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Friday, April 17, 2009

The Great Thing About Parenting... CO-SLEEPING

Ok..it's our first go-round. Topic of the day is CO-SLEEPING! Well, any type of sleeping, actually. Co-sleeping, room-sharing, crib-sleeping...whatever it is you do/did, have your baby do, plan on doing, are interested in...whatever!

If you have no idea what this is, here is the original post explaining the series that this is starting.

First...ground rules!! This is not meant to be a debate! This is meant to be a discussion. We're simply sharing what we do (or plan on doing, etc) and offer some explanations as to how we reached our decisions, offer some insight, stuff like that. No bad-mouthing others that think differently. The point is not to try to prove our own way is the right way. Let's be open-minded and simply chat together. If things get ugly at all, I will jump in and moderate - that means approving comments before they are posted online. That also means NOT approving any mean comments. It's my blog, so I get to do this if I choose to.

Now...here's my story. First of all, I never ever planned on being a co-sleeping Mama. I've always been one to say that my kiddos will NOT be sleeping in my bed with me. They go to their own bed. Well, having a child can undo all that you had planned to do.... Everything went as originally planned with Camden. He was a great sleeper. Learned to go to sleep on his own early on, and he's been wonderful about it ever since. I know I am blessed with how great of a sleeper he is!

Then enters Aiden. Now...I am blessed with Aiden, too. But he is not the world's best sleeper. We first had him in our room in his bassinet. I think many parents do this with their newborns, so I doubt I'm part of the minority there. He slept close to my bed at night so that I could get up to feed him, which he did often. We waited until all the holidays were past to move him to his bed at night because we traveled a lot and wanted to wait until we were home and back into our routines before creating another schedule change. He was still waking every couple hours to nurse even though he was five months old.

Let me back-track for a second... At just a couple months, Aiden was sleeping through the night. But then around three months or a little after, he went back to waking more often. And he never really went back to sleeping longer. He seemed to be really hungry when he woke, too - not just waking for the sake of waking and wanting to be nursed to sleep. The boy ATE!

Ok - so we put him in his own bed after the holidays. We thought maybe then he would start sleeping longer - being farther away from the food supply. Nope. Not at all. He woke the same, but what changed was Mommy having to go farther to feed him. That woke me up more. And after a short time, I was very (I mean walking-into-walls-very) sleep deprived. Something had to give. We kept trying to come up with a solution. I will say that Ryan was the first to actually VOICE the idea of co-sleeping. (Why am I saying this...because I want people to know that him giving up part of the bed was not forced on him, that's why.) We had both clearly been thinking it for a while. Saying it out loud was a relief. And trying it was even more of one!

I immediately felt more rested. Sure, I was waking the same to feed Aiden. But with him right next to me, neither of us had to wake fully, so we both fell right back asleep (me and Aiden, that is. Ryan just slept away after the first couple nights.).

Now, we did want to be sure we were doing this safely. So...as with all of our major decisions, we researched. And researched. And researched. I won't go into all the details (I will provide a few links for those interested), but I will say a few things. I was surprised to find information that actually is very encouraging for co-sleeping. Co-sleeping is VERY safe, possibly safer than crib-sleeping alone. There are stats to back this up, which makes it rather interesting. (I am a stats person - I really am. I can get pretty excited over some good stats. Yes, I'm a bit of a nerd that way.)

When we hear about infants dying while co-sleeping - we are hearing a sliver of the real story. It is actually very rare, while crib deaths occur much more often. Ok - I'm really not going to go into detail here b/c it's depressing to talk about babies dying. But the whole parent-rolling-on-top-of-baby story happens so rarely and is typically due to an overweight parent, a parent that has been drinking or is under the influence of some drug, or is with a parent that does not breastfeed. Those of us that co-sleep (I know you're out there) know that when you sleep next to your baby, your sleep cycles become in sync and you will wake at the slightest movement coming from your baby.

There are many benefits to both Mom and baby when co-sleeping occurs. It helps regulate baby's sleep cycles, helps baby to stay in the lighter stage of sleep when they are younger (it is believed that babies younger than 6 months are in more danger of SIDS when they are in a deeper sleep and unable to arouse themselves), it helps breastfeeding (and helps keep supply up because you are still nursing throughout the night. Supply issues have always been a concern for me, so this was another benefit for me.) It is believed that co-sleeping decreases the risk of SIDS. Mom actually sleeps better because she doesn't have to fully wake up when going to another room to check on, feed baby, etc.

Now, I must say, we have taken EVERY safety precaution. I do not think co-sleeping is something that should be done on a whim without thought or action taken to create the safest possible place for your baby.

