Why CoSleep With Your Baby?
Here’s another guest post from Molly W, who wrote on Pregnancy Fitness here, and recently about Elimination Communication here. She and her husband practice co-sleeping with their little 5 month old girl and she shares why it works for her.
“Aren’t you afraid you’re going to roll over on her?” People inquire.
Yes, of course, which is likely the reason I haven’t yet crushed our little daughter who sleeps in our bed with us. You’ve heard of it, and probably have done it lots if you have a new baby since they seem to sleep best on mommy’s chest. I thought cosleeping was kindof weird, for poncho-wearing parents who add chia seeds to their homemade granola. Now I guess I just need to dig up the old baja poncho from ’94 to seal my entry into the club.
We originally bought a mini-armsreach cosleeper. The name is deceiving because it is in fact a bassinet which sidles up along the bed, but is not easy to get baby in and out of if you are laying down. V would toss around in it and only calm down if I put my hand in it and touched her, totally uncomfortable sleeping position for me, but I didn’t want to “train” her to sleep in the bed with us since I feared she would never sleep anywhere else, also that I would roll over on to her.
When she was 2 months old, I was going back to work soon, still sleep deprived because I would get up and nurse her in the rocker every 3 hours, and desperate for a solution. Everything was pointing for me to night wean her and move her to her own crib in her own room. I was contemplating the dreaded cry-it-out method. What can I say, it was a vulnerable period. Then I read this Dr. Sears perspective on the scientific benefits of co-sleeping, here.
That night and every night since V has slept in our bed. I needed to have a scientific rationale for what really felt right. Dr. Sears preaches attachment parenting, but I felt the research on the benefits of cosleeping was a powerful reason to try it out. The result has been great for us in the past 3 months (she’s 5 months old now). I feed her in her sleep if she starts moving around making sucking motions. Once I latch her on, I fall back to sleep. I’m very aware of where she is at any given moment. The reality is that I sleep fairly lightly these days, probably will until V is off to college, or moon school, whatever they are doing in 18 years. But I’m still able to get up early every day and commute to manhattan and work, no naps needed.
And somehow, I feel good, V feels good, and hubby is happy with it too. People also ask me, “But when will she sleep in her crib?” I guess I just don’t know yet. It’s nice not to have everything decided upon in advance.
We co-slept with both our children. I did zero research and in fact, had fully intended that Perrin sleep in a crib. But one night – Dan traveled all the time when Perrin was young – I stumbled to his crib because I thought he had missed a feeding. He wasn’t there. He was 4 months at the time. Paniced I searched everywhere. I called Dan on the cell phone in China. I’ve lost our child – or someone took him. Sobbing on the phone to Dan, I pulled the covers back – his suggestion. There was Perrin. Happily sleeping. I had thrown covers onto him when I got up to try to find him in his crib. For the rest of the time Dan was away, Perrin slept with me. I actually was able to relax and sleep. Perrin slept too. He was more relaxed. When my 6 ft 9 in husband returned – I showed him his new corner of the bed. I said that this is what I knew was right to do. He was welcome to stay with us or sleep on the couch. He kind of liked the whole co-sleeping thing – he’s Swedish afterall.
When Eowyn was born, we started to introduce Perrin to sleeping in his room. He was not into it at all. I mean, can you blame him? I nursed him until close to 3 – a little sister was deposited on his doorstep and now we wanted him to hit the road to his bedroom? I wouldn’t buy it either. At one point we had two twin mattresses on the floor, our mattress on the floor and night-time became a little bit of a merry-go-round.
Perrin eventually felt like it was ok to have his own room. Then Eowyn was still there. Last year – at 4 – she moved. I was NOT ready to have that happen. But I was experiencing severe sleep issues. The sleep doc said, well, maybe consider that a child is waking you up regardless of what you remember. Consider moving her out of your room. He was non judgemental, but asked me to think of myself and my health. That’s when I discovered nobody really explains how to move kids to their own bed.
With Eowyn it was really easy. We had a sleep over. A friend came, Eowyn showed her where we slept – and she slept. She brought the sleeping bag for the friend into our room. The friend said, “Um, no. i’m going to sleep in your room.” And marched to her room. Eowyn looked at me – said, “Mom, move my mattress. I’m sleeping in my room.” We moved the mattress. I fully expected to have her want to move back. She didn’t. She wanted lots of cuddles at bedtime – but she wanted her own room.
