Good Nights – The Happy Parents’ Guide to the Family Bed: Introduction

excerpted with permission from:
Good Nights – The Happy Parents’ Guide to the Family Bed
(and a Peaceful Night’s Sleep!)

by Jay Gordon, M.D. and Maria Goodavage
Griffin Trade Paperback
ISBN: 0312275188


Most babies don’t come into the world terribly aware of the popular phrase “Sleeps like a baby.”

But most parents would really, really like their infant to sleep like the mythical baby in this expression. After all, staying sane and happy in a child’s formative years is important, and getting some sleep can do much toward those goals.

Sleep is such a huge concern of parents that if I didn’t have to talk about it during my patients’ checkups at two months of age, four months, six months, and all the way through to the five-year-old visit, I think I could finish my office day by noon!

Unfortunately, many tired and frustrated parents in our culture rush out and buy one or two of many popular sleep-training books, which generally instruct parents how to let babies cry alone in their cribs until they “learn” how to sleep.

But there’s another way for everyone to get more sleep. It’s kinder, gentler, easy on your mind and body, and it usually feel so right to baby and parents. It’s been around since before humans were humans and is still practiced in most parts of this planet.

It goes by many names: Co-sleeping, bed sharing, sleep sharing, the family bed.

Simply put, the baby shares your bed. It makes nighttime much easier. In fact, it can make nighttime positively blissful. (How many parents of cribbed infants can say this?)

But even more than this, new scientific discoveries are revealing that babies were meant to be beside parents at night. A few surprising benefits of co-sleeping:

  • The family bed offers many protections that can actually help save a baby’s life. (I firmly believe a safely set up family bed is safer than solitary infant sleep.)
  • Family bed babies cry less than babies who sleep alone-a boon to both babies and parents.
  • Family bed children end up more independent and better adjusted later in life than those who slept without parental contact.

And this will knock your socks off:

  • Most family bed parents have very satisfying sex lives. This finding demolishes the nagging myth that the family bed spells death to sex!

My patients taught me about the family bed. They showed me that it was a safe, flexible, and healthy alternative to the rigid sleep habits I had been told to dictate to the parents in my practice.

In medical training we often learn to give advice based on theoretical “science” rather than by looking at the practical aspects of taking care of families and children. Watching moms and dads and babies work out their own sleeping arrangements and patterns helped me understand the many different answers to questions about sleep.

In my practice, and in TV and radio appearances, I stress to parents just how safe a safely set up family bed is. The new scientific findings underscore what I’ve been witnessing for decades. I have never had a single crib death in all my years of practice, and I can assure you that it’s not because of any spectacular skills I have at preventing SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It’s because the parents in my practice almost all sleep with or very near their babies.

I never recommend separate rooms for newborns and parents. Never.

I have wanted to write this book for many years but I needed Maria Goodavage. Her journalistic background and experience wit her first child moved her to do extensive research on the topic; then she found me to be her medical support and coauthor.

If your baby could talk, she’d beg you to read this book. If she could read, she’d do it for you.

Enjoy. And savor the extra time you’ll get to cuddle with your little one. They really do grow up so fast.

Excerpted with permission from
Good Nights: The Happy Parents’ Guide to the Family Bed (And a Peaceful Night’s Sleep)
by Jay Gordon, M.D. and Maria Goodavage, copyright 2002Website:

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