Curious about some of our safety precautions?? Here are a few things we are doing... The covers on the bed only come up to my waist, if that - they never go past Aiden's legs. He is not next to my pillow or anything soft and fluffy. There is something in place to ensure Aiden doesn't roll off the bed. I never worry about him rolling off the bed, though, because the only way he moves at all is to scoot closer to me. And he will do this in his sleep. He sleeps best when he is as close to me as possible. If after nursing, I move away an inch or two, he will eventually move back. He sleeps even better if our faces are right next to each other. (Have you ever noticed how well your little one will return to sleep if you put your face next to his? No? Try it! Works *almost* every time. Your breath helps regulate their breath - and they can tell you are so close, even if they still have their eyes closed and are just fussing in their sleep. I've been amazed seeing how simply putting my face next to Aiden's has affected him.)

And aside from all the reasons I listed...we just LOVE co-sleeping. It started out as simply a way for ME to get enough sleep - or more than I was, at least - but it's become more than just that. (I wish now that I had done it with Camden!) We love watching Aiden sleep when we all get into bed at night. It's wonderful waking up in the morning...especially those times when he wakes one of us up by patting on our faces or by laughing and "talking." I've really gotten to know Aiden's sleep habits, too, so I feel like I know him better. Believe it or not, I feel like it's even brought me and Ryan closer together. We feel really connected and happy when we're lying there with Aiden, watching him sleep and smiling over how cute his sleeping mannerisms are. In the mornings, Aiden will often wake up when the boys are getting ready for work and school, but he and I will usually go back to sleep for a bit. When we do wake up, we aren't rushed one bit. I don't have to jump up to get him from his room. We lie there in bed, cuddling, playing around for as long as we want. It's a great way to start the day.

For those of you asking have we thought about how long he will be in our bed? How long until he should be sleeping through the night? How will we get him in his own bed eventually? What about "us" time? Well, we've thought about it ALL, trust me. For starters, Aiden still naps in his own crib and goes to sleep at night in his own crib. He usually wakes around the time we are going to bed - or he wakes when we should be in bed, so we use that as our incentive for going to bed! We're not concerned over how long Aiden will be in our bed. I mean, he will eventually outgrow nursing through the night and will move into his own bed. I don't know any 15-year-olds that are still waking in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep without help, or that are still in bed with the parents. (Yes, that's extreme, but you get my drift.) And "us" time...I won't go into that. But we have it figured out.

Things I have noticed since co-sleeping... Aiden sleeps best snuggled next to me. He goes to sleep with a SMILE on his face when he is in our bed next to me (no kidding! And no, he does NOT do this when going to sleep in his crib.). It is said to be normal for babies to cry out in their sleep, and Aiden has done this a LOT while in his own bed. He'll fuss, make terrible faces, and cry out - makes you think he must be having a bad dream. Are you familiar with this, too? He does not do it at all in bed with us. Aiden likes to bring his legs in and push them up against me when nursing (ok - he likes to KICK me), but if I bring his legs up a bit higher, he will simply curl up and nurse. Aiden likes to have his feet out of the covers when falling asleep (but you can cover them after he's asleep). In the morning, he loves to try to play with my nose and mouth - he thinks it's funny, especially when I tell him no and try to move my face away.

Basically, we have found out that this really works for us. I know that many of you are saying "no way" to something like this. And that's fine. Feel free to share what DOES work for you and why. :) Any questions for us, ask away.

Here are a few links in case you are interested. I recommend glancing through them. I have found that this is a VERY INTERESTING topic.

Dr. Sears website - on cosleeping.
Some info on safety things to consider (also Dr. Sears)
Great article with lots of STATS (this article was referred to often in the reading I did)
Dr. McKenna & some articles by him can be found here. He has done a TON of research in this area.
Safe Co-Sleeping article.
Another article - long but good.

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Amy said...

I think mothering.com and Mothering magazine have some really great, very well researched articles on co-sleeping/bedsharing.

Incidentally - "co-sleeping" is any form of sharing sleeping, so that means a bassinet, Arm's Reach co-sleeper, crib in the same room, whatever. "bedsharing" is the baby sleeping in your bed.

We started with an Arm's Reach co-sleeper attached to our (full) bed. Micah slept in the bed with me for a few weeks, then sometimes slept in the bed or the co-sleeper, depending on how much he was keeping me from sleeping. He very much prefers the bed, as it is softer and warmer! 2 weeks ago we bought a king bed, because I was just too crowded. All 3 of us like sleeping in a king bed!

