Our CoSleeping Arrangement
So it’s no secret I try my best to operate as a gentle mama. I fail sometimes, but one thing we rock is co-sleeping.
I thought I would share it for other mamas out there who might be wondering how it all works.
For one thing, I should dispel some myths:
Myth: It’s dangerous
In the absence of a few risk factors, healthy babies pretty much thrive. If neither parent is highly obese, neither smokes cigarettes, neither is on any heavy narcotics or pass out drunk at bed time, bedsharing is pretty safe even for heavy sleepers. I have heard a lot of mamas express fear that they will roll over onto their baby and not notice it, but I think just the fact of having that fear will mean you won’t. But also, if you don’t wake up your partner all night by rolling on top of them, it’s because you are pretty well conscious of other humans and their space even in your sleep. There are actually studies that show that co-sleeping is less dangerous than putting baby in another room where you cannot hear or feel them. This is because the proximity to mama helps to sync baby’s rhythm’s with mama's— including breathing. Babies do have irregular breathing patterns for the first few months of their lives (I am not sure exactly how long and it is worth looking up), but being in arms reach of mama at night helps regulate their body’s electronic signals and if they stop breathing, mama may stir without ever waking consciously and end up breathing on baby’s face which will re-stimulate their breathing! I sound like I am making this up but look it up! Dr. Sears is all about it!
Myth: My partner and/ or I won’t be able to sleep like that
To this, I say perspective is everything. I personally sleep better when I don’t have to get physically out of bed to address a wakeful baby’s concerns at night. I also have less anxiety about the well-being of my baby when they are right in my arms, right next to my chest and I can feel the rhythmic rise and fall of their breath. My husband and I both have gotten to a point where even if we start the night in another room (we are grown ups here, right?) we wake to go spend the rest of the night with our babies because we like being near them and the security that comes from our whole family being together.
Myth: Goodbye sex life
Get creative friends. And now a great segue into my description of HOW we do co-sleeping.
HOW WE COSLEEP
When Annabelle was first born, we all fit comfortably in our queen bed with no issues. She slept between hubs and I and it worked for a long time. Eventually…. maybe by 9 months old, she started to move A LOT! We would find ourselves clinging to the edges of the mattress and terrified she would roll off of the foot of the bed because she was pinned in from all but that side! So we bought a crib off of craigslist and removed one of the walls on it and lined it up next to our bed for several months. This worked nicely for a long time. She would still move quite a bit, and still need me for comfort throughout the night but I could nurse her, put her in her crib and rub her back til she fell asleep and she was ok because we were all still very close by each other.
Eventually, the crib was too small and too much of a nuisance in the space we had in our bedroom. Plus, when I found out I was expecting Avery, we knew we had to make different arrangements. We decided on a twin bed to expand ours. It still gave her the space that was all hers so she could flop and toss and turn as much as she needed to but still be safe and in our room. We actually even put up a bed rail for a toddler bed at the foot of the mattress because she did manage to roll off of the foot of the bed a couple of times.
Now that Avery is nearly 2, a larger bed arrangement has definitely been a strong consideration. For now, as Avery night weans, Trace will take him to a second bed when he wakes up to nurse so he can be cuddled and loved on by someone other than the boob-giver. Hopefully in the near future, we can maybe upgrade to a king mattress next to Annabelle’s twin and have enough space for us all comfortably.
Find what works for your family- no one formula is the perfect fit and not everyone is fit for co-sleeping. If it’s not for you, fine, but don’t let it be out of misinformation.
Don’t rush it- My kids will only need me for so long. Seriously… one day I will look back at these days where it seems like my every SINGLE moment is consumed by these people and realize I have to fight to get access to their time at all ever.
Make sure baby can sleep safely, not too many big covers or pillows around them, put them in clothes that fit properly… stay away from the risk factors.
Make sure baby isn’t going to roll out of bed. That little tyke will be rolling before you know it and the worst time to find out about their new trick will be to the sound of a thud at 3 am. Make sure there is plenty of space in the bed. And try to put baby between some barriers. We usually slept with baby between mommy and daddy and a pillow above their heads. If they got down to the feet zone, they almost always hit one of our feet first at which point we awoke, moved them, and went back to sleep!
Probably the number one benefit of cosleeping for us is that I feel like it bonds our family in a lot of ways. My husband would never have been a dad who didn’t share my load, but he is involved on a level that isn’t common in our culture partially because we cosleep. We also get to have conversations that we might not otherwise have with our kids because we are with them all night.
Co-sleeping helped me night wean… because my husband would hold the baby when s/he wanted to nurse when I was ready to be done nursing at night. I never had to cry it out with them (which I never would have) because they were safe and loved by daddy. NOTE: This does NOT mean they did not cry at first, but being loved on and held while crying and dealing with upset emotions is much different (and in my opinion much better) than being left to deal with stressful emotions alone.
We sleep better! Like I said, not having to physically pull myself out of bed to handle my baby’s needs at night has been amazing. At first, it was really hard during Annabelle’s first few weeks of life because I wasn’t comfortable with side-lying nursing, but I practiced it all day long to get to a point where I could sleep while nursing! And it worked! The only reason night-weaning started to become necessary is because of teeth… plus there is only so much exhaustion that will allow you to sleep through a person on your boob… eventually, night nursing does keep yo awake even when you co-sleep
It saved us money at the outset. We knew we would co-sleep so we didn’t invest in a crib til we needed her to have her own space… We didn’t go all out decorating a nursery because it was in our room. We didn’t get a baby monitor until we started putting them to bed before our bed time… for a long time, we all went to bed at the same time!
Anyway, there is probably lots more I could say on this topic but this post is getting crazy long. But I hope you found it helpful if you are considering bed-sharing. I say trust your intuition, always.