No or Co-sleep?

I’ve been meaning to bring up the subject of co-sleeping for some time now.  Its taboo nature has made me rethink it a time or two, and whether or not I should throw it out here on the table, and if I do, what it is that I would say.  While I was pregnant I did a little reading here and there on what to expect after the baby came and I mostly came across the attitude that co-sleeping (sleeping in the same bed as the parent) is wrong and/or frowned upon.  My ignorance left me believing that, too.  I mean, hey, I’m the inexperienced one here.

The first time I saw my pediatrician the day after Mia was born, she told me “Whatever you do, no co-sleeping.”  I didn’t question this statement because this is my first child and the doc is the expert, right?  Of course, I’m going to do whatever the doctor says.  Both nights that we were in the hospital together, Mia slept in a bassinet in the nursery.  I felt horrible.  I felt like I was abandoning my child.  I’m the only home and comfort that she’s ever known and I completely cut that bond at the first parenting decision I was faced with.  I know that it’s important for the mother to get some sleep after such an exhausting birth, but personally, I would have been just fine had I decided to keep her in my room.  No, not just in the bassinet, but in my arms.  I would have and could have napped when she napped, day and night.  I wouldn’t have had a solid night’s sleep, but that’s one of the luxuries I gave up when I decided to have a baby.  To this day, I feel guilty for sending her away and if given the chance again with another baby, he/she will not leave my side.  I wonder sometimes, if I had held her close since day 1, would we have been more in tune with each other during the next really difficult first few weeks of screams and colic and helpless feelings.

Since day 1 of being home with my baby, she has slept tucked under my arm in my bed.  I felt guilt again.  I was going against the doctor’s advice and against what I had read in books and also heard from other mothers.  At the same time, I felt right in continuing to be my baby’s place of rest and safety.  Yes, I said safety.  It’s the safety of it that calls into question the act of co-sleeping in the first place.  Like the woman mentioned below states, I, too “trust myself as her mother to protect her, to nourish her and to nurture her.”  When Mia is wrapped in my arm, I sleep like a rock and I awaken at the tiniest disturbance. I like that I can immediately respond to and comfort each one of her movements and needs.  I feel like, for me, holding my baby through the early nights of her life is such a natural and instinctive tendency that I’m in no way embarrassed or ashamed of.

I came across a blog, Inked in Colour, that I enjoyed reading very much. The mother behind the posts is living her days in a village in Indonesia.  It’s interesting to see how another mother is doing, facing many of the same new realities that I now face, but in a village in another country.  I was drawn particularly to her post, “the culture of sleep…” for many reasons.  I absolutely relate to her sentiments on this issue and I felt so relieved to read words that I couldn’t come up with better, myself.  Her sharing her personal views and experiences made me feel so much more at peace with my decision to co-sleep and after reading what she had to say, I left my computer feeling more confident and more accepted, I guess.  Here are a few excerpts from her post that I found to be engaging. Click them to read her full post.

“I always knew that co-sleeping was something that I would dabble in. The thought of separating myself from my baby after her birth never sat right with me, I couldn’t imagine us being apart after spending so long together. But western culture can breed fear, can mark something that seems so natural. During my reading the SIDS warnings and the tragic tales that I read about co-sleeping instilled a fear in me…  started to doubt myself. I started to doubt my own instincts.”

“There are many cultures all around the world, in fact most (if not all) of the Eastern world – where co-sleeping is not only the norm, but it is the done thing. To not sleep with your baby would seem an odd and cruel punishment for both mother and child. In Indonesia where my husband is from the household shifts after a child is born. The father moves to the couch, the living room or the front porch to give space to the mother and child. To ensure night-time safety and bonding through the darkest, quietest hours of the day where mother and infant exist together in a beautiful circle of sleep, wakeful moments and tender touch that nurtures both.”

  My Mia is approaching the 3 month mark in just a week, and it’s only now that I have begun to attempt putting her in our bedside bassinet to sleep at night.  Now that she’s a little older and is maturing out of her colic and super needy stages, she is responding much better to sleeping on her own…a little bit.  See, I will first place her in the bassinet when we go to sleep, but after she wakes up in the night for her feeding, I put her in bed with me.  I’m not going to make her give up our bed, cold-turkey!  Soon enough, when we’re both ready, she’ll solely be in her bassinet.  The next sleeping spot will be her own crib in her own room.  Oh man, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Don’t even get me thinking about that just yet.

By sharing my experience and the quoted words above, I hope that anyone who is struggling with the decision to co-sleep may find a bit more clarity and peace with their decision, whatever it may be.  It’s important for each family to do what works best for them, without judgement. I’d love for any readers to comment here with any of your experiences and/or thoughts on the matter, and yes you can remain anonymous if you choose to do so.  I’m sure other mothers reading would appreciate more of your views and wisdom.  Thanks!

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 *Edit on 7/20/12:  When I first posted this, there was a failure in allowing readers to leave a comment.  It’s been fixed now, so comment away. Because of the error I received some comments on my Facebook, so I’ve copied and pasted them in the comments below, which explains why comments are coming from me. I like the points they’ve made and wanted to add more points of view to keep the conversation going :)




  1. Another comment left on my FB:

    "Love it, co slept with both my babes until about 4 months and then transferred them to the bedside bassinet and eventually their own room." -Whitney

  2. Another comment left on my FB page:

    "I co-sleep with Sophie too! :D My pediatrician recommends it for nursing and I just love getting to cuddle with her all night…yay for co-sleeping! I also read that mom has a hormone that allows her to monitor baby's breathing while we are sleeping which can prevent SIDS…mother instincts and hormones are amazing :)" -Kelly

