Let me just set the record straight and say that I am not an advocate of cosleeping. Not only do I just not sleep well when baby’s in the bed with me, between him kicking me all night long and my worrying he’s going to roll off the bed, but I truly believe that parents and kids should have their own separate sleeping areas.
Some experts would argue that baby belongs in crib for the simple reason that it’s safer. That’s more than likely true, but I think it’s good for a number of other reasons:
- It’s undeniably better quality sleep for both baby and mom. Each can go through their normal sleep cycles undisturbed and without disturbing the other.
- A separate sleep area reinforces the idea of a bedtime, which naturally creates a much-needed schedule for both baby and parent.
- Babies need to learn to self soothe. In other words, they need to be comfortable putting themselves back to sleep if they wake up at night.
- Babies need to learn to be independent. That means not only sleeping independently but also figuring out how to amuse themselves in their cribs for a little bit so mom can press the snooze button once every so often.
- It’s a heck of a lot less messy. Between the drool and the wetting through the diapers, I’d rather change a crib sheet over my bed sheets any day.
But even I have to give into temptation every once in awhile. (There’s picture evidence to prove it.) Because let’s face it, it does feel awesome to have this sweet, sleepy baby curled up in the crook of your arm.
However, this summer there was an inordinate amount of cosleeping going on. Way more than I’d like to admit, actually. So what was driving me to nearly do a 180? Here are the factors that I trace to that sudden uptick in baby-in-the-bed nights:
- I was missing my husband. Plain and simple. And being close to baby was like having a little piece of him next to me even when he couldn’t be. I guess it made me feel a little less lonely.
- It was nice to feel needed. This was probably a consequence of #1, but there is something gratifying when you can quiet a crying baby just by pulling him close.
- We were sleeping in the same room. We spent most of the summer at my mom’s, so baby and I were bunked into the same room. Although he went to sleep in his pack’n’play without a problem, if I started to get ready for bed at just the wrong point in his sleep cycle, it was all over. He was standing in his crib, wailing for me.
- We weren’t exactly alone. Throughout the summer, we had a number of guests slumbering in the room next door. So when #3 would happen, I felt obligated to find the fastest way to quiet baby down so his crying wouldn’t keep them up.
This combination of factors was like kryptonite to my cosleeper resistance. I found myself having a baby sleep-over, -on top of, -next to, and -under at least a couple nights a week. And I was exhausted each and every morning that it happened.
While this whole exercise made me appreciate the space and routine that I have in my own home, it also underlined for me just how important it really is that baby have his own digs. There’s less fussing and what little waking (if any) there is during the night is extremely short lived. Moreover, he’s sleeping sounder. When we were in the same room I could barely open the door before he was awake; now that he’s in his own room again, I can walk in with the dog trotting behind me, adjust his blanket, and even put a hand on him and he barely stirs.
In the end, my stint as a cosleeper ended up proving to me that baby and mommy really were better off in their own beds. Even if I miss hearing those last little yawns in my ear before baby books it into the land of nod.