Before my daughter was born, I swore I would never, ever co-sleep.
When you are pregnant and when you become a new parent, guidelines and recommendations are thrown at you from all directions. I was eager to follow the rules, do exactly what I was supposed to do, and not stray. For example, a few of the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines about sleep include:
- Always put a baby to sleep on their back.
- Use a firm surface, like a crib mattress, not a car seat or swing for sleep.
- Babies should sleep in the same room as their parents but not the same bed. Room sharing but not bed sharing.
- Keep soft objects (bedding, blankets, and pillows) out of the crib.
In the beginning, we followed the rules.
When A was a newborn, she slept swaddled in a bassinet by our bed. If she fell asleep in my arms, I would force myself to stay awake too. I was terrified of falling asleep while holding my little baby. I had many long, sleepless nights like that. For months, we never brought A into bed with us to co-sleep.
As we became more comfortable as parents, we became more comfortable with bending the rules.
In December, when A was 6 months old, we traveled to visit my family for the holidays. We stayed at a hotel and requested a crib for A. It was much smaller than her crib at home and had metal bars. Every time A rolled over, she would roll into the bars, and scream. After hours of trying to get her to sleep on her own, and not sleeping myself, I gave in and brought her into the king size bed with us. She slept, finally! And so did I.
While we still do not co-sleep on a nightly basis, there have been a few occasions since that first night when co-sleeping has been the only way any of us could get some sleep. When A has not felt well, when she had been in pain from teething, and now when we are away from home, we co-sleep. We place A in her favorite sleep sack, give her a few pacifiers, and place her on top of the blankets in between my husband and myself, far from any pillows. Having a king size bed is a must. There just doesn’t seem to be enough room for all of us to be comfortable in a smaller bed.
I never thought I would actually enjoy co-sleeping, but it really is something special. It’s so sweet, watching A drift off to sleep. And it’s also comforting, knowing my family is so close by. There’s nothing like snuggling with my precious baby girl as she sleeps.
But, there are some negatives too. This past week we have been co-sleeping on vacation. That means we all go to bed when A is ready for bed between 7:00 and 8:00 pm. We also wake up when she does, so early each morning, between 5:45 and 6:30 am. Not to mention, there is a tossing and turning, flipping and flopping, toddler sleeping between us! Unlike my husband, I am such a light sleeper. A has fallen asleep with her legs on top of me, has thrown herself onto my back as I slept on my stomach, has grabbed at my face, rubbed my arms, and cried out “dada” countless times! All while dada has been fast asleep!
It’s not something I would want to do every night. I do like having time to myself after A goes to sleep at night. I also enjoy having my space to myself. But co-sleeping every once and awhile, when it’s really necessary for all of us to get a good night’s sleep, is something I am OK with.
My daughter will only be small for a short time. There will come a day when she may not need or even want to seek me out for comfort like she does now. So, I will soak up those moments while I can. I will snuggle with my baby when she needs me. And savor every second.
How do you feel about co-sleeping?