Right now our routine is naps in the crib, Micah goes to bed in his crib, and at either his around 1 am or 5 am feeding I bring him into bed.

I like bedsharing because:
1. Getting out of bed at night to go sit in a rocker is darn near dangerous for me. I don't like sitting up and feel super tired and groggy. Sometimes I think I might drop him!
2. It is fun to snuggle with my baby and my husband.
3. It keeps all of us warmer.
4. Micah and I are in sync. I know him well, I hear him breathing, I know if he's feeling bad, and if he calls out I am RIGHT THERE. Half the time I respond while we're both still asleep.

1. In the newborn stage, I recommend having a co-sleeper or bassinet or packnplay if only for storage and diaper changing.
2. Babies poop, pee and throw up in the bed. You just have to accept it and be willing to put down towels first and/or change the sheets!
3. Sometimes we irritate each other with fidgeting. In that case, it keeps us from getting quite enough sleep! I will say I am better at anticipating this now.
4. My mom does not understand it and spent a few months worried the baby never slept in the co-sleeper or his crib.
5. Micah occasionally hosts karaoke night in the middle of the night, which keeps me awake. Or he wakes up at 6 am and kicks me til I wake up. I find both of these less than pleasant.

I'm not worried about when he'll transition to his own bed. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, but I feel like since he goes to sleep in his own bed and takes naps there he'll be OK with it when the time comes.

All that to say, 95% of the time I love bedsharing, just because. It works for us. I have friends that it does NOT work for, and I think they should never feel criticized for not doing it.

And intimacy with spouse works out. It's amazing how creative you can get.

Daisy and Ryan said...

I agree with EVERYthing you said, even the drawbacks. I forgot all about the stuff that can get on the sheets.... ;) We are past the diaper concerns (so far, at least), but we've had the spit up. And the singing at night. And kicking. Some nights he does keep me up a lot - last night was one! And that's not always fun, but at the same time, I know I would have been kept awake if he was in his crib - and this way I didn't have to get up to check on him, which I would have.

I'm not sure when we'll start with the next one in our bed. Aiden was in his bassinet for so long before this. So I've never had a newborn in bed (except for a few mornings when it was just me). I'm not sure how different that will be....

And you are so right that anyone that it doesn't work for...should not be criticized. I think people need to find what works for them. I'm glad we tried this b/c it really does work for us, and I hadn't expected to take this route! To each his own. :)

Becky said...

Hooray I can post comments again!
I did a modified bed-sharing when Colin was smaller. Around 4am I would just loose patience for all the up and down and would just bring him into bed with us. I loved it. He was so snugly and warm and I loved having out sleep cycles in sync. It made my husband a bit nervous because his youngest sister was 8 or 9 before she left her parents bed, so he didn't want to get into that pattern. I eventually noticed that he napped in his crib better when he slept all night in his crib so I stopped bringing him in. It also helped me get him on a more consistent routine because when he slept in the crib he woke up around the same time (6:30ish) instead of us sleeping in together until 9 (although I did love the sleeping in!). Now he naps everyday at 9 and 2 and takes much better naps.

We still co-sleep or bed share when we travel because Colin doesn't like to sleep in pack and plays so I still get to snuggle with my baby sometimes.

I was against co-sleeping until I had a baby... its funny how much your opinion can change.. its like that book.. "I was a better parent before I had kids"

Anonymous said...

We do whatever works on any given night. We started with a Pack and Play by our bedside. Well, the first night home was his first night on the planet (we went home 10 hours after his birth) and he looked so small and lonely in there. So, he came in with us for a bit, but it made my wife SUPER nervous. So, at first, he was in with us only if she was awake and could keep an eye out. This is what we called the "7:00 stretch" when he and I would sleep snuggled up until 11:00pm and she would watch TV and make sure he stayed safe.

After he outgrew that, he went full time in the PnP until I learned to nurse laying down. Then he would start in the PnP and end up with us after the 2:00 or 5:00 feeding out of sheer laziness on my part.

He's too big for the PnP bassinet now, so we moved him to his crib. There is a queen bed in his room, so now that's where we sleep. He starts in the crib and comes in with us whenever I get tired of putting him back in the crib. Again - lazy. He is not a napper, but naps in his crib for the most part unless we miss his window and then we sling him for a nap.

I love sleeping with him, and I will love when he's in his crib. I think Susan and I sleep better when he's not in our bed only because he sings, and pokes and wants to live attached to my boob in the bed. We are better parents when we are rested. But for now, this is what he needs so this is what we do.

-Melissa Hill (Theo's Mama)

Kevin A. Puckett said...

