Friday, November 16, 2012

Adventures in Co-Sleeping

    We are a co-sleeping family, and have been since the day we brought baby girl home. Our original plans were to have her sleep beside our bed in an arm's reach co-sleeper. We brought her home from the hospital, set her in it, and she screamed. For the first few days home, we would try to put her in it on occasion, even for a few minutes. Every time, she would scream. It didn't matter if she was tired, or what time of day it was. She cried a rather heart wrenching cry. It was pretty clear, the co-sleeper wasn't going to happen. Her Dad even went out and spent $60 on one of those snuggle nest, that goes right in the bed. It played music, and womb sounds. She liked the sounds, but did not like being in it. Overall  it was a bad purchase for us. First, they take up a ton of space. Second, our little lady who first rolled the day she was born, figured out very quickly how to kick her little feet over the sides. Third, and most important...she hated it. On the bright side, we gave the snuggle nest to a friend, and her baby did like it. So it wasn't a total waste of money.

    So, we have been allowing baby to sleep in our bed since our first night home. We have been safe about it. Co-sleeping gets such a bad rap thanks to media, when really if it's done safely it's been found to be safer than having your infant sleep in a separate room. I could link to studies on this, but instead I'm including a link to another blog post, which includes such links, at the end of this post. Baby does not sleep on or near any pillows or heavy blankets. She usually sleeps right next to me, and prefers to be in my arms. I am okay with this, as it keeps me more aware of her movements. Another plus has been that she doesn't need to fully wake to nurse. I am aware of her when she starts to squirm and fuss, and thus can get her latched before she fully wakes, making it easier to get her settled back to sleep. There has even been plenty of times when I've woken to find her already nursing, having latched on herself without help. There is something very peaceful about these moments. Perhaps the biggest plus of all though, is that because she sleeps with us, where she prefers to be, our baby has been sleeping through the night since the day we came home. Yes, she wakes up to nurse, but she very rarely fully awakens, or stays awake for more than a few minutes if she does. She is over 6 months old now, and I can count on one hand the number of rough sleep nights we have had. I'd say, we are doing pretty good.

    One thing some people may see as a downfall is the time our baby goes to bed. She likes to stay up late. We are okay with this. I was the same way, as a baby/child, always. Her Daddy was working an 11 to 7 shift, so this was perfect for us. She usually goes to bed anytime between 11pm and 1am, and wakes between 9am and 10am. The only issue we are going to have with this routine now, is that her Daddy is going to be working some 7am shifts. It's only a couple of days per week though, so I am sure we will survive. We see no reason at this point to try to force her onto a schedule that is not natural to her. Maybe we will feel differently if/when we have more children. For now though, as long as she is happy, we'll let it be.

   We also do have her crib side-carred to our bed now. We set this up when she was about 4 months old. She still will not sleep in it, unless I am right next to her, and she can lay on my arm. It does give us a bit more room in the bed though. Plus, now that she's really getting around, she's finding she likes to play in it. Some nights we will turn out the light, and she will wriggle away from me and crawl around in her crib for awhile. She is also working on pulling herself up on things, and has been making a game recently of climbing all over Mommy and Daddy, when we try to go to bed before she is ready. Our bed has turned into a jungle gym lately. This too, is a reason I am glad we co-sleep. I would be a nervous wreck if she was in a crib in a separate room, because I guarantee she would figure out how to climb out.

    Oh we also nap together. Some people say we need to get her to sleep on her own. The thing is, I am sure she would. She will fall asleep in her car seat, or stroller if she is in them and tired. At home though, her down time is also my down time. It's not the time I choose to clean, or do anything strenuous. Some days I do sure, and on those days baby gets worn. We have a small living space, so naps generally work best for her if I am quiet too. Therefore, when she naps, I lay down with her and do something quiet, like read a book, or take a nap too. I think we are all better off this way. She gets plenty of rest, and I get plenty of rest. It keeps us all a bit more peaceful. Sure, we have our exhausting no nap days, but what family doesn't?

    Overall, we are very happy with our decision to co-sleep. It's what works for us. No, it's not what's best for every family. I think, ultimately, everyone has to be able to get a decent amount of sleep for your family to function best. If having baby in their own bed or room is how this can be achieved for your family, then do so. I just happen to like that this is working so well for us. It's certainly made our life easier.

   Now, as a disclaimer, I am not telling anyone they should co-sleep. Everyone should decide for themselves what is the best and safest arrangement for their family. This is what works for us, even if our bed has become a jungle gym to her lately.

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