Both kids know whenever they want, they can come and sleep with us – and they do ocasionally. But mostly they are pretty much ok with sleeping in their own rooms and are proud happy school-agers.
I’m pretty open with how I parent. But I always tell people co-sleeping is not for everyone. It is, like long-time nursing, a lifestyle choice. And if you need your baby, toddler, child, to be in their own room from day one, and that works for you, do it. Only you and (maybe) your husband/partner are capable of knowing what works for your family. I try really hard to stay true to what I do and allow other moms to have that same freedom. Parenting and mothering is hard enough without the heaps – o – judgement we can inflict on each other.
What a beautiful sharing! Thank you for this. It is helpful to always hear what works for other parents, especially given that we’re in such a judgment-prone culture (that’s bad for your kid, why doesn’t your kid do this yet?). I can imagine the panic you had thinking you had lost your son!!! So terrible! I love that yours is an open room policy that is welcoming to the kiddos if they need or want to be with you even now.
I love co-sleeping! We did it with C until he was about 6 months old. (I’d heard horror stories of sleep training once babeh could stand up on his own, and I wanted to avoid that). It really is wonderful, and I have never worried that I’m going to roll over on my son. They’ve done studies that show mama and baby’s breathing actually synchronizes while co-sleeping, and “they” suggest perhaps that’s why the reduced rate of SIDS with co-sleeping babies. Plus, it just feels natural. I mean, look around at other species. All the babies sleep with their mamas.
These days, C’s all about his own bed. He’s not into sharing space with mama and dad unless he’s not feeling well or we’re out of town. So, I guess my point is you just have to do what works for you and try and ignore people who nay-say. Everyone’s got an opinion–the trick is (for me, anyhow) learning to tune out the overly judge-y ones.
Enjoy your special time with V!
Love it! Those studies are powerful–when science encourages something as best for mama and baby’s health, it’s best to listen to it, and see if once your judgment is informed, it would work for your family. We coslept with J until 3 months, and it was a natural time (sleeping 8-10 hours) to have him a little further away (bassinet) and then eventually in his own room. We plan on cosleeping as long as our little baby girl needs it!
It’s tough to tune out the judging!
I wish my daughter wanted to co-sleep. I tried it MANY times from the beginning and she always hated it. I will try again whenever baby number 2 comes around.
It’s that way with so many things with our children: we want something to work (cosleeping, breastfeeding, etc) and sometimes it’s beyond our control! That’s tough.
We called it the family bed and we had that with both kids. I never had any other plan. From the start I thought “Why would I get out of bed to nurse my kid when I can nurse them right here in my bed?” and it worked beautifully. Especially as a working mom – those were 8 hours in one place where we had quality human contact. And I got more sleep than is expected with a newborn. I know nursing is a huge blessing and it doesn’t work for everyone, but it does work for most. It takes patience but I firmly believe it is God’s plan for women to be able to stop and focus on their child. Or, on this topic, stay in bed and sleep while their child sleeps or eats. And how many parents love to stare at their child in a peaceful sleep? What a wonderful way to have that sleep together.
I never worried about rolling on either of them. We did swaddle them and put them in a sleep positioner as a precaution but really, I would say the risk for rolling on them is extremely low. I believe there are some statistics out there that most of those incidents are drug/alcohol induced – I am no expert but I think I read that somewhere.
My son was better at the co-sleeping but we kept our daughter with us as well because it was time together. She is still a much lighter sleeper than he is but I know I would have been going down the hall to rock or jiggle her and would have been behind that much more on my hours of sleep if I was trying to put her in a crib. We did use a bassinet a bit more for her. I just liked having them close by and near me.
It’s not for everyone, but it worked for us and I still love when they come in to sleep with us when they wake up in the night.
Love that you call it the family bed! And I love that you shared about your experience with your little ones. There is nothing more amazing than watching your child sleep, or have their little bodies curled up near yours! I only wish I could get J to snuggle for longer than 3 seconds now, and he’s almost 20 months.
Beautiful. Thank you for sharing!
[…] article on the benefits of co-sleeping over at PhD in Parenting, or my sister’s post on it here. Mothering Magazine has an excellent and lengthy article on breastfeeding and co-sleeping […]
[…] See my post on sleep arrangements here and here. […]
[…] many families. Check out the post on cosleeping by my sister who has done it now for 13 months, here. Also see the comments on that one–it works for lots of people! But for some people, it only […]