when people find out we cosleep with out babes, we usually get one of three responses: 1) a shocked face - almost full of pity? 2) a smirk because even though they don't 'cosleep' their baby ends up in their bed frequently or 3) total excitement because they cosleep, too!
sharing a 'family bed' is something i never thought i would do before i had children, but after much research and having our first baby, bear, we fell in love with it. it's been one of the most intentional and rewarding decisions we've ever made as a family!
a quick note: before you read this article, please know that the only real advice i give to any mom is to do whatever works for you and your family. every baby is different and you are officially entering a 'no judgment' zone! i simply wanted to share about our cosleeping for anyone who wants to know more or who might be interested in what it looks like for our family and how we make it work.
having our son (and soon to be daughter) in our bed didn't happen by accident. david and i made the intentional decision to cosleep with bear before he ever even entered the world. after reading and researching as much as i could about nursing, SIDS prevention and sleeping options, we decided this was what we wanted to try as a family.
i'll first share the more 'scientific' reasons we decided to cosleep. (i'll talk more about all the other reasons i've fallen in love with it since in a minute).
attachment parenting. we first fell in love with dr. sear's method of 'attachment parenting' (which he discusses in 'the baby book'). in short, the three factors to attachment parenting are breastfeeding, wearing you baby and cosleeping at night. the theory is that the more attached you are as a parent, the more independent and self-secure your children will be. after two years, i can definitely attest to this! we are still extremely attached, but i'm always impressed at how well bear does when we have to leave him or he goes to play with a new group of kids. he's well adjusted, secure and confident.
nursing. i'm so happy to report that nursing went really well with bear (after the first weeks of adjustment, of course!). i exclusively nursed him for 9 months, and then he later weaned at 18 months. cosleeping during this time made it a truly enjoyable experience and definitely made middle of the night feedings easy.
keeping baby close (my favorite reason!). keeping your baby close at night, means that they don't have to get very upset (or awake) to get your attention at night. if bear woke up hungry or upset, he literally only needed to nudge my direction or touch my arm for me to know it. had he been across the room (or in another room entirely), he would have had to woken up completely and started to cry (pretty loudly) for me to wake up and know he needed something. knowing that i was always there made him know that he never needed to cry in order to get our attention (and it worked - he never cried!). dr. sears hints that having a baby in another room almost 'trains' them to cry louder and quicker to get their needs met. having them close by prevents them from ever even having to get upset in the first place, making for a super peaceful baby. (this was totally true in our case!)
SIDS prevention. SIDS is an awful awful thing and there are tons of different philosophies on how to best prevent it. it's scary being a mom and having to choose which one to abide by! cosleeping to help prevent SIDS made a lot of sense to us, so that's we did it. (and you should do whatever makes sense to you!). in short, dr. sears explains that sleeping next to your baby (literally touching them) helps regulate their breathing. being jostled by movements in the bed and hearing you and your spouse breathe, snore and get up to go to the bathroom, all help to regulate the babies breathing and prevent them from going into a very deep sleep (which is usually when SIDS occurs in young babies). one test i loved to do is after waking up (slightly) and wanting to check on bear (but not wanting to wake him completely), all i would have to do is take a very deep breath. almost immediately, he would also take a big deep breath. it really does work!
*quick note: i'm a bit of a worrier by nature, so one of the things i was most surprised at after having my first baby was how much i worried about their breathing. after i discovered the snuza, my worries were nearly eliminated! it's a small device that clips on their diapers (it's battery operated, so it doesn't emit any EMFs) and monitors their breathing with delicate NASA technology. it vibrates to rouse the baby if there's been no movement for a few seconds, and the sounds an alarm if breathing doesn't resume. though they can't say 'it prevents SIDS' their website proudly claims that they've never had a report of a single SIDs case while a baby was wearing a snuza. literally, a lifesaver!
*quick note #2: as you can tell, we loved dr. sears' 'the baby book'. everything in this book made so much sense to us and i had nearly every one of my 'new mom' questions answered by reading it! i also LOVE his book, 'the vaccine book'. it's the only truly non-biased take on the vaccine issue i've found thus far. after reading it, i felt incredibly educated and empowered!
ok - moving on from the more scientific-y reasons for co-sleeping, i want to talk about the more emotional side of it. basically, david and i have fallen in love with sleeping with out babies!
so, what does this look like for us?
we have a differently philosophy about sleeping hours, and i'm sure a lot of people think we're crazy for it. basically, we sleep as a family and we go to bed together. this means that bear goes to bed with us around 9 or 10pm and wakes up around 9 or 10am. this allows us to spend time together as a family in the evenings and for us (mom & dad) to get up early and get some work done before he wakes up. it has worked beautifully for us and really allowed our family the evening flexibility we've needed. of course, you can still cosleep with with a different routine, this is just what works for us!
this also means that bear has fallen alseep in my arms nearly every single night since he was born. i also 'snuggle' him to sleep in our bed for naps and then move him to his crib for daytime sleeping. i can't even put into words how sweet this time is for me. it's my most favorite 15 minutes of the entire day! we snuggle and giggle and i rub his back until he falls asleep nestled under my chin. these snuggles will no doubt be among the most meaningful moments of my entire life, and i often think about what i would be missing out on if they didn't happen.
i get to feel little toes on my back in the middle of the night and nearly always wake up to tiny hands rubbing my shoulders. he sleeps right in the middle of david and i (though he was only on 'my side' until he was old enough to start getting out of bed on his own) and we both enjoy it immensely.
of course, your spouse must be on board with the 'family bed' in order for it not to become a sore topic amongst the two of you. marriage is sacred and important and each other's opinions must be held highly. if this is something you're interested in, be sure to talk it out with your spouse, first!
all i can say is that this has been a beautiful thing for our family. david and i have no problem finding plenty of 'us time' and enjoy immensely falling asleep with and waking up with our tiny human being.
so what happens next? good question! as many of you know, we're welcoming a baby girl to the family in just 2 weeks! we're not exactly sure how this is going to change our sleeping habits as a family, but we're just going with the flow.
how does your family sleep? what works best for you?