From Cosleeping to Bed Sharing
Cosleeping with your child into a deep sleep can be the answer to your sleeping troubles. I’ll tell you my story of how I went from a cosleeper who room shares to bed sharing.
The act of helping your child to fall into a deep sleep by cosleeping can be the answer to all of your sleeping troubles. Here, I am opening up about our slow drift into co-sleeping, something I thought I’d never do. There are also some amazing benefits to sleeping with your child. It’s not as scary and forbidden as you might think because of what you may have heard online. It’s something to research and discover for yourself. What’s best for you and your family is up to you. I hope you’re ready for a long, detailed and heartfelt post about cosleeping. As cosleeping has allowed me and my husband a more healthy and loving way to sleep with our baby in our lives.
Part 1: Cosleeping Story (you are here) Part 2: Need to Know Bedsharing Safety Tips
There are so many things that a pregnant mama begins to think deeply about when carrying a child.
What are they going to like and not like? Who will they look like? What color hair will they have?
And then it goes deeper… How will I educate my child? What kind of space do I want to make them? What kind of blankets, toys, and clothes will we get for them?
How will I care for my child?
And ultimately, what kind of parent do I want to be?
PERSPECTIVE || I always knew I would keep my newborn in the same room with me, also called room sharing. I thought that cosleeping meant exclusively bed sharing. Turns out they are both methods of cosleeping! I fully intended in the beginning, to always have my newborn sleep in her crib/swing.
Up until she was… Uh, actually, you can continue with the post now… Ready for the full story?
Discussing Parenting Styles
What’s right for you?
Just a short decade or two back there seem to be a standard of good parenting and bad parenting. Those who neglect their child, and those who don’t.
But nowadays, there are so many different parenting styles!
So much new science, personal parental discoveries (like this blog), books to read, online social platforms (like our facebook… 😊), and people to discuss with.
Anyways, you begin to have this idea in your head of what you want it to look like. Finding out what kind of parenting styles you agree with, and deciding all the things you think you’d never do! (Until one day you do.)
For me, one of those things was bed-sharing. Although I love to cuddle and caress, and I always hug my friends. (Fun fact: A rule of our household is if you stay the night, then you owe us a hug as payment. Roommates included. Literally, it’s the only spoken “rule” we have!) Because if you can’t hug the people you live with, then you shouldn’t be living with them!
Point is: I’m a hugger and a lover.
Yet the plan was to cosleep within the same room, also called room-sharing. We purchased a great pack n play with a crib and changing table insert.
Because of the fear of SIDS, I didn’t believe I would bedshare. Only roomshare. That was the plan anyway. &&. Well, I was afraid.
The warnings are easily seen anywhere online by sites and people preaching. And it instigates the fear of hurting your child. When really, it’s safe to sleep with your child if you are an alert sleeper and prepare. There are many benefits scientifically to specifically cosleeping and bed-sharing. (Check out the science in the below section: Cosleeping Research)
I arranged the room so that when it came time to wake up for feeds in the middle of the night, I wouldn’t have to go far and could easily place her back in her bed/swing.
The Slow Realization of Our Family’s Right to Cosleep With Our Baby
It wasn’t long before I simply climbed onto my bed to feed her instead of the uncomfortable chair, and then did my best to stay awake and lay her back down. But before I knew it, I was dozing and feeling so guilty when I awoke with my Newborn safely in my arms asleep still. But never once did I wake up scared. I knew in my soul that she was safe with me. And although I felt guilty because of what I read, I have to admit that having her sleep in my arms felt right. It felt natural.
Afterall, she spent 9 months within me. I was already used to sleeping with her. (And my husband was already used to not squishing us too 😂)
As she comes into Teething and the 4 Month Sleep Regression Phase at the end of her third month with me, I was doing another thing I said I’d never do…
Remembering stories my mom told me about the battle of laying me down, patting my back rhythmically. Slowing the pace so the eventually she can get on her hands and knees and crawl out of the room as quietly as possible. Because if I saw her, I’d start screaming and her patting my back game began again.
Well, I began to bed share with her. I’d put her down in her swing when I could for naps and bedtime. Only to wake up at 2 am and snuggle her into to bed with me. Before I knew it I saw sleeping through the night, I would only sort of remember picking her up and nursing her back to sleep.
Why did I cave in and cosleep?
- I also wanted to sleep! Losing hours a night rocking and humming and coaxing her to sleep took a lot of time.
- She slept better, longer and calmer with me.
- We found that our favorite position was to side-lay for breastfeeding. Which we do best and most comfortable while in our bed. For awake feeds and naps.
- We do a lot of camping in the woods, and we found that we had to cosleep for warmth at night.
- My husband also sleeps better when we cosleep because the baby is quiet, calm, comfortable and safe. My girl isn’t much for crying, she’s so optimistic. But ultimately, she’s a baby and at times fights sleep.
So far, this post has been about how we came to be a cosleepers that share the bed with the baby. And since we decided to stick with it as a family-made decision, there are rules we follow. Things we do and do not do.Read the next post for safety rules and tips for bed sharing!
