Category Archives: co-sleeping

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

My Inner White Trash Mom

I don’t know whether it’s the fact that it’s summertime or that I’ve taken refuge at my mother’s house for the season, but I’ve started to notice that my parenting standards are slipping.

Bedtime was the first routine to go. The first couple of missed bedtimes I justified by saying to myself that we hadn’t seen my parents in awhile and we were in a new place. Things would settle down and we’d be back on our old routine. Not so much. Twice in the last week we’ve been out to dinner at baby’s bedtime. (Thankfully sans meltdowns.) Not to mention that I’m so not a co-sleeper mom and yet three times in the past week, I’ve tried to have an all-night struggle with my baby. (I have regretted that decision every time as I found myself hanging off my queen-sized bed at 4am.)

Cleanliness also has been debatable since we’ve been home. Whereas at home baby gets a bath around 5pm every afternoon, at Mimi and Grandpère’s, baths are much more fluid. (No pun intended.) We’ve been so busy that it feels like I’ve been in almost a rush to get him into bed at the end of the day, bath or not. But the other day, I found an entire lock of hair encrusted in some sort of baby food. Seriously, how did I miss that?

Yes, that is a Dorito

But I’d say where I’ve been doing the worst in recent days is in baby’s nutrition.

I consider myself totally that mom who tries to buy organic for baby, who thinks about balancing fruits and veggie servings every day, who doesn’t get more adventurous with snacks than Goldfish or an occasional Wheat Thin–two of baby’s faves.

As a total aside, I’m a big fan of HappyTot foods; love the foil pouch, random mix of flavors–seriously, spinach, pear, and mangoes?–the thicker consistency (no need to add oatmeal or rice cereal), and the fact that it includes the so-called super grain salba, which has the awesome powers of omega-3. But these days, this type of wholesome food is only a tertiary part of his diet.

This past week’s menu has been pretty much an incarnation of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. While baby’s still sucked down tons of milk and chowed on at least some of his his normal breakfast, lunch, and dinner foods, his appetite has been decidedly more geared toward a number of treats:

Last Thursday, baby ate French fries.

Friday, he ate a lemon wedge, a carrot with ranch dip, and part of an onion ring.

Saturday, he ate watermelon, salami, and macaroons.

Sunday, he ate soft-serve, vanilla-chocolate twist ice cream with rainbow sprinkles.

Monday, he ate gingerbread cookies for breakfast and Doritos.

Tuesday, he ate barbecue-flavored pretzels, a grilled cheese, and part of an Arnold Palmer (half lemonade, half iced tea).

Wednesday, he ate animal crackers.

Taking stock of his intake definitely makes me feel a bit like a white trash mom. The collective nutritional value of these menu items is darn near zero. But then part of me thinks that it’s summer at grandma’s house, so why not have a little fun and indulge. We’ll make up for it with an extra gummy vitamin or two.

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The Science Behind a Sleeping Baby

Sorry to have been out of the loop for a week plus; I’ve missed my cyber mommy friends. But my real job–you know, the one that keeps my cleaning lady and nanny employed–had me down in Orlando for the annual builders’ show. It was my first more-than-just-overnight trip away from baby. There’s lots to say about that experience, but that’s for another soon-to-come post.

So, before I digress totally, I just wanted to turn any mommy friends with infants, especially those who aren’t sleeping through the night, on to a project that a childhood friend of mine, Meg Casano, is working on. See, Meg is a nurse and mom of three, the last of which just arrived in September. She’s also an infant sleep consultant with her own firm, Baby Sleep Science.

Yes, an infant sleep consultant. Honestly, I didn’t even know such a job existed. How does someone even think of becoming one? It turns out that having just one colicky kid can illuminate a career path for the most desperate of moms. Here’s what she said:

As for how I go into this… Four years ago Ella was SUPER colicky from day 1, and I made myself literally crazy trying to get her to sleep. We were all exhausted and I realized there had to be a better way. I started doing my own research and was “apprenticed” by a woman who had her own sleep business and got her start with Dr. Weissbluth who wrote the book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.”   I say “apprenticed” because there is no official sleep certification so you want to be very careful who you read and who you talk to!

When we moved to Boston, I met a woman our age who had her PhD in sleep rhythms and works in the Harvard sleep lab. She and I clicked immediately and she taught me a TON about the science of sleep and I taught her a ton about the medical/psych/RN part of sleep and we created a program of PowerPoint, classroom instruction, and private consults for the Isis Maternity Centers in the Boston area.  Then we branched off to do our own business where we could cover more ground than what we were doing at Isis. So… that’s sort of how I got started in a nutshell!

At that, I was even more intrigued and eager to pick her brain, even though I was blessed to have a baby that started sleeping through the night at about week seven. I figured that the odds were pretty darn good that I could learn something from talking with her that would help me in someway I hadn’t yet considered–or at least some of the mommies I know who would give nearly anything for just one full night of sleep (and by full night, I mean 6 hours.)

