But it's actually none of our business.
Sleep (or the lack there of) may be the biggest pain point for modern families. Whether it's trying to decide if and how to sleep train our child or figuring out how to get more sleep for ourselves, sleep tends to be on parents' mind all the time.
For health advocate, influencer and mother of five, Amanda Scott, the key to sleep was a construction project; her husband built the family an enormous family bed. Scott shares on Instagram that "It's queen + king mattresses side by side in a basic bed frame that he cut, put together and stained. Act of love level a million 😍."
She also shared that three of her five children currently sleep with the couple in their huge family bed.
Well, as the internet does, the internet had opinions.
Many were very intrigued and supportive of the concept. People asked for drawing and plans so they could make their own version of the bed. Others wrote "Dream bed definitely! Love it 😍!" and "This is MAJOR family bedroom goals..."
Some people had questions about how the family bed impacted the couple's sex life. Scott reassured them that her relationship was just fine, and others chimed in to remind everyone that a bed is not the only place in a house where sex can happen.
In addition to the praise and curiosity, Scott did receive a fair amount of criticism as well. One person called it "insanity" while others question the safety of bed sharing. I'll dive into what the experts say on bed sharing in a moment, but this feels like a good time to remind people that the business of strangers, is, well, none of our business. Whether it's worrying about someone's sex life or disagreeing with their parenting choices, please understand that everyone has their own story that we know nothing about. Please be kind—pure and simple.
For those who are interested in a huge family sleepover, you can definitely go the route of making your dream bed. Or, you can buy one! The Ace Collection has developed a family mattress that is a whopping 144 inches wide—that's almost twice the size of a king size mattress!
The mattress costs $2,750, plus the bed frame and specialty sheets to fit.
The intention of the bed is in its name—it's meant for families who bed share. But herein lies some controversy. The topic of bed sharing can get pretty heated, and for good reason. Bed sharing has been linked in some studies to increasing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), especially for babies younger than 4 months old.
Other reputable experts disagree. Dr. Williams Sears writes that people around the world have been bed sharing since the dawn of time, and that there are potential benefits to bed sharing, including safety (when done correctly). The American College of Nurse-Midwives recognizes that there may be benefits to bed sharing as well.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) outlines the following guidelines for a safe infant sleep environment:
- Baby should sleep on her back on a firm, flat surface with a tight fitting sheet
- Nothing in the crib with the baby—including bumpers, toys, pacifier ties, wedges, positioners and blankets
- Baby should share a room with her parents, sleeping on her own sleep surface for the first 6-12 months of life
- Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke, drugs and alcohol
However, reports have estimated that anywhere from 6.5% to 45% of parents report having slept with their babies at some point, whether intentionally or not. Some parents plan to bed share. Others never do, but find themselves inadvertently doing so—there's no real way to control what our bodies do when we are as sleep deprived as we are when we have a newborn.
This means that whether or not we intend to, there is a good chance we will fall asleep next to our baby at least once. So we should know how to do it safely.*
To acknowledge these findings, the AAP has recently adapted their recommendations to include teaching parents how to safely bed share, in the event that they do fall asleep with their baby.
The revised guidelines state:
“If you are feeding your baby and think that there's even the slightest possibility that you may fall asleep, feed your baby on your bed, rather than a sofa or cushioned chair. If you do fall asleep, as soon as you wake up be sure to move the baby to his or her own bed... There should be no pillows, sheets, blankets or other items that could obstruct the infant's breathing or cause overheating."
The AAP is not recommending bed sharing, however they do want parents to know how to do it safely, given that so many of us end up doing it, intentionally or not. It's also important to recognize that to our knowledge, the Ace Collections' mattress does not advertise itself as being safe for infant use. Bed sharing can extend way beyond infancy for many families—in fact, many families start bed sharing later in a child's life when SIDS is no longer a concern (after the first year).
Studies have not found any links to developmental problems for toddlers and young children who bed share. And many families simply enjoy it! They may be the ones that the Ace Collection Family Mattress is intended for.
Ultimately, parents need to make informed decisions about all facets of their children's sleep with the help of their pediatricians. “The AAP recommends that doctors have open and nonjudgmental conversations with families about their sleep practices." Sleep well.
*To learn more about safe bed sharing practices, visit kidshealth.org.
[This story was originally published on November 28, 2017 and has been updated.]
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