We cosleep too, but right now it more out of nessecity. We live in a very small apartment in the city and don't have an extra room for the baby. I don't like having him snuggled up to me at night. I find it hard to relax so after nursing, I just scoot away. That way we don't wake each other up with our little movements. I can see the benefits of cosleeping, the main one is when Silas gets up to feed at night he does not get fully aroused so it is easier to get him back to sleep and it disturbs his sleep less. I would say it varies with each baby because my first was such a light sleeper (and so am I) that we constantly woke each other up (even in a bassinet) to the point he had to sleep in the other room. I wouldn't say he slept any better, but I was in school full time and needed the sleep. So it depends on the baby and space you have. My husband sleeps on a cot right next to the bed so we have more room. And don't worry we have our marital stuff worked out too ;) Emily

desiree fawn said...

I love cosleeping! My 11 week old has been sleeping in our bed since day one and I can't imagine her being anywhere else. I sleep so much better with her by my side and BOY OH BOY does it ever make those middle of the night feedings easier!
You can visit my blog to check out a couple things I've mentioned about cosleeping ;) Just click the link in the left column!
I love it and I love talking about it!

Jessica said...

DS2 is cosleeping now - DS1 did for 2.5 years and cheerfully moved to his own bed when baby brother was born. Well, I say that but he sneaks into my bed most early mornings and I love it! Anyways, great blog post, you are so correct about the risks are really limited to unsafe arrangements or intoxicated caregivers.

Petrina said...

We have a modified bed-sharing arrangement in that when Stella wakes up fussy/hungry (usually between 5 and 6 am), I'll go fetch her from the crib and bring her into bed with us where she'll nurse and then go back to sleep. This works out well and it's nice to wake up to her sunny smile again around 7. It doesn't work so well on the nights she wakes up between 2 and 3- I'll bring her back in the room and her nighttime fidgeting combined with my paranoia over rolling over her make for a not so restful night for momma.

During her early infancy, she slept in a bassinet by the bed so we've never had a full-time bed-sharing arrangement. For us personally, it would make things far too problematic when it came to matters of intimacy...plus I'd be incredibly sleep-deprived.

I think whatever works best for mom, dad and baby is okay by me.

Gwenn Mangine said...

Definitely not a fan of co-sleeping. Which is not to say that my children have NEVER spent a night here or there in my bed when they were sick or something.

BUT, my main objection is the intimacy issue. My "marriage bed" is for ME and MY HUSBAND. Period. I do not feel like I am free to love my husband as I should with a baby/child right there. Could we be "creative" as one other poster puts it? Sure.

But I am a firm, FIRM believer that marriage (not being a parent) is the primary relationship that should be nurtured. So if you're asking if I love my husband more than my kids, the answer is HECK YES! Probably not popular with some people, but works for us. (Not to mention it being Biblical.)

When our babies were itty bitty they slept in our room (in a bassinet) for a few weeks. And then when Nico came home, Nick and I pulled our mattress into HIS room and slept on HIS floor.

But the idea of having a child in my bed on a regular basis-- NO THANKS!

I'll take the freedom to love and enjoy my husband how and when I/he wants.

And as a side note, from an insomnia point of view-- which I have... co-sleeping STINKS for me.

Samara said...

I don't let my cats sleep in my bed at night, so I am not sure how I would handle the kid situation. But for now, no cats allowed in the bedroom at night.

Mike said...

Ha, I don't let my cats sleep in the bed either. But it's because they are really annoying and demanding. Wait, for some reason the baby doesn't seem like that...

Daisy and Ryan said...

thanks for all the comments, folks! :)

becky - i have a love-hate relationship with the sleeping in that gets to occur when aiden sleeps with me. it makes it so much easier to be lazy and snooze the morning away. sometimes that's fine, but other times i feel like half the day is gone before i'm actually dressed and we're up doing things. we're working on me getting up sooner and not letting us stay in bed until 9 or so....

i was against co-sleeping until aiden arrived, too. thought it would never be for me. funny how things work out! ;)

desiree and jessica - thanks for commenting! i checked out your blogs, too. glad you joined us!

gwenn - i was starting to think nobody was going to post against co-sleeping! not that i wanted a debate...b/c i don't. but i was surprised that so far everyone seemed to be doing it or ok with it.

with the insomnia...as a fellow insomniac who knows how much it really sucks and is no laughing matter...for me it's worked the opposite way. it seems that co-sleeping actually works WITH my insomnia. when aiden was in his own room, i would get so woken up having to go into there so often (every two hours) and would have a really hard time getting back to sleep. now, i don't have to fully wake up to feed him or check on him. so it's much easier to get back to sleep. i feel more rested having him with us. i'm waking the same amount of times and sleeping more lightly - but my quality of sleep is still better. when he was in his own room, i was becoming very sleep deprived - to the point i was worried about how aware i was even during the daytime.

