Confessions of a Cosleeper

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:

  1. 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.
  2. A separate sleep area reinforces the idea of a bedtime, which naturally creates a much-needed schedule for both baby and parent.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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12 Comments

Filed under babies, co-sleeping, daily life, first year, infants, naps, sleep

12 responses to “Confessions of a Cosleeper

  1. jessica

    Sarah, if that baby is not Ian’s i don’t know…he is a mini ian…i can’t stand it…and, he is almost no longer a baby….he is getting too big waaaaay too fast….sending lots of love and hugs!!! ox’s….

  2. Yeah, I love co-sleeping with my baby. He sleeps in his crib at the beginning of the night, and then we snuggle together after midnight. It gives me the maximum amount of sleep so I can go to work the next day. So far, no sucker punch at 3 am, so I don’t mind.

  3. Paige

    Great post, and so true. My child is wild…..literally. She is a snuggle bunny when she wants to be, but more often than not, she’s fired up and wants to party the second she senses any sort of being 🙂 I put her down at 8 every night like clockwork, and if she wakes up I’ve recently learned, she’s better off staying put and working it out on her own. As of late, she’s been sleeping so much better……as has mommy and daddy! BUT, there are absolutely occasions where cosleeping is needed…..and awesome 🙂 It truly is a different gig for every parent, and every child!

    • Very true that every parent-child combo is different and everyone ends up finding what works for them. But I’m with you on fairly strict bedtime routine. Like yours, my wee one will just keep going to the point of meltdown and beyond. So at some point, I’m good with pulling the plug on the day, even if he’d rather not. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Micki

    I too am normally against co sleeping…..but since daddy has been gone, I put the little ones to sleep in their bed and somehow when I wake up at least one….if not both are in bed with me!!! 🙂 They are getting pretty smart though, if they wake me up and I’m not too tired, they are marched back down to their own beds, but if they crawl into bed and sleep on Kevin’s side with out kicking me in the head, I let them stay. As much as I love a good nights sleep without the munchkins…..I love waking up to their sleepy faces and giving me kisses!!! Not sure how Kevin is going to feel about our new bed partners (did I mention the 70lb dog that sleeps with me too). I wonder if we need a bigger bed!!! Rules were meant to be broken,Right? 🙂

    • Daddies being gone is the No. 1 reason for cosleeping among my mommy friends. And I totally get it–and do it. Kids are so ridiculously happy, and therefore cute, in the morning, for sure. But it’s the whole “what happens when dad gets home” that has also sort of forced a course correction. And I hear you about the dog. I loved cuddling with a puppy. But 70+ lbs later and I can’t stand to wake up with my buns hanging off of the side of the bed because of a dog. Thank god for the crate! So good to hear from you, by the way. 🙂 I hope you’re doing well while dad’s gone. Sending lots of good thoughts your way!

  5. Erin

    I WISH I could get O to sleep with me sometimes. She’s so super independent and falls asleep like clockwork, and not that we’ve stopped nursing I miss my snuggly time with her. I’ve tried bringing her to bed when she wakes in the night, but she just wants to play, and I know it’s not what she needs, more what I do. So thanks for sharing and letting me live vicariously through you. And yes, he’s such a mini-Ian!

  6. Trust me, there are many a mommy who wishes her kids were like your sleeping beauty. But it is funny how snuggle time can be as much, if not more, for the mommy than wee one. Makes me wonder what else I think my kid “needs” that he really doesn’t. 🙂

  7. Yes it is true that some professionals feel babies are best in their cribs but there are MANY others who feel the opposite. My daughter is 7 months and has slept in bed with me and my husband since the day she was born. To my surprise even her doctor approves of it stating that it is a cultural thing to not have our babies in bed with us. I do see the other side as well though… there are some nights when I just want the space but then we start to miss her so when she wakes up to feed we bring her in with us. ( Still breastfeeding 🙂 ) I don’t think there is a right or wrong…all that matters is that mommy and baby are comfy.

    • Very true that every mommy finds what works for her. And I agree that there are definitely cultural considerations that color our perspectives on what we should and should not be doing as moms. For me, I really don’t see cosleeping as much as a safety issue as a potential relationship issue further down the line. I’m all for bonding with baby, but at what point can that start to jeopardize other relationships, say with other children or spouses? I know that when I cosleep most of the time it’s more for me than my baby. If I’m honest with myself, it’s because I need to feel close to someone, to love on someone, to have quiet, quality time with someone. And I can easily see where I could use it as an emotional crutch for what may be missing, which a lot of the time is my husband because his work has him traveling a lot. So for as much as I love cuddling at night with the wee one–let’s face it, who doesn’t love that from time to time?–I am not convinced it’s super fair to my husband or our relationship to make a nightly ritual. But that may just be me. 🙂 And btw, fantastic job on the breast feeding. It’s certainly a big commitment and you’re doing great!

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