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Book Talk: Sleep Choices

Photo Credit: Lori Cole

Photo Credit: Lori Cole

I’m working on the sleep chapters of my book right now. I had originally planned one sleep chapter, but I’m realizing that it’s such a huge topic that it needs to be split into two chapters: one on the question of where baby should sleep and one on sleep strategies and sleep training.

I have been focusing on the question of bedsharing for the last several weeks. I have read the major studies associating bedsharing with SIDS and suffocation and studied the professional opinions of those recommending against bedsharing from a public health perspective. I have also read the studies coming from James McKenna, Helen Ball, and others that take a more holistic view of bedsharing. These authors talk about bedsharing as the cultural and physiological norm for human infants, particularly in the context of breastfeeding. They advocate for a more tempered view of bedsharing safety, one that recognizes that all bedsharing situations are not alike and that, though not proven, it is certainly possible that a safe bedsharing environment can exist.

I’m trying to understand both the science and the controversy of this topic. There are the data, and there are the people analyzing it and interpreting it. Reading these papers, I get the feeling that it is difficult to find someone conducting research in this field who isn’t at least a little invested in the outcome. I wonder if these guys ever sit in the same room together and talk it out, because it feels like they are coming from different planets. There’s the epidemiology planet, where numbers rule and nuance is scorned. (And don’t get me wrong – I’m a numbers girl – but I can see the limitations in them here.) Then there’s the anthropology planet, a beautiful land of skin-to-skin, breast milk, and perfect physiological attunement between mother and babe. In my opinion, neither world completely represents the reality facing new parents in today’s world.

I wonder, for example, if the members of the AAP committee, which recommends against bedsharing, have ever cared for a baby who had extreme difficulty sleeping alone. And I wonder if the anthropologists have ever cared for a baby who wanted her own space, perhaps needing a break from all that day-and-night sensory input. I have met both types of babies, and as parents, I think we have to recognize that their needs are not the same.

In the real world, lots of factors determine how different families handle sleep. Infant temperament is one of them. Safety is another. There are also cultural expectations, family dynamics, work schedules, parenting styles, and feeding methods to factor in. Where baby sleeps is a complex parenting decision, one that is exceedingly difficult to study in a quantitative manner.

As I’m writing this chapter, I’m trying to present the science in a balanced way. I also recognize that this parenting decision – and most of them for that matter – can never be reduced to science and statistics. Parenting is about people and their stories. I know that I need to understand those stories as well as the science to write a worthwhile book.

So, I’m hoping you can help me.

Help me understand WHY your babies slept where they did – in your bed or in a crib or some combination of the two. What factors were important in your decision? Did your baby sleep where you had planned, or did you have to adjust your expectations? What worked well about your arrangement, and what didn’t?

I may be interested in including some of your stories in my book, but I’ll send you a direct email if that’s the case. Thank you – as always – for sharing your stories!

 

162 Comments
  1. RB #

    My nine-month-old daughter slept first in a bassinet in her bedroom. Once she outgrew the bassinet, at about 3 1/2 months, we moved her to her crib. We have lived in two relatively small apartments since her birth. Even when she sleeps in her own room, she is only about 15 feet away from us.

    Before she was born, my husband and I discussed sleeping arrangements at length and decided that we wanted her to be taught to sleep in her own bed. We made this decision with an eye toward maximizing our ability to sleep well and care for her better during her waking hours. Also, we were concerned that if she got used to sleeping with us at night, she’d be unable to take naps without us during the day. As it turned out, our daughter seemed to prefer being left to sleep on her own, and would get annoyed when we’d try to cuddle her for a nap. This has changed as she has gotten older, but it did make things easier at first.

    By and large, we have stuck to our plan. Our daughter does sleep by herself in her own crib at night and for most naps. When she wakes early (before 6:30), we bring her into our bed to cuddle before we start the day. Sometimes she falls back asleep, sometimes not. In recent weeks, she has begun to be unable to take her late afternoon nap in her crib (all crying, zero sleep), so we have taken to either going for a ride in the car, taking a walk, or letting her nap on one of us on the couch. My husband and I enjoy it and I think she does, too – that’s what I’m assuming being offered a sticky, warm pacifier means, anyway. 🙂

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    February 18, 2013
  2. I love that you are covering this topic so thoroughly! As a new, breastfeeding mom, I struggled greatly with making a decision on where and when my baby would sleep. Initially we kept our daughter in a bassinet by the bed. I wanted desperately to be one of those peaceful, co-sleeping mamas, practicing skin-to-skin and nursing on demand. But the reality for me was that I just couldn’t do it. I was so afraid of hurting my baby that I would end up getting no sleep at all! I would lay awake with her, sleeping peacefully on my chest, terrified to go to sleep. In the end I had to do what worked for both of us and we went with the bassinet. And now my daughter, at 15 months, is one of those need-my-own-space babies. As she got older I felt more comfortable napping with her and bringing her into our bed at night, but she wants no part of that co-sleeping business! She asks me for “night night” now, often bringing me a book to read her, and gladly goes in her crib and falls asleep. I am still nursing, and I do not feel that our bond has suffered. She is still a mama’s girl and loves her mama milk! It is just what worked for us. I look forward to reading more of your writing on this topic, as well as the other comments!

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    February 18, 2013
    • Your experience sounds much like my own. I was too nervous to sleep with Cee next to me in bed. Plus, she rarely nursed to sleep, even in the middle of the night. She slept well in her own space, right next to our bed, and I could relax and sleep too. And today, she CAN’T sleep in our bed, which I find to be inconvenient sometimes. Even when she is sick, I know that she sleeps better in her own bed, and you’ll find me asleep on a pallet on her floor:) How much of this temperament around sleep is nature and how much is nurture I don’t know, but I do know that she adapted readily to sleeping on her own, and it was a fine fit for us. That’s just one experience though, so I’m really interested in reading all these many stories below!

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      February 18, 2013
    • Megan W #

      This sounds very much like our story! I wouldn’t have cared for my son to sleep in our bed, and my husband would nap with him often. I just COULDN’T sleep because of the fear of hurting him. I am a very sound sleeper, and was worried I would not ever wake up or realize something was wrong. I breastfed until he was 10 months old (when I found out my massively lower milk supply was due to a new pregnancy). He is 14 months, and still in our room in his crib. We initally had no choice but to keep him in our room, but we have a much larger house now and that is not the case. I like knowing I can wake up and put my eyes on him at any time. We are going to work on moving him to his own room over the coming weeks to prepare for baby #2 this summer. I plan to keep her in my room until she is at least 6 months…maybe longer if I just can’t let her go! 🙂 We also use the sleep sheep, and the ocean is my favorite one. The whales definitely creep me out. Now, he would probably like to sleep with us, but I have noticed he gets much better rest in his own space and in his own bed (and so do we)!

      I have nothing against cosleeping. I just knew I could never live with myself if something were to happen and I hadn’t followed all of the “rules” I guess. He didn’t even get a blanket in his bed until he was 1.

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      March 7, 2013
  3. Hello,

    I’ve been following your blog for the last six months and this is the most interesting one.

    Our baby’s sleep for the first year was not a great one. The first three months he would wake up every hour or two during the night for feed. He was breastfed. Most night he fell asleep on my chest and I was reclining on stack of pillow on our bed. It took ages to burp him and because I was so tired, I couldn’t stay awake to wait so I let him sleep on my chest until the next hour or two.

    And then I discovered the convenience of breastfeed him side by side in bed. I started doing at nap time to catch up with some sleep but then it carried on at night time because it was too exhausting to constantly waking up to pick him out the moses basket, feed him, burp him, and to put him back. My body could not be forced to stay awake and alert any longer. I took him in bed with me when he passed 3 months of age. It was a lot easier for me and everyone got their sleep.

    We tried to sleep train him few times in his cot but I had always been the one who gave up. I was to exhausted to resist. We co-sleep until he was 13 months old and then I realized he was ready to learn to sleep on his own.

    We started sleep train him again 2 weeks ago. There was 2 points in our goal; he fall asleep on his own and stay asleep through the night without snacking IN his cot. We went cold turkey in the end. It was hard to start with but now he gets the message. It took him 10 minutes to cry before he falls asleep; longer when he’s overtired. But he no longer needs the breast or me laying next to him all night.

    The other thing I notice is for our baby it might be better if he had his own room earlier because we disturb each other sleep. We’ll soon move to a two bedroom flat but at the moment I have to sleep on the sofa in the front room while my husband sleep in our bed in the same room with little man’s cot. My husband complaining that his sleep somehow disturbed with J sleep noise.

    I hope this comment help. I know there’s a lot of books saying that co-sleep is not ideal but that was the ONLY way everyone got their sleep and to be able to function during the day.

    Like

    February 18, 2013
  4. Jonina #

    Very interesting topic. I myself am also a public health researcher and wanted to make the best choice for my babe. We now have a 3 month old little guy, he is wonderful. Before giving birth I had planned to keep him with us in our room for the first few months and also bed sharing which would make night feedings a bit easier. Although he has since calmed down, Oskars was very colicky the first two months and although he slept well next to us, we realised that we were unable to sleep well because we were too afraid to move and either wake him up or push the covers over his head,etc. So after three weeks of us walking around like zombies (which made the colic even more hard to deal with) we decided to put him in his own room and see how it went. Although I was very hesitant to my partners suggestion of this, we gave it a try because we were so sleep deprived and it ended up being exactly what we all needed. Oskar started sleeping even better and so did we. It was really important that we were able to sleep well during those hours between feedings because then we were better equiped to handle the days ahead of us and those evening hours of colic without loosing our minds. I guess I learned that even though we can plan what we think is best for our babies, we have got to bend to what is realistic and what works for both babies and parents and for us was very situational!

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    February 18, 2013
    • Did you try having him sleep in your room but in his own bed? I wonder if that would have worked for you. One of the things I find interesting about the research on SIDS and sleep environments is that room-sharing has been shown to be protective for the first few months, but I feel like we hear much more about the bedsharing debate. But I do agree with you that those early days are so trying and that sleep deprivation can be debilitating. You have to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your baby, and flexibility goes a long way towards achieving that goal.

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      February 18, 2013
      • jonina #

        Yes we did. We had one of these old fashioned gorgeous ‘berceau’ (crib) that was passed down in the family and set it up next to our bed. We would initially put Oskar to bed on his own, but I would bring him into the bed during the night for feedings. That worked great for us most of the time but sometimes he would get quite cranky, usually in between on or two of the feedings around 3 or 5am and we would have to walk around for an hour and then he would eventually fall asleep on one of stomachs. Yeah the main deciding factor for us was really the sleep deprivation. We decided to move him into his own room just next to ours so that at least one of us could sleep during the ‘hard’ hours and then the other would take over later. I think the colic made everything that much harder and I had noticed the days that I was really tired, I felt like it also affected not only my emotions but decreased my milk production so it was just turning into a vicious cycle. I felt like a cold heartless mum putting Oskar in his own room so young but after trying it for a few nights, I realized that it was really great in this situation and best for us to get some sleep. We also had a particular situation since we knew that I was going to be starting a new job when he was only two and a half months old and we were moving to a new city and that it would be Pierre staying at home. So we felt it was really important to get into some sort of rhythm and both get rest before I went back to work. Oskar is now three months old, his colic has settled down and he is into a great sleeping schedule. He sleeps in his own room next to ours in a crib and often naps on his daddy in the daytime and loves to fall asleep in those african wrap baby carriers with myself in the evening. It is all such a learning curve. Like breast feeding, which is a whole other story that I also expected to come much more naturally or easier than it did for myself. I guess we really learned that its great to have a plan and be motivated but also its really important to be open to change and to evolve with your baby and what works best. Thanks for writing this post! Look forward to the book!

