where do you have sex when you do this? I understand that the sex lives of many parents take a hit after the kids are born, but just how much of a hit? A two year old and five year old are old enough to follow Mayim and her husband wherever they go - do you think they just wait until they're sound asleep then go do it in one of the kids' rooms or what? Or maybe they only have sex when the kids are at Grandma's?

Well, I'm pretty sure that very few (good) parents are having sex while their kids are awake and home (although Dooce did write about them having sex while her daughter was downstairs entranced by Dora, so YMMV), but - serious answer - you just figure it out.

At my house its not a big deal because we cosleep in my son's room, and the bed in the "adult" bedroom is for - ahem - adult things. I know other parents who sneak out of bed and take a shower, or go in the guest room, or go play on the futon, or whatever. And, yeah, weekends when your child is away at Grandmas, or you're in a hotel, or whatever - that's awesome.

I'm always amused by AskMe questions that are all about "we were having sex seven times a week and now we're down to four - IS MY RELATIONSHIP ENDING" because (at least for every parent I've ever talked to) once your child is born sex just becomes ... less important. Not less fun, certainly, or less fulfilling, but you're both tired, and what becomes more important is finding time for adult conversation - your emotional intimacy grows because you're so firmly bonded together, and the sex part is just less ... well, the frequency might be less, but because you're intentionally finding time and opportunity to have sex, its better, because you're doing it because you want it and not because its a habit, or you're bored, or you can't sleep, or whatnot.
posted by anastasiav at 9:17 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I met Mayim when she came to UCLA as a freshman when I was a senior there. We were both active in the Jewish community on campus and became friendly, and I've seen her a few times over the years at different events related to that. She is absurdly smart AND down to earth, so it doesn't shock me in any way that I'm on the same page as she is. We haven't bed-shared consistently like her family, but we have no issues bringing either kid into bed with us if either asks during the night, nor with getting into bed with our older (younger has a crib) if she asks.

It'll certainly be interesting to see how and if things change when #3 arrives in several weeks, but I accepted the "no big deal" mantra a long time ago.
posted by yiftach at 9:27 AM on March 8, 2011


She is absurdly smart AND down to earth, so it doesn't shock me in any way that I'm on the same page as she is.

Ha, this made me laugh, thanks.
posted by amro at 9:35 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


My wife actually gets a lot more (and better) sleep with the baby in the bed with us, which makes everyone much happier.
posted by Mister_A at 9:46 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I coslept with both my now grown kids.. They and I slept better for it. If they needed something, it was no big deal to give them it and they woke up about when I did. Worked for us, but it's not for everyone.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:58 AM on March 8, 2011


Second, women's bodies have some major changes which take at least 3 months to rectify - so nobody thinks about sex.

That might be your experience, but not every woman is the same. We were back to having sex within a couple to three weeks after each baby, not months. I remember being frustrated because I asked my ob/gyn after one vist what we should do after the baby was born about birth control, because I knew you could get pregnant while breast-feeding. He said we wouldn't even need to think about birth control until I'd had my 6-week postpartum visit, "Believe me, you won't be interested in sex!"

Well, I was.

And I don't think I'm a nymphomaniac, really, so I can't have been the only one?
posted by misha at 10:00 AM on March 8, 2011


Misha, you're not the only one. I have friends who were definitely chomping at the bit before the month was out -- including one who turned up at her 6 week post-partum visit pregnant! But I think that while that experience is normal, it's not typical. (Particularly if there's been substantial pelvic floor trauma. I mean, ow.)

(As an aside: my OB tells a story about a husband asking when they could start having sex again. This is a perfectly reasonable question, except that he chose to ask it while his child's head was crowning. The OB's answer? "A gentleman waits until the placenta has been delivered.")
posted by KathrynT at 10:07 AM on March 8, 2011 [21 favorites]


amro: "She is absurdly smart AND down to earth, so it doesn't shock me in any way that I'm on the same page as she is.

Ha, this made me laugh, thanks
"

Heh, only now do I see what that sounds like.

No comparison, though. I am reasonably intelligent. She is off the charts smart.

We are both very down to earth, though, and haven't let our celebrity go to our heads.
posted by yiftach at 10:20 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


KathrynT: " (As an aside: my OB tells a story about a husband asking when they could start having sex again. This is a perfectly reasonable question, except that he chose to ask it while his child's head was crowning. The OB's answer? "A gentleman waits until the placenta has been delivered.")"