  3. This comment was left on my FB page: "It won't let me comment on your co-sleep post. I wanted NOTHING to do with co-sleeping. I thought it was weird and my baby didn't need to be in my bed. I was convinced she'd die there because I'd roll over on her and kill her. Then she was born. I went nuts. I wouldn't let them take her out of the room. LOL! I'd make people go down and watch her if they had to take her for something. She slept with us until she was 6 mo's old." -Chrystyna

    • The same friend later added, "I was totally one of those people who would give my friends that look when they were co-sleeping. I thought it was insane that a baby couldn't sleep in their own bed. Then my "I must eat every 1 – 1 1/2 hrs child entered this world". Ha! My life changed in an instant. I would not have survived if she wasn't just attached to me all night long. Aaron slept in the other room for probably a good 2 mo's because he was so scared he was going to kill her. I kept trying to tell him he'd have to basically land on me before he got to her though because she never left my side. She would literally lay right next to me without an inch between us. I would want to roll over and know there was no way I could do it with her there. Funny how having your own kid changes things. LOL!"

  4. With the 2 now, the co-sleeping thing is impossible. With both girls, I would nap with them in my arms but at night put them in the bassinet in our room. At about 3 months, they went to the crib in their own room. Now with Gia at 4 years old, she still wants to sleep in our bed here and there and I allow it once in a while. Both my kids sleep better and fall asleep easier in our bed but I just cant allow it all the time. Reason is, your spouse is already so neglected when you become mommy and that bed time snuggle is even more important. Having kids in your bed can interupt that much needed attention. Mia is still so new and you will determine yourself when to move her into her own bed/room. Listen to your instinct, enjoy every second, you can listen to advise but don't have to take it!

    • Kuddos to you for getting them in their crib by 3 months. I don't know how Mia would do in her crib by herself any time soon (and she's 3 months in a week), and honestly I don't want to know because I'M the one who wouldn't get any sleep. Mainly because I'm just starting to use the bassinet and I haven't been weened off her just yet and vice versa. And what a really great point you made about your spouse being neglected. I think that's a big change that takes place that often gets forgotten about and/or ignored. Maybe it's because that's how we ended up with a child between us in the first place..soooo distance is okay for a little while :) Haha, thanks for sharing Jamie :)

  5. Abby slept in a co-sleeper in our bed (mostly because it made us feel like the dogs/cat couldn't get her) until 3 months. By 3 months she was sleeping thru the night so I felt ok moving her to her own room. Now, at 5 months, she is teething and rolling over in her sleep. Both wake her up numerous times throughout the night. I'm considering bringing her back into our bed but am afraid to backtrack on all the progress we've made. I just think, for now, both of us would sleep better. If co-sleeping works for you, do it! In comparison to other cultures, Americans push their babies away way too early. I'm currently struggling with the idea of "sleep training". Ugh!! I keep leaning toward my current "go with the flow" ways which are totally working for us but feel pressured to get her on a strict schedule… In the end, it's all about what works for you and your baby.

    • We have a co-sleeper that lays in between us in bed, too. I should mention one of those in a post one day. Yeah, Mia is doing better at sleeping in one of those. She used to sleep so much better with my arm under her head and her body right up against mine. And I completely agree with the pushy Americans comment. Good luck with the teething thing. Just when you finally feel on top of your game and confident with a routine…these dang babies have to switch it all up.

  6. Anonymous says

    When Landon was born (4 weeks early) I held him each night at the hospital because i felt he needed the connection and because it was easier to feed him due to my having a csection. since then he has slept in our bed nestled up right next to me. I have mixed feelings on the topic because although i love that he is right next to me he now will not sleep anywhere except for in the bed with us or if someone holding him. this makes my life during the day very difficult because i need to get things done during the day while he sleeps ( i.e Laundry, Dishes, Cleaning, showering, etc.). He is now 2 months and I'm hoping i can slowly make this transition so he can nap during the day in his basinett. Misty- thank you for sharing your experience. it too makes me feel better because everyone i tell about our co-sleeping definitely shoots the look of judgement my way.

    • As you already know, everyone jumps at the chance to give you their advice on how to raise your kid. Of course, you'll make your decisions based on your own instincts and intuitions. I do, however, want to share what has helped me cope with the same frustrations you're facing. Mia is a week shy of 3 months old, and for the first 2 months she also, would not sleep anywhere else but our bed and would constantly need to be held during the day. I would cry everyady over the fact that I wasn't "getting anything done." The dishes, cleaning and typical chores were falling behind and the house wasn't resembling, at all, what I wanted it to. Let me tell you, I was going crazy and I wasn't the happiest wife to come home to. Something had to change. I decided that at least for now, for the first few months of Mia's life, until she doesn't NEED so much of my attention, I'm going to change the way I think and my priorities. SHE is the priority, not the dishes. They'll still be there, waiting for me to wash them later in the day or maybe even tomorrow. I decided to actually ENJOY my daughter and embrace her needy personality and just hold her whenever she needs me. My stress levels drastically dropped and I'm a much happier mommy. Now, she needs me much less and has just recently begun to relax in her play yard, in her swing and sometimes in her bassinet at night. The discovery of her hands has definitely helped her self-soothe, too. Anyways, the first 2 months are tough and the baby and you are both trying to figure each other out. Thanks for reading my blog and for commenting and I hope this novel of a response helps a little more :)

  7. I am a strong believer in co sleeping. Having maddy in my arms by my side.. able to comfort her every need.. was an amazing experience. At six years old I still comfort her when she wakes up and on occasion.. needs to crawl into mommys bed. That's what I am here for.. to protect her and make her feel safe. I'm glad you are doing what feels right to you and not just following what others say.. parental instinct is an amazing thing.. mia is growing up beautifully and your words are becoming more inspiring and comforting with every blog. Thank you for sharing them <3

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