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        February 19, 2013
      • jonina #

        I should add that I gave birth in France. I had read a little about co-sleeping but not a lot, was so busy reading about breastfeeding, birthing process, etc that I totally missed the subject. I knew that my mom had done it with my sister and I but my family in law thought it teaches children bad habits. I had just briefly heard about SIDS and not stomach sleeping. However at the hospital, all the beds were actually set up with little cots for babies that attach to the mothers beds and all the midwives encouraged co-sleeping. I was really surprised in a great way because I was still kind of trying to convince my partner that co-sleeping will not necessarily teach our child bad habits and that it does not mean at age 10 he will still be sleeping with us. As it ended up, Oskar needed his quiet space to sleep and so did we. We still bring him into bed with us some mornings after his early morning feeding and its absolutely lovely.

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        February 21, 2013
  5. The more you talk about your book, the more excited I get to read it! We are a cosleeping/family bed/bedsharing, whatever you want to call it family with a 22 month old son. We started out with a sidecar cosleeper, but our first night home with my son I swaddled him up, set him in the sleeper, and promptly felt such a sense of *wrongness* that I lasted maybe twenty minutes before I scooped him up and tucked him up next to me. It was the only way I could possibly sleep in those first few days, and the sidecar quickly became nothing more than a holding bin for blankets, boppies, and water bottles. It took us a few weeks to really hit our stride with breastfeeding, but once we figured out sideline feeding we never looked back. My son is the type who is happiest when he is being held even now, though I never thought of him as a “needy” baby. Nursing to sleep was just so very easy. We didn’t have to go through all the contortions that my new mom friends were bemoaning. CIO was unthinkable for me, though we did try a couple times. When he cried so hard that he vomited on himself I threw in the towel for good on that idea. When he started rolling, and then crawling, I started staying in bed after he went to sleep. We had upgraded the sidecar to a full crib next to the bed, but again it was just a place to throw blankets and clothes, and rarely got any use beyond a few minutes of play while mama dozed first thing in the morning. This was not at all ideal, but the idea of rocking the boat terrified me. I spent many months lying in bed with a blanket over my head, reading fanfiction on my smartphone for hours before my husband came to bed. I was also suffering from some hardcore PPD so I wasn’t really trying to be social at the time. Kind of a vicious cycle. Eventually we decided to put our mattress on the floor and I started creeping away again, much to the improved health of both my mental state and my marriage. After he turned one we put the crib mattress on the floor next to our queen. A few times I got him to go down on his bed and stay there maybe half the night before he ended up between us. More often than not I ended up sleeping half over/half in the crack between our two mattresses. My back was absolutely killing me, so I basically demanded a king size mattress and we ditched the crib mattress completely about two months ago. Two weeks ago I started night weaning. No Cry Sleep Solution has been very helpful. The all night nursling scenario she describes is us to a tee. Mid-night nursings are still a challenge. “Nanas wake up” is a new phrase my son has learned, much to my chagrin, although “nanas sleep” when he tugs up my shirt after our bedtime story feels like a real victory every time. I’m hopeful/confident that progress will continue. I don’t have any plans to move him out of our room, even though we are currently trying to get pregnant again. The logistics of our house make it challenging to give him his own room, and honestly, knowing my son as I do, I just can’t see him wanting to sleep by himself any time soon. He is fiercely independent when playing, but when it’s time to relax or sleep he comes running for us. Oh god I could go on and on about napping at daycare once a week and Papa trying to put him down even a couple times a month and the shame/longing of not being able to get a babysitter after 8. If you want to pick my brain at all I would be delighted!

    Like

    February 18, 2013
    • Thanks for your honesty. I sometimes feel like bedsharing advocates make it seem so darn rosy, and I know that can’t be the case all the time. In your case, bedsharing may have been the right thing for your family, but it sure doesn’t sound easy! Hang in there, mama!

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      February 18, 2013
  6. My nine month old sleeps in his crib in his room and has since he was about three months old (when I went back to work). Before that, he slept in a pack and play (bassinette style set up) in our room. I’m glad we were able to have him in our room while he was still in the early newborn phase, but I found that I sleep much better with him in his own room. I was too attuned to every little movement, waiting for him to wake up that I didn’t get much sleep – or as much as would be possible to get with an infant anyway.

    I never really considered co-sleeping before he was born, being the worrying type who would have been too afraid of him getting suffocated. We did try it a couple of times in the morning when I was home alone with him and my partner wasn’t also in the bed. I could sleep with him in the crook of my arm and not worry too much about him getting stuck anywhere. The idea did seem appealing some times when he was still waking up multiple times per night, but the logistics just never worked out.

    We’re lucky to have a good sleeper now though, who pretty much knows that when he goes in the crib, it’s time to sleep. I think this was more a matter of luck than any sleep training or something we did. But I do think he benefits from having a place that is clearly where he sleeps.

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    February 18, 2013
    • I forgot to mention in my original comment that moving my son to his own bed was a relief in one way for me: my husband and I could go to bed without fear of waking him up prematurely for whatever feed was next. The bathroom we use is in our room, so if he was asleep in our room, we’d have to tiptoe in, after getting ready in the more “public” bathroom and try not to talk too loudly. While I miss having him near us sometimes, he’s always been a loud, wiggly sleeper. With him in his own space, he can thrash about without me waiting for him to wake up with each noise.

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      February 19, 2013
      • This is a practical aspect that isn’t usually mentioned by bedsharing advocates. There is a balance between being attuned to our babies in a good way and being so attuned that you can’t get any rest yourself. I think some mothers are better at getting rest while still being tuned into baby’s movements (it seems to me that you need to be able to do this to bedshare safely). Maybe it is something that you get used to. It was hard to move Cee to her own room when we finally did it, but that first night of real sleep was truly delicious, and I trusted myself that I would wake up for any real noise beyond the usual rustling, kicking, and grunting.

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        February 19, 2013
    • Jess, your son sounds EXACTLY like my 8 month old daughter. She’s such a wiggle worm that I was sure that she and I were waking each other up because I’d hear her rolling about in her Pack’n’Play and would think, “Hey, you’re up, let’s eat.”, when that wasn’t the case at all. She’s been in crib in her own room, right next to our room, since 3 months old.

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      February 22, 2013
  7. My daughter slept in a bassinet next to our bed for the first four weeks, but she hated it. We moved when she was four weeks, and she started sleeping in a crib in the next room after that, which she much preferred. She has occasionally slept in bed with us when she’s having a tough night, or when I’m so tired I can’t hold her to nurse. But I don’t sleep as well when she’s in bed with us because she always ends up on my side, so I prefer she sleep in her crib. She does just fine in her crib, so I don’t worry about it either way. I do what works best for us on a specific night–since she doesn’t have trouble transitioning between our bed and her crib, I don’t feel like it has to be all-or-nothing either way.

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    February 18, 2013
  8. I just wrote this in my last blog post “some nights she is pretty fussy…hard to get down for the night in her crib. So I will take her into our bed, lay her on my chest and we fall asleep together. Then when I have to get up for potty, I’ll put her in her crib and she continues to sleep. Some mornings when she starts to wake up because it is to bright out, I’ll take her out of her crib, take her to our bed and put her on my chest again and there she’ll sleep for at least one more hour or more. Yes, I did worry about forming bad habits, but then I read that she is still way to little to learn bad habits and she still needs very close contact and lots of it, to her mommy. She has been in my tummy for so long and all of the sudden is expected to sleep in a big crib by herself. Makes no sense eh?” … I also have read a ton of articles that speak against co-sleeping and then on the other hand, I’m part of a group/page on facebook “naturally born” and they are all FOR co-sleeping. so I believe, everybody has to decide on their own, what is safe and what not. I believe that natural mother instinct will kick in and just let us do the right thing. I have NEVER been a mom and I have NEVER even had close contact to a baby. I have NEVER babysat… but still, I strongly believe, that I’m doing the right things as I’m doing them. If it calms my baby and she ends up being happy… what’s wrong with that?? ….

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    February 18, 2013
    • I completely agree with your observation about how baby was cuddled up in your warm, soft, heart-beating tummy for so long, why on earth do we expect babies to sleep on a cold, firm, lifeless, solitary crib just days after they are born? I’m not offering a judgement on those parents that do this – it was just a revelation I had when I was so frustrated with my non-sleeping babe. Once I went back to more skin-to-skin, holding her, etc…she was calm again. Again, each mother/baby dyad is different but responding to my kid the way she needed made me feel better about trusting my mommy instincts too.

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      February 19, 2013
  9. Jen #

    I never planned on sharing my bed with my child. I was of the opinion that a child must learn to sleep in their own space (in our case a bassinette in our bedroom). After 3 weeks of abysmal failure in our sleep plan, exhausted, having nothing left I fell asleep, unintentionally, on the bed and my husband came home to find that somehow my little one, 3 weeks of age, had shimmied up to the curve of my stomach and was fast asleep. It was the best sleepis ha ididI’d have in months (rough pregnancy). In the end it was me who had to learn how to meet her needs. We shared a bed until she was 12 weeks then moved her to a play pen beside the bed. By 15 weeks she was in her own room. It was tough but I’m converted you do what your child needs and everyone is different. The first 3time weeks was some of the most difficult in my life. I was nursing every 3 hours and it took almost an hour every feed. I’d set the alarm for two more hours and repeat. My daughter was born small at just over 5 lbs and a bit early. I think she needed just a little bit more heat and touch to make up for lost uterine time. In the beginning she was a ‘sleepy’ baby and we used cold cloths on her head to get her to wake to feed, it was torturous to us both. Somehow after the feed we’d snuggle back together and sleep in blissful oblivion for two more hours and all was forgotten. It was strange though, no matter how asleep she was, the second I put her in that beautiful bassenette beside the bed shed wake and scream and fuss. She needed her momma.

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    February 18, 2013
  10. Diana Cassidy #

    Alice, My children slept with me (and sometimes Bruce). It was much easier for me to breast feed that way. I didn’t need to get up. I wasan older mother (3 5 when Ray was born and 37 when Laura was born) and working full time. Bruce was staying home with them while I worked and I came home for lunch to breast feed. When i had to travel for work they went also. I think I needed that contact with my little ones at night to make up for being away from them all day. Ray left the shared bed on his own when he was about four.It was getting crowded!. Laura stayed until she was about 12! Bruce gave up on trying to sleep with us also. I have no regrets (well maybe about not sleeping with Bruce, but we did out best to make up for that). It never seemed to bother the childrenthat I snored and talked in my sleep (but that certainly bothered Bruce, much more than our babies being in our bed.
    Diana Cassidy age 63

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    February 18, 2013
    • Diana, thank you for sharing your story! I’m glad to hear from a mama from your generation. I’m curious to hear whether this was common among your friends. Was it something you discussed with other moms at the time? From talking with local moms in your area, it sounds like cosleeping is very much the norm or at least a well-accepted way to sleep in today’s generation. However, my mom doesn’t remember sleeping with me, although she did breastfeed. Was there a “norm” in the KY community in those days? (For other readers – Diana is a friend of my parents’. I grew up with her children in the same community of families.)