Ha! :)
posted by zarq at 10:28 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Toddler Zizzle still sleeps in bed with us (though mostly for reasons not at all related to Toddler Zizzle I've been falling asleep on the couch) and I wouldn't have it any other way. When he was little, it helped us maximize our sleep, and as he got bigger, it just became really nice. There's nothing better than waking up to someone who is so happy to see you he's literally bouncing around. No one, and I mean NO ONE, is ever as excited to see me as Toddler Zizzle, and it is a huge morning pick-me-up.

Serious question: Where do you have sex when you do this? I understand that the sex lives of many parents take a hit after the kids are born, but just how much of a hit? A two year old and five year old are old enough to follow Mayim and her husband wherever they go - do you think they just wait until they're sound asleep then go do it in one of the kids' rooms or what? Or maybe they only have sex when the kids are at Grandma's?

We live in a two bedroom apartment, of which only one of the two bedrooms is used as a bedroom. Toddler Zizzle goes to bed well before we do and takes naps. There are ways to have sex without needing a bed in a bedroom with kids (or without kids). Though mostly, it becomes as others have suggested, a matter of energy and time for a lot of reasons.
posted by zizzle at 10:46 AM on March 8, 2011


We are also a shared bed family. But, I'm definitely cutting it off next year when she reaches 17.

What?

YOU DON'T KNOW ME!
posted by found missing at 11:07 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


You work it in. Once a kid arrives, sex does slow down, plus even if the kid is not in the bed, you need to plan it. My pediatrician (4 kids) was a big family bed advocate, and he used to say the same thing. . .you fit it in.

That's what she said.

Curse you, Michael Scott!
posted by zombieflanders at 11:32 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


My dog jumps on the bed around 2am, curls up and goes to sleep for 8 hours. I occasionally end up on the floor.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:59 AM on March 8, 2011


Mrs. Werkzeuger is a pediatric emergency room nurse who has personally attended to infants brought in DOA after being smothered by their well-meaning parents. Can you guess where our kids sleep?
posted by werkzeuger at 1:16 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eek, you sound like my mother in law. Surely there are safety issues with cosleeping, just like there are safety issues with cribs. People are taught about crib safety, but cosleeping safety is important too. "Just don't do it" or pretending like it doesn't exist isn't beneficial.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:29 PM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Scariest Story
posted by homunculus at 1:54 PM on March 8, 2011


He said we wouldn't even need to think about birth control until I'd had my 6-week postpartum visit, "Believe me, you won't be interested in sex!"

I showed up at my postpartum for #2 pregnant with #3.

I am still mildly miffed that I could hear the nurses LAUGHING thru the walls of the exam room I was in. Grrr!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:00 PM on March 8, 2011


St. Alia of the Bunnies: " I showed up at my postpartum for #2 pregnant with #3."

Oh man. That must have felt like one very long pregnancy.
posted by zarq at 2:19 PM on March 8, 2011


werkzeuger, how many infants did she see in that condition? Babies do die from unsafe cosleeping, but only about 65 per year in the US. Nearly twice that many die from traffic accidents -- we don't tell parents not to drive, but rather we stress safe carseats and proper installation.

What makes me a greater risk to my kid? Sleeping with him in a sidecar cosleeper, or driving while exhausted while he's in the back seat? I get far more and better sleep when I can just reach over and put him to breast without even sitting up.
posted by KathrynT at 3:13 PM on March 8, 2011


St. Alia of the Bunnies: " I showed up at my postpartum for #2 pregnant with #3."

Reminds me of a friend who has five children. She noted once at dinner that she'd been lactating for 12 straight years.

Babies do die from unsafe cosleeping, but only about 65 per year in the US.

I also think its interesting to note that about the same number - about 65 per year - die in crib/playpen related deaths each year. (About 50 deaths due to "crib accidents" and about another 10 - 15 "playpen accidents" per year.) Also, about 200 children under the age of 2 die in house fires each year. The sad fact is there isn't anything you can do with your child that is 100% safe.
posted by anastasiav at 4:07 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


What makes me a greater risk to my kid? Sleeping with him in a sidecar cosleeper, or driving while exhausted while he's in the back seat?

I would be willing to bet that most co-sleeping deaths happen when a baby is actually in bed with its parents and not in a sidecar.
posted by zarq at 4:15 PM on March 8, 2011


My wife is expecting our first - due in about 6 months - and I wanted to register my objection to certain comments above from people who supposedly have children.

@amro: Not to get too specific, but there are some large changes in habits
First, there is sleep deprevation post baby - so nobody thinks about sex..


Impossible.

