Wednesday, March 14, 2012

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.


  1. i have become a big fan of Mayim Bialik. you know, the girl who played Blossom??
    anyways, i really got interested in her when i saw a little article on her in the back of my vegetarian times magazine, a while back..
    I have been keeping up with her on Facebook.
    She has finally come out with an attached parenting book called, Beyond the sling:
    I am dying to read it.
    I really like knowing facts about co-parenting/sleeping, and all of the benefits.
    Mayim is no dummy. she has her PhD in neuroscience from UCLA...
    anyways, thought you might find that interesting....
    something i am def. going to be reading!

  2. i always felt safer co-sleeping too. i felt like i really did regulate his breathing.

    (still co-sleeping even though he's got a toddler bed next to ours)

  3. I've been enjoying reading the posts and comments about co-sleeping. To say I have been really disappointed with co-sleeping/room-sharing would be an understatement. I was all over co-sleeping from the very beginning. About two month into it, though, I just couldn't get any sleep with a baby in the bed. I felt like I had to lay in one position all night and if I moved, she'd wake up and start crying. Also, she moved and moved, and woke up all the time, regardless. My husband could sleep through it and wanted to continue co-sleeping (fight, anyone?). We compromised and got a co-sleeper for next to the bed, which Lu slept in until she was 7 months. We're now using a pack n play in our room. She needed the space to roll around, and the co-sleeper and our bed don't seem to cut it. We are still struggling every night with her constant night waking. I so loved the idea of co-sleeping being a way for everyone to get more sleep (that's what everyone, including Dr. Sears, claimed!). At this point, I have a 8.5 month old little girl who wakes up every two hours every single night no matter where she is. I guess it's one of my big disappointments in trying to do some form of attachment parenting. I just don't feel like I'm seeing the benefits of it, and it feels like a lot more work! :) All I have to say is that she better be really well adjusted, independent, and smart in light of all the "attaching" we're doing now. (I kid, I kid. Okay, maybe not.) In any event, I still hope that we may get to a point where we can co-sleep a bit, but I feel that timeframe may be behind us. Enjoy this time with Cheech! I'm a bit jealous.

    1. "I felt like I had to lay in one position all night and if I moved, she'd wake up and start crying. Also, she moved and moved, and woke up all the time, regardless. My husband could sleep through it and wanted to continue co-sleeping (fight, anyone?). We compromised and got a co-sleeper for next to the bed, which Lu slept in until she was 7 months. We're now using a pack n play in our room. She needed the space to roll around, and the co-sleeper and our bed don't seem to cut it. "

      Oh geez, this part is EXACTLY my life. I'm writing though because our situations seem so similar but we're down to only a couple nights a week of constant waking now - 2/7 is better than 7/7 right? And if you're anything like me you'll take any suggestions, though I'm sure you've tried everything at this point.

      Here's what has been helping for us, with our insanely light sleeper (she's almost 8 months): A sound machine. Loud and constant is best. A warm Halo sleep sack with the swaddle part wrapped around her torso and arms out. A pacifier when she wakes up crying but nothing else is wrong (this is the only time she will usually take a pacifier, aside from in the car. We fought this one but gave in when we decided it helped). A friend suggested a warm rice sack in her bed before she goes down, or all night if you're comfortable with it being there with her. We couldn't tell if this helped or not. And patience. Believe it or not, I know my daughter sleeps better when I'm not stressed out about it. She totally picks up on my emotions. Part of destressing is knowing that this is just a phase and too soon she'll be grown. In the morning when (hopefully) I've had some good sleep behind me, I'll bring her into bed and let her sleep a few more hours there with me, and just SOAK up those snuggles. Sometimes I can even get a little more sleep myself. :)

      Celia's right. Sleep is a fascinating topic for those of us in the trenches. Sorry I wrote a book. Good luck finding what works for you.

  4. Here in the Philippines, co-sleeping is the norm. I don't even know any moms who don't sleep with their babies on the same bed! The crib is basically for daytime use (when the mom is busy with household chores) but at night, the baby sleeps in the bed with mama and papa. :)

  5. I want to tell you something:

    We also co-sleep. I have had the roughest time getting my son to sleep alone for even short stretches. He is a very tactile baby and has an acute radar for whether or not I'm next to him in the bed. I tried tricking him by having my husband lay in my place, but even that would have him screaming within 15 minutes. He's now 17 months old and, only recently, has started letting me leave the bed for sometimes up to 2 hours at a time (one hour is more usual though, and sometimes it's less). Just a few months ago this seemed like an impossible dream and yet, with no help from me he got there! The only thing I did was step back and allow him to be a baby, to take the comfort from me that he needed, and to grow in his own time, on his own terms.