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      February 18, 2013
  11. Ooh interesting topic. I was just thinking over today if I had to do it again would I do it differently?…
    My daughter slept in a moses basket next to the bed however, there were many nights we co-slept and certainly in the day we would snuggle together for naps. Around 6 months she moved to a cot in her own room, a transition that she managed well. However shortly after a friend moved in with us for a bit so she came back into our room with her cot which then got all a bit confused. Sometimes we’d co sleep, sometimes not. In retrospect I don’t think it was consistent enough which was a lot down to me enjoying the co-sleeping but also wanting her to be able to sleep independently and therefore thinking she should sleep solo. I struggled with consistency around sleep and was hyper sensitive to her crying so at times it was a difficult path! I think that if I were to have the time again I’d like to be more consistent and use the moses basket and cot however, co-sleeping moments were so precious and beautiful that I also wouldn’t want to miss that. Plus it makes breastfeeding so easy. So as you can see, still undecided and inconsistent! What’s the middle ground?! Complete co-sleeping just felt too be a huge commitment.

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    February 18, 2013
  12. Before my daughter was born, I thought she would likely sleep in a bassinet next to my bed, but I was also open to the idea of bed sharing. Her first two nights, in the hospital, she slept with me. She was struggling with latching on and nursing (or trying) constantly. She would also cry and wake every time we placed her in the bassinet; the nurses encouraged me to keep her with me and said they’d watch us to make sure she was safe. Sleeping with her those first two nights was the most cozy, wonderful experience of my life thus far.

    When we got home I kept the bassinet next to my bed and alternated between having her in there and in my bed. She slept best (and therefore I slept best) when she was laying on my chest. My husband and I removed most blankets, each of us just kept a small fleece throw (like you’d use on a couch) and created our own “sleep sacks” as we called them. We also moved our mattress to the floor. Around 3 months she struggled to get comfortable one night, rolled off my chest and began sleeping next to me, snuggled up against my side. This was a very eye-opening experience. I had just begun to wonder what we would do when she got too big for my chest and it was clear at this point that she could and would lead the transitions in her sleep, as needed. Since that time we’ve had many transitions in the details of how we sleep and most have been lead by her.

    Naps have been mixed. She sometimes sleeps on a crib mattress on the floor in her room, sometimes in my bed (either with me or alone), sometimes in the stroller or car (errand time for mama!) and occasionally in arms (usually this is with grandma).

    She is now 20 months and we’re currently shopping for a full sized mattress for her room. She’s sleeping much more soundly now and I think she may begin to sleep through the first portion of the night alone. I’ve noticed she often wakes when my husband and I come to bed, previously, we’d been heading to bed when she woke and it was about that time. I’m not exactly sure how her new bed will go but I expect that whenever she wakes I may join her or she may join my husband and I in our bed, we’ll see.

    Overall, this has worked very well for our family. The challenge is that I haven’t been comfortable hiring an evening babysitter. It seems strange to ask someone else to put her to bed in our bedroom. My hubby and I have compensated with lunch & brunch dates, taking turns going out in the evenings sometimes, and lots of rented movies once she’s asleep. We both have non-standard work schedules so this is actually great for us.

    The biggest advantage is that I’ve been relatively well-rested throughout her life (illness and teething are major exceptions!). We had a lot of trouble with nursing early on and I quickly learned to sleep or semi-sleep while nursing overnight. Also, waking up early and watching my husband and daughter sleep is amazing and I think I’ll cherish those memories forever. Overall, this was definitely the right choice for our family, and was very clearly what my daughter needed.

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    February 18, 2013
  13. informedvaxer #

    My first baby did not sleep well anywhere but in my arms. It was a very difficult first few months, as you can imagine. We finally realized she slept well in her car seat and the doctor said it was okay for her to sleep in that at night. So, we put the car seat in the crib and laid a blanket loosely over it and there she slept from 2 months of age to 6 months. At 6 months, se became able to roll out of it and, because I knew that was going to happen, we had to move her out of the car seat. I had been reading everything I could about sleep and decided that I did not trust any research done by the Juvenile Products Manufacturer’s Association, JPMA, which is what the AAP advice is based on. JPMA are the people who represent the crib makers. Why would I trust them to make an unbiased recommendation? I also looked into the incidence of crib death versus co-sleeping death and discovered that more children die of SIDS in cribs each year than in co-sleeping situations. There are babies who die in dangerous crib situations and of accidental injuries from cribs or crib bedding, but those are not SIDS. There are also babies who die each year in co-sleeping situations that were dangerous, where they were suffocated by a pillow or sibling or drunken parent, for example. Still, there are more unexplained crib deaths than co-sleeping deaths. I also read quite a bit on safe co-sleeping. My favorite sources for good information on co-sleeping are Drs. William Sears and James McKenna.

    So, at 6 months of age, my daughter moved into bed with just me and little bedding, no pillows. We slowly added more bedding and pilows as she got older. I did everything I could to make the bed safe. We both slept well and kept it up until she turned 4 and her sister was born. When the next baby was born, she was brought into my bed the same day and still has not left. We have slept far better than many new parents, especially since dad is in the guest room. Since I stay at home, we don’t need to worry about sleeping through the night until baby is ready. Both of my babies slept through the night at 24 months and both nursed until 36 months. This has not affected my marriage or sex life at all and I love sleeping next to my babies. Sleeping babies are beautiful, especially your own. I followed all Dr. McKenna’s safe co-sleeping guidelines so I knew there was very little risk involved.

    Kathy Aka informedvaxer

    Like

    February 18, 2013
    • Hi Kathy,
      The AAP recommendation are not based on the JPMA data but rather on many case control studies that show an association between bedsharing and increased risk of SIDS. Those data have their limitations, but they are the current data. As I said above, I think there is always a bit of bias involved in this debate, but that doesn’t mean that we should completely disregard the data. The safety concerns with bedsharing are real.

      There are babies that die of SIDS or suffocation in both cribs and adult beds, as well as couches, armchairs, car seats, etc. That there may be more SIDS deaths in cribs does not make cribs more dangerous. Which environment is safer depends on how many babies bedshare or sleep in cribs in the population. The case control studies try to capture that. For example, if 40% of SIDS deaths occur in an adult bed but only 20% of control babies (those that survived) are bedsharing at a given time, that study will say that bedsharing is associated with increased odds of SIDS. Most of those studies show that bedsharing is not an independent risk factor once you factor in sleep position (supine vs prone), smoking, and heavy blankets. However, in the studies that break out the cases by age, there remains a significantly increased risk of bedsharing in babies in the first 2-3 months of life – also the peak for SIDS. These are the data that the AAP used for their recommendations.

      Then there is also the suffocation risk to consider. In a US study published last year, only 38% of SIDS cases and just 14% of suffocation cases were found in a crib or bassinette – most of the rest were on an adult bed, couch, or chair (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22515860). I could go on about how these data are limited, but I’ll save that for the book. The real question is – if we do *everything* right, follow all the safe sleep guidelines, etc, are our babies safe in our beds? I think you can make a good argument that the answer is yes, but it is inherently speculative given the data we currently have.

      I’m not criticizing your choices because, as I said above, I think this issue is much more complex that the data can ever show. I just want to be sure that we’re representing the science accurately here. Thanks for sharing your comment!

      Like

      February 19, 2013
  14. Emily C. #

    We planned to have our daughter sleep in a co-sleeper we could put in bed with us. I knew I’d need to be flexible to accommodate her needs though. She ended up needing to sleep right next to me, sleep-nursing all night. I was nervous with this situation at first, but I am so glad I did it in the end. At 5 months I’m not worried anymore. I know how responsive I am to her movements while she is next to me. This allows our whole family to get plenty of sleep and I can be a much better mother because of it. She is changing naturally to not be quite so needy of constant contact. I love being so close to her and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

    Like

    February 18, 2013
  15. Jeanette #

    I intended to use a co-sleeper/side car arrangement with my son, but he had other ideas. He needed to be touching someone at all times when he was asleep, even for naps during the daytime. For about the first 12 months our night time routine was nurse, dad rock him for 30 minutes to go to sleep and then he cuddled next to me in the bed the whole night. For naps, rock to sleep and then whoever had him, held him for the entire nap. If we tried to sneak away at any point he would wake up in less than five minutes. I couldn’t even sneak away to let the dog out our he would wake up crying.

    After a year, we could sometimes sneak away at nap time. He also would fall asleep nursing, which is not sometime he did until well after his first birthday.

    At about 18 months old, he started going to daycare three days a week and started to be able to fall asleep for naps independently at his school, but when at home he still needs to nurse and cuddle to sleep.

    At three years old, he nurses or cuddles to sleep for naps and at bedtime at home, then I put him into his toddler bed that is next to the big bed. Most naps, he wakes up after an hour and comes and finds someone to cuddle back to sleep with on the couch. At night he climbs into our bed sometime at night and cuddles back to sleep.

    I’m pretty sure my mom and mother-in-law must have done some kind of bed sharing with us when were kids. I’ve always had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. My mother-in-law told me she had to hold my husband every time he was sleeping until he was over a year old. I feel like my son just needs these cuddles because it’s the way both of his parents were set up somehow.

    Like

    February 18, 2013
  16. We have two children, both breastfed. Both prefer to sleep alone. With my son, he was an extremely noisy sleeper, and we had him in his own room from about a month old. He was always a good sleeper, and sleeping in his crib worked best for him.

    With my daughter, she was colicky and needed more comfort during the night. We had her in a co-sleeper for a while. I threw out my back with odd nursing positions, which led her over to sleeping in our bed for a few weeks at around 2 months. She was waking up all the time – the slightest movement would wake her. We eventually moved her back to the co-sleeper, but she was still waking every hour or two. (A sheet rustling would wake her.) So we moved her into her own room for all of our sakes at around 3-4 months. She immediately slept much better – only getting up 3 times or so in the night instead of 6 or so. I would have loved to have her in our room or bed, but we were both so tired and it just wasn’t working for us.

    I do wish I had children who could crawl into bed with me and snuggle, but these are not the children I have! Bed time with mommy = party time.

    I’m really looking forward to the book!

    Like

    February 18, 2013
    • We also have the “bed time with mommy = party time” dynamic in our house. I sometimes wish for those snuggles, too, but having a child who wants to sleep independently has it’s advantages as well!

      Like

      February 19, 2013
  17. I’m a FTM at almost 40. Before my baby was born, the only nursery item I insisted on was a full crib with a top-safety-rated mattress. My daughter was born several weeks early (but fine, no NICU or anything) and the crib was the only thing set up! Her first few nights home, she would sleep for about 40 minutes in the bassinet attachment of her pack-n-play, and sometimes snooze in her bouncer, but really she only slept if I or my husband would hold her on our chests. We tried a few times to put her in the infamous crib (which we had set up in our room) but she hated it and I couldn’t sleep, I’d keep going over to check on her. I also had problems keeping her awake during the day to nurse, but she’d wake almost every hour overnight to nurse… at about 4 weeks I bought a sleep nest that came into bed with me while my husband was on a 3-week business trip, and I loved it – she was right next to me but in a separate sleeping surface, I could see her through the mesh sides, and she would scoot over to the side of it to be close to me. It took up a fair bit of room in our queen-sized bed, but even once my husband returned we kept using it; most nights, she’d sleep in the nest from 10-4 (with at least one nursing session, sometimes more) and then I’d lie her on my chest with pillows all around me from 4-7, it was the best sleep either of us got! When she outgrew the nest, at around 3 months, we bought an arms-reach cosleeper, but like another poster said it was really just a shelf for blankets, books, ipod, etc. She would only stay asleep in it for an hour at a time, and would wake every time I’d nurse her back to sleep and then try to transfer her to the cosleeper. Around the same time, I finally learned how to do side-lying nursing, and my baby had better head control, and I just started full-on cosleeping with her – and, truly, nestling her on my arm and letting her nurse to sleep next to me was what she needed, and what I needed, I guess, since I stopped waking up to check on her. She started waking only twice a night to nurse, sometimes only once – I latch her on and we both go back to sleep. As she grew and became more mobile, we made her crib into a sidecar cosleeper – she plays in there in the mornings while I check weather, email, etc – which makes me feel better safety and space wise. I also bought foam magic bumpers to ensure she can’t fall off the bed. I generally love the arrangement – and my husband wishes she would sleep nestled with him. The downsides: at 8 months, my baby only sleeps on her own in a moving car. For her naps, if we are not in the car, she sleeps on my lap – she sometimes falls asleep with my husband, but it’s really me. She used to nap in a swing, but she’s outgrown it. At bedtime, she won’t fall asleep unless I’m lying next to her, nursing – which means I get to bed at a decent hour (9-10) rather than staying up and doing other stuff (which means my house is messy!) So = summary: was totally against co-sleeping before I had a child, thought it was dangerous and weird, now I offer it up as one (but one among many) option to moms having issues like I was.