Second, women's bodies have some major changes which take at least 3 months to rectify - so nobody thinks about sex.

I have been assured that my wife will take no more than 2 weeks to snap back into form. In this regard she most resembles a Hollywood actress, or Elastic Man.

Third, once your past that, there's a littany of additional tasks that have to be completed, which means your actual time for sex is less.

Only if you do not know how to manage your time, to say nothing of your priorities.

Fourth, early morning sunday sex is replaced by Bob the Builder and Handy Manny. I have a real thing against construction workers now.

I long ago replaced going to church on sunday morning with sex. Not going back now.

Fifth, its pretty awesome when it does happen - because it winds up being a cheer for not only finding the energy, but for scheduling it in.

The law of sexual conservation dictates that sexual energy can neither be created nor destroyed. This is science.

Sixth, no more alternate room sex, and shower sex is a bad idea as your kid is dismantling the house while you aren't watching him

Okay, that one makes sense.

Listen, people with babies: Stop. Lying.
posted by ivanosky at 4:21 PM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ivanosky, come back to this thread about three months postpartum and we'll see what you say.....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:36 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


St. Alia of the Bunnies: "Ivanosky, come back to this thread about three months postpartum and we'll see what you say....."

Pssst. I'm quite sure he was being hilariously sarcastic. :)
posted by zarq at 4:40 PM on March 8, 2011


This seems pretty unremarkable aside from the fact that it's written by a TV actor.

For whatever it's worth, her PhD isn't in Theater; it's in Neuroscience. She's also an Orthodox Jew. I don't know anything about parenting ideas in either circle.

Coincidentally, Tiffany Bissette just wrote a piece explaining why it's not weird to share a cabinet with your kids.

That's Tiffany Brissette, not Bissette, and it's weird that you would pick her out because she's actually a nurse in Boulder, CO, now, so she might actually have something to say about lactation or pediatric nursing or whatever.
posted by anniecat at 4:51 PM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ivanosky, come back to this thread about three months postpartum and we'll see what you say.....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:36 PM on March 8 [+] [!]


Oh, I will. And what I say will make you hate me. And then turn you on just a little. And then hate me even more!
posted by ivanosky at 4:59 PM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Babies do die from unsafe cosleeping, but only about 65 per year in the US.

I wonder how many babies end up getting injured (and how severely) but don't die from being crushed by a parent or suffocated by a blanket or pillow.

I say some parental pair volunteer to split up their identical twins, co-sleep with one, and leave the other in a bassinet. Maybe identical triplets, so one can be co-sleeping, the second in a bassinet at the foot of the bed, and the third in a crib in a separate room.

What do we do then? Measure their IQs? Rates of development? Resilience? Independence? Maturity? Income potential? Do we need identical quadruplets for this?

I haven't thought this out though.
posted by anniecat at 5:22 PM on March 8, 2011


so ~50 infants die in crib deaths a year, and we have CPSC to mandate recalls (I think drop-side cribs were recently banned or something like such), but no one looking out for co-sleeping, other than finger waggers about the ick factor ?

Heck, wasn't there a big todo in 2010 or 2009 about local pools not opening for memorial day because they didn't have the pump shutoff kill switch added.. The switch meant to prevent kids from getting hair stuck in the pumps intake. At the time, I think it was 2 kids a year died from such incidents [yeah, a few more were seriously injured, though]...
posted by k5.user at 5:28 PM on March 8, 2011


We kind of semi-cosleep. Put the boy to bed in his own room and later when we go to bed he usually joins us. Snugliness is a plus. Bedhoggery is a minus.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 5:36 PM on March 8, 2011


That's Tiffany Brissette, not Bissette, and it's weird that you would pick her out because she's actually a nurse in Boulder, CO, now, so she might actually have something to say about lactation or pediatric nursing or whatever.

It's funny because she played a robot on an awful 1980s televisual program who recharged her batteries in a cupboard, not because we're trashing her chosen profession as an adult human being.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:36 PM on March 8, 2011


The switch meant to prevent kids from getting hair stuck in the pumps intake.

No. That's not what it's designed to prevent.

It's actually designed to prevent small children from having their intestines ripped inside-out from their rectum.

You think I'm joking?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:24 PM on March 8, 2011


I'll admit it - my friends' kids - 10 yo in Sept. and 7 yo in June - sleep with them and always have and I think it's deeply weird. Not BAD weird, not creepy weird, just fucking weird.