Chances are you have already started or are thinking about it because (like me) you need sleep! Your baby and your partner, all need to sleep at night!
So if your a light sleeper and want to try this out, then I encourage you to read a little about the science of cosleeping too.
So here are some articles (not by me) backed by sleep experts and medical professionals. Check these links out (they open in new window for you, your welcome) to start with:
- Cosleeping and Biological Imperatives: Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone
- The Scientific Case for Cosleeping by Motherly
- Cosleeping With Infants (Dr. McKenna, cosleeping expert) [VIDEO]
If you are shaking your head at this because so far, and you are not convinced it is a safe option. Then I employ you to continue to educate yourself by reading the rest of this post. Because us Humans have been sleeping together since we first existed. And if I can encourage you only to RESPECT those who CHOOSE to cosleep. Then I am a beyond grateful author.
Back in the age when humans still slept outside every night, how do you think they kept that baby warm? On the other side of the cave? I don’t think so. It wasn’t acceptable for you to sleep apart from your baby until about 250 years ago. What has changed in that time though, is… well, everything.
The danger isn’t you, it’s the environment of sleeping indoors. Air quality, comfort such as mattresses, fluffy pillows and large blankets and intoxicating medications and smoke, just to name a few. These are the things that actually makes modern day cosleeping more dangerous than a baby sleeping alone in a flat crib.
The Benefits of Cosleeping
Cosleeping will benefit your child’s developmental milestones (check out Cj’s above average milestones update here). Especially when bed sharing as they are sleeping within the comfort of your own arms. They have better heart rhythms, breathing patterns and temperature control because of being able to be physiologically guided by their mother (by the proximity of being so close together). Breastfeeding is also encouraged by bed-sharing. Baby can latch easily without waking up fully and easily gets back to sleep. They are then provided with whatever melatonin and tryptophan are needed for your baby to sleep well (+). And seriously, the comfort it provides you knowing that your baby is there with you, is so emotionally fulfilling. As for room sharing, there are still benefits to the low level of stress to your baby, knowing you’re close by.
As an attachment parent, I believe that bonding with your child isn’t just about breastfeeding and carrying them with you. It’s about the relationship of respect, love, and kindness of being close to your baby to help them develop into the best that they can be. It’s not about spoiling them with attention, it’s about giving them the attention that they need when they need it. Cosleeping allows you to do that 24/7.
The science available out there, the news and the stories we hear about babies are so scary. I know I was a bit scared to bring my human into THIS world as it is. But I did the research, I dug for my own truths. And the bottom line is, I felt great about room sharing from day one. It gave me confidence knowing that I was right there with her if she needed me. And even though I didn’t plan to be a bed sharing parent, I’m so glad that I get this time with her.
The security she feels by being with me is the greatest feeling in the world. That I can keep her safe with me at night. I’m not afraid that I’ll hurt her. I’m sure of my decision to bed share because when she’s with me, I DONT WORRY. If she was sleeping WAY OVER THERE, I know me. I’d worry. Not like overly stress out and drive myself nuts. I’m not a fearful, worrying type. But when it comes to my baby? Yes. I’d worry, every night. No question about it.
I know these nights of bedsharing and cosleeping will come to an end sooner than I want it to. So for now, I’m going to soak in these cuddles and restful sleep we get as a family. Because someday, there will be a day when “this is the last time” she sleeps in bed with us…
Final Advice About Cosleeping
Talk about your parenting plans with your family and babysitters. They need to know, understand and follow your guidelines for sleep routine and style. They need to expect that your child is not used to falling asleep alone and is allowed to be cuddled and rocked to sleep.
My own mom felt bad when she babysat for the first time and let her fall asleep on her chest. “I just couldn’t lay her down, I was enjoying it too much,” she says. And this is when I assured her that that was exactly what I wanted from her. For CJ to be loved and cuddled to sleep. Just don’t fall asleep yourself, and I have no issue. She thanked me and looks forward to having these precious moments with her granddaughter.
Isn’t it a pain that you can’t put her down to sleep?
Rarely, see I do still nurse her sitting up and then place her in her swing bed or our bed after she falls asleep. Actually, many nights I don’t have to actually lay down with her. I just set her down, secure her, and walk away. In this way, she can still sleep independently. Especially when being babysat or when we’re at a friend’s house in which I do t have a bed. I do the whole routine (or as much of it as I can) wherever I am and then sit down to nurse her to sleep. I still follow the same tips above, waiting for her to fall into a deep sleep before setting her down. Lately, she has begun to wake up when I set her down, but I slip in the Wubbanub and she quickly drifts back asleep. Usually without even opening her eyes. I still try to dodge her sight if I see her pretty little eyeballs though, and she finds her way back to her dreams easier.
