One of our readers asked the following question about co-sleeping and how to have intimacy while sleeping with baby in bed:
“But what about the marriage? The bed should be a place of intimacy, a place of retreat from the kids where husband and wife can bond, whether that be sexually or just alone together. Are there any studies on this or if co-sleeping makes husband feel neglected? In a society that is so wrapped up in upbringing their children correctly, are we neglecting the most important thing we can do for our kids? Give them a healthy family, with parents that love and respect each other by putting our husbands first? Sometimes in our beds at night is the only contact we get with our husbands in our busy lives of raising kids, shouldn’t that be valued and treasured?”
In my opinion, a healthy, connected family is one where everyone’s needs are met, and I don’t believe that a husband’s needs take precedence over a baby’s. Couples can work together as a team to first meet the attachment needs of the baby and then also decide how to meet each others’ needs.
And yes, intimate time for the parents is very important. Happy parents create happy children. There are many ways to be intimate together while creating privacy away from the baby, and still meet the baby’s dependency needs. Each couple needs to find what works best for them.
I will disclose that I’m not the best person to answer this question since I was a single mom when I co-slept with my baby. So I don’t pretend to know what I would do in this situation. I turned this question over to an expert with experience on this subject. And I would love to hear your opinions. Please share what has worked for you in the comments below.
I asked Meryn Callander, who wrote the new book, Why Dads Leave: Insights & Resources for When Partners Become Parents. Here is her thoughtful response:
“I would say firstly, co-sleeping is not for every couple, or not for every couple all of the time. I see each of the attachment parenting principles as building blocks, ideals that each couple approximates to the best of their ability, given their personal situation and dynamics. Many couples enjoy the intimacy of the family sleeping together. And mom and dad can do a lot of snuggling and make love with baby sleeping contentedly right alongside them. Then too, baby does not always have to be right in the bed—for example, she can be on a mattress/side bed right alongside the parents’ bed.
The more we are able to meet the basic needs of our babies, the happier baby will be. A contented baby is going to make for a more contented couple; crying babies aren’t conducive to sex and intimacy. While a couple cannot be as rambunctious as they might want to be, there are other places and times than in bed that a couple can make love.
The fact is, not only sex, but life is not the same post baby as pre baby. Attachment parenting is a day to day balancing of needs and priorities. We know the importance of the early years in shaping a child’s health and wellbeing as adults. And yes, absolutely, it’s very important to nurture the adult couple relationship! Sex is an important element of that. Remember too, there are many forms of intimacy as well as sexual intimacy, and our babies are with us for only a very short time. It’s vitally important for each couple to determine, together, how to navigate that terrain. Where the “building blocks” of Attachment Parenting and the issues raised in Why Dads Leave are so very important, are that they enable parents to make more informed decisions.” – Meryn G. Callander, author of Why Dads Leave: Insights & Resources for When Partners Become Parents
Why Dads Leave is an informative, important, wonderful book to read if you want to learn more about meeting the needs of your baby as well as your own and your partner/spouse’s. Meryn fully explores why many men leave, physically or emotionally, after the birth of a child. She provides a lot of insights and practical ways to understand and work with this dynamic so you can support and love each other as a healthy, connected family. John (Jack) W. Travis, MD contributes to Why Dads Leave as he tells the story of his painful journey into fatherhood and how he struggled to deal with the challenges. – Jane
Meryn and Jack, along with 10 other experts in the field of birth and child development, co-founded the Alliance for Transforming the Lives of Children (aTLC). They spent over 10,000 hours developing a proclamation and blueprint that synthesize age-old wisdom and leading scientific research supporting optimal human development from preconception through early childhood.
Learn about Safe Co-Sleeping
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