The Family Bed

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family bedI’ve never heard of the family bed concept until I had my first baby. As a new parent, it never occurred to me then to take L into bed with my husband and me. I was the second in a brood of 7 siblings and I don’t remember sleeping in the family bed. I noticed that my youngest brother slept with my mom and dad but then I thought it was because he was the youngest. My mother died when I was a teenager and there was no one else to teach me about raising a child. I read all sorts of books including Dr. Benjamin Spock’s theory that popularized the notion that stern bedtime routines are essential in raising children to be independent and well-behaved. In the early eighties, many books on child rearing revealed that bad sleeping habits in a child are formed when Mother hears Baby whimper and “rushes” in to see if everything is all right. According to these books, the child will wake up more frequently just to receive his mother’s attention. “They will wrap you around their little finger,” so “take heed”. Yet, this seems such a distrustful approach to take toward an innocent baby, who simply needs care and love. Mother is reprimanded for wanting to pick up her crying baby. Yet responding to her baby’s call shows concern for her child, and is an action that comes from the very heart of motherhood.

I learned about the family bed from who else? my husband, my co-homemaker. “Let’s bring L to bed with us” as I placed L in her baby pink crib a few distance away from our room. My husband explained that he grew up with the family bed concept and added that babies should be close to their parents as they feel more loved and secure. “Oh really. I thought they belonged to their nursery” and quickly added “there goes our sex life”.

At first I was quite resistant to the family bed concept. I believed couples should have privacy of their own and babies should learn to sleep on their own. My mind changed not only because of the warmth and love we both shared but there were less sleepless nights. There were no whimpering or endless crying at the dead of the night because L immediately felt her mother’s warmth. This arrangement continued even until my second child was born a year and a few months after L. It was such a loving arrangement. It helped that my husband was still in Law School and assisted me with the babies. As toddlers, they slept at precisely 9:00 PM beside me and when they fell asleep, I got up from bed to attend to my husband who usually arrived from Law school. The two toddlers slept peacefully never waking up in the wee hours of the morning. When I was pregnant with my son, I informed the two girls that it was time to transfer to their pink room. They seemed to accept the change until the night I brought Luijoe home from the hospital. I peeped into their rooms and my heart broke when I saw L sobbing “Can I sleep with you?”

Surprisingly, all three children slept well with us and this arrangment continued on till the girls reached their high school years. Luijoe refused to sleep in his room until the day he died. I don’t have regrets that he continued to sleep with us for all those six years. At least I have those memories of his chubby arms wrapped around my neck or his angel kisses on my cheeks just before he slept . I believe that the family bed is a place of comfort and security. After my son died, the girls moved back to our room for the next two years. Something as natural, loving, and comforting as co-family sleeping can do wonders to a family in crisis.

The girls eventually slept in their own rooms . When the girls went to college, they lived in the dorm during the weekdays. They seemed well-adjusted to their semi-independent lives. What about our sex life? There were creative ways of course. Choices are either hotel rooms or the empty rooms in the house. Since the kids sleep well in the comfort of the family bed, they sleep through the night without bothering us. The family bed was also a natural birth control method especially when the two girls arrived. That’s why there is a 6 years gap between the second child and Luijoe.

I thought the family bed is a thing of the past. Seeing that one of my daughters is prone to nightmares after watching horror films, my husband told her to sleep with us. Funny. But yes, I miss the closeness of my children at times. I miss them as babies. It’s not that often now but it only happens after they insist on watching or reading these scary themes. We keep our rooms locked when we want our privacy but often it is left unlocked during the weekends when they are home from the dorm.

Co-family sleeping is a relatively new idea in countries like the US, (where Dr Spock espoused the strict baby rules more than 30 years ago)- new, that is, since they got away from it a mere century ago. They say children who sleep in bed with parents will not make the decision to start sleeping in their own bed. Where do these self-described “experts” think all the children who were allowed to sleep in their parents’ bed and are now adults are sleeping today?

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado (1388 Posts)

You may contact Noemi (noemidado @ for speaking and consultancy services in the following areas: Parenting in the Digital Age (includes pro-active parenting on cyber-bullying and bullying) ; Social Business ; Reinventing One’s Life; and social media engagement. Our parenting workshop is called "Prep to Prime (P2P): Parenting in the Digital Age (An Un­Workshop)" P2P Un­Workshops are conducted by two golden women in their prime, Noemi and Jane, who have a century’s worth of experience between them. They are both accomplished professionals who chose to become homemakers. This 180­degree turn also put them on a different life course which includes blogging, social media engagement and citizen advocacy. They call their un­workshops Prep to Prime or P2P, for short, to emphasize the breadth of their parenting experience. They tackle different aspects and issues of parenting ­­ from managing pregnancies, prepping for the school years of children, dealing with househelp, managing the household budget, to maximizing one’s prime life and staying healthy through the senior years.

