When your baby arrives, where are they going to sleep--in the bed with you, or in a bassinet or crib? Brian and I found in the early months of our daughters' lives that co-sleeping made a lot of sense, providing all of us with more solid sleep. Co-sleeping is a highly personal issue, around which there is a great deal of debate.
On parents.com, the editors of Child Magazine review the debate in an article titled The Pros and Cons of the Family Bed. The experts at Kids Heath have also done a good job of outlining the main concerns on all sides of the topic in their post titled Bed Sharing.
Because I breastfed both our daughters, co-sleeping was the natural choice as it allowed night time feedings without me having to leave the bed, which had a positive effect on my sleep cycle. Getting the proper rest is critical to being able to take care of a baby. We all seemed to benefit from the arrangement up until they slept through the night without needing to feed. At that time the natural next step for us was to shift the baby to the crib. On the occasions when they woke for any reason and were unable to fall back on their own, we would take them into the bed with us to comfort them and once again, preserve our own sleep.
We did not experience protracted independent sleeping adjustment issues with either of the girls. Both daughters, by the time they were 14-18 months old were falling and remaining asleep on their own, with only occasional exceptions. Co-sleeping also fosters bonding, which felt so wonderful and passed too quickly, for me.
Family sleeping arrangements are very personal and there are safety issues to be aware of. Doing research on your own and then consulting with your health care practitioner is advisable.