Co-Sleeping – Yay or Nay?
The first week after my baby was brought home from the hospital, I knew I had a High Needs girl on my hands. I didn’t really understand the term, but I knew she was going to be a baby who disliked space between her and me. Putting her down was tough and getting her to sleep was even harder. She constantly wanted to be held and needed to know someone was close by. I couldn’t leave her safe in her crib and walk away. She instantly recognized that I was not near by and she resisted. I spent a lot of time carrying her around in my arms for the first month or so.
To my surprise, she began to sleep through the night by three months in her rock and play, (now recalled). It was the only place I could set her down in where she would sleep. Just when I thought my little love bug was gaining her independence, however, everything took a turn. It was around the time when she no longer fit in the rock and play and had to be transitioned to the crib. A tough transition, it was quite a lengthy process. Once she eventually got use to the idea of being in the crib, she slept well again, for a few short months.
It was around 8 or 9 months when she hit a pretty difficult regression. A pretty significant regression, I should say. She began waking up multiple times through out the night suddenly wanting a bottle. Eventually it got to the point when getting her back to sleep took 3-4 hours. It took rocking, negotiating, pleading, and giving in to multiple bottles. All until one of us passed out with her on the couch.
For me, this was a nightmare. My baby’s sleep regression was a huge anxiety trigger for me. It sent me into an increased state of anxiousness. It also gave me multiple panic attacks. I couldn’t keep my calm, and the lack of sleep only made my disorder fester. My husband, unfortunately, had to handle many of the night wakings. It just kept getting worse. My anxiety got worse. Our baby’s sleep regression got worse. Most importantly, my husband was losing a lot of sleep. This was not working.
Cry it Out
So why not let her cry it out? Firstly, I just didn’t want to. That’s a post for another day, but long story short, I am not a fan. Secondly, I attempted cry it out twice during nap times. It did not go well and she got pretty worked up. Her cries weren’t just cries. They were blood curdling screams, and this was just a few minutes of being left alone. It took ten minutes, each time, just to calm her down. The sleep attempt was incredibly stressful, she was incredibly anxious afterwards, getting her to nap after that point was extremely difficult, and her anxiety about being left alone only increased. So, the crying it out option is not an option. It does not fit the emotional needs of our child so that method is now, completely off the table.
Giving in to Co-Sleeping
At fifteen months, we finally gave in and put our child in bed with us. Before I continue, let me specify that co-sleeping can be as simple as having the child’s crib in the same room as you. You can co-sleep with your child and they can still sleep in their own crib. This, however, was not enough for our child. We eventually transitioned her to co-sleeping by bed sharing. This was a game changer. After about a week of getting use to being in the bed with us, she has stopped waking up, for the most part. She doesn’t wake up for a bottle, she falls asleep much faster, and she stays asleep all night. If she does wake up, she falls back asleep on her own. We don’t need to rub her back or comfort her, on most nights. Us just being next to her is enough for her to feel confident enough to sleep well.
No, this is not a post to convince you that you should co-sleep. Everyone’s parenting is different and every child has their own needs. I am also not looking for an objective opinion. This situation works best for us and our family. It has been the best option, after trying many, that is currently working for us. With that being said, we do plan to continue to encourage her to sleep in her own bed. We are trying different methods that will be helpful in improving her independence and confidence to sleep on her own. For now, her emotional needs are being met and that is important to us.
I will say that we pushed co-sleeping, or more specifically – bed sharing, off as long as possible. I was extremely nervous when it came to SID’s and sleep safety. Fortunately for us, we did not need to get to the bed sharing stage until fifteen months.
Pros and Cons
Before we finally decided to make this plunge, we outweighed the pros and con’s
• Some specialists suggest that co-sleeping, more specifically bed sharing, increases a child’s dependency on the adult to help them sleep. However, there have not been enough studies to suggest that this is accurate.
• If your child is in day care – co-sleeping could affect your child’s nap patterns.
• Some claims suggest that a child will not be able to sleep alone as they get older.
• Bed-sharing could cause less sleep for parents if the child is a restless sleeper or if the parent is concerned about their own sleep habits around the child, (rolling around).
• Privacy between couples is pretty much non-existent.
• In Bed sharing, one parent may have to go to bed early with the child to keep the child from rolling off.
Our Family’s Personal Con
The biggest issue we have with bed sharing is the need to go to bed at the same time our toddler does. As of right now, having both of us in there with her is a distraction, so my husband and I take turns each night sleeping with her. That means one of us sleeps on the couch. This also means that our few hours alone at night are completely gone.
• Stress-less sleep for both the parents and the child.
• Hormones released during sleep can reduce stress levels in both the child and the parent.
• Specialists claim that by sleeping with their parents, they not only build a strong bond with their parents, but also develop the confidence they need to sleep on their own.
• Specialists claim that co-sleeping is a biological norm in many cultures. The idea of sleep training is a relatively new concept.
Our Family’s Personal Pro
Our one year old has slept better than she has the first full year of her life. She is finally falling asleep without a bottle and she is falling back to sleep on her own if she wakes up. Bedtime is no longer stressful, and she is much happier.
Is co-sleeping right for you?
Firstly, if you are considering co-sleeping by bed-sharing with a newborn or an infant, please do your research. Understand the risks and know how to keep your baby safe by following all safety recommendations. For safety tips on bed-sharing with a newborn and infant, please visit Kidshealth.org/bedsharing
Also, how you decided to have your child sleep depends on you and your child. What works best for your family? Do what you feel like you need to do for everyone that is involved in the situation.
If you have considered co-sleeping with your child, do what works. Does sleeping in your room work for your baby? Does your baby have to be next to you? Make sure your child is safe. Talk to your pediatrician and discuss the options with your partner. Then, make your decision based on your family and your child’s needs.
It’s perfectly okay for parents to be for or against co-sleeping or bed sharing. It’s not okay for parents to push their opinions onto you because they don’t agree. Each family is different, each child is different, and each situation is different. Ignore the critics and do what’s best for you and your family.
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*Disclaimer – Statements made in this post are of my own opinions, views and thoughts. I am not a professional and should not be regarded as such.
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