Wouldn't you want to sleep in peace with your spouse or, I don't know, have cuddly morning or sleepytime sex with them at some point in 10 years? Ugh.
posted by tristeza at 7:07 PM on March 8, 2011


I am so, so very glad to be childless.
posted by jenlovesponies at 7:38 PM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I showed up at my postpartum for #2 pregnant with #3.

I am still mildly miffed that I could hear the nurses LAUGHING thru the walls of the exam room I was in. Grrr!


Can you hear me laughing through your computer screen? Because I am!
posted by orange swan at 8:54 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll admit it - my friends' kids - 10 yo in Sept. and 7 yo in June - sleep with them and always have and I think it's deeply weird. Not BAD weird, not creepy weird, just fucking weird.

tristeza, I agree that parents have to have some boundaries, and I would feel that was weird, too.

We didn't co-sleep, in part because of the baby-smothering fear (please note I don't know whether it was a rational fear, but it was there so I mention it), but also because my husband worked while I stayed home with the baby(ies) and, when the kids were little, I would go in another room to feed them so he could keep sleeping. It seemed like the considerate thing to do, since he had to get up early. He would often do night feedings when he could on the weekends, so I could get more sleep then, and that partnership worked for us so we weren't BOTH sleep-deprived zombies.

But another reason we didn't co-sleep is because I think couples need couple time to snuggle and be intimate. We'd feed and rock the kids to sleep when they were younger and read and cuddle with them when they were older, and if they had bad dreams and came in our room we'd soothe them and take them back to their rooms and maybe lie down with them for a bit until they felt better, but we needed time to just be a couple, just the two of us in our own bed. And the kids learned, when they got older, that if Mom and Dad's bedroom door was closed, that meant we wanted privacy, and they should Knock First.

But I think it's great the some couples can do the co-sleep thing and it doesn't affect their relationship. If you can juggle that, then good for you. I can only imagine it would get tougher with time to tell the kids, "Okay, now it's not okay to sleep with us," though. That has to be tough.

And, wow, if your kids are hitting double digits, how beneficial is that arrangement for them? Puberty is coming sooner than you think, and all the emotional and physical changes and self-consciousness that come along with it. So even if it wasn't a little weird before then (and I really think it is a personal decision how long parents decide to co-sleep so who am I to say it's weird?), I just can't see having it go on so long as your friends did with their kids.
posted by misha at 9:36 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Co-sleeping seems to be the norm in Japan and it just felt like the right thing to do. While the small human has never had any injuries he has managed to inflict several - just 2 nights ago he landed a heel right in my eye. His restlessness is making sleeping separately an attractive prospect in the future.
posted by gomichild at 6:29 AM on March 9, 2011


It's funny because she played a robot on an awful 1980s televisual program who recharged her batteries in a cupboard, not because we're trashing her chosen profession as an adult human being.

I know why it's funny, JokeExplainer. What I meant by "weird" was that I thought you probably weren't aware that she's actually a nurse.

Also, there's an Indian version of Small Wonder.
posted by anniecat at 10:30 AM on March 9, 2011


My son used to crawl in with me occasionally until he was about 10 or so. Honestly, I miss those days. He is going to be 13 in a few months, and due to some neuro issues, he presents as much younger than he is. He has not crawled in with me for a few years now, and he seems none the worse for it.

Funny, just two nights ago I had a yearning to crawl in with him after he was asleep - he had a bad/sad day and when I went to check him before I went to bed, he looked so peaceful and non-adolescent. It made me sad to know that the days of snuggling with my only child are over for good.
posted by sundrop at 4:30 AM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oddly enough, i wrote a research proposal in this topic area (uses of sleep) and found two exceptional links, which i think have been up before. One is a review by anthropologists of all sleeping patterns known in more traditional societies by field anthropologists they could find to interview, which manages to be long and fascinating: about 35 pages if you print it out, and a great read.
2002 C.M. Worthman and M. Melby. Toward a comparative developmental ecology of human sleep.(PDF) Carol Worthman's research interests The other was a fascinating article, and the book is even better, i have almost never had to buy a book i started reading in a shop, this might have happened four times in my life and i am a serious bookworm, about sleep before and after industrial lighting: Roger Edrich on pre-industrial sleep. The current most important researcher mentioned in Edrich's research recently found that women do not process artificial light as light, men do, so women are affected by SAD but men are not - to them, artificial light = daylight. However, can't remember his name or find the link and very tired, so leave it to you.
Finally, Example of many, generously free-to-read articles on sleep and many other things from Brazilian psychology researchers.
hope all those links work!
posted by maiamaia at 4:36 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


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