    Like

    February 18, 2013
  18. I don’t know if this is helpful, but my baby boy was born 5 weeks premature and kept in an incubator for 9 days. We were only allowed to touch or hold him for very limited amounts of time each day, and by the time he was well enough to come home I felt no bond with him. He stayed in his Moses basket in our room until he was six weeks old, by which time I couldn’t bear to have him in any longer – I needed some space.

    I’m pleased to say things couldn’t be better now, and I am loving being a mum! Although I don’t think my husband and I’s decision to put our son in his own room so early was for the right reasons, I would probably do the same again if I was to have another baby, but for much more positive reasons. It gave my husband and I a calm space just for us, and we avoided any problems moving our son in to his room when he got older.

    Like

    February 18, 2013
  19. Christina #

    With both kids (2 years and now 9 months) we used a combo of co-sleeper, crib, and shared bed, but all with us in the room for the first year. Because I read how infants regulate to the presence of their moms and believed it was safer and healthier or them to have them close. I think so many people use and abuse substances / take ambien/ etc. I wonder if this influences the recommendation against bed-sharing…? But, I am both looking forward to sleeping through the night after the next few months are over, and will miss that sweet little babe next to me!

    Like

    February 18, 2013
    • Yes, the alcohol and drug factor is usually poorly-defined in studies. Even where it is included as a variable, you always have to wonder how how honest people are being about it. I think it is safe to say that you shouldn’t bedshare if your awareness is impaired in any way, but how many deaths could have been prevented if that recommendation was followed, we don’t know.

      Like

      February 19, 2013
  20. My son, now 15 months, was born at 29 weeks and stayed in the NICU for the first 70 days of his life. I was terrified of SIDS, and even had a motion sensor monitor under his bassinet so I could be sure he was still breathing. He slept in the bassinet of a pack n play in our room for the first 3 or 4 months home, and then we moved him into his own room once we felt comfortable he could handle it. But at Christmas (with him 13 months) we went on a 3 week vacation to visit a variety of relatives, and as he is not used to sleeping in the same room as us, and his sleep was particularly bad at that point, we ended up with him in bed with us every night of the trip. And when we got home, the same thing happened. He would take naps and start his night sleep in his crib, but end up in our bed for the rest of the night. We didn’t get much sleep as a result, and it definitely caused a deterioration in his sleep patterns, so about a month after being home we worked hard to get him back into his own crib. Overall I think that is best for him, but I think for that period, it was important that he was close to us to get comfort in an ever changing world with new environments/people/sleep spaces. It also makes me think that we could have bedshared earlier, and it may have helped him at other points, but I was very firmly in the no bedsharing camp even before he was born early with all those related difficulties. Now, having experienced both, I can see that neither camp is completely right, and it makes me a little sad there is such a divide, which led me to feel I had to pick one or the other.

    Like

    February 18, 2013
    • The data on preemies is really mixed. On the one hand, they are more vulnerable and smaller, so bedsharing may be an added risk. On the other, they might really benefit from more skin-to-skin and sensory input during the night. I think we really don’t know. I agree with you that bedsharing can be wonderful during travel to help ease the anxiety of being in a new place! I consider it one of the under-recognized benefits!

      Like

      February 19, 2013
      • b #

        This comment made me wonder what the policy on it is for Kangaroo Mother Care. To the best of my knowledge, mom is supposed to wear baby chest to chest all the time, and I would think that would include sleep. That would include preemies, since KMC is often used in places incubators are unavailable.

        Like

        February 19, 2013
      • Yup, there is disagreement about this as well. You can see some conversation about this question here: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/5/e1341.short/reply

        My comment came from the finding that preemies are at higher risk of SIDS, and some studies find an association with bedsharing among preemies that is larger than that of term babies. The 2006 paper by Blair et al. is an example. It shows a significant risk of bedsharing among small-at-birth babies where there is none among term babies. BUT if you look at the data closely (check Table 3), you’ll find that only 2 of the small at birth babies were bedsharing with a NONsmoking parent. That’s not a great sample size. There were 24 small babies that died of SIDS and were bedsharing with a smoking parent. The study also found that the biggest risk for these small babies was sleeping in a separate room. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2082697/

        So, we know that closeness is important for these more vulnerable babies. Kangaroo Care clearly benefits these babies as well, but whether or not there is a risk to sleeping with them, I don’t know. It’s a complicated risk/benefit analysis!

        Like

        February 19, 2013
  21. mt #

    Hello! I delivered my baby in Denmark, where bedsharing is encouraged and quite common. I had an inkling that bedsharing wouldn’t be for me, and when I put my son in a bassinet, the midwife said, “oh, I think it’s much better if he sleeps with you.” I thought, why not give it a whirl? She put my son next to me, and his tiny, matchstick arm reaching out to grasp me is one of my most cherished memories. And then I proceeded not to sleep a wink because I was terrified of crushing him, because I have always been a deep sleeper. (I remember in college, an ear-splitting fire alarm went off in my dorm, but I only woke after my roommate had half dragged me out of bed).

    Also, I am a believer in boundaries. The marital bed and the parents’ bedroom more broadly, is husband-and-wife space in our home, and I like it that way. We all get so busy during the day, and it’s nice for my husband and I to have a place to re-connect before the day is done in case we didn’t get the chance earlier. Also, I like that my son (now 9.5 months) has his own space to be himself, to think his thoughts without us being in his face.

    Like

    February 18, 2013
    • Great story, mt. It seems that whatever the cultural norm is, there will always be those who don’t fit it:)

      Like

      February 19, 2013
  22. Amanda #

    Wow, Alice, you are going to be very busy keeping up with all these posts!

    Before baby arrived we discussed sleeping her in the bassinet in our room and moving her to the crib in her room when we felt ready. We were both adamantly opposed to bedsharing, due to the safety hazards and the fact that we wanted to get optimal rest ourselves and also keep our bed for us – so we didn’t have to break her of sleeping with us later down the road, in order to have privacy as a married couple.

    The first 6 weeks or so we were up 3-4 times per night nursing. Sometimes I would be up with her for 90 minutes because I would wait for her to be in a deep enough sleep that she would hopefully not wake up when placed in her crib, or she would wake up when placed in the crib and then I had to try and get her to sleep again. I found she liked being walked around with a pacifier in her mouth to fall asleep but I realized fairly quickly that as she grew bigger, I would not be able to do this with her for long and we needed to establish good sleep habits.

    We worked on sleep during the day for naps. We would watch for cues of tiredness (yawns, rubbing the eyes) and then lay her down wide awake but before she became fussy. I swaddle her for each nap as a way to indicate to her that it is nap time. I believe she has learned swaddling means sleep (she’s about eleven weeks now.) If she cried or fussed when trying to fall asleep, we would go in every few minutes to assess. Sometimes it was just giving the paci back to her; other times when she cried for longer I would pick her up to give her a little hug for about 30 seconds and she would sometimes immediately fall asleep after that. Or I would put my hand on her chest and wait for her to start drifting to sleep. Over a few weeks’ time, this began to work.

    When she was about 9 weeks old she started waking only once in the middle of the night to eat. This was about the time she learned to suck her thumb, which I believe helped put her back to sleep without my assistance. By this time she was comfortable enough in the crib that she didn’t stir much when I set her in it. Swaddling also helps because there is less disturbance as you transfer, and no heat difference (she did not like being placed in a cold crib!) Less than a week after she started waking only once she started sleeping through the night.

    I believe several things may have attributed to her night sleep success:

    -since day one home from the hospital we napped her alternately in either the crib or the bassinet so she would be used to sleeping in both.
    -we rarely let her fall asleep while holding her (though, sometimes we did because we all love it!)
    -swaddling
    -investing the time during the day to work with her on learning to fall asleep on her own in her crib.
    -not letting her nap for more than about 2 hours at a time during the day.

    With that said, although I feel we have great success in her falling asleep on her own for naps and sleeping through the night at two months, she typically will wake up early out of naps during the day when I feel she is still tired and needing to sleep longer. I cannot figure out why she does this. I have tried everything: decreasing her waketime, increasing waketime, increasing exercise/stimulation, feeding her when she wakes; and I still can’t get her to take long enough naps.

    Like

    February 18, 2013
    • Amanda #

      I forgot to mention also that we did end up caving on the bedsharing every now and then. If I was especially sleep deprived, I found that the only way to get a little more rest (and be a better mom during the day) was to lay on the couch with her head in the crook of my arm. I figured out that I could basically lay in bed the same way with her head stationary in my arm so that I felt she was safe from suffocation. I also pushed the covers way down so I didn’t have to worry about them covering her face. We did not sleep together as the norm, but every now and then when I really needed the sleep. Sometimes we did this at naptime during the day, too.
      She also went through a quirky phase for a few weeks where she would wake up around 5:45 every morning. Typically we just fed around 4:00 so I knew it wasn’t hunger; she just would squirm and grunt, unable to fall back asleep. I would bring her into bed with us during that time as well.

      I would like to mention that one of our friends gave us their video monitor since they didn’t need it anymore. Using it has really helped, because at night when I would lay down after feeding her and she would make noise, I could check on her from bed. If she had her hands in her mouth I knew she would most likely fall asleep soon on her own. Hands flailed to the sides usually means she needs my help sleeping. Also, if it went quiet for a few minutes I could see if she was asleep or just being quiet. This allowed me to rest my brain to fall asleep, without worrying she would start making noise again any moment. During the day I find it helpful for naps, because I see how often she is waking up and sometimes, putting herself back to sleep. I have also noticed a couple of times that she turns a 90 degree angle and has her face near the rolled up blankets I use on her sides to keep her on her back. Then I can go in and move the blankets away from her.

      Like

      February 18, 2013
      • We found that naps were much more difficult for Cee than nighttime sleep. During the day, she had a hard time connecting sleep cycles and would rarely sleep more than 30-45 minutes at a time. She’d wake up grumpy but be unable to go back to sleep. It was so hard. I remember doing some internet searches at the time and finding that this phenomenon had been named the “45-minute intruder.” When Cee was 4-5 months old, she suddenly started connecting cycles and sleeping for 2-3 hours for naps. Pure bliss.

        Reading the comments on this post, I’m struck by how important the parents’ goals and attitudes are for determining how things turn out with sleep. Some parents are comfortable with sleeping with their baby and just going with the flow. Others – like you – really work on getting baby to sleep independently and figuring out how to facilitate this. Parent can have trouble with both approaches, but I think recognizing your long-term goals, coupled with some flexibility, is important.

        Like

        February 19, 2013
      • Also, your comment made me think about the “occasional” vs. “habitual” cosleeper. A lot of dangerous cosleeping can occur because parents are at the end of their rope, exhausted, and they fall asleep on a couch with baby. Even if this only happens every once in a while, it is still a serious risk. In this case, being in a bed that has been cleared of blankets and pillows is much safer. Wherever you and baby sleep, it is important to be intentional about making sure the environment is as safe as possible. I’m glad that you did that with your occasional cosleeping!

