6 Things I Learned about Co-Sleeping
Parents talk about sleep.
Everyone needs sleep, and most of the parents I know are trying to figure out how to get more of it. If you are a new parent or a seasoned parent with a new baby, co-sleeping may be your answer.
But before jumping in head first or tossing out the notion altogether, check out the five things I learned about co-sleeping with my son. It just might help you decide if co-sleeping is right for you and your family.
Co-sleeping may be more complicated than you think.
When I first started bed sharing with my son, Oliver, it was completely on accident. I was exhausted and desperate for sleep, and bed sharing with my son seemed like the easiest path to catching more Zs. Once I realized that I was going to be co-sleeping full time, I decided to do some research on how to do it safely.
And it turns out that co-sleeping safely was a lot more complicated than I thought it would be.
Some things I was already doing right, but other things needed to change. I replaced our comforter with a breathable sheet and removed all the “extra” pillows from our bed. I also started laying him down on the outside of the bed instead of between my husband and me.
If you are considering co-sleeping or are co-sleeping now, do some research! Co-sleeping can be made a whole lot safer — you just have to know what you are doing.
You really have to do your research.
Co-sleeping is a controversial topic — for good reason. Some people swear by it, and others believe it to be incredibly dangerous.
If you are planning on co-sleeping, you should really do your research. Not only will it make co-sleeping much safer for your baby, but it will also help to relieve anxieties for you down the line.
If you've researched your decision to co-sleep and someone challenges that decision, you won't have a mini crisis on your hands. Whether you ultimately decided to co-sleep or not, you will feel confident in the decision you made and will have the research to back it up.
There is such a thing as spending too much time together.
By the time my son was about 8 months old, I started losing my faith in co-sleeping. Although it had served me well initially, I was feeling over-touched and, honestly, a teensy bit resentful. And once he started really crawling, things only got worse. Co-sleeping had not only become more tedious, but potentially more dangerous as well.
He had grown too big for the swing and rocker, and he surpassed the age where he would just fall asleep in my Tula or in other random places. The only place he would get any kind of decent sleep was in bed. And this was a problem because if he was in bed sleeping, I couldn't do anything else. I was afraid that if I left, he would wake up and crawl right off the side of the bed, either hurting himself on the way down or afterwards by getting into something once he was free to crawl around the room.
At night, I faced the same problem. Oliver went to bed at 7:30 p.m., which meant that either my husband or I had to as well. We couldn't even watch TV. He was far too distracted by any noise or light, so usually, one of us would just resign ourselves to a super early bedtime, which was OK some days and really inconvenient on others.
Regardless of when I came to bed, Oliver took total advantage of our sleeping arrangement, waking up to nurse nearly a dozen times a night and scooting closer and closer to me in his sleep. By the time I would wake up in the morning, I would find that my husband was gone and that Oliver was in the middle of the bed. We would accidentally edge him out of a sleeping space throughout the night.
It was around this time that I really started to realize that we all needed more time alone and that our co-sleeping days were numbered.
The child's transition from bed to crib is a nightmare.
When Oliver was 13 months old, we decided it was time to move him to his crib. The only problem? Oliver didn't think Oliver was ready. He would become hysterical whenever we would try to get him to sleep anywhere but our bed next to me. He would cry and cry and cry, even if we were in the room, holding his hand or rubbing his back. And since my husband and I are in the anti cry-it-out-camp, we found ourselves in a bit of a pickle.
We tried nearly everything. Seriously. From the far fetched to the research based, we gave it our best shot. But despite our efforts, we found ourselves getting nearly no sleep and jumping at each other's throats pretty quickly. Eventually, we decided that something had to give. My husband would have to be the one to help Oliver make the transition because he was just too attached to me. And so, we very slowly transitioned Oliver from our bed to his crib. It took 4 months and a lot of tears (from all three of us), but we did eventually succeed.
I should mention, however, that Oliver still does not sleep through the night consistently. He is almost 2 years old and wakes up at least once most nights (sometimes many more times) and it is still my husband who comforts him. And although I know the arrangement has been hard on my husband at times, it has helped him to bond with our son tremendously.
When I look back on that time of transition now, it doesn't seem like a big deal. It feels like something that was totally worth it in the grand scheme of things. But at the time, it felt very big and very frustrating and seemed to go on forever.
Co-sleeping deepened my bond with my son.
I didn't co-sleep with my daughter, so even though my son was the second born, co-sleeping was a new experience. It was an experience I found myself too often comparing to my experience with my daughter's sleep. And while my daughter and I are very close (and she is of course very loved) I have to say that I felt much more connected to my son so much sooner.
I attribute this almost entirely to our sleeping arrangement. Spending that much time with your baby in such a vulnerable and intimate setting can not help but create a strong bond. Even after our bed sharing ended, our bond remained intact.
Co-sleeping is totally worth it.
Bed sharing turned out to be both harder and more rewarding than I ever imagined.
I will not soon forget falling asleep to my son's quiet breathing or waking up to his beautiful face. Co-sleeping is one of the best experiences I have had as a mother. I wouldn't trade it for all the sleep in the world.
What's your co-sleeping story? Share in the comments below.