Just last week we were at my mom’s for family dinner past her bedtime. She has her own room there even, but it’s a new house (she just moved here from California to be here with us along with my two sisters and brother in law!) and I couldn’t get her to stay asleep. My husband tried to lul her to bed also. Finally, she was beginning to be overtired so I decided to just keep her with me. I rocked her on my chest while still chatting with my family at the table and before Ling her was fast asleep on me. My dad (who I’ve lived with here in Washington since their divorce when I was 10, my best friend) made fun of me a little bit for not putting her down, but I just made the decision to keep her with me to sleep. And I spent an hour and a half barred under my heavy baby. Laughing and talking along with everyone. But CJ hardly stirred when we put her in her car seat to get home, and the transfer to her swing when we got home was easy. I even got some time with my hubby alone before she woke up to feed. It can be difficult to keep the love alive after having a baby. When she woke up I scooped her up and the three of us when to bed together for the rest of the night.
Discuss Cosleeping With Your Partner
I truly believe that parenting decisions like cosleeping must be made together. If your partner is not sleeping well or feeling replaced, then cosleeping may not be the right choice. It’s extremely important that you communicate with them about the pros and cons of cosleeping. Keeping the love alive after having a baby can be a huge challenge! Make sure you are prioritizing your relationships between you, your partner and your baby (watch my passionate youtube video about this here).
Here are a few things to consider cosleeping by room sharing. The idea is that baby can still see, hear and smell you. In this way the baby should be more comfortable and you as parents are readily available to assist at any time.
Pros of Room Sharing
Cons of Room Sharing
Note: Babies are straight up noisy creatures! Just because they aren’t crying, doesn’t mean they are quiet. But I don’t know if this is really a con as it cannot be helped, cosleeping or not! It’s awesome.
Listen To Your Motherly Instincts About Cosleeping
My final tip isn’t really a tip but more of a heartfelt and sincere request for you to listen to your Motherly Instincts.
If you know that this is the right thing for you and your baby, then please do what is most natural and safe for you. If that means they have their own crib and room, Great. If that moment you can look over and see your baby sleeping over there on the other side of the same room, then roomshare. Or if it’s carrying your baby to bed with you, cuddling close and cosleeping with the whole family in the same bed together.
As long as your doing what you believe is the best option for your family. Trust your instincts, mommies and daddies. Discuss your parenting styles and roles often and openly.
If your relationship is struggling then maybe you can benefit from the 3×3 Conversation. It’s a structured conversation that discusses your challenges and strengths and allows discussion of how to visit those challenges, together.
In fact, my husband and I had our very own 3×3 Conversation last week discussing our limited time for intimacy and our decided cosleeping habits. We found that the answers really do rely on taking different actions for the other throughout the day, not just during times of intimacy. Putting effort into your baby and your relationship can be difficult after having a baby, your whole life is changing.
When will we discuss cosleeping & bedsharing again?
Anyways, we are extremely happy with our decision to cosleep with the baby. There are a few more expected sleep regression phases and teething during her finest year of life. I imagine that we’ll revisit our cosleeping habits when one or more of these things happen:
- She turns 1 year old (Feb)
- She begins to fall asleep on her own consistently
- Shows strong signs of self-soothing throughout the day
- Falls asleep easily anywhere (other people’s houses, camping or vacations) without much assistance or nursing
- She begins to deny the need to nurse to sleep
- She requests to be put to bed independently
This brings me to admit that there’s a lot of factors that contribute to my parenting style. As I take a little more bit from this and that. And I rely on science for guidance as well as advice from others. In no way am I an expert on babies and sleep. But I am a mother now, and I trust my Instincts.
The most important thing is your happiness, health, and safety. For yourself, your partner and your baby. Please do not take what you’ve read lightly. This is a heavy topic within your child’s life and development and there is much to learn about sleeping.
This has been a long post so here are my final suggestions:
- Consider your need for sleep and make it a priority. You can’t be a great parent if your a zombie. (Watch our video on Prioritizing Your Partner & Your Baby)
- Consider your partners need to sleep. They also need to be able to function at their full potential to be able to help provide an equal level of support for you both.
- Consider the environment your child needs to be able to sleep well. They do much of their growth and development during the REM sleep cycle. It’s extremely important for you to find the best way to assist them in a good, healthy, deep sleep.
- Consider a good, unchanged naptime/bedtime routine. Trial and error go a long way when it comes to sleep. Mix it up slightly until you find something that works fairly consistently because trust me, it’ll get better with practice and patience.
- Do some research about the science of sleeping cycles, cosleeping, sleep regressions, and skin to skin. (Check out this Pinterest Board)
If you haven’t already, read this previous post where I list: Need To Know Bed Sharing Safety Tips
Okay fellow humans, thanks for sticking with me through this long post about cosleeping. We kind of hit all the points that I could possibly think of, so I hope I’ve given you plenty to consider.
“Co-Sleeping With Infants: Science, Public Policy, and Parents Civil Rights”, with James McKenna, PhD [VIDEO]: http://cosleeping.nd.edu/
“Using breast pumps: Does the time of day matter?” 2010 – 2015 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D: https://www.parentingscience.com/breast-pumps-and-baby-formula.html
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