So you are thinking about co-sleeping/bed sharing
Thinking about ditching the baby’s crib? Or you just accidentally started co sleeping and you need more information? This blog is for you.
When I first got pregnant, I wanted to co-sleep. It’s what my mom did with my sister and I and it just felt natural and normal. I was met with a hard no. So we got a crib for our nursery, and a bassinet for our room. And I let go of my desire to co-sleep.
After my daughter was born, we placed her in her bassinet, low and behold, she began to cry. I tried nursing her and placing her back, she cried again. I rubbed her tummy and sang her songs, still crying. My wife had enough. “Just put her in the bed with us.” So that’s what I did. It felt like the most normal thing on the planet. The next morning, I sat at my computer and researched co-sleeping and how to be safe about it. I felt confident in our decision to bed share, until I visited our pediatrician, and he asked me if I wanted my baby to die. I quickly found another pediatrician who was attachment parenting friendly and co-sleeping friendly.
Co-sleeping is biologically normal
Mammals sleep with their babies. Babies in every species are vulnerable, crying attracts predators. Sleeping with the mom helps with nursing and facilitates a natural sleep schedule so babies can grow big and strong. The same goes for humans, except for having predators. Our babies spend 9ish months inside us, listening to our heart beat and our sounds. Sleeping with them soothes them back to sleep easier, creates easy access to milk. Don't let people shame you for doing something that comes naturally.
Co-sleeping helps facilitate better sleep
Babies, especially newborns wake every 2-3 hours to have milk. Picture walking into another room several times a night to feed your little one. Not fun. You just had a baby, you are supposed to be healing. When your baby is right there next you, it’s really easy to learn their body movements that show they are about to wake up or that they are hungry. Even when you are sleeping, it’s like a sixth sense. You can easily side-lie nurse them, or pick them up if they are in a co-sleeper, and let them dream feed. Dream feeding is feeding your baby before they wake up. It helps them stay asleep longer.
I don’t know about you, but I am terrified of SIDS, I love co-sleeping because I can just place my hand on my baby’s tummy and feel comfortable feeling their breathing. If they were in another room or another bed I would sit there all night watching them breathe.
So, let’s talk about safety and comfort
- Sleep in a king-size bed if possible, to give everybody plenty of room. If you do not have a king-sized bed, consider side-carring a crib or co-sleeper. You can see my blog on how to side car a crib here.
- If you have a concern about rolling on your baby, don’t sleep with your back to your baby and you can sleep on one side curled around your baby. If you are still concerned think about getting a snuggle nest.
- Be sure there are no wide crevices between the mattress and the guardrail or headboard that your baby's head could sink into. I fill the cracks in my bed with unused pool noodles. I just put them in place with the sheet, and we have a secure crack.
- Avoid letting other people sleep with your baby. Caregivers and children don’t have the same body awareness that parents do. Occasionally my older child sleeps in our bed, but never next to the baby unless I am awake and watching them.
- No sleeping with baby on couches, or other surfaces that baby could fall into the cracks or cushions.
- Sleep with light blankets or sheets and minimal pillows. Preferably one for each parent.
- Put baby to sleep on their back, with their head aligned with your chest. No putting them on pillows. Their head can tilt down and restrict their airway.
What about sex?
I promise, if you want to, you will make it happen. Maybe you can use it as an opportunity to change things up. *I am making a really uncomfortable face while typing this*
Transitioning out of your bed
They move out of your bed eventually. Sometime around college.
I am joking. My six-year-old occasionally sleeps with us, usually early in the morning she comes in for snuggle time or if my wife is gone for the night she sleeps in her spot. When the time came that we wanted her to move out of our bed she was about 1.5 years old. We put a toddler bed against our bed and began putting her to sleep there. We slowly moved the toddler bed away from our bed and eventually into her own big kid room. We made a huge deal about moving into her own room, she even picked the color for her walls and some of the decorations.