Co-sleeping or the family bed as it is sometimes known is a maligned and misunderstood practice that is often secretly practiced by many new families desperate for a good night's sleep. A recent survey in the UK found that 90% of new mothers admit to falling asleep with their baby in the beds...at least once. Three in a Bed: The Benefits of Sleeping with Your Baby by Deborah Jackson offers a thoughtful and thorough exploration of the facts and myths surrounding this practice that continues to be the norm in much of the world.
In addition to exploring the practice from historical and sociological points of view, she also looks at the most practical of issues, such as how safe is the practice, how to sustain a sex life and when the child is ready to leave your bed. Her chapter, Practically Speaking, offers excellent advice in a question and answer format. She answers basic questions such as how important is a bed-time routine, what you and the baby should wear and how to get out without the baby. She also tackles more difficult issues like what happens when you have a second baby, what about twins and what if your partner does not like the idea.
This book is a comprehensive and evidence based exploration of this touchy subject. Ms. Jackson relies upon, quotes and cites numerous scientific and sociological studies on the subject. She includes a complete appendix of footnotes and a bibliography.
The drawbacks of this book are that it is not an easy read. The few illustrations are black and white basic drawings; while this topic could have well benefited from color illustrations or pictures such as different options for positioning. Although she uses quotes frequently, she does not make effective use of tools such as text boxes to pull out and emphasis points.
As a result of its evidence based approach and lack of readability, this book is not one that I recommend to all my clients. But it is a reference tool that I recommend all birth and baby professionals read as well as parents seeking more than a cursory look at this important issue.