I wanted to keep the co sleeping discussion going. Some of you brought up some great points in the last comment thread, and as soon as I was going to respond to all of them, I got super sick, then Cheech got super sick, and blah blah blah.
So, here are my responses...
@williamsburgbaby Honestly, I think it's impossible to really know what parenting techniques you're going to adopt until you actually have your baby. Like I mentioned, we were on the fence about co sleeping, but once Cheech was born, it didn't make sense to do it any other way. I feel like lots of things have ended up that way.
I agree with Jamie that it probably is a survival strategy for most people... although, I know most people don't sell it that way. The first year, especially those first few months, can be insanely challenging. I think it's only natural for new parents to fall into habits that make life easier for themselves and their baby. For us, that was co sleeping. Knowing my EXTREMELY DEFIANT little girl, "training" her to sleep in her crib really has not been worth the effort. I've spent the last year exhausted as a new mom, and truthfully, I don't feel the need to exhaust myself anymore. Some people might consider this lazy parenting, but I disagree whole heartedly. I find that getting through that first year (and possibly even second year) organically is more about logic than laziness. In other words, you'll know what works best for you and your babe. Whether that's using a crib or altogether skipping it, like I've said before there is no "right" way.
@The Waits I couldn't agree more; Co sleeping feels extremely natural for us as well. That being said, I know many people, personally even, who think we're total weirdos for doing it. ;)
@Amy My point exactly! It's so funny how you plan and plan, and just assume that you have it all figured out before your baby comes. I crack myself up when I remember some of the things I used to think I'd do, or ways I was sure I'd be.
@Clairsy I totally get how a family bed just isn't for everyone. If it freaks you out to the point where you're getting less sleep, then yeah, skip it. Like stated above, it's all about survival.
Things were different for us. This may sound very odd, but I have always felt that Cheech is safer in our bed than she would be on her own. I'm pretty sure most parents who co sleep share this sentiment. I guess I feel that having her so close to me gives me a leg up if something is going wrong, i.e. she stops breathing. Obviously, I understand that not everyone would be on the same page as me with this issue.
As she's gotten older, our sleeping arrangement has changed significantly. For the the first 5 months, she slept between us. At least 3 of those months, she slept on the Boppy Infant Lounger. Swaddling was a total disaster for us; She learned how to break her arms out by the time she was two weeks old, and if we wrapped her so tight that she couldn't break free, she'd cry. So, we gave up on traditional swaddling by the end of her first month. As a result, she learned how to become a very active sleeper at an early age. Once all the rolling started happening, we got rid of the lounger and placed her on the mattress slightly above our heads so that our covers wouldn't touch her.
Somewhere between months 4 and 5, she got pretty good at rolling back and forth in her sleep, and I'd find that she would scoot herself down to get under the blankets. It wasn't until around 6 months that we started putting her under the blankets with us. I know that's somewhat of a controversial decision, but I think it's all about knowing your own baby. She had gotten so skilled at moving around in her sleep, that our fear of SIDS diminished significantly. About a couple months ago, she even started using her own pillow. After she had spent weeks fighting me for mine, I finally gave in. Again this arrangement isn't for everyone, but it has worked and been safe for us.
Also, we do have our bed against a wall. We usually start the night out with her between us, but she prefers sleeping right up against the wall, so she always ends up there at some point during the night. When we're not in bed with her, we barricade the other side and foot of the bed with our couch cushions.
@Emily Yes, it WILL happen. Just because babies who co sleep tend to take longer to figure it out, it doesn't mean that they NEVER will.
@Yellow Buttercup We never used a co sleeper bassinet, but I've heard only great things. I guess they're the perfect compromise between a traditional bassinet and having your baby sleep in your actual bed. I have a friend who use one and now that her baby is too big, she uses the pac n' play just as you described. We tried the pac n' play method, but sadly, had no success. For Cheech, I believe that a lot of her sleeping issues also have to do with having enough space. Therefore, cribs, bassinets, pac n' plays, and everything of the sort have never been roomy enough for her.
And to everyone else, thanks for commenting. I know this is an intriguing topic both for parents-to-be, and parents who would never even fathom co sleeping. I like discussing sharing a bed with our baby because it's the way we do, but please don't feel like I'm pushing this method on any of you. I 100% know that it's not right for every baby. Had I not had so much difficulty breastfeeding, and had Cheech not screamed bloody murder every time we attempted to put her in a crib, I can't be positive we'd be a co sleeping family either.