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Yet Another Thing I Thought I’d Never Do: Sleeping With Baby?

June 15, 2012

When I found out we were going to have a baby, I started mentally making a long, long list of do’s and don’ts that I figured were pretty much set in stone.  Don’t have a medicated birth.  Do breastfeed.  Do work on setting up a schedule for baby. 

Don’t co-sleep.

We knew (and know) the dangers of co-sleeping, which our parent prep class instructor harped on pretty extensively: the baby could suffocate.  The parent could unwittingly roll over onto baby.  The baby could become dependant on co-sleeping and refuse to sleep in his or her own crib or bed once the time comes.

And yet, a little over two months in, here we are:

DSC_0440 

Co-sleeping.

Or, pseudo-co-sleeping, really.  Lila goes to bed in her crib around 10:30 or 11:00 each night, wakes up around 3 for a feeding, and then wakes up again between five o’clock and six.  During that final wake-up call, she isn’t hungry yet, and she’s still sleepy…but she’s also intensely active.  Usually when I go in to check on her, she’s grunting, kicking her legs, flailing her arms out, and generally looking a bit possessed. 

And then I pick her up.  Her body immediately goes slack, and she closes her eyes again.  The peacefulness that takes over is almost instantaneous.  And so, because I know we can all get another hour or two of sleep…I’ve started bringing her back to bed.  As soon as she gets in bed with us, she snuggles right up against my body and falls back asleep, nuzzling her fuzzy little head against my chin. 

I’ll be honest—these early morning hours are delicious.  It’s nice to get a bit more sleep, but it’s the tenderness of having her sleeping body next to mine that really gets me.

But. 

That being said, we’re both starting to worry that we’re setting ourselves up for a rough time of it when Lila gets a little older.  Is she going to refuse to sleep through the night?  Is she going to refuse to sleep in her crib?  Will we be like Mayim Bialik, still sleeping with Lila in our bed when she’s almost seven years old?  Let me go ahead and say that co-sleeping to that extent is definitely on our don’t list. 

But right now, it means more sleep, and it means more snuggling, and so somehow it has shifted from a don’t to a do. 

Thoughts on sleeping with baby?  Any fans of co-sleeping out there?  Are we basically sabotaging ourselves by letting her sleep with us like this? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

22 Comments leave one →
  1. June 15, 2012 2:46 pm

    Well, I’m not a parent so I don’t really know that intense urge, but I do understand the desperate need for sleep. We used to let our crazy girl Maddie sleep with us. It took 3 very very very long days/nights to get her into her kennel. Miserable! So I get that. But, then I see my sister still struggling to get her kids (um 6 and 7.5) to sleep in their own beds all night. They often get up and crawl in bed with her in the early morning hours. But some people are totally ok with that. Sorry, no real advice obviously.

    • Marcee permalink
      June 15, 2012 6:00 pm

      Why use a kennel?

      For countless years we’ve adopted/rescued. We never ever had any need to lock up a pooch. It is totally unnecessary.

  2. June 15, 2012 3:40 pm

    this is such an intensely personal subject for so many people! i would say first of all do what feels right for you and your family because that’s what’s important!

    BUT that being said i’m terrified of co-sleeping and would never do it. i think a huge part of this is because of the miscarriage that we had last year – the thought of losing another baby makes me feel sick, so we’ll do anything to reduce the risk of anything happening to Wes. but the sleeping thing is also important. we love snuggling and holding him and loving him, but when it comes down to it we want him to be able to sleep independently of us anywhere at any time.

    not sure if that’s advice, but hopefully it helps a little 🙂 again though, i would say do what’s right for y’alls family. the most important thing is that Lila is loved, which she so very clearly is!

