When I told my husband that I was writing a piece on co-sleeping, he was like “you mean Zoe taking up the whole bed?” I couldn’t help but chuckle. It’s so true. She spreads out and likes to touch one or both of us while she’s falling asleep.
Before Zoe I didn’t know much about co-sleeping and didn’t plan to do it. It just happened; and, now, I am very glad.
Co-sleeping doesn’t always mean bed-sharing. It means that you are sleeping in the same room. When Zoe was born she slept in a bassinet right by our bed so I had easy access for nursing at night. Our plan was for her to sleep in there for three months, then move her to the crib in her own room. My husband and I talked about this ahead of time and it sounded like a good idea. Then things changed.
Since my husband had to move to California before us to start his job and find a place for us to live, I had the bed to myself for 10 nights. I pulled Zoe, yet three months, in the bed with me to feed her; and she just ended up staying there the rest of the night. When I realized how easy it was to feed her and that she slept more soundly when she slept by my side, I continued to let her sleep with me.
I loved that she was so close – it made me feel safe. I could see and feel her breathe. I didn’t have to wonder how she was doing in the other room. It just felt right. Plus, the added benefit was that I got better sleep too. I didn’t have to get out of bed as much to put her back in the bassinet.
At first, I was nervous because I heard some of the horror stories, so I did a ton of reading on the web to learn about safe bed-sharing. I learned that most of the horror stories happen when the mom is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. I also read that more babies die in their own cribs from SIDS than from bed-sharing. I am always aware of her – even while I’m sleeping. It’s an awesome maternal instinct.
Co-sleeping seems to be a controversial topic in parenting and I’m not sure why. It’s done around the world in most other cultures. A lot of parents in the forums I read confess to bed-sharing like it’s some deep dark secret. So I was afraid to tell people for a while; but the more I did, I found out how common it really is for a lot of families. I’m don’t want to be bashful about it anymore. Yes, Zoe sleeps with us. And yes, she still wakes up to eat about two or three times a night.
It’s funny how so many people ask about Zoe’s sleep habits. The most common question I get is whether she sleeps through the night – like this is how you tell if she’s a good baby or not or if my parenting skills are on par. Do that many eight-month old babies really sleep through the night? From what I’ve read, no. Most babies wake – especially if they are breastfed. And that’s okay; they are supposed to. When they are really young and dependent, they need to wake to ask for food and comfort.
I read a study on the benefits of co-sleeping for children; and there’s one sentence I just can’t stop thinking about – babies are meant to be with their own kind. It stuck with me because it seems so simple, yet so profound. Imagine being completely helpless and dependent. Wouldn’t you want to be around others to feel safe? Wouldn’t you want to be close to your food source?
We’ve tried a couple of times to put her in the crib, but my husband said it best just the other day – “she’s just not ready to sleep on her own”. We’ve talked about the right time to move her, but decided that as long as she’s eating at night – there’s no sense in me having to get out of bed. We’ll know when it’s the right time.
Co-sleeping works for our family. Since I am committed to breastfeeding, bed-sharing makes sense – she sleeps better, I sleep better. As with any parenting decision, you have to figure out what’s best for baby and family. And even though this wasn’t the original plan – right now, this is the best for us.
If your family co-sleeps, tell us about it.