not trying to argue against you or say it would be like that for everyone, but for me it seems to work more with my insomnia than against it. i'm very happy about that!

and i agree with all those that said what works for each set of parents and child(ren) is just fine. you have to figure out what works for your family and go with that - not what others think you should do, etc. if ryan wasn't totally on board with co-sleeping, it wouldn't even be an issue! but we both love it. i know not everyone would agree, though!

thanks for posting everyone! i'll keep it open for a while longer in case anyone else has anything to say. next topic will be sometime next week. can't give you a specific day b/c i'm not sure yet.

ps - i wouldn't have my pets in the bed either. don't have pets to worry about right now, but that's just different to me. no thanks! ;) but a snuggly little baby - any day!

Pam Borchardt - Executive Director said...

It's nice to see an informed conversation going on without nastiness. Thanks for offering the place for a discussion.

I agree with Amy. Co-Sleeping can be anything so we prefer the more specific terms of room sharing and bed sharing.

There is recent discussion surrounding bed sharing. The theory is that Chaotic bedsharing is dangerous. Chaotic being defined as spur of the moment, in desperation for a little sleep.

When bedsharing is thought out, as it appears most you you have done, it can be fairly safe, especially for the breastfeeding mom. Limit the amount of soft bedding in your bed and limit the number of people.

Good luck to you all!

Marianna Chambers said...

Man, after reading all this, ya'll are making me want to co-sleep again! When my daughter Sofie was first born (5 months ago) she would not sleep anywhere but on my chest. Before I had her I swore she would not sleep in our bed because of how "dangerous" it supposedly is and how "you have to start the way you intend to keep going". Well, after several nights of not sleeping, something had to give. I knew it wasn't safe for her to sleep on my chest either,not to mention neither one of us were sleeping well, so we looked for a compromise. We found a "Close and Secure Sleeper". (Here's a link: http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/183-4894994-6245652?asin=B00012CHFI&afid=yahoossplp&lnm=B00012CHFI|First_Years_Close_and_Secure_Sleeper&ref=tgt_adv_XSMG1060) It is a little bed that fits right into your own bed. It has rails on the side so you don't roll on your baby and it even has a little night light at the top which came in handy. Sofie slept in that with us for the first several weeks. It was super convenient to just reach over to get her for nightime nursing since I was recovering from a c-section and couldn't just hop out of bed to get her. We loved that little bed and I plan on using it with our next baby. Then we moved her into her cradle which was at the foot of our bed. Then at around 10 weeks we moved her into her crib in the nursery and she's been there ever since. The first night she slept in the nursery she slept the whole night. Sofie is a VERY light sleeper and I think the least little noise we made must have disturbed her, so she was happy to have a nice quiet room. I always rock her to sleep at night so we have plenty of snuggle and cuddle time and we always go right to her when she cries so she doesn't feel alone or abandoned. (We keep the baby monitor in our room turned up LOUD.) Overall, I think that each baby is different and it's best to keep an open mind when it comes to what you will and won't do as a parent. I certainly learned that lesson! :)

Michelle Hart said...

Cody started in his bassinet and sometimes moved to the the bed during the middle of the night the first two months. However, Cody started getting restless when he stayed in bed with us. He would want to move around while he was asleep or he would get to hot and wake up. He didn't sleep to well at all neither did I! I wanted to get him use to his bed (crib) before I moved him into his own room. I meant to move him into his room when he turned 6 months (he is 7 months now). I hope to have him in his own room any day now. Every night he starts sleeping in his crib and sometimes if he doesn't sleep through the night he gets moved to our bed. Most of the time I move him back to his crib and he sleeps really good. I think he sleeps better hearing us breathing (and Jason snoring!). I think having Cody in the same room has made things easier for all of us. However, I can't wait to get him in his own room and for him to sleep through the night all the time! ;)

Ginger said...

We never bed-shared, and it was fine. Both kids had some problems napping in the crib, but no problems sleeping in the crib at night, interestingly.

I don't enjoy having to get out of bed in the middle of the night to tend to a child, and it would be easier if he were right there in our bed, but I just need my space when I'm sleeping. Once, when the first one was small, I thought I would try sleeping with him when my husband was away... I didn't even last one night! He just kept kicking me in his sleep, and he was so noisy... I got no rest. Bed-sharing is not for me! :)