Viewpoints: Co-sleeping and Bed-sharing
Before I had children, I would think about what my future baby's nursery would look like. What theme would I choose? What was it going to feel like to walk in the room and see my sweet sleeping baby? When I was pregnant, I was excited to start the nursery and do all the nesting I had been hearing about.
I worked hard in the last trimester to get my soon-to-be-born son's room all ready. I had the cutest décor, the perfect crib, and wonderful pictures on the wall. It took a lot of effort during the low-energy last trimester to make sure it was perfect, and it was.
When I brought him home from the hospital, I was excited to have someone fill that space in the gorgeous nursery. The first night I placed him in his crib, I thought it was going to be magical. But it wasn't.
He screamed, and I cried, so I brought him into bed with me.
And that's how our adventures with co-sleeping and bed-sharing began. Four kids later, each one grew past their infant stage (with my youngest currently in the infant stage) not ever sleeping in a crib in a room of their own. Instead, they were either in a bed in our room — just a hands reach away, or right in the bed with us.
It's what worked and is working for us.
I know there is a lot of misinformation about the safety of bed-sharing, but truth is, as long as you're following all the safety tips, it's a perfectly accepted option for sleep. I breastfeed my children and am a very light sleeper. For me to get any sleep at night, having the baby in bed with us (always between me and a secured wall, never between myself and my husband), means he can latch when he wakes to eat, and I can sleep through the whole thing. It's amazing, and it's the only reason I have survived the no-sleep phases and continue to breastfeed as long as baby needs.
The first time I slept with the baby in bed with me, I was nervous. I knew it felt right and natural for me and helped me feel sane, but there was (and still is) so much out there about the dangers of bed-sharing. It wasn't until I spoke to a friend of my husband's, an older mother who had teenage children, about how she used to have her babies sleep in the bed with her, she said, “We are the only mammals who choose to sleep so far from their young babies.” That stuck with me.
I believe every family has to do what feels right to them and what works to make the family as a whole happy. For us, that means my husband and I crawl into bed each night with at least one child sweetly asleep beside us. It means my baby and I get our needs of sleep, touch, and food met. It means following safety procedures (just like there are guidelines for crib safety), and it means a happy family all around.
And, what's sweeter than waking up to a gorgeously happy baby face, right?
This blog is part of a new series where various viewpoints on parenting topics will be shared. These views belong to the bloggers themselves and do not necessarily represent the views of EverydayFamily or other contributors. We share these stories because we recognize that part of building a community of parents is allowing for open and honest conversation on parenting topics. We welcome discussion and feedback in keeping with our community guidelines. Be sure to check back this month to hear from other bloggers on their experience with sleep during the first year, and on additional topics in upcoming months.