Effects of Illness or Cutting a Tooth
When Karen Werstein's son, Max, was 10 months old, he had a high fever; whenever his mom tried to put him down in his crib, he'd wake instantly and cry incessantly. Max's parents' solution? All sleep together. "We tried a lot of things, but it was just easier to bring him back to bed with us. We had to sleep, and I certainly can't sleep if he's wailing like that," says Werstein. Although Max was feverish for only two or three days, it was several weeks before Werstein and her husband could get him back to sleeping in his crib for extended chunks of time at night.
"The difficult thing is making the transition back," says Mindell. She suggests going to your child rather than bringing him to you; if there's no bed in his room, roll out a sleeping bag on his floor and camp there until he's well again. "Then things are consistent for your child, yet you can check on him quickly. At the end of the illness, it makes the transition easier for your child since he hasn't changed beds -- you have."
All the experts say not to do it, but if you can't resist bringing your child into bed with you, make sure he is truly ill and not just vying to bunk with you. Don't let the co-sleeping drag on unless that's your family's long-term choice: "This setup is fairly easily reversed if it's short-lived," says Dr. Owens. "The problem comes when sleeping arrangements don't return to normal once the illness is over. This can set up a behavior pattern that is difficult to undo."