Keeping Baby Close: Sleep
Probably nowhere do modern Western cultural expectations and the reality of babies’ needs conflict more than in the area of sleeping behavior. Babies and their parents sleep together in approximately 90% of the world's population. Co-sleeping is simply the "norm" and has been for thousands of years.
In the United States, a growing number of parents have been ignoring warnings of "spoiling" their infants and other dire condemnations of the family bed by keeping their baby warm and safe at night exactly where nature intended, next to a loving and nurturing parent. In a poll by Parenting magazine 42 percent of parents responded that they share sleep with their infants at least part of the time.
Despite our society's reverence for independence and the belief that children will not become independent unless we force them, babies whose early dependency needs are met are more likely to become trusting, emotionally secure, and independent when they are ready.
Human infants need constant attention and contact with other human beings because they are unable to look after themselves. For perhaps millions of years, infants as a matter of course slept next to at least one caregiver, usually the mother, in order to survive. Unlike other mammals, they cannot keep themselves warm, move about, or feed themselves until a relatively long time after birth.
As children get older, they don't need the security of their parents' presence as much, and they can gradually be weaned from the parent's bed at a time that seems right according to each family's circumstances.
We cannot “spoil” our babies by always responding to their needs. Babies have an inborn need is to be touched and held. They enjoy having physical closeness day and night, and this kind of connection is essential for avoiding stress.
Babies who sleep with their parents feel the importance of loving touch and remain connected to that love throughout the night. When they awaken, they can feel the presence of their parent or hear their parent breathing in the dark. Then they are reassured and go back to sleep.