OK, so I’m more than a little hesitant to open the discussion toward parenting topics that tend to bring-out the nasty in people. There are several topics that, while valuable to think about and discuss, tend to polarize parents (well, let’s be honest—moms!) who pick a side and desperately cling to it as “the ONLY and BEST way to raise children.” In my short almost-two years as a parent, I’ve noticed the rather distinct and opposing parenting camps that indoctrinate their followers with the advice of a guru while demonizing families who swing the other way. As so eloquently posted by Andrea,
But I wonder if, as mothers, we are so rash to jump to conclusions that we alienate far more than we join up. As women, we can be so powerful! We are the central force in our childrens’ lives. So what if we parent differently. Ultimately, for the sake of our children, doesn’t it make more sense to lend sympathy, not judgment, to each other?
SO, on that note. Rather than debating whether co-sleeping with your kids is a right or wrong issue (because that would be absolutely ridiculous, there is nothing morally right or wrong about it, despite what some would say), I’m curious about how many people out there are closet co-sleepers!!! Especially the ones that swore you’d never in a million years allow your child in the bed with you! I know some families intentionally sleep with their kids from Day 1, and for them it’s an expression of love and the willingness to always be available to their child. And it seems like there are also lots of families that accidentally find themselves in the middle of a crowded bed with no idea how it got that way. I’m sure in both situations there are those who LOVE it and those who HATE it, afterall, no parent and no child is the same, even in our sleeping preferences. So, what has your experience been with the co-sleeping option?
For us, it hasn’t ever really happened. I think when Evelyne was an infant I was so overly paranoid that somehow she’d end-up at the bottom of the bed under the covers (I really had nightmares about it!) that I never allowed myself to bring her into bed with me. (other than a handful of times in the morning when she was a newborn… my arm has never been more painfully cramped in my life from holding her so carefully!) In retrospect, I think that was pretty dumb of me to not at least nurse her in the bed in the middle of the night. What was I thinking?! But when it came to sleep, she was always pretty fussy and it took lots of rocking/swinging/bouncing and nursing to get her to fall asleep, and I don’t know if she would have fallen asleep just by lying down with us. I think I did try it once or twice in desperation and she was just distracted. When she got older, I knew it would never work, she would never fall asleep and stay asleep with us. Now that she’s a toddler, I wonder if she might be able to drift-off next to us, but I still think that she’d probably be so distracted and want to stand-up and jump on the bed that I don’t even want to try.
Theoretically, I’m ok with it if that’s what happens with this next baby, but realistically, I probably won’t start it beyond nursing at night. Clay has a really hard time sleeping well much of the time, and I know he wouldn’t get a wink of sleep if he knew a baby was in the bed with us. Not to mention, I don’t think I could sleep on my side around the baby all night long, I’m always flipping and twisting around, usually ending-up on my back with my leg in the air. (No, really. Apparently it’s something I’ve done since I was little!) I think I’d get way less sleep and just be sore and cranky in the morning. So while I have no problem with the idea of it, I don’t know if it’s something I could do regularly.
That said, there have been so many nights that Clay and I lie awake and joke to each other that we should go get Evelyne from her crib and bring her into bed with us just so we could get a few extra cuddles! I think when we move her into a big-girl bed and she comes to us in the middle of the night wanting to get in bed with us (which I’m sure is inevitable), we might be the only parents who have ever flung-back the covers and said, “Hop-in, baby!” (And then go on to get no sleep that night and never want to do it again!)
So what does your family do? Do you sleep together because you like it, your kids like it, or because it’s the only way anyone ever gets any sleep? Or do you fiercely protect your sleeping space from all tiny intruders?
*Despite some SIDS warnings, there is some evidence pointing toward co-sleeping as actually lowering the risk of a baby dying of SIDS as long as the parents take smart precautions. (firm sleeping surface, no blankets, baby sleeping on his back, etc…) So no finger-pointing about co-sleeping parents endangering their babies or making a dangerous decision.