N.H. asks from Doylestown, OH on November 01, 2006
Co-sleeping - Doylestown,OH
ok, this isn't really a request. i'm just curious as to how many ladies co-sleep, and what its like for them, and why they chose to.
my husband and i share a bed with our son. i started sleeping with him in the hospital, because i just couldn't sleep without him next to me. also, it seemed like every time i nursed i fell asleep anyway, even with the bed cranked up. the nurses said they 'didn't recommend' sharing a bed, but they didn't try to stop me.
now duncan is five months old, and he sleeps partly in his crib at the foot of our bed, and then when he wakes to nurse he joins us. it seemed we all just slept better that way. i've read TONS of articles on it, some for, but mostly against. still, i like to think i know better than they what is best for us.
lots of folks try to tell us that duncan should be in his own bed, in his own room. they say that co-sleeping will make him too dependant on us, and that 'he has to learn to sleep alone sometime.' i just smile and say nothing. because he is very independant, and is able to take naps alone. we just prefer to sleep together. and in my opinion, moving him to his own room can wait until he's older.
at any rate, hope some of you will take the time to satisfy my curiosity. (and give me ammunition the next time my MIL tries to argue with me about it.) thanks!!
as far as the safety issues go, we sleep with duncan between my husband and i. he stays close to me, and my husband is not an 'active' sleeper. but he is also aware that the baby is in the bed, and has been good about it. i am a strong believer in instinct, and i think that men have paternal instinct, just like women have maternal instincts. when he nurses on the 'other' side, i don't fall asleep. (although i may doze lightly.) and i don't worry about rolling over on him, because i always 'just know' where he is. the one time i woke up facing away from duncan, i knew he was cuddled against my back.
and i'm not really worried about transitioning him to his own room. i think that he will let us know when he is ready for that, just like he let us know he was ready for solids. i try to let duncan dictate his own schedule, i don't really go by clocks or what books say he should be doing. if it seems like he wants to try something, we let him.
So What Happened?™
lots of ladies have mentioned that co-sleeping is the way its done, all over the world, and all through history. i think we're built to do that, too. i'm glad i've paid attention to my 'instincts' because i love having a 'family bed,' even though before duncan was born i swore it'd NEVER happen.
so thanks again ladies for all your words. its great to be able to discuss things like this without having to feel 'ashamed' or being made to feel like you're doing something 'wrong' or 'weird.' great to know lots of other folks just do what they feel is natural for them and their families.
T.M. answers from Columbus on April 08, 2008
S.L. answers from Cleveland on November 13, 2006
I co-slept with my son, Austin, for the main reason that I was working full time and also nusring him. My husband, who is a very sound sleeper, usually slept on the couch when I had Austin in bed with me. My son is now 17 months old and sleeps fine in his crib. But, since my husband got used to sleeping on the couch that's where he sleeps even now.
M.S. answers from Columbus on November 02, 2006
For Sandra: Please don't think smothering can not happen, because it can. I had it happen in my family, and no, they weren't on drugs, drinking, or obese. That is just ignorant to make such a statement. My neice was 2 months old and her mom, my sister in law, was co sleeping because she was breastfeeding. She fell asleep and when she awoke, my neice was not breathing. My SIL had accidently rolled over on her. They even had a co sleeper that rolled next to their bed.
M. answers from Cincinnati on November 11, 2006
There are risks to crib sleeping just as there are risks to bed sharing! And P.S. - Cosleeping does NOT necessarily mean bed sharing. What any parent hopefully tries to do is make the safest sleep environment possible, whether that's in a crib or in a family bed. And even parents who thought they were being safe have unfortunately had to suffer the loss of a child. Some of those deaths were probably preventable, while some babies would have died of unknown causes whether in a family bed or in a crib down the hall in a separate room.
Do babies die in cribs? You bet they do. That's why it was called "crib death" for so long before it was given the less negative-sounding name "SIDS." Even parents who have tried to be safe have had babies die in cribs by the baby:
- becoming entrapped between the crib slats
- suffocating when cribs collapse inward
- choking on some toy or crib bumper or object left in crib
- stopping breathing and being too far away from the parents (and that "trusty baby monitor") for the parents to notice & do anything about it
- being seriously sick but the parents not being able to tell how feverish or ill the baby is because that baby was down the hall in another room
- dying of unknown causes
So all of these parents with babies who only ever sleep in cribs, you may think you're being safe but it's always important to double and triple check the safety of the crib and bedding because babies still die in cribs (is your crib recalled? assembled correctly? free of excess bedding, chokable objects, strangulation hazards? firm matress? no gaps between mattress & crib sides?).
