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Co-Sleeping With Twins/Multiples

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Updated July 30, 2008

Co-sleeping, or sharing a family bed, can be a controversial topic in parenting circles. Proponents argue that sleeping with an infant is a time-honored custom, practiced in other cultures for centuries, and claim many benefits, including healthier self-esteem for children who sleep with their parents as babies. They insist that it promotes breastfeeding, by giving mothers easier access to their babies for nighttime feedings, and making it easier for her to rest between feedings.

However, parents will also find some very persuasive arguments against the practice of co-sleeping, including the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP).

What about co-sleeping with multiples? Is a family bed simply too crowded when you have twins? Or is co-sleeping the secret solution for actually getting some shut-eye during the exhausting first year with multiples? Like many parenting issues, there is no clear answer. It's a deeply personal decision that each family will have to make for themselves.  

Latest Developments

In October 2005, the American Academy of Pediatricians revised its recommendations on co-sleeping, encouraging parents to put their babies to sleep in a crib to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). However, in late 2005, rumors that a leading child sleep expert had softened his opposition to co-sleeping in a new book (released March 2006) fueled the controversy. Parents felt vindicated that Dr. Richard Ferber reportedly reversed his stance that co-sleeping was unhealthy.

Background

Historically, co-sleeping with infants was a customary practice. Parents shared their bed with young children, and as the children grew, they slept with siblings. But in modern times, Western society's parenting priorities emphasized a more independent approach to sleep habits. But, a trend towards Attachment Parenting prompted a return to the family bed. However, some medical and parenting experts frowned upon the practice, citing it as a risk for SIDS and claiming that it could generate sleep problems for children as they grew up.

The mixed messges left parents in a conundrum: was co-sleeping beneficial or harmful? The issue was even more complicated for parents of twins and multiples. Although their instinct might draw them towards the idea of co-sleeping, the logistics of managing multiples might make it impractical. Co-sleeping appeals to exhausted parents of multiples, seeking any strategies for getting a few more moments of precious sleep. Yet, with many twins, triplets and other multiples already at risk for SIDS, would co-sleeping present more danger?

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