Friday, November 18, 2011

Co-Sleeping in the Family Bed

Dawn and I were both shocked and dismayed by this article. It is so ridiculous. Do accidents happen. Sure. All the time. But these ideas are very western and modern. Co-sleeping is a beautiful thing. I don't know if I have posted here about my love of co-sleeping, but it's worth repeating. Children with trauma backgrounds and/or struggling with attachment will have a very hard time with the normalcy of the parents bed. Unlike "typically" developing peers that run to it in the middle of the night or when sick for comfort, RADishes run from it. Or they are painfully---literally---awkward. (They alone are the ones that injure others in the bed).

They need this snuggle time, even if it's only once in awhile. I heard a lecture years ago (wish I could remember where to link to. Sorry!!) but it was the scientific research on the breathing and heart rate patterns of children and mothers while co-sleeping. While asleep (IE unconscious), a child's body learns to regulate and mimic their mother's sleeping body. They learn how to calm themselves while sleeping. The study said that the sleeping hours are the most unused time of connection and regulation for traumatized kids. With three children, it was hard to get in lots of "therapeutic" time with each of them. I rotated a child in my bed and two on my floor for the first 10 months that they were home. 10 months was my limit. I started to become a bit claustrophobic after that, and we began to transition them into their beds.

Now, for some, the awkwardness or even the fear from the child may make co-sleeping a nightmare. Try just snuggling or reading a book. Clothes, even shoes, on. Work up to longer periods. A rest time. Maybe even a nap. Make your bed a safe place. It is best for them and most certainly should never be compared to them sleeping with a hatchet!


Cindy LaJoy said...

YES! We are parents to 5 kids adopted from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, 3 adopted at older ages and 2 at 11 months old. One of oursons, adopted at 11 months old was RAD (He is now almost 9) and it was obvious from Day 1. WE co-slept with him, and he was so RAD that in his SLEEP he'd inch toward the foot of the bed and fall off, literally every night, to get away from us. How did we measure progress? Over time, he'd inch away a little less and finally at about 4 years old would sleep with us. Although co-sleeping with newly adopted tweens is not appropriate, we have family "camp outs" on our bedroom floor a couple times a week and they are on the floor next to our bed, reaching up to hold hands, allowing me to be able to lean over and stroke their head or back as they drift off to sleep...and to tell stories in the dark and do what we can to promote closeness appropriately. It works, one of or better decisions. Others think we are crazy. I don't care, our kids are healing and whole. Only the parent of a RADish can understand that you do ANYTHING for years to heal your child.

Today at 8 our RAD guy is doing great, insecurity once in awhile and night terrors a couple times a year, but otherwise, firmly bonded,able to accept love and genuinely give it back, and is extremely empathetic. It gets better sometimes...hang in there. He was so RAD 3 therapists told us to give him up, saying he'd never heal. God can indeed heal our children, but it sure ain't easy.