Do babies die while bedsharing? Yes here, too. Even parents who have tried to be safe have had babies die while sleeping in the same bed with the baby:
- becoming entrapped between the wall and the bed (never cosleep on a couch, waterbed, recliner, etc.)
- suffocating due to excessive blankets, pillows, etc.
- being rolled onto by a severely overtired parent, a parent who sleeps too heavily in general, or a parent who is on medication that makes them drowsy, etc.
- dying of unknown causes
So all parents with babies in the same bed with you, you may think you're being safe but it's always important to double and triple check the safety of the family bed (bed low to the ground to prevent falling out of bed? no gaps between wall and bed? firm mattress surface? minimal bedding?) AND your own levels of awareness while sleeping + your tiredness levels (too tired? drowsy from cold meds? don't cosleep that night! not very aware of your baby in bed in general? don't cosleep then!) because babies still die in bedsharing arrangements.
Historically, yes, mothers and babies are hardwired to share sleep. Biologically, it is very advantageous for parents to share sleep with their babies (promotes safer, lighter sleep which reduces SIDS rates, promotes breastfeeding to ensure good food supply and smaller, more frequent feeding which is healthier in the long run than larger gaps between big meals).
Not every family should cosleep. Not every family should have their baby alone in another part of the house in a crib. And sadly, regardless of whatever your choice, some families will suffer the terrible loss of a child either in a crib or in a family bed. The REAL issue here is that we create the safest sleep environment for our own family based on our unique physiology (for example, I can't sleep well with my baby in a different room, so I get much more restful sleep when cosleeping - my husband feels the same way - but in general we are very aware of where our baby is at all times. On nights where either of us is just exhausted, too tired to be aware, our little guy sleeps in his crib at the foot of our bed!).
N., it's wonderful that you are able to recognizing what sleeping arrangement is most optimal for your baby and your family! Cosleeping safely is a very valid, time-tested choice, and this is well supported by research (http://www.nd.edu/~jmckenn1/lab/intro.html), though the crib manufacturers would never tell you that! ;) Consider, too, that your MIL may have very different sleep than you (and babies with very different temperaments than yours) such that cosleeping was not optimal for her/her children.
Congratulations on becoming a mother and the birth of your son earlier this year!
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L.F. answers from Cleveland on November 01, 2006
I co-sleep and LOVE it!! Check out http://www.attachmentparenting.com/
I believe it is best for the child as well as I sleep better, which is better for everyone! My son is 13 months.
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M.S. answers from Cleveland on November 01, 2006
I swore I wuld NEVER co-sleep. My girlfriend has a baby before us and she co-slept. We thought it was the CRAZIEST thing ever. Well along comes my princess (almost 2 months early) and she would NOT sleep anywhere but in our arms. After a week in the recliner fearing I would drop her every night (and having hallucinations from lack of sleep) my husband begged us to come to bed. Well we co-slept form then on out and I cannot imagine it any other way. She "weaned" herself of this at about a year or so. Then we moved and now she is back with us - just due to a lack of space right now. Although I did just put up her toddler bed next to our bed (sidecarred like her crib) and she winds up next to me anyhow. I guess what I am trying to say, like someone else said, is that no highschooler is still in bed with their parents and I think they leave when they are ready. Also just because one kid did it doesn't mean they all will u know?
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T.D. answers from Cleveland on November 02, 2006
I am a mother of 5 children, ages 7 and under. I never planned to take my baby to bed, but like one of the other responders I had a baby who would not sleep unless I was holding him. People who have babies who sleep in cribs cannot understand what this is like unless they experience it. I also believe that people who have never slept with their child cannot fully understand the benefits of it.
All five of my children have begun by sleeping in our bed. Three of them are in their own rooms now, but there was a time when we had 3 children in our bed at once. We have a queen and a twin pushed together. Neither is on a frame, so they are very close to the ground. Also, one side is against a wall. This makes it hard for me to get out of bed, but the room is small and there is no chance of anyone falling out that way. When they did express interest in moving to their own rooms, we started by having them share a bed in their own room. It is so sweet to see them cuddled together when we check on them at night.
