Before you’re a parent, there are sanctimonious moments that you have when looking at others’ parenting. I’d never let my child (insert anything here)… Here are a couple of things I promised myself I’d never do as a mother:
- Let my child go barefoot in public (what are these parents thinking?!) This was before I realized how insanely hard it was to keep my child’s socks and shoes on her little feet.
- Let my child be a hot mess in public (my child will never have a dirty face!) Ha. Just, ha.
- Co-sleep. (why would I bring my kid into my bed? She’ll sleep in her crib from day one.)
But here we are, I’ve broken every single one of my sanctimommy ideals. And I quickly learned there’s no perfect way to parent, if you Google something you’ll get 15 different ideas of what you could try, but nothing is guaranteed. Much to my frustration, what works for my best friend’s baby doesn’t always work for us.
And for all of these reasons, I’m going to lay out my case for co-sleeping. Because of all the rules I broke, co-sleeping is actually what saved- not destroyed- my sanity, and helps me feel closer to my baby every day.
I was terrified of co-sleeping with my child because I was afraid that I was going to roll over on her in the middle of the night. It wasn’t until the great 4 month sleep regression that Lo moved into our bed, and since then, she’s slept through the night. A solid 9-10 hour stretch, nestled between Mommy and Daddy.
Lo likes to touch our skin while she sleeps. I will often wake up to her chubby little hand on my arm, just being calmed by my presence as I am hers. I fall asleep watching her chest rise and fall and hear her soft breathing. It has been in these moments that my awareness is actually heightened, and I get a more restful nights sleep even though something in my Mom-brain is alert to her needs. You can read more about this here. I am a better mommy, a better employee and a better wife when I get those extra minutes of shut-eye.
I felt embarrassed to admit that we were co-sleeping. Our baby should be in her crib, right? I should let her “cry it out”, right? I could never bring myself to do it, out of anxiety for both of us, but moreso because I wasn’t ready to let my baby go. Then I started talking to other mamas. And a surprising number of them were co-sleeping, but no one is talking about it!
But it was my friend Tara, from the wonderful blog Instinctual Mothering, that explained it in such a wonderful way. She said, “There’s nothing wrong with being close with your baby at night. It is natural for us to clutch our babies close to us.” She’s right! All animals co-sleep with their young- if you’ve ever seen a puppy curl up to its mama’s belly or a kitten nudge his little head into the crook of his mom’s arm, you know this to be true.
Co-sleeping, when done correctly, can be a safe alternative to a baby in a crib. There are several things you must do to prepare your bed for co-sleeping:
- Eliminate excess pillows and blankets (Lo does not use either and sleeps “bare” between us in our king-size bed.
- Firmer mattresses are recommended, just as in a crib.
- Parents who have been smoking, drinking alcohol or taking prescriptions that put them into a deep fog/sleep should not co-sleep.
- Babies should sleep on their backs. (Back is best!)
I’m on a business trip this week, and I am writing this blog post at nearly midnight. I sleep soundly with my young one next to me, and now that she’s not here, I find it hard to fall asleep. Just as she needs my scent and breath next to her, I need hers as well.