  3. Jennifer Berry permalink
    June 15, 2012 3:45 pm

    I could tell during childbirth class when I was talking about cosleeping that y’all were both mentally going “yeah, we’re NOT doing that, Jen, so just keep on talkin'”. LOL I felt EXACTLY the same way with my first son. I just knew that if I was consistent enough and stuck to my guns, he would learn to sleep in his crib and we would all be happily sleeping through the night within just a few months, like The Baby Whisperer promised. I even got angry at my husband one morning after he’d been on “baby duty” and it had been HOURS since he’d come to me saying the baby needed to nurse (he woke up every two hours on the nights *I* was in charge) and I was wondering what on Earth he had done to convince the kid. I walked into the baby’s room and there they were, the two of them, curled up in bed and sleeping peacefully. “You’re ruining all my hard work,” I fussed at him, “now I have to start over.”
    Long story short: my son continued to sleep poorly in his crib. He woke constantly but would go to sleep as soon as he settled in my arms. I felt completely hopeless. Finally, when he was eight months old, I gave in. I learned to sleep with his little body snuggled up against mine and got the best sleep I’d had in almost a year! I began to see how he had been telling me of his needs over and over again all those months and I had stubbornly insisted on not listening to him, convinced that I knew better what he needed than he did. When he was 15-18 months old and we wanted to get him used to sleeping alone again, we actually put a bed on the floor in his room, with bed rails on both sides so that one of us could cuddle him to sleep there and return when he had need of us, which got less and less frequent as the months went on.
    With our second child and third children I chose to cosleep safely from the very beginning. Each of them had a crib or cosleeper side-carred to the bed (which really just ended up being a place to store their diapers for midnight changes, honestly) and I welcomed them into my arms. My second son was sleeping 6 hour stretches by a month old, something I had never expected. By three months old he was wriggling in my arms and telling me he needed space, so I started putting him in his crib to sleep and then bringing him to bed when he wanted to nurse. By six months he was waking up to our noises so we moved him to his own room, where he continued to sleep beautifully. Our third child wasn’t quite so accommodating, she had a contact need more like her oldest brother’s, but even she was sleeping long stretches so I was getting enough rest. We did the same bed-on-the-floor trick that we’d done with our oldest, and I was sleeping in MY own bed for most of the night when she was 9 months old, usually crawling in with her around 5 a.m. for a few more hours’ sleep.
    This is running long, but I have to tell you the biggest difference I think cosleeping made. Whereas my first child could never get enough of me, was clingy and dependent and lost without me (and still feels that way to some extent), my younger two children are independent and… FULL, if you know what I mean. They had their needs met. There is no lack of love and contact haunting them. I was determined to teach my children to be independent and self-sufficient, but I forgot that they can only be so comfortably if they have a bone-deep knowledge that I am THERE for them at their most vulnerable times. My oldest son did not gain that knowledge because I was more concerned with MY independence than with his needs. Honestly, if there was ONE thing I would go back and change about the way I parented him in his early months, I would take that baby into my bed and let him know by my actions that I am there for him in whatever way HE needs me to be. Good on you for figuring it out early and listening, in spite of your plans.

  4. Morgan permalink
    June 15, 2012 3:51 pm

    I could have written this post myself!!!

    Our baby is the same way. She wakes up half way through the night very restless and the second I pick her up and put her in our bed, she passes out.

    I never thought I’d co-sleep, but it works for us. I’m so insanely aware of her presence that I would never even move an inch without knowing where she is, even in my deepest sleep.

    She’s 6 months old now, and sleeps most of the night in her own bed. She also naps in her own bed just fine. I dont’ think she’s dependent on sleeping in bed with us..honestly, she’s half asleep when I put her there in the first place. I doubt she even knows what’s going on.

  5. Katie @ Legally Fit permalink
    June 15, 2012 3:51 pm

    We did the same thing until Audrey was around six months old (from pack n play in our room into bed with us around five). She started sleeping terribly around six months so we did something I said I would never ever do-sleep training. The transition to the crib was a little rough. However, after a few nights she was sleeping better than ever and we are all more well rested and happy. You have to do what works!

  6. Terry Peterman permalink
    June 15, 2012 3:57 pm

    Katy is three and she still sleeps in our bed with us at times. She is a kid. She gets scared of the dark, etc. However, she slept in a bassonet next to our bed for 18 months, and then the crib for 6. However, she would only sleep in the crib for an hour or two before we would have to get her and bring her into bed with us because she would not go back to sleep in her crib. Eventually, when we were tired we would just let fall asleep in the bed. She was a premie so we had a baby a little longer than most (She stayed smaller and took longer to meet mile stones that most babies her age; a small but awesome side effect of having a premie. You get a baby for twice as long! LOL).

    Here is the thing: Our doctor, Dr. Mustafa Suterwala told us that Americans are pretty much the only culture in the world with this hang up, and that risk of suffocation was very much overblown. He went so far as to label it a “secondary pyschosis stemming from the fear of being judged a bad parent for over nurturing your baby” as if to say, “Really, you are all just scared of being labeled helicopter parents so you make excuses not to nurture out of fear.”

    So, being a scholar what do you think I did? RESEARCH. Oh, you know you do it, too. I busted out the flashlight like a white guy in a horror movie, and went to work. I research everything a doctor tells me. Crystal says its because I am egomaniac and a know it all. I say I just like to be sure what a person tells is on the up and up. We are probably both right.

    However, I found that Dr Suterwala was in the majority of pediatricians. The AMA actually has dedicated a campaign to countering the bad publicity that co-sleeping has gotten. There is so much evidence supporting co sleeping. Babies physiologically benefit from it. Babies who co sleep grow and a more even and healthy rate, they develop faster, they meet milestones more quickly, and they even experience less instances of infection and other hormone related maladies.

    The only evidence I found against was that you could suffocate the child, but even that is sketchy. That Consumer Product Safety Commission report has been attacked by everyone because of its lack of factual basis, validity in design, etc.

    Katy sleeps in her bed now. When she was ready we would put on a movie, and let her sleep in her during nap times. Before long her room was her room. She prefers it now. There has been no difficulty transitioning other than her waking up at night and asking for me to put on a movie because she can’t sleep or wanting a drink of water.

    My recommendation: do what you think feels right. You and Ryan are two of the most awesome people I have ever met. You love your child and appear to be excellent parents. I think Lila will be just fine with whatever you decide. I hope my little post is not too long and provided some insight.

  7. June 15, 2012 4:25 pm

    “these early morning hours are delicious.” — couldn’t have said it better myself. We did a mixture of all sleeping styles and when it came time to get her to sleep in her own bed in her own room, we never had any issue so no, you are not sabotaging yourself and I now have a 5 year old who tells me mommy, I’m tired and want to go to bed now.

    Never do we have “bedtime power struggles” I read about. Which could have nothing to do with what we did in her babyhood but just mentioning it to say that what you’re doing is not a recipe for disaster and things will be just fine 🙂

    • Marcee permalink
      June 15, 2012 5:50 pm

      Love this advice!

      Isn’t it great when your (very confident) child can say that? Yes!

  8. Marcee permalink
    June 15, 2012 5:48 pm

    Each infant/child is unique and different. If the mom and dad create/raise them alike …. who really knows what will happen when they are older regarding sleep habits.

    All the above comments have helpful advice. I can relate.

    Fantastic idea with/from Mayim …… BUT ….. I personally have no idea how to go about taking care of an infant/baby without diapers!!! (Is that a trick question?) Something to further look into for anyone interested.

    Certainly the key would definitely be consistence. Once you begin that’s it. Worth trying. You must be aware of each child’s need, etc. Obviously, it can be done if one is motivated and has the time to devote. Marvelous if the hubz/partner is completely involved too.

    I do recall our mother telling us kids (true stories) when (as babies, etc.) waking up during the night, etc. mama would take our diapers off, put us on the regular t-seat, and encourage us to do whatever. She would talk to us in low whispers + let the water trickle in the sink. Mom was totally convinced that this worked ….. we were all diaperless before 2 years old!

    P.S. Anna …. no worries. You are doing absolutely wonderful. A great new mama! Keep enjoying those naps together.

  9. June 15, 2012 5:53 pm

    I totally see the temptation….but we pushed it away quick. Mostly because I was worried about that future seven year old still in our bed. However, I think everyone has to do what works for them. I don’t judge anyones decisions because everyone parents how they see fit! If its working for you right now- rock on!

  10. June 15, 2012 7:51 pm

    I’m going to be totally honest, now that I’m on #3, I have no problem with co-sleeping. I was so nervous about it at first, but it is quite literally the ONLY way I survived my first. Without him sleeping with us I wouldn’t have gotten any sleep. Period. At 9-10 months we moved him into his own bed because he was using my like a soother(he woke up to nurse even though he wasn’t hungry) and after 1.5 rough nights he slept perfectly. Not through the night for another few months, but it was better than him waking up and waking me up every 30 minutes to latch on even though he wasn’t hungry. And after a couple nights he knew he couldn’t sleep in our bed and it’s like he completely forgot about it. Now he’s 4 and asks to go to bed, and he never sleeps in our bed with us. My daughter slept with us until she was 18 months because she slept so well through the night and didn’t bother us so we never felt the need to get her out of our bed. I tried to get her to sleep in a bassinet in our room a couple times when she was a newborn and when I was up more than I was getting to stay in bed I gave up and let her sleep with us. She was a little upset when we moved her into her brothers room at 18 months but she adjusted perfectly and again, never comes into our bed to sleep with us and doesn’t have a problem going to bed(although she stays away and sings to herself because she’s not always tired at bed time, haha). With my newest little one, I tried a couple times on her first night home to get her to sleep in the bassinet and she never slept soundly in it for any length of time so she sleeps with us and she sleeps through the night. Of course we’re very careful about it and I can understand why people are afraid of it. But in our situation, I’d rather trade a couple fussy nights transitioning them to their own bed when they’re ready rather than months of sleepless nights. Of course it’s not for everyone though, some babies sleep better on their own, just not mine unfortunately.

  11. June 15, 2012 9:14 pm

    Anna, you are not doing anything wrong. This is a very personal choice that your family will figure out. I was 23 when Jay was born and I didn’t even realize we were “co-sleeping” at the time. It worked for us. Breaking him of it was heartbreaking, but I really believe that we are extremely bonded for doing being together and finding comfort in cuddling. Don’t be afraid of having to deal with breaking her of it in the future. Trust me, you will have many heartbreaking experiences trying to parent the right way. We had to break Jay of the pacifier and that still makes me sad. Max had double hernia when he was born, so he couldn’t sleep laying flat. He slept in his chair next to my bed for months, then we had to break him of that and he slept in a crib in out room…he is now 11 and we just took the pallet out of our bed a couple of years ago. Our kids need to know we are there for them. They need comfort and honestly, I don’t regret having them that close to us all the time. Life gets busy, our kids grow up and before you know it, they aren’t here for us to protect. I would do it all the same all over again. Good luck and enjoy the cuddles for now.

  12. June 16, 2012 11:47 am

    Ok, so I didn’t take the time to read through all of these comments, but all I can tell you is that I would NEVER co-sleep with my child after hearing the stories on Dateline about kids (babies) who have died that way. I’m sorry, after those stories, I get the creeps just seeing pictures of babies sleeping with adults! So, the adult moves one or two inches over, and could be on top of the child (it’s happened before). I’m just saying….I think it’s dangerous. Have you heard those stories before?? It seems like it would never happen, but it has, and more than you would ever think.

  13. June 16, 2012 10:32 pm

    All these comments are really interesting, and I certainly can’t appreciate the nuances of the conversation since I don’t have kids… but I can definitely imagine how plans go by the wayside when you have a baby! Sounds like the little extra sleep is good for everyone!

  14. Elizabeth permalink
    June 17, 2012 1:55 am

    I think letting her get in bed in the early morning hours is not the same as letting her sleep there all night. You don’t sleep as hard in the early morning as in the middle of the night. And you haven’t been drinking, etc.

  15. June 17, 2012 5:30 am

    We always used to crawl into my parents’ bed at sunrise! Setting a pattern by allowing her to sleep all night, may be hard to one day stop. But I have so many fond childhood memories of 5 of us squished together in my mum and dads bed.. 🙂

  16. June 17, 2012 9:26 pm

    I know I know absolutely nothing about this but I read a Deepok Chopra book that mentions that sleeping with the baby helps her breathing rhythm to regulate for life and prevents SIDS…

  17. June 18, 2012 5:01 pm

    That picture is so sweet – I absolutely love how snuggled up Lila looks! I

  18. June 19, 2012 12:05 am

    I take a morning nap with my daughter almost daily. I’m not 100% asleep, but I’m resting and it gets her off to a good start for the day. You need to do what feels right to you. I also said never when it came to cosleeping but I loved it right away. If you’re nervous, maybe you and Ryan can alternate mornings, with one of you on “watch” in the bed

  19. June 20, 2012 2:40 am

    Whatever works, girl! And I assure you that bringing her to bed with you won’t “ruin” her. We did the same thing when Sam was around 4 months … and again around 7 months. Both were just phases that he eventually outgrew. Now when I try to snuggle, he often squirms away. So enjoy it now!

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