My advice about your MIL and other nosy people is don't tell them if you can get away with that. My MIL eventually stopped bugging me. She lives in another state, but it seemed to be her mission to correct things like this when she visited! She still tries to potty train and take away pacifiers when we see her now, even if it is just 3 times a year! I don't usually share our sleep habits with people unless a new mom is interested in trying it herself and asks about it (like now!).
Looking back, I would not change my decision to co-sleep. My husband agrees. It is our cuddle time with them. They grow up too fast. I have never been worried about the baby being in danger. If you want more details about how I made the bed safe, you can e-mail me. Best of luck! Enjoy your baby!
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C.C. answers from Columbus on November 01, 2006
I think it's a matter of preference. Whatever makes YOU happy, YOU should do. There are studies done on both sides saying that you should and that you shouldn't co-sleep with your child.
Personally, I believe that every child and family is different, and what may work for one person, may or may not work for another and that doesn't mean pushing what you think is right or wrong onto someone else.
If you like co-sleeping with your child, then do it and don't worry about what others say. I have four girls and all of them slept in our bed at one time or another. My first child would sleep ON me, the sound of my heartbeat would put her to sleep!
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M.K. answers from Columbus on November 02, 2006
I whole-heartedly believe in co-sleeping. Both of my children, did it. I believe they both feel more loved and confident because of it. I can honestly say in 9 years neither one of them has had a nightmare. If a mother is in good conditions, is not on drugs or does not smoke/drink, then there has never been a case recorded against a child being hurt sleeping by her. This is not true with Fathers, they do not have the maternal instinct. I put the crib right next to the bed with the side down, covered it so there was not holes for them to get caught in and she would lay right by me or in the crib with my arm by them. At one point I did not have the crib next to us, so I had a foldable guard, that you can buy in stores to use. I honestly believe that is the way God intended it....
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S.S. answers from Columbus on November 01, 2006
I coslept with all three because it's NATURAL. The Western world has seemed to take on the mentality that these dependent little beings need to be "trained", taught to sleep alone, taught to cry, etc., while most countries don't even have separate rooms for their babies.
It's one of the most loving things I can do for my baby - I'm there when she goes to sleep, and there when she wakes up. It's the way it should be, no questions asked.
And believe me, there's no high schooler that still sleeps with their parents. It's absolutely NOT a "bad habit", "starting something you'll have to break", etc. etc. It's what a loving parent does.
EDITED 11/2 TO ADD:
FOR THOSE THAT THINK CO-SLEEPING IS DANGEROUS, THERE IS ABSOLUTELY ZERO RISK OF SMOTHERING YOUR CHILD IF YOU PRACTICE SAFE COSLEEPING (NO DRUGS, DRINKING, OR OBESITY). It's ridiculous to think that your baby would simply lay there and let you smother him. Believe me, not only will they fight to breathe no matter HOW old they are, but you WILL feel it.
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M.W. answers from Cincinnati on November 02, 2006
[Raises hand] Umm, me! I wouldn't have it any other way. Cave mommas slept with their babies. Mommas all over the whole world sleep with their babies. It's not unsafe unless you are a drug user, taking sleep medication, very obese, or heavy smoker. Oh, and it's unsafe to co-sleep on a couch. I am not and don't do any of those things. I slept with my now 6 year old until I was pregnant with number three. My first two moved into a bed together. They were 5 and 2 at that time. They did okay with it. I still had to lay down with my 2 year old for a few months to get her to go to sleep without me, but now she does it just with her sister. My oldest will often scratch my 3 year old's back to get her to go to sleep. It's really sweet. Our 8 month old baby sleeps with us and has since birth. My husband and I love to cuddle in bed with her in the morning when she's all smiles. He also likes it because he doesn't get woken up at night. She starts to wiggle a little and I subconsciously stick the boob in her mouth. If she wasn't right there, she'd get fully awake and be much harder to get back to sleep.
I also am a midwife a recently went to a conference where Dr. James Mckenna spoke. He has done lots of research on the safety of co-sleeping. He said what we really should be asking is whether it's safe for babies to sleep alone.
Here are a couple links:
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