For the record, Meg has been a wonderful resource to me over these past 8 months since Baby Pienik arrived on the scene. But before I get into the weeds of what she’s taught me (so far), I just have to highlight her newest project. (Not to worry, I’ll share her best tips soon.)

For this project, the sleep consultant is starting sleep training, as Meg

The Sleep Sage

described it. She’s started infant sleep training with her wee one and is keeping a log of it online with the Baby Sleep Science blog.

The blog doesn’t promise to be a how-to manual for all parents, but it does give a very detailed account of how a professional baby sleep sayer would handle a lot of the issues that arise in the natural course of raising a baby. I really love reading her blog because there’s this clinical, professional element to it and yet she’s super candid about the realities of being a mom and trying to execute on this stuff.

At any rate, if you’re a mom with a sleep angel or, well, the other kind, there’s a lot great info to be gleaned from Meg’s efforts. Happy reading!

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A New Addiction

There are some things that are easy to say that you’d never do as a parent. And then you become one.

The first thing I did a 180 on was baby’s bed. I had been adamant that baby was going to be sleeping in one of two places–the lovely crib I had put together or the super pack ‘n’ play that had nearly gotten the better of me during its assembly. I wasn’t interested in a cradle or bassinet and the idea of a co-sleeper contraption wasn’t particularly appealing to me either. Babies belong in their own beds not mine.

At least that was my thinking right up until the first night we had baby at home.

My husband and I were sleeping on our pull-out couch; not only were both our mothers staying with us, but with how bad I was feeling, it was easier to get to the bathroom and the freezer (my need for ice packs was serious). Baby was supposed to doze in the pack ‘n’ play next to us. Then came that first midnight feeding.

Move over, daddy, make room for baby.

Part of it was sheer laziness. I was in pain and didn’t want to even roll to my side much less try and get up from a reclining position to a standing position and walk to the pack ‘n’ play (it was a whopping three steps away). And part of it was exhaustion. I was so tired that I could barely keep one eye open while feeding.

But I think the biggest driver was that I just didn’t want to be away from him. I’d gotten so used to having him with me 24/7 in utero that it was really hard to even be three steps away. I needed to feel his warm little body, hear his whisper of a breath, and smell his baby smell.

But for as sweet and special as these moments with the wee one in the wee hours were, I still kind of felt like I was doing something bad by renegging on my original position on baby’s sleep habits.

Some of it was probably the gazillion pamphlets on SIDS that had been given to me by my OBGYN, the nurses at the hospital, the military doctor we saw two weeks after baby was born, etc. The rules were pretty simple: always lie baby on his back, don’t smoke around baby, don’t use a lot of excess bedding (bumpers, comforters,  and sleep positioners are a no-no), and never, ever, ever let baby sleep in bed with you.

So, yes, I felt some amount of guilt that perhaps I was jeopardizing my baby by having him near me at night, even though our risk profile for SIDS is probably zero.

But the other thing that was making me feel guilty was that I felt like I was paving the path to a very bad habit.

I remember when my husband and I were crib shopping. We were at Ikea and I was trying to convince him that we should buy this cute blue crib. He didn’t want to buy it because he felt that it looked cheap and he didn’t want to put his kid in something that would fall apart. I argued that cribs were essentially disposable furniture anyway–the kid would either destroy itor we’d want something different for the next kid–so why spend an arm and a leg on one.

As we were discussing, a man came through with a five-year-old and a two-year-old in his arms. Seeing an opportunity to throw some informed opinion behind his argument, my husband asked this man to weigh in on the crib debate. Would our soon-to-be-born infant be comfortable and safe in a crib that cost $130?

“Would you put your kid to sleep in that?” my husband asked him, pointing to the crib I liked.

The guy kind of gave us a tired but bemused smile–like he’d been there and lost that battle before–and told us he didn’t really know that much about cribs for newborns.

“Our babies slept in the bed with us,” he said.

“This one still does,” he added, nodding toward the babe in his arms.

“How old is he?” I asked.

“Two,” he said with a heavy sigh.

I’d venture a guess that if I ran into the same guy in a year, baby would still be sleeping in his bed.

I totally can see how it happens. Not only is there comfort in having my perfect little one close by my side, but I swear that baby sleeps better (and therefore I get more sleep) when he’s in bed with me. And with hubbie in training for the moment, there’s plenty of room for baby and me.

However, I’m trying to go cold turkey on the co-sleeping because I don’t want to end up with a teenager in my bed. I’m through week three and baby is sleeping in his own bed–the pack ‘n’ play shoved in the corner of my bedroom at my parents’ house–every night. Well, almost always. I still can’t resist pulling him into bed with me after his 6am-ish feeding. Those few hours of sleep are absolutely blissful.

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