My husband and I were expecting our first child together and the decision as to where the baby would sleep was a short discussion. We lived in a two bedroom town-home. Our (my) oldest was eight at the time and we thought it wouldn’t be fair (or practical) to have her share a room with a baby. So naturally her nursery was set up in our large master bedroom.
Poots was our colicky, high needs baby from the start. Our routine was for me to nurse her lying down (I was exhausted and needed the rest, plus it really is the best nursing position EVER!!) and Hubs would place her in the crib. She would stay there for a while (long enough to watch an episode or two of Law and Order) and every few hours until morning I would nurse her to sleep and he would place her back in the crib every time.
Around two months we were completely exhausted with this routine. With bags under our eyes, one of us (I don’t remember who) wondered if she was ready to put herself back to sleep. We discussed it in-depth after reading some books and decided to give it a try. That night I nursed her to sleep like usual but when she woke the first time Hubs rocked her back to sleep. She immediately woke up and we hid in the room while she cried. Why didn’t we leave the room while attempting this? Well, it was a large room and we were apprehensive about letting her cry herself to sleep so we wanted to stay and be able to jump in if she really needed help. I wish we would have paid more attention to that apprehension.
Fifteen minutes later of trying to follow a method we’d read, we were both feeling like the worst parents ever. My husband looked at me and said, “I can’t do this to her anymore. I’m going to go get her.” With tears in my eyes I nodded yes. He grabbed our baby girl and held her so tight, kissed and rocked her until she calmed down, which took a while. She looked like she had been abandoned which felt like a knife to our hearts. Afterwards , I had jumped in the bed to nurse her and we all snuggled until we slept peacefully throughout the night. The next day we took every precaution to make sure we were co-sleeping safely; Arms Reach Co-Sleeper and when she outgrew the co-sleeper she moved into the bed with us). She stayed there with us until she was about one years old.
How did we transition her into her bed with out the tears?
She’d become a very wild sleeper (still is) and no one was starting to get rest, including Poots. We made sure she was ready; not sick or going through any milestones, etc. as we gradually transitioned her into her own bed.
I would put her down for naps during the day in her crib starting at about six months (before she was crawling around she napped in our bed with me close by). She wasn’t interested in sleeping in the crib so I would put her in there to play during the day so that she could see that it wasn’t a bad place to be.
Once she was consistently taking naps in her crib (around one) I would nurse her (yes I was still nursing a one year old baby) and Hubs would rock her and play a lullaby cd. She began to associate night-time with a sweet, peaceful time with her daddy and she began to look forward to it. At night she would sleep in her crib for a few hours and would wake up to nurse once or twice. I would bring her into the bed with us and we would co-sleep the rest of the night.
Eventually she outgrew the night feedings and stopped waking at night. Although she started waking up earlier to start the day, which was a fair trade for a solid nights sleep. I remember when we slept through the night the first time. It was weird because my body was so used to getting up that I kept running in to check on her. Hubs did too.
Every once in a while with a milestone, illness or teething we would have some night waking, which is normal. She would start waking up again but they were short-lived and she always resumed her routine.
Poots is almost five now and contrary to what some people think, kids will not stay in your bed forever if you decide or are considering co-sleeping. I know this doesn’t work for every family but it was the best scenario for our family. We all got the best rest this way, especially me who was dealing with postpartum depression (studies show that mothers who nurse and co-sleep actually end up getting better rest because they do not have to fully wake to feed the baby). There are other benefits to co-sleeping as well.
Now we have a seven month old and we avoided that rough night like we had with Poots and he has been with us since day one. His needs are different as well as his sleeping patterns. We know that this season is short and we enjoy waking up with our little guy grinning at us. Every once in a while we may awake to Poots at the foot of our bed. It’s not often, but it’s pretty sweet to know that if she wakes and is feeling lonely or scared that mom and dad’s room is a safe place to come to.
What about you and your family? Do you or have you co-slept or have a family bed? Why or why not?
- In defense of co-sleeping (mydaughtersiri.wordpress.com)