The Evolution of Our Co-Sleeping Arrangement January 20 2015
My oldest is adopted, and when she was a baby, I was under the impression that co-sleeping was dangerous. We weren’t allowed to do it with her, but I did a couple of times in desperation. With my second, I wanted to co-sleep because I was planning on breastfeeding and knew it would be easier. At that time, my husband was still of the mindset that co-sleeping wasn’t a good thing to do. So, he slept in a bassinet until he out-grew it and then went to his crib. However, he did sleep with us a lot when I couldn’t get him back to sleep at night.
With my third, I was dead-set on breastfeeding and bed-sharing. My husband was actually for it this time, so I was hopeful that everything would work out great. I did a lot of reading on breastfeeding while I was pregnant with my third, and there were many reasons that I wanted to bed-share.
Why I Wanted to Bed-Share
First, we have a very small 3 bed-room house and he was going to be our 3rd child. There was not a room for him to sleep in. So, he was going to have to sleep in our room. Also, my husband works crazy hours and doesn’t like to be woken up, and neither do my kids. Since we have a small house, any amount of crying at night would have woken everyone! I knew it would be much easier to just sit up and feed him rather than getting up and all. I had read about how breastfeeding moms who bed-share tend to sync sleep cycles with their babies so that once you get the hang of side-lying nursing, many times you don’t even fully wake up when baby wakes up to feed. I also worry about SIDS , as many new moms do, and I had read that your breathing stimulates baby to keep breathing. I had read an interesting little quote when I was reading about bed-sharing. I don’t remember where I read it, but it really had a lasting impact on me. The person said it is lonely to sleep alone; even adults don’t sleep alone. Those statements really made me reconsider making my children sleep alone. It also gave me perspective as to why my 3 year old had wanted to sleep with us a lot lately.
The First Arrangement
The first night our baby was in this world, I had a little co-sleeper thing that was supposed to go in between my husband and I for baby to sleep in. I put him in it, but I woke up once to him coughing and choking on fluid and decided I wasn’t going to let him sleep that far away from me anymore (that was about 6 in!) So, I cuddled him up and slept with him right next to me and his head on my arm. I put his head on my arm so that I would always know where his head was and didn’t have to worry about him rolling into me. I felt that was the safest way to sleep since he was so tiny, and I tend to have a bit of a dip in my bed.
The Second Arrangement
This worked great until baby started rolling and getting more mobile. Then I started worrying about him rolling off the bed. I also read a book on helping babies to sleep better and thought I would try to get him to sleep in his crib when I first put him down at night to see if he would sleep better. So, we put the crib next to our bed in a side-car position. In this arrangement, you take the front of the crib off and place it flush with the bed. Although the baby never slept in the crib, I did like having it there because I never had to worry about him rolling off the bed in that direction when I would get up in the mornings. I continued to nurse him to sleep at night and would get up after he went to sleep at this stage. I was also able to get up in the mornings without waking him up, giving me some time to get ready.
The Third Arrangement
I never worried about Caiden crawling off the bed at night or in the mornings because I was always there to watch him. At nap times, he would usually make noise like whining or crying when he woke up, so I was able to get to him before he started crawling. But, at some point, he stopped making noise when he would wake up from his naps, and we didn’t have a baby monitor. One day he woke up and didn’t make any noise until he fell of the bed and started screaming! At that point I decided we needed to change something for naps. We moved the crib out of the room and put an extra twin mattress and box spring on the floor next to our bed. We put that in the corner of the room and then pushed the bed up next to it. There was still about a 12 in difference between our bed and the twin bed, but I could comfortably get him to sleep for naps and bed time on the twin mattress. I also got a baby monitor so that I could shut the bedroom door when he was sleeping and still hear him. Shutting the door to his (our) room has really helped a lot with getting him to nap longer since we have two loud, older kids in the house.
Fundamentals of Our Bed Sharing
Some people think that if you bed share then baby must go to bed when you go to bed and get up when you get up, but that’s not true. For us, since I read The No Cry Sleep Solution, we worked on a bed time routine and getting him to sleep around 8 pm. I found that seemed to be the time he was ready to go to sleep and wouldn’t fight it. So, I nurse him to sleep around 8 on the twin mattress next to our bed. Sometimes he wakes up 1-3 times before I go to bed and sometimes he is still asleep when I go to bed. I have yet to be able to go to sleep with him not with me though. For some reason, I just can’t sleep unless we are in our usual position.
In the mornings, I get up at 5:30. I am usually able to slide my arm out from under him without waking him and then I get up and get ready. He usually doesn’t wake up until about 6:45 when I get the other two kids up. Some people will be wondering why I get up so early, so I’ll just go ahead and tell you that my daughter goes to school and we have to leave the house at 7:20 to get her to school. I get up at 5:30 to give myself time to do my Bible study and get ready before the kids get up. This time is invaluable to me. It really helps me to prepare myself for the day.
Getting him to sleep early gives us a little time to catch up on chores, watch tv or have a little mommy and daddy time before we go to bed. Some people also think that bed-sharing puts a damper on your sex life. I believe having 3 kids is much more of a hindrance to our sex life than bed-sharing has been!
Since my 3rd child has been born and we have been bed-sharing with him, our older two children have decided that they want to sleep together! They have been sleeping together for about 3 months now, and my 3 year old has never slept better.
If you want to read more about how to sleep with your baby safely, you can read Sleeping With Your Baby or any of these other articles: Safe Sleep 7 by La Leche League, Co-Sleeping Safely by Dr. Sears, or Co-Sleeping and Bed Sharing on Kelly Mom.