        Like

        February 19, 2013
  23. Vickie #

    I had planned for my daughter to sleep in her crib beside our bed. However, she slept in our beed between us for about 6 weeks. She would not stay asleep without being next to one of us. In Canada (or at least Nova Scotia), Public Health is much more accepting of this (perhaps because we accept multicultural practices?). They also call each new mom a day or two after leaving hospital. The public health nurse help me to make sure we were practicing safe co-sleeping and assure me it was common for a newborn not to sleep in a crib that easily. By 6 weeks, she would sleep in her crib.This was also a time that she had quite a bit of reflux so I was not feeling her while lying down. She moved into her own room around 3 months, mostly because we would wake her sometimes when we went to be. Day sleep was a bit different. She mostly slept in my arms or carrier until about 3-4 months for day time naps.

    Like

    February 18, 2013
  24. With my 19 month old daughter, she slept in a bassinet in our bedroom for the first 6 weeks, at which point she would actually sleep through the night without needing to nurse. (I was way too lucky with her!) She slept in her own crib from then on, and if she ever had difficulty sleeping we did a modified version of CIO: we wouldn’t let her cry more than 5 minutes, then would rub her back and reassure her that we would play with her when she got up, etc; we never would pick her up to reassure her. It worked well for our family. My 19 month old can nap and sleep very easily, and even if she isn’t tired, she will sometimes look at a book in bed during naptime.
    My almost 3 month old has been on a similar regime, though she still isn’t reliably sleeping through the night. When she does wake in the night for feedings, I am apt to fall asleep in our bed with her next to me. Neither my husband or I minds now, except when her diaper leaks!
    I have had experiences with children who are catered to by their parents in one way or another, and I personally have a hard time understanding how some parents expect their children to ever learn to sleep on their own if they don’t force them to early on. When habits are learned early, they are more readily accepted. When a child is catered to for years, then suddenly expected to fall asleep on his or her own at age 5, there are so many more months of training to reverse and expectations to shatter.
    That being said, I still hate hearing my LO’s cry, so I have to shut the door if anyone is CIO.

    Like

    February 18, 2013
  25. As a baby nurse, having the knowledge that babies have died when parents sleeping soundly have rolled over onto them, I wonder why any parent would consider taking that chance.

    Like

    February 18, 2013
    • Amanda #

      We periodically let our two month old sleep in bed with us but only if she is really having a hard time sleeping on her own and everyone needs the rest. If she sleeps with us, I move all pillows far away from her and keep the blankets at the bottom of her body (she’s swaddled anyway, and doesn’t need them). I then lay on my side and put my arm over her to keep me stable and can feel if my husband creeps into our territory. I don’t sleep deeply in this position because it’s not that comfortable, so I don’t worry about rolling on her. With that said, I am not comfortable allowing her to sleep with us like this all night, for fear of falling into deep sleep while she is in bed with us. When she comes into bed with us, it is usually at 5:30 or 6 am when we would be getting up in 30-60 minutes anyway.

      I used to have the same view on this as you do, and was adamantly opposed to having her in bed with us. But when she was really new, she just had a hard time staying asleep without comfort of mom or dad there. After 3 weeks of insufficient sleep, I allowed her to sleep next to us occasionally while taking precautions. Anyway, just thought I would share some insight as to why we would sleep with her in our bed from time to time.

      Like

      February 20, 2013
  26. b #

    First, what I remember of what my mom did (older brother born 1973, me 1978, younger brother 1983). As far as I’m aware, for my older brother and I, we did some combination of crib and then bed-sharing. I remember helping set up the crib in my parent’s bedroom for my little brother, and then I think when he got too big for that he and my mom went into his room, although I don’t recall if she bed-shared at all or just room-shared (different mattresses). The room-sharing I recall was due to a combination of my dad snoring and my little brother’s nightmares as an toddler/preschooler, and she stayed in there until somewhere in his elementary school years. I do recall her saying that she slept with me until he was on the way, and that my dad slept with my older brother at one point as well. I believe we were all breastfed somewhere past age 3 (I know it was 3.5 for me).

    What we planned to do and what we really did definitely don’t match up. We had several complicating factors – a waterbed for DH and I, and a cradle that my ILs sent us that arrived broken. I had wanted to have DD sleep in the cradle in our room until she was too big for it, and then do something else. I don’t recall precisely what, probably transitioning to something age-appropriate in another room. I was interested in the Arms Reach, but didn’t feel that it would work with our waterbed, so we ended up quickly buying a crib/mattress at IKEA from their in-stock stuff (we got the broken cradle too late to order from most places and still get a crib by EDD). DD slept in the crib in another room until about 8 months old for the majority of night-time sleep. Naps took place on me on the couch while breastfeeding – and it wasn’t a plan thing, just what was easiest at the time. There was lots of unintended couch co-sleeping going on the whole time since birth, since I often would fall asleep BFing on the couch, being unable to lie down to sleep due to other health issues as well as DD being a cesarean, and of course, the waterbed. We bought a twin mattress to put on the floor in DD’s room for end of the night nursing at 7months, because we had started to have problems with her waking up and not falling asleep again alone, as well as pretty bad daytime separation anxiety (as in, 15-20 minutes in the room with me at the doctor’s office was too long for her to be out of physical contact with mama). Months 7-8 were a slow transition to just having me go to bed with her and stay all night, since the amount of time it took to get her back to sleep in the crib was getting longer and longer each time she woke up to BF, and she only slept 40 minutes without waking up, when alone. I remember spending more than an hour for each wake up between Bfing and getting DD to settle to sleep at this point.

    Anyway, after 8 months, it was Mama and DD on the floor in a twin mattress in one bedroom, and Papa in the waterbed in another bedroom (there was also a combination of Papa and Mama’s health issues that made it better for us to be in separate beds, not just the separation anxiety/wakeups/etc from DD). We’ve since moved twice, and have stayed with DH in one room and DD and I in another, but with different bed arrangements over time. After a bit sharing in a queen bed with me, near DD turning 2 we side-cared the crib mattress to the queen (both on the floor with no box springs), and attempted to get DD to start the night there (didn’t happen). Naps stayed as either happening in the car and (hopefully) transitioning into the house onto the crib mattress, or as happening during BFing and then staying right there (full body contact, usually long periods of nipple in mouth too) until they stopped at 3.5. After naps stopped, we switched the crib mattress for a twin, and have been much more successful at starting the night in the twin, sometimes for as much as 6 hours, and sometimes for as little as 40 minutes. However, if DD decides she must BF to go to sleep, then she sleeps with me all night in the queen bed.

    Whee, that was long. Also, I feel like I’m one of the rare people among the people I know with kids, even among the group that co-sleeps, to have chosen not to night-wean DD at a much younger age. She just turned 4 (last week) and still nurses 1-5 times in 24 hours, with usually 2-3 of those happening at night. I have always needed to snuggle with something to sleep (stuffed friend, pillow or DH) so I think that’s part of my sense of comfortableness for sleeping with DD.

    Like

    February 18, 2013
  27. Pam #

    I had babies that easily slept with us. My husband loved it. I was able to breastfeed and we all went back to sleep. I night weaned when it made sense for us, and we slept that way until we moved them to their beds. For us it worked.

    As a pediatric sleep consultant, I see plenty of people for whom that arrangement is painfully not working. The idea sounds good, but when baby or young toddler does not nurse and go back to sleep but instead needs more help, like bouncing or rocking or walking, then bedsharing is no longer working. No one is sleeping and everyone is cranky. Maybe baby is too stimulated by the all night buffet or maybe the parents make too much noise and movement for baby to sleep soundly. Or maybe baby has no self-settling skills and isn’t settled simply by nursing back to sleep. All I know is I get lots of calls from parents for whom bedsharing is not a working answer.

    And then of course, I have plenty of clients who would never consider it as an option, and that’s fine. I believe it is a personal choice and no one should be judged for finding what works best for their family.

    Like

    February 18, 2013
    • It seems like for some families, bedsharing works great in the early months in terms of getting everyone some sleep. Then, in late infancy, they have babies that need to nurse frequently to return to sleep between cycles and the family’s sleep is really disrupted. I’d imagine that’s when they need your help. Other families don’t seem to run into this issue at all. I would love to see a randomized trial investigating how sleep behavior is different over childhood among those bedsharing and those with solitary sleep. I doubt such a study will ever happen, but it would be interesting.

      Like

      February 19, 2013
  28. Venessa #

    My initial plan was that after our home birth, baby would sleep in a bassinet next to my side of our bed. I figured that it would be close enough to be convenient for night feedings, yet far enough that I wouldn’t have to hear my husband complain about lack of space. Also, although I intuitively felt that bedsharing was totally natural and safe, my husband very strongly believed that we should follow the recommendations of the medical community and abstain from bedsharing.

    However, the home birth ended up with a non-emergency transfer to the hospital and while we were there, it seemed totally unnatural to let the baby leave my side. Hospital rooms already feel so cold and impersonal; putting my baby into a plastic bin to sleep felt cruel! And so the co-sleeping began.

    My husband and I co-slept with our son for just under 3 months. There were many reasons that we continued until we did and a few compelling reasons why we stopped when we did.

    During the co-sleeping time, the frequency of nursing and sleep deprivation was extremely difficult for me. While my midwives wouldn’t go so far as to say that I had postpartum depression, they did recommend a therapist, who I saw for 6 weeks. Adding sleep deprivation onto my already fragile emotional state would have been (in my current opinion) unwise at best. Thus, although I’m sure I didn’t get much more sleep than someone who never co-slept, even a few more minutes was better than none.

    Also, for the first 3 months of his life, our baby had a very high need to be held. For the first month, he rarely slept unless he was in someone’s arms or we were wearing him in a Moby wrap. Sure, it wasn’t convenient, but at the very beginning, my husband and I would have slept with him while standing on our heads if that would have given us a bit of rest. The older he got, the more that need diminished (and the more we encouraged his independence), and that made the transition out of our bed much easier.

    Most of the other reasons we co-slept were just due to personal preference. Strange as it may sound, I never worried about whether baby was too hot or cold, because I could gauge his temp so easily. I never worried about whether he was breathing, because there he was breathing ON me. Plus, it just felt right to me, to have my baby lying next to me, with his little body facing mine. I loved waking up and seeing his little face peacefully sleeping. I loved hearing his soft breathing. Even now, I get jealous of people who co-sleep with their newborns. I remember what a special, magical, intimate, time that was for us — and how finite it was.

    Ultimately, I noticed that the benefits to co-sleeping were far outweighed by the negatives. As time went on, baby started grunting in his sleep and squirming (rather violently from my perspective). Frustratingly, it would wake ME up, but HE would just sleep through it. Often, he would also cry in his sleep or shriek. Again, HE would sleep through it, but then I would be startled awake. At this time, I was still nursing him ever 2-3 hours, but getting up between those times due to his big movements and bigger sounds was too disruptive.

    Finally, my husband and I both realized that we didn’t want co-sleeping to become a long-term habit. We knew that object permanence would appear in just a few short months and (many thanks to Alexis at troublesometots.com!!) we desperately wanted to make sure that he could a) fall asleep on his own, and b) wake to the exact same conditions he fell asleep to. Co-sleeping would have been a direct threat to both of those goals, so we stopped doing it. Baby didn’t really mind at that point, but it sure was emotional for me! Ultimately, however, we helped baby develop into an amazing sleeper, we got to enjoy co-sleeping for a bit, and I think our family is all the better for doing both!

    Like

    February 18, 2013
  29. Suzy #

    I love that you’re writing about this, and hope that your book is out before I have my next baby! With our son, now eleven months old, we had originally planned to start out with him sleeping in an arms reach co-sleeper, then move him to a crib in our bedroom, and then move that crib into his own room after the six month mark. My parents co-slept with me until I was three, at which point my baby sister joined the family bed, and then my sister and I co-slept until I think I was four or so, when I finally had my own bed. My husband’s parents also co-slept with him while he was young, although more in the style of having him start the night in his own crib/bed and then joining them than the way my parents structured sleep. So, we were both aware of an open to co-sleeping (although I was more open to the idea than my husband).

    My son was unexpectedly born three weeks early, and that really threw me psychologically. I felt strongly that he was too little and new to the world to be apart from me, and that for those first three weeks in particular, he was still supposed to be inside me. So he was rarely in the co-sleeper during those first few weeks. For the first few months of his life, we used the co-sleeper sporadically, but it was rare for him to spend the entire night. He was also napping during the day either with me in bed, or in a baby carrier.

    When he was four months old, the constant physical contact from nursing, co-sleeping, and baby wearing, combined with the interrupted sleep, was really wearing me down and I began to yearn for some time when I could have my body to myself. We started putting him down for the night in his crib, then bringing him into our bed after his first wakeup (which was never more than 4 hours after he first went down). By this point, I was fairly convinced that he couldn’t fall asleep on his own, and that if we let him cry, he’d go for hours, it would be horrible, and we’d all be scarred for life. So the bedtime process was long, and involved nursing or walking him to sleep. By 5 1/2 months, he was nursing constantly while he was in bed with me, and I couldn’t take it. Additionally, my husband is a pediatric dentist, so he was not thrilled with the idea of our son nursing all night long! We consulted with a local holistically minded nurse practitioner/sleep expert, who helped us come up with a plan to get our son napping and spending the night in his crib rather than on me/in our bed. It was a little bumpy, but much smoother than we’d anticipated, and he adjusted quickly. We ended up doing a modified cry it out approach a few months in when putting him down very drowsy/asleep stopped working. We let him cry without a time limit, but went to him when it was the “I need you” cry. Otherwise, we let him work it out on his own. We tried sitting in his room with him, and going to him at intervals, but quickly found that this was incredibly distracting for him, and didn’t help any of us.

    Now that he’s eleven months, it’s clear that he sleeps far better in a crib in his own room than in bed with us. I’ve brought him into our bed a few times since we transitioned – when he’s been sick, or I’ve felt like he’s needed more from me – and it’s never worked out. He just wants to nurse and play, and then happily falls back to sleep in his crib when I bring him back. He still has nights when he cries, but we rarely have to go in. And, most importantly, when he wakes up from almost every nap and nighttime sleep, he plays happily in his crib, and I know that he feels comfortable there, which reassures me that our sleep learning process hasn’t traumatized him.

    I don’t regret the time that we spent co-sleeping, or the fact that he solely napped on me for the first five months of his life, because I feel like I needed time to get to know him, and for him to become more expressive, before we attempted any form of sleep training. We haven’t tackled night weaning yet, and he still wakes 1-3 times a night, but if he doesn’t drop these wakings after a year, we will do some sort of sleep training again (likely a cry it out method, because he’s taught me that he really needs me to give him space to get to sleep on his own without my distracting presence – such a hard realization for a mother to make!).

    With my next baby, though, I won’t have such a long maternity leave, and so I wonder how we’ll handle things differently.

    Like

    February 18, 2013
  30. Wow, thank you all so much for sharing your stories here. It is going to take me some time to read and digest them all, but I will. They illustrate so well how complex this decision is, how different we are with regards to our parenting priorities, and how different babies’ needs can be. Thank you thank you – you are giving me the perspective I need to understand this issue.

    Like

    February 18, 2013
  31. esmee mckee #

    Our baby boy, now nearly 2 years old, has slept with us every night since he was born (even in the hospital). I have never once felt “scared” or “uncomfortable” with him being in bed with us. I cannot imagine my child being his own bed, especially in another room, it horrifies me. Miller is an extremely laid back and content little guy, very well-spoken and outgoing. He still breastfeeds several times through-out the day, and usually once during the night (he always sleeps a good 10 hours). We all sleep nicely, and co-sleeping has worked super well for us. I dread the day that he wants to sleep in his own room 😦 I will be one sad Mama.
    In stating my situation I would like to add that I have an equal amount of girlfriends that co-sleep with their babies/toddlers as I do those who do not. I would never judge another Mama on her sleep decisions, as long as Baby and Mother are both happy and healthy. I feel blessed to be part of a Mama-social-group that feels the same as I do, and shares my respect for different parenting decisions.
    I do however find it concerning that some folks are using terms like “bad habits” when referring to co-sleeping. We should all do what is best for our own children, and then for ourselves as well. If you have a happy baby then you are doing it right!

    Like

    February 18, 2013
    • I agree!

      Like

      February 18, 2013
      • I agree as well that respect for other decisions should always be the foundation of any parenting discussion or debate. We all come from different places with regards to our expectation and priorities for our children’s sleep – and our kids are different, too. It would be silly to think we could know what is right for another family. What some might call “bad habits” might not seem that way to you at all – that’s a personal judgement based on personal expectations. I personally want my girl to be able to nap on her own, but other moms here don’t mind laying down to nap with their kiddos. I’ve learned that whether that’s a “good” or “bad” outcome is completely in the eye of the beholder.

        And thanks for sharing your story again, Esmee! It’s already in the book!

        Like

        February 19, 2013
    • jonina #

      Agreed 🙂

      Like

      February 21, 2013
  32. Erin #

    We kept our son in a bassinet next to the bed for the first four months, and moved him to a crib in his own room once he outgrew the bassinet. This arrangement worked well for us. In the newborn days, I really appreciated having him right next to me so that I could be aware of his movements. It was easy to pick him up for nursing during the night, and also I could reach over to the bassinet to soothe him when he was fussy. I missed that closeness once we moved him to his own room, but our house is small enough we could still easily hear him when he woke during the night. We never considered bed-sharing, because my husband and I are both fairly deep sleepers and didn’t want to take the chance of rolling over onto him.

    We were fortunate in that our son has always been a pretty good sleeper once he is down for the night. He woke once or twice per night for milk during his first year, and after that the night wakings gradually tapered down to zero by the time he was about 18months old. Our biggest sleep challenge was getting him to go to sleep in the first place. We had a consistent routine of bath, bedtime stories, and rocking to sleep, but as he became a toddler he started to actively resist falling asleep, even clapping his hands or talking loudly to keep himself awake. If we tried to put him to bed before he was fully asleep, he would become hysterically upset. We could not bring ourselves to make him cry it out. Recently (at 21 months old), we began to talk to him about going “night night” in bed, and pointing out characters in his books that do so. This made all the difference, and now he is happy to lay down in bed after a few stories, and a little singing and rocking. I think the key for us was waiting until he was old enough to talk through the transition together. That said, I think with our next, we will try to get the baby comfortable falling asleep in bed at a much younger age, maybe 4-6months old, before he/she is able to stand up in the bed.

    Like

    February 18, 2013
  33. Hi Alice! Great work here! Just thought I’d chime in here – co-sleeping really was not an option for us with TK as my husband is a very restless sleeper and tosses and turns a lot. He was in a cradle for about 3 months (that my grandfather built) right next to me so that I could put my hand in it if I felt it would help settle him; a crib in our room for the next 6 months while we finished his room (wish we could be a step ahead with planning/executing but the realities of a dairy farm often prevent that); and then his own room in the same crib from 9 months on. I wish we could have gone right from the cradle to the crib in his own room – it would have saved a lot of wakeful nights, especially of me jumping at most every sound, but alas it was not to be. I do hope to do about the same with #2 who should be arriving sometime in the next 4 weeks.

    My question though is, if you think your baby “needs” to co-sleep, what do you do if it’s not possible?

    Like

    February 18, 2013
    • KT #

      This is a fantastic question! Totally seconded.

      Like

      February 19, 2013
    • 4 weeks! Gosh, the time flies! Best of luck with #2!

      I agree with KT – your question is fantastic. I don’t really know the answer, but I’ll tell you my opinion. I get the feeling that the “neediness” varies in intensity. In many cases, a compromise of a sidecar cosleeper can work great for everyone. It gets baby on a safe separate sleep surface but allows proximity for easy feeding and touch. A friend’s baby seemed like one of those babies that really needed to cosleep but they weren’t comfortable with it. The cosleeper worked great for them, and they were able to transition to a crib within a few months. Based on others stories, some babies really seem to need that physical touch, and sleep seems impossible without it. In that case, I think you either muddle through or you find a way to make cosleeping work for you and do it as safely as you can. If you read some of the other comments on this thread, it isn’t uncommon for dad to sleep in a separate bed or room. That’s also not uncommon in traditional cosleeping cultures like Japan. If we had chosen to cosleep, I wouldn’t have been comfortable with my husband in the bed. He’s a also a deep but active sleeper – sometimes I’m not comfortable cosleeping with him!

      Like

      February 19, 2013
      • PS – I’d love to hear more responses to this question. Anyone else have a baby that seemed to need a lot of physical closeness but for whom bedsharing wasn’t an option?

        Like

        February 19, 2013
  34. katie #

    My youngest started out sleeping in our bed, on my chest, for the first 3 weeks of her life. This was the only place she would sleep AT ALL. So, I slept (sort of) sitting up at an angle, with pillows on either side of me in case she should roll off of me (she didn’t). She would not sleep next to me or just near me because she could not sleep on her back. We tried to move her to an attached co-sleeper, but she would have none of that. So then, she transitioned to a swinging swing in our room where she stayed for at least another month. We slowly were able to wean her off the swinging and then moved her to a bouncy seat in our room for another month. Finally, at a little over 3 months, she started sleeping in the cosleeper, swaddled. She stayed there until she was 7 months old when we moved her to her crib down the hall. I would say “transitioned” her but there was no transition. She could care less. To this day (21 months) she goes to sleep at night and for naptime on her own with not so much as a pat on the back. I think we were just lucky!

    My older daughter slept in a pack-n-play in our room for the first 4 months and then moved to the crib. Again, zero transition issues.

    I nursed both of them well beyond the move to their own cribs, but I also noticed an immediate change in their number of wake-ups (less!) in the crib. I had noticed a similar phenomena when I would leave early for work when were still co-sleeping with my younger daughter – she slept in and skipped her early morning nursing session. So, a pro of co-sleeping with a young baby is ease of nursing and ensuring frequent nursing, but a con of co-sleeping with an older baby is more frequent wake ups to nurse because they are aware you are there and available (in my experience).

    I love reading your blog! Your book sounds fascinating.

    Like

    February 18, 2013
    • Your observation about more frequent wake-up s with the older cosleeping baby is a common one. That puts you in that awkward place of baby wanting to feed but not necessarily needing to. Many argue that a want is a need for a baby, but there is an age where that dependency becomes really draining and not necessarily helpful for the child, in my opinion.

      I think there are some legitimate safety concerns with sleeping in devices not designed for sleep, but I really don’t have other solutions to offer in these cases:(

      Like

      February 19, 2013
  35. Shari #

    You are absolutely right in that each child & situation brings very different “right” answers.

    Before having my first son, I was adamantly against co sleeping. I thought it was dangerous & something for hippies & third world countries. I spent about the first 2 months of my son’s life getting little to no sleep. He ate often, would not let you put him down unless he was in a deep sleep, & only slept in 45 minute cycles. Every night was torture & went something like this: baby skips fussing & goes straight to screaming, walk across room to get him, change him, nurse him for about 30 minutes, hold him in my arms without moving a muscle for another 15 minutes, carefully put him back down in the pack n play bassinet, sneak back to bed, pass out for 30 minutes before the cycle started over again.

