Co-sleeping: Love it or hate it?
Where do you stand on the controversial parenting issue of co-cleeping?
When I first became a parent it never even occurred to me that I might share a bed with my baby. I’m not sure I even knew anyone that practiced “co-sleeping” or the concept of the “family bed”.
There were times during those newborn days that I’d fall asleep feeding Levi during the wee hours of the morning and would accidentally share my bed with him, but it was never on purpose. He slept in a small bassinet-type thing in our room not far from me (technically, that is co-sleeping), but I was always fearful of pulling covers over his head if I was to let him spend any significant time with us in our actual bed.
When Levi got older there were times I would deliberately try to bring him in bed with me (or us). Take this last Mother’s Day for instance…
I had decided I wanted to wake up with my little cherub’s face next to mine. Ryan was away for four weeks on a work trip in Papua New Guinea and I was feeling a little sorry for myself, knowing that my one-year-old wasn’t about to get up the next day and make me breakfast or clean the house for me. So instead I thought we could have a sleepover and some extra early morning cuddles.
I’ll spare you the details and just say that after three hours of trying to make it work, he finally pointed to the door and asked for “bed, bed, bed!” I took him to his own bed and—after being up for hours tossing and turning with me—he was asleep the moment he hit his own pillow.
So much for that Mother’s Day wish coming true. I woke up alone (and exhausted from a terrible night’s sleep) having learned a lesson: Levi likes his own bed as much as I like mine.
But then little Judah came along. With him I’m more relaxed, more confident, and more intentional about certain things.
During our first two weeks post-partum (while my husband took paternity leave) I slept nearly every time he slept. I’d nurse him and we’d fall asleep together on my big bed while Ryan played with Levi. Sometimes he’d wake up and I’d nurse again and then we’d both fall right back to sleep.
It was heaven. I loved the closeness and bonding we shared during those naptimes. I also loved the hours upon hours of glorious sleep!
Now Judah is six* weeks old. I very much consider this my 4th trimester. He’s still a newborn (barely!), and I’m still adjusting to having him on the outside (though he does feel like he’s always been a part of the family). We do not co-sleep, but we also do not, not co-sleep. Some nights he’s in his own bed (in our room) for most of the night, some nights he’s in mine. We do whatever works best for us on the particular night.
With my first child I would have thought this was confusing and unwise – the inconsistency and being led by my feelings in the moment. But now I just feel it’s right – being a little more intuitive. Life is fluid. Things change. We adjust. We learn and try to respond well given the current circumstances.
I know that co-sleeping is a controversial issue, and I have no problems with parents who do or don’t. (The far more important issue is safe sleeping for babies, whether that is with their mother or on their own.)
I just want a good night’s sleep for everyone… and right now while my baby is so tiny, I like knowing that he’s near me. I like knowing that he wants to be with me and that I’m his “safe place”. And the truth is, when he’s nuzzled up in the crook of my arm and dozes off after nursing… I often can’t tear myself away from him.
And then other times I can.
At times I want the freedom to toss and turn and pull the covers way up over my head… and so I place him gently back in his bassinet and I bury myself in my own bed with my husband.
Either way, Judah sleeps well. (As in “well” like a newborn. He still usually wakes twice a night… but we’re all sleeping well, thank you.)
On another note, when I’m not sleeping with him tucked up beside me… I spend lots of time taking photos of him sleeping.
What is it about sleeping babies that just melt a grown woman’s heart? I’ll never get enough of pictures like these…
*Judah is now eight weeks old.
Update: I wrote this post a few weeks back… and then days later the controversial co-sleeping ad from Milwaukee was released, causing quite a stir among the mom-blogging community:
Regardless of what you think of the ad, the one thing it has accomplished is that it’s gotten people talking about important issues. Co-sleeping or not, parents need to be well informed about safe sleeping practices for their infants. This post isn’t intended to be instructional or persuasive in any way – just to share one of the things that’s different about my parenting perspective from my first child to my second. Here are some links if you’d like some helpful guidelines on safe co-sleeping as well as the American Association of Pediatrics recommendations for infant sleep and SIDS.
Dear friends, what’s your stance on co-sleeping? Wouldn’t dream of it? Or wouldn’t consider any other arrangement?