Co-sleeping can be a very controversial topic. Like everything else in the realm of parenting in the age of smart phones and mommy groups on Facebook. I am not a professional, I am not a doctor, I am not a lot of things. What I am is MY baby’s mother and parent and protector and I DO know what is best for HER and MY family. I simply wish to share my thoughts so that other new moms can get a new perspective and make the decisions that work for their families. Bottom line here, if you don’t agree with my parenting practices, that is fine. I will not and do not judge others who make different parenting choices and I simply ask the same common courtesy from you.
The intent of this post is not to convince you to co-sleep. I just want to prove that it can be done without losing your sanity! Now that we are in our 17th month of co-sleeping with our daughter, I have learned a few things that have worked and some things that haven’t. It has been beneficial to my family in so many ways and I know that more parents out there might benefit too if they had some more insight on it.
Do It Safely
Before anyone co-sleeps or bed-shares with their baby, it is so important that they educate themselves on how to do it safely. There are some very important guidelines that should always be followed to ensure your baby’s safety. I am not going to share those with you here, because like I mentioned above, I’m not an expert! I’m only sharing things that have worked for me and my family when it comes to safe co-sleeping. A parenting site that always provides valuable information to me is Kelly Mom. I feel they present a factual, unbiased view and the articles are always straight forward and easy to understand. There is a lot of great information out there and there is also a lot of, for lack of a better term, crap. La Leche League International is another great source of unbiased parenting information on the topic and how to do it safely. Knowing that you are practicing safe co-sleeping can help to ease any insecurities you or your partner may have about it and it will make for a better experience for all of you.
Find Your Support System
While I am lucky to not have been called names or been judged for my decision to co-sleep (at least nobody has done it to my face yet..) I’ve heard plenty stories of people who have been. I don’t judge others for parenting choices just because they are different than mine. So, it breaks my heart to hear of other moms who have been criticized not only by strangers, but even worse by family and friends when it comes to bed-sharing or co-sleeping. It is very unfortunate that there tends to be a lot of misinformation and lack of education surrounding the practice. Because we cannot always change the way others feel about it, or make them open to being educated on the matter, the best thing we can do in these situations is to find our mom tribes.
Mommy groups on Facebook often get a bad rap. I recently saw a post that had gone viral showing a cartoon image with a mom sitting and looking at the computer while her baby had caught on fire next to her. The caption read something like, “Let me ask my mommy group on Facebook what to do!” and the responses from said members of the mom group were things like “Oh, I have an essential oil for that!” etc. While I could relate to this post and found it pretty hysterical, I also know that mom groups, even online, can be a wonderful place for moms to find real, genuine support. Especially when they are failing to find it in their immediate circle of real life friends and family.
What I’m getting at here is, find a mom group on Facebook, somewhere else online or in real life, that supports you and shares some, if not most of your parenting beliefs! When you’ve had a rough night with your little one a few simple encouraging words from a mama who has been there and done that or who is currently going through the same thing can be a lifesaver.
Find Balance and Be Flexible
“But doesn’t your husband hate it?” Ugh. That question seriously makes me cringe for so many reasons! I could go on and on about why, but I’ll spare you. While we are both on the same page about the benefits of co-sleeping and why it’s the right choice for our family right now, that doesn’t always mean it is the easiest thing to do! However, we’ve created a routine that really works for us and keeps me, my husband and my daughter happy.
Our routine looks something like this- both of us being involved in the beginning of bedtime, with changing her into pjs, reading stories, etc. Then, I stay with my daughter until she falls asleep in our bed. After she is out, I leave and catch up on work or spend time with my husband downstairs, watching tv, etc. We have a bed rail on our bed as well as a video monitor that I always keep close by in case she wakes up and I need to go and help her fall back asleep. Then, we both go to bed with her when we are ready. I also know that for some families, it works for them to put baby to sleep in their crib, then if and when they wake up during the night, they will bring them in their room for the remainder of the night.
Our routine allows my daughter to get the support and comfort she needs and still gives my husband and I plenty of time to spend together. Sometimes we will also go to an early date night out before bedtime, or do a date night in (see how to do that here!). I also like to remind myself (and my husband) that this is a phase! I am fully confident that she will not need or want to sleep with us forever and all too soon we will be missing these days.
Co-sleeping Can Work
I hope that these tips can be of some help to even one struggling mama out there. Ever since my daughter was born, I’ve felt pretty instinctual about a lot of things and co-sleeping has been one of them. It just feels right, and I know that if I do it safely then I am giving my daughter what she needs. I know that it isn’t for everyone and that’s ok but if it’s for you and your baby then I hope you find the support you need to make it work!