Apr / 30
There were many things to be nervous about when I found out I was having baby number 3, and lack of sleep was pretty high on the list. I don’t function well without a lot of sleep (who does?), and my other two sleep beautifully. They both still take an afternoon nap, and they go to bed around 6 & 7 respectively. Even better, they sleep until around 8! So the prospect of waking up all night with a newborn, only to wake up and take care of two toddlers in the morning, was daunting.
My newborn is now 7 weeks old, and we’re both sleeping through the night with very few interruptions. So, yes, he’s a very easy-going baby who likes to sleep and eat, but I also made a few changes to our nighttime routine.
The first two weeks, I woke up to change the baby and nurse him, and I would be exhausted the next day–thank God for my mom and husband who were there to pick up the slack (or do everything while I rested up with the baby ;). But my mom couldn’t stay with me forever, and my husband had to go back to work, so I had to find a way to function.
I already nurse my baby instead of pumping and bottle-feeding, or bottle-feeding formula, so that buys me more sleep right there. With nursing, the milk is always available, no sleep-interrupting preparation needed.
This brings me to my confession: I co-sleep with my baby. In fact, I co-slept with my other two, too. I just never admitted it to anyone because it’s a slightly controversial thing. The medical community has us poor parents absolutely terrified of SIDS (which co-sleeping wouldn’t cause–it would be suffocation, actually), but here’s the thing: my babies HATE bassinets. All of them. At least at first. I always have the intention of making them sleep in some form of a bassinet or other in the beginning, but they always refuse. And really, I can’t blame them. They just spent 38+ weeks where they were with me every moment, and then they’re forced out into the confusing world and made to sleep in one of those horrible clear plastic bassinets at the hospital? Yeah. I don’t blame them for wanting to snuggle with me in my own super uncomfortable hospital bed.
And then when we get home, it’s the same thing. They want to be close to me, where it’s familiar and safe. And if I don’t let them have their way, they cry. A lot. Which means no sleep for anyone, and how is that helpful? Therefore, I give in. And by the time they’re 3 or 4 months old, they’re a little more open to the prospect of sleeping in a bed of their own (but still in my room where I don’t have to travel far to nurse them). So, I admit it. I co-sleep with my babies. It may not work for other families, but it works for ours for several reasons, the most important being that my husband and I don’t move when we sleep. We stay in our own section of the bed in pretty much the same position all night. Even so, as an added precaution, I’ve always had my babies sleep with my arm as a pillow. This way, they’re contained in one area, safe in my arms. As an added bonus, they’re at breast-height, so they can nurse anytime they want to.
Which brings me to the next wonderful thing about co-sleeping: my baby can nurse anytime he wants to. I actually have no idea how much he nurses at night. I think it’s a couple of times, but I’m not sure. This is because he’s already in position to nurse, so I only have to wake up to help him latch–and that’s only sometimes. Therefore if I wake up at night, it’s only for a minute or two at a time. No real sleep lost there.
The only potential hiccup in my otherwise genius arrangement is the diaper changing situation. Now, I don’t know if I just got lucky or what, but my babies seem to never have dirty diapers at night. They do at first, as teeny-tiny newborns, but then it shifts to the day. Diapers now are so absorbent they can be trusted to keep baby dry all night, so as long as there isn’t a dirty diaper, I just let him be.
In general though, you might not want to co-sleep if:
So thanks to nursing and co-sleeping, my nights are pretty restful. I can’t say the same for the days, but at least I’m rested enough to handle them. If you’re considering the benefits of co-sleeping, I would do some research and decide what’s best for your family.
I leave you with more cute baby: