Ousting the Co-Sleeper from Our Bed: SweetPea Sorta Leaves
I’m an advocate of co-sleeping. Big time. But for us, that means, when the baby is little. So as SweetPea is almost 6 months, I’m ready to have her start and end her night in her own room. Developmentally is this healthiest for her? The studies point both way, but to be safe, I’ll say she benefits greatly from sleeping by us. Trouble is, I’m not sure I can take any more all-night-looking-to-nurse-but-don’t-really-have-to-maybe-I-will-thank-you-very-kindly sessions.
Night nursing? Absolutely. I’ll get up twice a night if necessary. Why? Because she nurses on demand during the day so sometimes that may mean she doesn’t get enough. And why else? Oh, yes, because breastfeeding during the night is an almost sure-fire way to keep your menstrual cycle from coming back.
But sharing a bed all night long, I think it’s time. So we are doing it gradually. I find two steps are necessary to ease a co-sleeper out into the wild of their own space. We’re not through with the transition yet (case in point, she came back to our bed at 11pm last night because she awakened 4 times in 3 hours with a stuffy nose, crying).
1) From the bed to NEAR the bed.
Wait as long as possible. Keep your child in the room as long as possible. Babies sleep better near their mamas. PLEASE don’t put a newborn in a different room! So much harder for him. So much harder to respond to his instantaneous needs.
Start baby in your bed, or in a basinet or pack & play or cosleeper right near you so you can easily nurse or soothe at night. Once your baby is either not nursing as frequently at night, or doesn’t stay sleeping through the din of your normal activities in your share space (of any variety).
2) Move to adjacent room.
As close as possible that’s not your bedroom. Or a closet. You can still tend to little one at night, but one of the parents can have uninterrupted sleep! If the options are your room or baby’s room, at this point go for baby’s room.
We have a twin mattress floor bed in our nursery (now that SweetPea is semi-sleeping there). It means I can pass out and cosleep with her in there whilst nursing at 1am. Or I can nurse her to sleep laying down. It also means that when she’s teething (oh, the joys. See section here on Teething), I can be in there all night long if necessary (not if, when) and AA can still sleep in our bedroom and not the guest room/bathroom floor/closet/wherever he’s been sleeping.
All this being said, cosleeping works long term for many, 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 works part time. That’s where the gentle ousting comes in.
Bear in mind, baby gets sick, baby teethes, you’re too tired to a) go to another room so baby returns to your bed or b) go to another room so baby cries it out. Anything can happen. Be flexible. Nothing is written in wet cement here, folks.
I’m sharing in Small Town Simplicity’s Mindful Mothering Mondays today. See more here.