If you asked me 10 months ago, towards the very end of my pregnancy, if I was planning on co-sleeping I would have honestly told you no. Like most parents-to-be, we had already tackled the momentous event of building the crib, and everything was set and ready for our newborn to arrive.
Then it all changed.
Quinn was born at home (planned) and you can read his birth story here. At about 11am, a few short hours after he was born, our midwives left and it was just the three of us left in my family room. To help with the natural recovery from childbirth, we decided it was best if I avoided stairs for the first few weeks or so which took his newly built crib out of the equation. The back up plan was to set up the playpen into the newborn position next to the couch where I would be sleeping.
That plan just didn’t work for us either. Quinn didn’t want to be put down, and to be honest I wasn’t ready to put him down that night either. Like true newbies, my husband and I rotated who was on “Quinn-duty” all night long. One of us slept while the other held him and watched him sleep in our arms. Of course I was nursing him every 1-2 hours then so my “sleep” was more like quick power naps here and there.
This continued for a few more days. We slept downstairs on the couch in a reclined seated position with Quinn in our arms. He enjoyed being skin to skin and was sleeping and nursing well. From that point on we kept him with us and turned our bed into a family bed. He has slept in a crib occasionally and naps well in his crib, but it works best for our whole family to co-sleep at night.
Here are 6 of the reasons we chose to continue with it.
1. It’s a Safe Option
Against what many people believe, Bed Sharing is extremely safe. Of course it needs to be done right, just like how crib sleeping can be dangerous if you leave the baby unattended with heavy blankets and pillows, next to an outlet in reach etc. Did you know that more infant deaths occur in unsafe cribs than in parents’ bed and that infants who sleep near to parents have more stable temperatures, regular heart rhythms, and fewer long pauses in breathing compared to babies who sleep alone. This means baby sleeps physiologically safer in bed with mom (source). Find a checklist below for safe co-sleeping/bed-sharing!
2. It’s Soothing to Baby
Bed-sharing has become a taboo subject in most parts of Canada and the United States. Instead, our culture seems to emphasize the desirability of teaching children to self-soothe. Due to this desirable “milestone” parents are seeking to attain, they are encouraged to introduce security objects to help in this process (blankets, pacifiers, stuffed animals and more). In the dark of the night, when Quinn wakes he can immediately find the love and comfort of his parents. This is soothing to baby and helps develop a strong bond and trust between baby and mom.
3. It Feels Natural to Us
While it wasn’t what we planned, it feels completely natural to us. And it’s not all that unnatural, even though at times people look at me like I have two heads when I tell them we bed-share. We are really the only species of animal that takes our newborns and put them in another room by themselves. The practice of training children to sleep alone through the night is approximately two centuries old. Prior to the late 1700s co-sleeping was the norm in all societies, since the beginning of mankind (source). Being a parent is TOUGH and the best thing I can do is do what feels right for me. Co-sleeping is what feels right and works for my family.
4. It Makes Breastfeeding Easier
Quinn has been a great eater since the beginning. He first nursed 45 minutes after he was born, and for a while it seemed as though that’s all he did. In the first two weeks of his life he gained 2 and a half pounds! Having him in bed with me made breastfeeding at night extremely easy on both me and baby. I also remember reading that bed-sharing babies nurse approx. twice as often as those who sleep alone, which is beneficial for helping mamas maintain their milk supply and keep babies growing at a steady pace. While nursing more often might seem daunting to some moms, it is easier on your when baby is laying beside you and can latch on when hungry.
5. We Enjoy It
My husband and I both love having Quinn in our bed. He is growing up so fast, and at some point he will move into his own bed and room and never return to ours (other than on stormy nights or after a nightmare maybe). We are soaking up every moment we can close to him.
My favorite part of the day is first thing in the morning, when I wake up to the sweet sounds of a happy baby laying next to me in bed. Often he is just chatting up a storm to my watch (he loves my watch), or he is signing a song and pointing up at the ceiling. When I open my eyes to look at him he curls over and lays a big fat kiss on my lips (or somewhere on my face if he misses). We snuggle up to each other and chat about our plans for the day
LAST BUT NOT LEAST…
6. Amazing Things Can Happen
Every moment that goes by the bond between us grows. Every day that passes our little baby amazes us more and more. Night time is just another opportunity for time spent together. And in the middle of the night, you just never know what might happen.
Last night, around 2 am Quinn woke up with a few whimpers. I lay still to see if he would go back to sleep by himself. What he did was even better. After a short story to his hand and a few giggles, Quinn climbed up on my shoulder, lay his head on my head and fell asleep. Yup- he just passed out on my face with a big hug. After kicking my husband to take a picture of what I expect will never happen again, I lay there with him just enjoying the warmth of his skin and his cuddle. This, is exactly why I co-sleep. He woke up, found his mom, and put himself back to sleep. No doubt with all the love, confidence and security one could feel in the dark of the night.
Safe Co-Sleeping Checklist
When Quinn was little we followed all of these suggestions. Now that Quinn is 9 months old, able to navigate blankets and crawling like crazy, we place him between mom and dad. In addition, our mattress is on the ground for added safety.
- Place babies to sleep on their backs.
- Be sure there are no crevices between the mattress and guardrail or headboard that allows baby’s head to sink into.
- Do not allow anyone but mother to sleep next to the baby, since only mothers have that protective awareness of baby. Place baby between mother and a guardrail, not between mother and father. Father should sleep on the other side of mother.
- Don’t fall asleep with baby on a cushy surface, such as a beanbag, couch, or wavy waterbed.
- Don’t bed-share if you smoke or are under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medications that affect your sleep.
Do you Co-Sleep? I would love to know why you chose it for your family! Comment below 🙂