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.
Remember, if you are reading this in facebook or via email subscription, comment HERE on the blog. Let's keep the discussion all in one place! Also, please use your name - it's only fair! Thanks!
Be sure to vote on the poll, too - whether you comment or not! It's on the top right corner.