All throughout my pregnancy I did an awful lot of reading about being a parent. How to deal with a fussy baby, pros of breastfeeding, balancing life with family and many other topics. One that also came up often was the topic of co-sleeping.
For safety reasons above all else it is recommended you do not sleep with your new baby in the same bed with you. Some people are not light sleepers and could risk rolling over on the baby. Of course we want our new baby to be safe so we will just do the right thing and stick them in their cradle and call it a night, right?… Probably not….
Reading about how to put your baby to bed and all of the tricks you can try to make them happy is one thing… actually sticking it out when it’s 3am, you haven’t slept in days and your little bundle of joy is not so joyous is an entirely different story. Regardless of what you are told there are definitely some pros to co-sleeping along with the more obvious cons.
First, the cons of co-sleeping…
Obviously if you are not a light sleeper, your bed is particularly small or in a location where the baby might fall between the wall and the bed then you have some safety issues to think about. The last thing we want is to harm our baby by rolling over on them so be sure to put lots of thought into this before deciding to co-sleep. Also take into consideration your partners sleeping habits. If your husband tends to throw punches in his sleep then you might want to avoid the co-sleeping all together.
Getting them out of your bed later on
Another big reason to avoid co-sleeping is the difficulty it might present as they get older and you want your bed back and possibly some sort of intimate time with your partner. Obviously the longer you let the co-sleeping continue the harder the habit will be to break in most cases.
On to the pros of co-sleeping…
During our first week home I did not actually go to bed. My night’s consisted of lots of shows I had recorded on the DVR while I breastfed Sylvia or held her while she slept. I would try to put her down to get some sleep in her pack and play but she would only sleep for 20 minutes to an hour at a time. After a week of trying to put her to sleep in her cradle or pack and play I finally put her on my pillow in my arm one night when she had a belly ache. 4 hours later I woke up and she was still sound asleep. This was the most sleep at once that I had gotten since she was born. I still try to put her down in her cradle when we head into the bedroom for some sleep but she always ends up next to me in bed at some point in the night. We both sleep better this way and I am a much happier and far more productive mother in the morning.
As much as I love to cuddle with my husband when I drift off to sleep, I have to say I love to cuddle my daughter just as much. I find that we both seem to really enjoy our cuddle time before we fall asleep. She will lay on my pillow next to my head and carefully examine every inch of my face while I do the same to her. I spend this time with her listening to a playlist of classical bed time music and smiling at her. As she gets older I will try to transition this time from a bed time routine to a nap time routine, but with her being this little I think she just needs as much interaction and skin to skin contact as I can offer to her.
Peace of Mind
Now that Sylvia is a month old I am getting much better about being a paranoid mom but I still worry…a lot. When my daughter is in her cradle next to my bed I find myself waking up more to check to make sure she has not spit up and that she is still breathing. This is fairly normal for a mom with a new baby and the worry should start to let up as your baby gets older. However I have found when my daughter is sleeping right next to me in my bed I sleep better knowing that she is right there with me and that I will wake up more easily should there be a problem. I can open my eyes at any time and see that she is safe and sound without needing to get out of bed or even move at all to check. This has been wonderful for helping me get as much rest as possible at night time.
For me being able to feed Sylvia while we both lay in bed has been a lifesaver. It allows me to still rest when we wake up at 4am to feed. With her being right next to me it allows me to simply wake up and slide her down a bit without needing to adjust my position at all. The only time I have to get up is to change her diaper, then it’s right back to bed, nice and comfortable while she feeds and I rest.
Safer Solution to Co-Sleeping
For those that are night exactly light sleepers, or just a safer solution for everyone in general is a co-sleeper. It is a bassinet that connects to the side of your bed allowing you to co-sleep but providing a safe zone for your baby away from the risk of being rolled over on. I am going to be investing in one myself soon. Although I am a very light sleeper I am also a worrier so this co-sleeper will allow me to keep co-sleeping but keep Sylvia safer from the pillows, blankets and my husband while we sleep at night. It also seems like it will help us transition her out of our bed more easily as she gets older because this is her own space that is separate from our bed. Hopefully this allows her to still be close enough to me to sleep well but get comfortable being in her own bed. I will be sure to report on our progress once we have been using it for a while.