Viewpoints: Co-sleeping and Bed-sharing

viewpoint-cosleeping-bedsharing
Image via Author/ Devan McGuinness

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. 

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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. 

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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. 

What do you think?

Viewpoints: Co-sleeping and Bed-sharing

Devan McGuinness is the founder of the online resource Unspoken Grief, which is dedicated to breaking the silence of perinatal grief for those directly and indirectly affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. Using her own experience of surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan has been actively supporting and encouraging others who are wading through the challenges associated with perinatal and neonatal loss. Winner of the 2012 Bloganthropy Award and named one of Babble's “25 bloggers wh ... More

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7 comments

  1. Profile photo of tiffany tiffany says:

    i have 6 kids and only 2 ever slept in a crib. my son started at about 3 months but he loved his space and my daughter did from 6 months and up. its hard to say what works for one will work for all. when we co sleep with our kids we have a crib against one side ofbthe bed and very little space on the other side between the wall. we get out of bed by scooting to the end of the bed. nobody wakes and we all sleep great. right now we have 2 in our bed. my newborn if sleeping when we go to bed, sleeps in her crib until she wakes. when she wakes i bring her to the bed and go back to sleep feeding. if she is awake she comes straight to the bed. our toddler sleeps between us but has lots of space and my husband sleeps on the end by the empty space. we are all comfortable except when my 3 yr old climbs in bed too. then we are cramped but that rarely happens

  2. Profile photo of pumpkin pumpkin says:

    when i was pregnant, i kept telling everyone i had this perfect plan in my head. a plan that included the “tough cookies, you sleep in your own bed in your own room and i dont care if you like it or not” plan. haha how foolish i was. we ended up cosleeping for a few months, then transitioned him to his crib, but had it attached to our bed. currently he sleeps with all 4 walls of his crib up (instead of the 3) but it is pushed right next to our bed. yeah sure none of this was in our plan, and if i could have done anything different it would have been cosleeping from the start. we would have gotten much more sleep in the early days :p

  3. Profile photo of Shana Shana says:

    I have a younger brother and when he was born not only did he sleep with my mom through his infancy, he slept with her half the time until he was almost 6 years old. I know that my baby is going to have to share a bed with me and daddy. My only concern is how to rearrange the furniture so the bed can fit against the wall. I have wide open rooms and the beds don’t touch the walls as a way to not disturb the partners for late night snacks and potty breaks.
    time to get creative.

  4. Profile photo of Marie Marie says:

    With my first, I planned to have him in bed with me. Hubby is very adamant about not sharing a bed with a baby, so I tried a twin bed in the nursery for babe and me. A twin bed is not big enough! I was so worried about one of us falling off that I wasn’t getting enough sleep. When he was about a week old, hubby took him, gave him a pacifier, and put him in the crib. That night we all slept great. However, trying to nurse in the middle of the night, even with an awesome rocking chair, was awful for me. Keeping the lights low, to keep LO from fully waking, and yet trying so hard not to fall asleep myself, was terrible. I was a zombie for months.
    For #2, Hubby slept in the other room and baby and I took the queen bed. That was AMAZING! We all slept beautifully. He never spent even one night in a crib. Now that We’re expecting #3, I plan to bed-share again.

  5. Profile photo of jennifier33 jennifier33 says:

    My son sleep in bed with me for the first 6 months.

  6. Profile photo of Elisa Elisa says:

    I’ve heard its really good for the baby to co-sleep. and I am currently 31weeks pregnant and I plan on allowing my little girl to co-sleep if she needs to and wants too…..

  7. Profile photo of Prapapon Prapapon says:

    My baby sleep on the bed with me and she sleep really good through the night.

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