From sleeping in separate beds to carrying their babies and toddlers in prams and strollers, Western parents have adopted some unusual and weird habits to raise their little ones. Sleeping apart from human infants is a rather recent trend on our planet. In many cultures, sharing a room and even a bed with your babies is a widely followed standard. And this is not the only thing that Western parents do differently.

Even if it's recommended to parents in the US and UK to sleep in the same room as their babies for at least the first six months, many consider this only as a brief stopover to a dedicated nursery. However, in most other societies around the world, young children stick with dad and mom longer. According to Debmita Dutta, a doctor and parenting consultant in Bangalore, India, despite Western influences bedsharing remains a respected tradition in her country, even in families in which kids have their own rooms.

Bedsharing is a good way to alleviate the burden of babies waking up at night, explains Dr. Dutta, adding that her own daughter had a rollout bed next to her parents until she was seven years old. "Even after she stopped breastfeeding, she still liked to sleep with us in the same room," says Dutta. The problem is that many Western parents, instead, try sleep training methods, the worst being to leave babies on their own "to cry it out" (what a terrible expression), in order to encourage the kids to sleep for longer periods without disturbing their parents.

Yet what babies need the most, biologically and logically, is close contact with their parents, day and night. Unfortunately, the idea that night-waking is normal for a baby is not the message that new Western parents got from their family, friends and even the media. "We've sort of developed this cultural myth that babies shouldn't wake at night," says Helen Ball, a professor of anthropology at the University of Durham and director of the university's Parent-Infant Sleep Lab.

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