    My husband was extremely supportive & helped with what he could, but our little one spit up buckets when we tried to give him formula, & since he ate so often I did not have the time or patience to hand pump breast milk for those night shifts. Despite the sleep deprivation torture techniques that our little one was using on us, the thought of co sleeping still did not cross my mind.

    One night, I was so tired that I laid back with our little boy on my chest. I fell asleep, & we both slept wonderfully for the next 3 hours. That was that. Co sleeping was our survival technique, but I still felt horribly guilty about it. I felt that I was headed for a lifetime of sleep issues. I was embarrassed that I didn’t have what it took to get my child to sleep in his own crib. I researched co sleeping endlessly to try to make myself feel better & convince myself that I was not going to harm my child. I kept our co sleeping a secret.

    If I didn’t have pre-conceived notions in my head, those first few months would have been a lot easier. If I would have just listened to my baby & my motherly instincts, we could have bonded much sooner & spared each other a lot of crying. Co sleeping became such an easy and wonderful thing. Sometimes our son would snuggle with my husband, & sometimes he would snuggle with me. It certainly made breastfeeding a lot easier, & everyone began getting more sleep.

    The best part of this story is that it doesn’t end with a 12 year old who is still in mom & dad’s bed. We very gradually transitioned our son to his own room (that he essentially never slept in) around 18 months. We put a queen mattress on the floor, & we all slept together on that in his bedroom for a few nights. Then my husband stayed with him overnight (he stayed asleep longer when the “milkies” weren’t so readily available) for a few nights. Now, most nights our little 2 year old sleeps through the night in his own room. We never made him cry it out or did any extensive “sleep training,” & I am very proud of that.

    Now with another little boy on the way, I am so appreciative for my first son & all of his stubbornness & high demands. He would not settle for anything else than co sleeping. He demanded that we listen. He made us throw the books out the window & do what was best for our family. He taught me that you can’t spoil a baby. I am curious to see how this new little boy sleeps. If he prefers co sleeping, we will co sleep. If he prefers his space, we will allow him that gladly. My only plans are to follow his cues & keep the peace 🙂

    Like

    February 18, 2013
    • Beautiful story, Shari. I think the guilt and embarrassment you felt about bedsharing – when it was clearly the only thing that worked for you during that time – illustrates why we have to be careful about how we discuss this topic. In situations like these, I think parents need information and support. They shouldn’t be afraid to talk with friends and their pediatrician or other health workers about their situation. Rather than condemning the practice, I think we should tells moms in your situation: We have some real concerns about the safety of sleeping with your baby in your bed, but we also know there are steps you can take to make it safer. Here’s what they are… Many parents enjoy bedsharing for this, this and this reason. Others find some challenges with it, including this, this, and this.

      Like

      February 19, 2013
      • Shari #

        Thanks! (& sorry for submitting twice… thanks for deleting the repeat comment) Yes, it is definitely important to be well educated on all aspects of the topic. My main professional resource on the topic became Dr Sears; however, it would have been so helpful to have local resources that I could reach out to besides forums on the internet (since we all know that those are not the best place for accurate info haha)

        Like

        February 19, 2013
  36. We never considered co-sleeping prior to having our son or even when we brought him home and he wouldn’t sleep well. We were greatly influenced by the sleep campaigns, friends, and family saying not to co-sleep and were very scared to do it. When looking at how to do it “safely” it seemed impossible – we would need a different mattress, no blankets, no pillows, guard rails on two sides of the bed, etc. etc. It just seemed un-doable. I feel I know better now. It would have been doable and I would not have had to take all of those steps.
    Our son had a lot of trouble sleeping, even in the first two weeks. After putting him in the car seat to sleep (next to our bed) he slept much better and spent the first 6 weeks sleeping there. The next step we took was to move him to a pack-n-play at the foot of our bed and have him take naps there as well. It didn’t work well but with being consumed with sleep deprivation, crazy hormones, and feelings of helplessness, I couldn’t think of an alternative. There was lots of crying and my bending over his bed to cuddle him while he lay in the crib. 5-10 minutes after we put him down he would awake and be unconsolable. Then the process would repeat. I believed the *only* way to solve our problem was to teach him to fall asleep in the crib instead of in my arms at 8 weeks. So we continued “comforting” him as he lay in the crib. It worked. He was sleeping through the night for 11-12 hrs by 3 months. We moved him to his own room at that time because he started waking when we rustled and because we were told by a book that we were doomed to have a big struggle if he wasn’t out of our room by 3 months. Ultimately the nighttime sleep was easy to get, the naps to get the nighttime sleep were the most difficult part. According to “the book” naps need to be still and respected like night sleep, so I didn’t use creativity there, either. All of the training really took a toll on my conscience, my back, and my stress level. At the time we blamed many of the sleep issues on his nature of just not wanting to sleep (he always cried falling asleep even in our arms) and on reflux. In hindsight I think he really needed shorter awake times, but he also needed to be cuddled. I wish I had given that to him. To this day (1.5yrs later) I feel deep remorse about not co-sleeping.

    Like

    February 18, 2013
  37. This is an interesting topic! I’ll join in — Our now 15-month-old daughter has slept in a crib in her own room since her first night home from the hospital. We never considered co-sleeping, partly due to the suffocation concerns and partly due to how it would likely impact our own sleeping patterns and married couple intimacy and all that. Everything went as planned, and the setup worked great for both us and our daughter.

    Like

    February 18, 2013
  38. Teresa O'Mara #

    Hi there! I’m also glad about your book, and looking forward to reading it. I have often searched for sleep solutions (as if it were so easy) and the search continues. Here is our story (one to add to the reality not matching expectations file):

    Our son (and only child) is 10 1/2 months old. He was exclusively breastfed (no bottles, formula, or pacifiers) on demand until 6 months. And when I say on-demand, I really mean it. He ate every 2 hours (both sides!) for 3 months, and then every 3 hours after that. Day AND night! The no-formula, no-pacifier was by choice. The bottle, not necessarily. He just didn’t like any of the bottles we tried. Eventually he drank EBM from a cup, so I was able to get the occasional break.

    In those first 6 months, he slept in a bassinet next to our bed. He woke every 2-3 hours, when I would feed him in a rocking chair in his room. He easily fell back to sleep while nursing, and I put him in his bassinet and went back to sleep myself. I thought this was (on the edge of) normal for an exclusively breastfed baby.

    I should mention, he really is a thriving child – extremely healthy and happy. This has made me reluctant to question my instincts too much.

    At 6 months, we started him on solid food. Using ‘baby led weaning’ and big healthy meals, he really took to food and shovels it in. I assumed he would begin to sleep for longer stretches. At this time, he outgrew the bassinet and we moved him into a crib in his own room, which is next door to ours. For a few weeks, he went to sleep while nursing, and was then placed in the crib.

    But still! He woke every 2-3 hours, when I would go to him to feed him. I was so tired, inexplicably more so than when he was a newborn. I started bringing him into bed with my husband and myself around 5am. We didn’t mind him there, as it’s very nice to wake up as a family.

    It got worse when he started standing up and we had to lower the crib mattress. That was 2 months ago. Since then he falls asleep nursing, and screams bloody murder as if he is being lowered into the fiery pits of hell when we try and put him in the crib. To avoid the 20 minutes of resettling required, we put him into our bed, where he stretches out comfortably and sleeps, staying until morning. He wakes a few times during the night, has a quick feed and goes immediately back to sleep.

    My husband and I wish he were in his own bed, but we can’t seem to bear any crying from him. His is the kind that quickly escalates into a full-blown, red-faced scream. There’s never a chance of him whimpering himself off to sleep.

    We really don’t know what to do. I am going to introduce cow’s milk when he is 12 months old. It would be really great if he ever once in his life slept for more than this 2-3 hour stretch. Intellectually I know he will, and this period is a finite one in what is hopefully a long life. I just wish it were more on my terms, and less on the baby’s!

    I hope our story is helpful. Good luck with your book!

    Like

    February 18, 2013
    • Thank you! Is there any chance your son will fall asleep without nursing, even in your arms? That might help. Or laying down with him on your bed, awake, and seeing if he can go to sleep. Have you checked out Pantley’s No-Cry Sleep Solution? Just some thoughts… It sounds like he prefers to be close to you, but maybe allowing him that while also reducing the association of needing to nurse to sleep might get you more sleep.

      Like

      February 19, 2013
  39. To me, co-sleeping has always seemed incredibly dangerous. I don’t really understand how someone can sleep with a baby in the bed. I do have a friend who breastfeeds and uses a co-sleeper that attaches to her bed. I don’t think I could sleep that way, but I can see how it would be convenient for some, and safer than straight-up co-sleeping.

    As it happens, I take medication at night for chronic pain, and that medication puts me OUT. Even co-sleeping advocates tend to say that one shouldn’t co-sleep under the influence of drugs. So, I suppose it’s a good thing we didn’t want to do it in the first place.

    My son always slept in his crib. Once he moved to a bed, he could sometimes come in and sleep with us if he has a bad dream. My daughter has been in a crib since she came home. She’s now at the point, at 16 months, where we put her in the crib, she lies down, and says “bye!”. If I try to rub her back, she pushes my hand away and says, very forcefully, “BYE!”.

    My children were adopted, and we have open adoptions. DD’s birthmom was somewhat critical of us using a crib. She said she was afraid of SIDS, so she co-slept with all of her children. How? By putting the bed next to the wall, a row of pillows next to the wall, and the child between her and the pillows. I’m pretty sure that’s the recipe for SIDS, right? Fortunately, her other kids survived infancy.

    DS had serious nap issues, so we used the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I read 12 sleep books total, and that was the one that worked for us.

    Like

    February 18, 2013
    • I agree that sleeping with your babies next to pillows or sleeping with them while medicated are both dangerous options, and putting your babies to sleep in cribs is safe and works well for you. That’s what matters! Whether or not bedsharing CAN be a safe option is a complicated question, and I don’t think we really have the answer yet. However, even James McKenna recommends that if you doubt the safety of bedsharing and would feel guilty if your baby died of SIDS next to you in bed, then it probably isn’t a good option for you. The right choice for you depends a lot on your own comfort level. Luckily, most babies seem to be fairly adaptable!
      http://cosleeping.nd.edu/safe-co-sleeping-guidelines/

      Like

      February 19, 2013
  40. Erica #

    Our first baby slept in a bassinet next to our bed for a few days, and then we settled him in his own room next to ours. He slept pretty well, we were lucky.

    In between his birth and his sister’s, I read that the risk of SIDS is slightly decreased by having a baby sleep in his or her own bed, but in the parents’ room, possibly because you might wake up if something was wrong. I am terrified of SIDS. Slavishly following the recommendations was the only thing I felt I could do, so baby number two slept for five months in our room in a portacot (and slept in her own room, in her proper cot, for daytime sleeps).

    Eventually at five months I conceded that (a) she was as strong as an ox and I was being ridiculously paranoid, and (b) we were going to go crazy if we didn’t have our space back, so she moved to her room permanently. It really helped her sleep. She used to get annoyed when she would hear us chat, or turn a dim light on, or turn over in our sleep.

    Sleeping in their own rooms worked really well for us, but our babies slept easily and liked their own space. I completely agree that different families and different babies will have different solutions. It worked for us, but I also found the SIDS recommendations completely terrifying. I’m lucky my babies were suited to the SIDS recommended sleep regime. I guess all they can do is present the recommendations derived from the statistics but you’re so vulnerable as a new parent. Even now I read about someone sewing or buying cot bumpers and I freak out. My babies slept in empty, bare cots with tight fitted sheets, no toys and zipped up in sleeping bags. Poor little beasts. I used to tie a teddy bear to the cot rails, up well above them where they couldn’t reach it so had no chance of suffocating on it (!!) just so they would have a ‘friend’.

