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Goodnight, Baby!

Consider the Family Bed

Christine Lichte got up to answer the cries of her eldest son, Christopher, until he was 9 months old, when she and her husband sleep trained him. But by the time Christopher's brother was born two years later, the Warrensburg, MO, mom opted to try things differently. "Matthew slept in his bassinet for only a few weeks, and then we decided to keep him in our bed all night, where I could feed and comfort him without getting up. My husband thought it was great because we all got plenty of sleep."

When Matthew turned 18 months, Lichte put him in a twin bed in his older brother's room. Their third child, Michael, also slept with his parents, until he was 2. "Having babies in our bed never caused problems with our marriage or sex life; we realized that this was just a phase in our lives that would soon be over," says Lichte.

If you and your partner choose to sleep with your infant, keep the following in mind:

Snooze safely.
To reduce the risk of SIDS, make sure your baby's sleeping on a firm mattress. Never let her sleep on a water bed, and keep linens, blankets, and pillows away from her face. Don't get into bed with an infant if you've been drinking alcohol or are significantly overweight. If your baby doesn't sleep between you and your spouse, push the bed away from the wall, so she doesn't run the risk of becoming trapped in the space, and put a guardrail on her side.

Plan ahead.
You should also think about where you'd prefer the baby to be when he turns 1. "If you still want him in your bed, that's fine. But if you don't, then you should put him in his crib at around three months. After that, it's much harder to make the move, since he'll be so accustomed to having you nearby," says Mindell. If you switch him to a crib, you'll most likely have to sleep train him at that point.

While it takes a little time and patience to identify the sleeping arrangements that are right for your family, hang in there. Once you do, you and your baby will be more rested  -- and the world will look a whole lot better.