  • Yoru

    I slept in my parents’ bed until I was 14. Then I hear relatives saying I should not have stayed with them when their marriage went rocky. When they got back together and my mom fell sick, I stayed with them again until my mom passed away when I was 19.

    I recently got a bigger bed so my baby and I would be able to co-sleep well.

  • I’ve always had a low energy threshold so I thought our family bed came about because I was too darn lazy to keep getting up at night to breast feed 🙂 hehe! We were the same as you guys, kept our girls in our bed until they were ready to go to their own. Occasionally they still come to our bed to just cuddle before bedtime or even spend the night. But those sleepovers are so rare now I am the one missing them. My youngest fell asleep on my bed tonight and she hadn’t done that in a long time, so I told hubby to hang out in the sofa for a while 😉

    I believe our daughters are more secure because we slept with them. They know they can always come into our bed when they need to.

  • @yoru- I think my daughters stayed with me till their early teens. It’s good you got to be with your mom during those times.

    @Jmom- Yes it ‘s such a warm feeling to have our children close to us at the times they need us. It makes them feel secure. It’s good my husband taught me this early on.

  • lemon

    Hi noemi, I know of so many moms who can’t bear the sleepless nights beside their colicky babies, just like my own Faith. The thing is, I just can’t sleep without her arms wrapped around my neck, di bale nang mapuyat, it’s all worth it. Yes, she’s got me all wrapped around her little finger, and I love it.
    Seems your hubby can give those “experts” a tip or two about nurturing children. How giving boundless love to our children can be bad for them is beyond me.

  • @lemon- L was a colicky baby but it was best spending the night beside me. There were less sleepless nights with this arrangemnt. Fortunately my sister in the states did not believe in leaving her babies in the crib. They also practiced the family bed. Her kids are in their teens and have turned out well adjusted

  • it really is comforting to sleep with my parents; when my brother passed away, i couldn’t sleep except with them, and the same thing happened when my lola passed away this summer too.

  • my husband said the same thing the first night we got home from the hospital. suffice it to say, my son didn’t sleep in his own bed until he was 5. within those 5 years we moved his crib, then his toddler bed in our room but he always ended up in our own bed.

    with the new baby, i’m tying so hard to get her in her bassinet after night feedings but lo and behold she ends up in our bed too. we can’t have them both in our bed though cos the son moves too much. i’m afraid i’ll fnd his sister on the floor in the

    sex?? please, if there’s a will, there’s a way. that’s how you get creative. that’s why they have things called nooners and the off chance that the baby is asleep in her bassinnet, well of course the cats will play, a little longer

  • @Cris- Maybe that’s why my daughters didn’t complain when they slept with us.

    @Dexie- what a great husband you have. The girls were probably around your son’s age when Luijoe arrived. Since they were girls, they didn’t move too much.

  • My wife and I have had our son sleep with us in our room, and I imagine that when our new baby is born sometime in June, s/he will be joining us there as well.

    Nathan is close to us, and I believe sharing the same room with us, and for the first two years of his life, our bed, played a big role. 🙂

  • @ganns- a secure child grows up to be more confident of himself. It’s good to be close to our children.

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  • Understanding Adjustable Beds

    I have friends who slept with not only their son until he was four but their two cats as well. There were a few times that the baby almost fell out of the bed – so my only concern is that it there may be some danger. I have other friends who set the crib up right against their bed and put the baby in his own bed to sleep.

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  • we were also into the family bed set-up. my children (now 18, 14 & 12) only started sleeping in their own room 4 years ago. When they were little, I breastfed them and so they of course shared the bed with me and my husband. now, my youngest son is already 12 and i still miss him sleeping beside me.

  • I would like to share my family experience to this topic 😉 We are 8 children, and the youngest, my sister who is now 30 and living abroad, slept with our Mom and Dad for a long time (the rest of us, I don’t remember if we did sleep with our parents). Since my sister was born after 5 boys, she couldn’t share rooms with them, and us two older sisters, since our room was small. Now we’re all adults some having our own families, I can say that our youngest is the most independent type of person (and for me, the most successful), among us.