Why We Co-Sleep

*For the most part, this blog is just going to be about day to day nonsense with the baby, but there are a few things I would love to address, and eventually make an FAQ out of (you’ll see the FAQ tab in a work in progress). This is first in that FAQ series.*

One of the most common questions new parents get is “how is he sleeping”. To just say he is a good sleeper, isn’t enough. They always have to know…”Is he sleeping through the night?”

11 weeks old, at Grammy's house

I have two responses to this. I try and judge the person I’m talking to (which almost never works). Either I just say, yes, he is wonderful, he sleeps through the night. Or I tell them that I don’t know, because I am breastfeeding, and he sleeps in bed with me, so I barely wake up, roll over, and go back to sleep before he is even done eating.

Eyebrows arch, mouths gape, and heads shake.

Plenty of my parenting practices get the old eyebrow raise, but none of them as much as cosleeping. In fact, before we had Simon, I think both my eyebrows were raised just as much as anyone else who was a skeptic. I was steadfastly against doing it. I did not want a baby in my bed.

Then Simon came home. The first two months of his life, he slept in the cradle my mom had saved from when myself and my two brothers were babies. We were still learning how to breastfeed, and I had to be awake every few hours to feed him, so taking him out of the cradle, and putting him back in was no big deal. He would wake up, I would put him back to sleep.  Repeat.  I was tired, but wasn’t I supposed to be?

Then I discovered this great trick. When he was done nursing, if I let him sleep on my chest for about 15 minutes, he would stay asleep when I put him back in his cradle. This started with me sitting up. Then semi-reclined. And then, we perfected the side-lying position for nursing, where we are both lying down. That was where co-sleeping started.

With Mommy

We’ve never looked back.  Its just easier. You could say that this has mainly stemmed out of laziness.

So, my answer to the above question: “Is he sleeping through the night?” No. Well, sometimes. Depends on your definition. The actual “medical” definition of 5 hours, I think he usually does get through.

With Edgar (his furry stuffed hippo), 5 months old

The important question though:  “How much sleep does Mom get?”  I routinely get at least 8 hours.  Just depends on when I go to bed, I could get more.  And that, makes me happy.

Some other popular questions:

“How often does he wake up?” I have no idea. I know he wakes up, I know I roll over and feed him, sometimes he eats, sometimes he just goes back to sleep, sometimes I just go back to sleep.

“Aren’t you worried you are going to roll over on him?” No. You are very aware of there being a small person in the bed with you. Its kind of like sleeping with a cat. Sometimes you might nudge them, but then you remember “Oh yeah, there is a cat in the bed”, and you go back to sleep.

“Has he ever rolled off the bed?” Nope! We have a guardrail on the bed, on my side. When my husband gets up for work in the morning, I lay on the side of the bed without the rail..so I become the second guardrail. At naptime, I put him perpendicular to the guardrail, and we have a video monitor. I just go get him before rolling off is even close to a possibility.

“Why don’t you just put him in the crib/travel crib?”  I like sleeping with him. I like not having to get out of bed when he wakes up to eat. But mostly, it is very easy to put him to sleep in a bed. I haven’t put him to sleep in a crib since he was weeks old, and only successfully after sleeping on my chest for 15 minutes. I don’t want to do that, and I don’t want to spend time devising a way to do it, when we already have a method for putting him to sleep that works very well.

Just a note to add to that one, when we are traveling, I often wish that he would sleep in a pack and play. We just spent a weekend at my inlaws, and he slept on the floor for naptime. I would rather have him in the travel crib they have, but it would have taken “whoknowshowlong” to put him to sleep. He fell asleep on the floor in a matter of minutes. Nothing is perfect, and you just can’t have everything!

“When will you put him in his own crib/bed/etc” I have no idea. I am hoping that once he night weans, we will start that transition. Maybe he will night wean, but not want to leave the bed. Maybe he will want a big boy bed before he night weans. I don’t know. But I’m sure it won’t go as planned. Ideally, I would like him to be in his own space before we have a second baby. I certainly don’t want two babies in the bed at once; we only have a queen size bed after all.

“What about SIDS” You definitely read things saying that co-sleeping is a SIDS risk. What I have read, and choose to believe, is that it is not. I am not an expert on SIDS, but this article by Dr. Sears gives some insight into SIDS and the family bed.

Napping with Dad, 2 months old

Also, just to be clear, we aren’t really co-sleeping. We are bed-sharing. The difference between the two is simple. Co-sleeping is just the baby sleeping in the same room as you. So, we were co-sleeping when he was in his cradle. Now, we are bed-sharing. But I almost always tend to say co-sleeping anyway.

Still worried about co-sleeping babies’ safety? This is a great checklist on preparing your bed for sharing sleep with your baby:  Family Bed Checklist

So that is why we co-sleep. I’m more than happy to field any other questions you might have! Feel free to leave it as a comment, or email me at oatsandbeansandbabygrow@yahoo.com.

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5 thoughts on “Why We Co-Sleep

  1. Gina, I used all the methods you are now 15 years ago. When it all comes down to it, it is about building a healthy relationship and a healthy person. Follow your instincts and I can certainly say, from my humble experience, you will be happy to reflect on the time spent bonding. It has provided me comfort and warm fuzzes when the road gets rough. My son is my light. 🙂

  2. Great post, Gina. I love learning about the “why” behind the choices you make. I of course don’t judge you at all and find it all very interesting. I look forward to whenever you write your FAQ on babywearing. That’s definitely one of the things you do that intrigues me the most.

  3. I loved reading this! Our daughter (now 8 weeks old) has been in our bed since day 1. Initially it was because I was terrified of SIDS, but the benefits we are seeing keep her in with us.

    We almost feel guilty when we tell other parents how well rested we feel! There are nights where she has slept through, but I get just as much sleep on the nights that she doesn’t. We don’t know what a “sleepless night with baby” is! (and hopefully we never will)

    Aside from the sleep benefit, we have an incredibly content baby. She doesn’t have to cry to get our attention. I feel her stirring at night, feed her, fall asleep. I genuinely feel that her calmness comes from being so close to us and having her needs met immediately, without the fight beforehand. We have had countless comments on how content and happy she is. Our family dr said that she is the most content baby he has seen in years!

    Thanks so much for posting this! I love hearing a positive response to bed sharing rather than confused, often condemning looks and words. 🙂

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