walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
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_Three in a Bed_, Deborah Jackson

Subtitled: The Benefits of Sharing Your Bed with Your Baby

This is the US paperback edition of the 1999 revision. Judging by the responses to the first edition included in and rebutted in this edition, the revisions were extensive. It's not clear anything was done to adapt the text for the US edition, which can be a little mysterious at times. While I am familiar with the use of the term "cot" for what we would call a "crib" (hence, cot-death, rather than crib-death, which is to say, SIDS), I was _not_ familiar with the idea of "winding" a baby, which initially confused me (I think it has to mean burping a baby, or it's something that Britishers do to babies that I just don't know about) and then made me cackle every time it came up.

As in Thevenin's _Family Bed_, Jackson is writing about bedsharing with a couple of adults (typically husband and wife but she occasionally allows for other possibilities) and one infant, with the expectation that sometime during or after toddlerhood, the kid will graduate to their own bed, possibly shared with another sibling or in a room shared with (a) sibling(s).

In other words, like Thevenin, this does not help me out at all, since the problem I'm attempting to resolve is safe co-sleeping with an infant, and a not-yet-weaned-from-the-bed toddler. While musical beds are mentioned in passing, there is such a focus on downplaying concerns about the impact of bedsharing with an infant on the marital relationship that I get no help there, either. Also, I get cranky whenever someone in Jackson's book says they never woke up when mama nursed baby. Ha! That does not work for us.

Interestingly, Jackson is more than okay with the idea of the couple having sex in the bed with the baby, even when the baby is old enough to comment if awakened. That's kind of refreshing, altho not our strategy (we're big believers in Find Another Bed Somewhere Else and/or Hire Someone to Take the Kid Out of the House).

I've mentioned in a previous post my irritation with the use of secondary and tertiary sources, and the inconsistent quality of the citations. This may be a result of multiple editions. Also, Jackson makes a set of claims about the benefits of bedsharing that I think are, in the limit, false. Depending on whether you read her statements as literal absolutes, or whether you just read them as qualified tendencies, this might bug you a lot less than it did me.

There's a lot to like about this book. It's got good narrative momentum. I don't know that you could call it a page-turner, per se, but even as annoyed as I got, it was easy to keep going. Jackson's authorial voice is really pleasant. She may not be a scholar, but she's an able advocate. Her choice of sources may be dodgy at times, and her conception of bedsharing, IMO, is so limited as to be kinda questionable, but there's a good amount of value here. She's pretty supportive of doing-what-your-instincts-tell-you, which is always nice. She includes a lot of people's stories in their own words, which is really great.

Having read as much as I have on this subject, and on the irremediably entangled topic of breastfeeding, I cannot, on balance, like or recommend this book. Any book on the subject of breastfeeding and bedsharing that doesn't spend most of its time on musical beds, and a good chunk of time on the parallels between weaning from the breast and weaning from some particular sleeping arrangement and that truly child-led anything is quite rare, regression is common and concerted measures often necessary to make a change stick, is just setting people up for annoying surprises. I suspect that Jackson _knows_ that strong measures are often necessary (anyone who talks about kind but firm and invokes the Mary Poppins voice _clearly_ has some clue). But then that really makes me wonder how relevant her advice is to my parenting style. It's tough to judge just how laissez-faire this woman is, but I suspect she isn't particularly so by my standards. On the other hand, I do not dislike, nor do I dis-recommend this book (which is how I felt about Thevenin's book). No random homophobia here to trip up the incautious reader, which was a relief, and a pretty healthy skepticism towards Freud.

If only she had been a bit more skeptical of some of her anthropological sources.
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