    I’m prepared to accept that I may have been over-reacting a little bit …!!

    Like

    February 19, 2013
  41. I agree that this is a controvercial topic – but as with many others the right answer is “it depends”. It depends on… family relationship, child ability to sleep alone and well, and probably many others. Here is my recent post on this subject:
    http://wp.me/p2WIIh-aV/

    Like

    February 19, 2013
  42. Susan #

    With my first born (a baby boy named Eli), we had planned on him sleeping in an antique cradle built by my hubby’s grandfather for my hubby to sleep in as an infant. That was right in line with all the latest research and the AAP recommendation. Hubby and I are both engineers, so doing the right thing that all the research supported was important to us.

    That sleep situation lasted about 2 nights. Eli just wasn’t comfortable and was up every 30 minutes or so. I’m a light sleeper so that meant that by the time I would get calmed down and get back to sleep, Eli was waking up again. I can survive on very little sleep, but having absolutely no sleep just wasn’t cutting it. About day 3 of being at home, I realized that Eli was sleeping best during the day when I’d let him nap on my chest while I finally got some sleep. My newborn could sleep for 3-4 hours at a time this way. Anytime I laid him down he’d sleep for 30-45 minutes and be back awake. I was desperate for some real sleep in a real bed. I wasn’t functioning without good sleep for myself, I was highly emotional, and I didn’t feel like I was able to be the Mommy that my baby deserved and needed. So one night, around 2am, I laid down with him beside me in the bed and, finally, we both slept for 3 consecutive hours.

    At his 1 month appointment, the nurse chastized me for putting my child in my bed, but I didn’t care. We made the situation as safe as possible. I would wear sweatshirts to bed (which I hated) and sleep with no blankets above my waist. Eli slept beside me swaddled or wearing thick pajamas snuggled in the crook of my arm. I’m a very light sleeper so I wasn’t sleeping as well as I was before he was born, but at least I could rest through the night.

    By 6 weeks old, my child was sleeping through the night and we had adjusted to our sleeping arrangement. At 4 months old, I moved him into a Pack-n-Play (which was softer than the cradle) in our room. He had no problems with this transition and continued to sleep through the night. At 7 months, we moved him into his crib in his own room and he made this transition easily as well.

    My original plan of craddle then crib at 6 weeks didn’t work out. What did work was paying attention to my child’s needs and adjusting accordingly so that we had a sleep situation that worked for our family. Our sleep situation evolution and being a mother in general has mellowed me a great deal and taught me that sometimes research and the “experts” don’t have the right answers. The best any of us can do is to make decisions based on what we feel is best at the time. The “experts” and research should be considered but 90% of the time, mommy’s intuition will lead you to the best answer for your family.

    Like

    February 19, 2013
  43. veritasmater #

    I think Sarah at Parenting Myths and Facts has a great synopsis of the research on safety. http://parentingmythsandfacts.com/2011/12/15/the-truth-about-bedsharing-risks-and-why-it-may-not-be-what-you-think/

    I also think it is interesting that I frequently see claimed that “Parents in other cultures bedshare and don’t report sleep problems,” yet the evidence I’ve seen indicates that parents in Asian cultures where bedsharing is the norm DO report more sleep problems than parents following the Western model. It isn’t clear whether this is due to the parenting affecting the rate of sleep problems, or just different perceptions of the rate of sleep problems, but it does disprove this common claim. I’m not sure if this is the study I was looking for, but there are other similar ones: http://www.tau.ac.il/~sadeh/clinic/Mindell%202010%20cross-cultural%20infant%20sleep.pdf
    Maybe it was this one? http://www.tau.ac.il/~sadeh/clinic/Sadeh%202011%20My%20child%20sleep%20problem.pdf

    Due to the information on safety, I don’t want to bedshare with a young baby. Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out another way to get through those early weeks with my sanity intact. So we do bedshare early on, but transition to crib by three or four months, although we sometimes continue the early morning cuddling. After that point, cosleeping itself severely disrupts my own sleep. My sleep is definitely my priority, as I can’t be a good mother without sufficient sleep. I also find that babies who sleep well on their own and take good solid naps tends to be happier and less clingy during the day. Bedsharing outside of early infancy negatively affected both my child and myself, and gentle sleep training was highly beneficial for the whole family. I don’t find the information from McKenna, Sears and other bedsharing advocates to be scientific at all.

    Like

    February 19, 2013
    • Yes, I like the Parenting Myths and Facts post! It’s a great summary of the research, and she has a nice understanding of the complexity of the topic, which helps.

      I’ve also seen these cross-cultural surveys that find sleep “problems” are just as prevalent in cosleeping cultures. Other studies suggest the opposite, though they are much smaller than the ones by the Mindell group. I think it matters a LOT how these questions are asked and how “sleep problem” is defined.

      The thing about the safety data is that some studies show that bedsharing doesn’t pose an additional risk beyond 8-12 weeks in nonsmoking families, but as you said, those early weeks are often when parents find that they HAVE to sleep with their babies. Beyond that time, the safety concerns fade and it is really about your preferences for how you want to sleep and how well your baby can adapt to other sleep situations.

      Like

      February 19, 2013
  44. KT #

    My newborn slept in a cradle in our room. I would not have been comfortable either with her in our bed or with her in another room. I am an extremely active sleeper who can be a very light sleeper woken by the slightest sound, but when tired have done crazy things in my sleep (sleep walking, hitting other people, etc.). That said by 5 weeks we were so exhausted by her noisy sleeping that we moved her to her own crib in her own room a few feet away from ours and all was well. She has always been a very independent baby. She was breastfed but I almost always fed her in the rocker in her room even when she was sleeping with us so as not to wake my husband, who was in the midst of an insanely busy schedule at the time. Moving her to her room actually made it easier to feed and change her because all the supplies were there. There isn’t really room in our room for a changing station and I find nursing in bed to be a messier proposition than I enjoy, although that can easily be fixed by slipping a towel under Mom & baby before starting.

    At 7 weeks she started having horrible gassy episodes from 4 a.m. until 6 a.m. or so. It was miserable. A warm rice sock tucked tightly into her swaddle would get her back to sleep for a whopping single sleep cycle, and then she was up again. I would cuddle her on my chest and she’d sleep and I dozed off more often than I was comfortable with – maybe 10 or so mornings. Thank God everything was alright. Trust me when I say I was cursing the fact that no one knows the real risk factors for SIDS and I wasn’t comfortable with my child sleeping on her stomach in her own sleeping space because she hated and fought her swaddle, had an intense Moro reflex, and the gas would’ve been soothed by tummy sleep.

    With the gas, the swaddle problems, and using a pacifier as a plug to fix the above problems we ended up with terrible sleep associations and sleep training. I honestly wish we could have found another way, but co-sleeping was impossible and sleep training did work well. My daughter now adores her crib – she sleeps happily there and is content there for stretches if she wakes up but I can’t go get her immediately. She’s a light sleeper. When she’s had to sleep in a room with us due to travel we’ve woken her up most nights just by turning over to get comfortable for sleeping. While I kept night feeds and sleep trained my daughter has always cluster-fed during the day, allowing her to go long stretches at night between feeds (though not always wake-ups) at an early age by her own choice.

    If and when there is a kid #2 I’m thinking of trading the cradle, which is pretty and has sentimental value for us, for a Fisher Price Rock ‘n’ Play because I’ve heard the incline helps make back sleeping tolerable for babies. We’ll see. I really, really do not want to ever be up every 15 minutes at night with a baby again, nor do I want a future child to go through that experience after seeing how cranky it made my first.

    Like

    February 19, 2013
  45. Katherine #

    We had not planned to cosleep, but I ended up having an emergency C-section and couldn’t get into my bed or even up the stairs, so E and I slept on the couch downstairs for a few weeks. By that time, she was diagnosed with GERD and screamed all. the. time. The only thing that would tamp the screaming was being held, so we kept sleeping on the couch for ease. Slowly she moved to a baby chair (a non-bouncy bouncer seat) where she could sleep with my hand on her. We did Ferber at 6 months to get her through part of the night on her own and she finally did whole nights by herself around 13 months. Sometimes she still comes into bed with us if she is having a rough night. She’s still what I’ve seen described as “highly reactive” and likes to be in bed with us if something is amiss.

    Like

    February 19, 2013
  46. Jessi #

    My daughter slept in a bassinet until she was 3 months old, the plan was to then move her to her room. I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t ready to have her sleeping so far away from me, so we moved her crib into our room and she slept in our room in the crib. Around the time she was 5 months old it got to a point where no one was sleeping, every noise she made had me jumping to check on her, which would wake her, then my husband would be up. I was a SAHM at the time so it wasn’t a big deal for me to be up with her, I could nap if I had to, but he was working. So we moved her to her own room. We did CIO at that point in time, we’d been rocking her to sleep but again she got to a point where if we put her down she woke up and she couldn’t fall asleep anywhere w/o being rocked. We did the let her cry for 3 mins, go in comfort her, leave let her cry for 5 mins, then 7, then 10. The first night I must have gone in 20 times, sat outside her room feeling horrible and crying myself, by the third night she didnt’ cry at all and was asleep in 5 minutes.
    With my son I had the same plan, bassinet until he outgrew it then to the crib. He HATED the bassinet, slept in it twice. So we had to alternate between his bouncy seat and his pack and play. He would sleep in those with out a problem, I didn’t want him in the bouncy seat all the time b/c I’d read it wasn’t healthy to sleep that way all the time, but he slept so much better in there. So usually I’d put him down for the night in the pack and play and when he woke for a feeding he’d end up in the bouncy seat or sleeping in the bed with me if he fell back asleep immediately. Around 3 months he started to get fussy if there was any noise or any light in a room while he was sleeping, so I had to put him into a crib. He didn’t need more than 3 mins of crying the first night before he fell asleep, after that we’d have the occasional night where he’d need to be rocked but otherwise he just put himself to sleep. Honestly, I got lucky, I have no clue how he managed to do it, or if I did something “right” and that made it happen for him faster than it did for her. But the plan is the same this time, I’ll get a bassinet for Baby #3 and hope it all works out. I personally can’t sleep well with a baby in the bed, when baby startles or whimpers it wakes me up immediately and I usually end up accidentally waking the baby. So we’ll do a bassinet in the room with us, and depending on babies personality, if I’m back to work again (still undecided), school schedules for the older 2 etc….we’ll move baby into his/her own room somewhere between 3-6 months if baby (and mommy) is ready to handle it.

    Like

    February 19, 2013
  47. Reagan #

    I currently have a 3 and a half week old infant. We planned to have her sleep next to our bed in a small travel crib for the first few months, to facilitate easier night feedings. I was familiar with the room-sharing SIDs study and liked the idea of being able to hear her if she was having trouble, reaching her before she was full-fledged screaming/crying (in hopes she would have a more peaceful night and go back to sleep more easily), and I hated the idea of walking into another room and fully waking up each time he needed to eat. In reality, having her in a crib next to the bed did not work. I could not sleep because I kept trying to watch and listen to her, and feeling like she was just out of sight/reach. I was able to have better sleep and respond to her during the night as soon as she wakes up when I have her next to me in bed. I also found that it still jarred her back away after feedings to be plopped down in the crib – where if she eats laying next to me she will let go when she is full and calmly lay awake for a few minutes and slowly drift off to sleep. So, I sleep better and she sleeps better when we are next to one another. We have a large extra firm mattress on pur king sized bed, bed so she has her own third of the mattress with no pillows or covers, we are non smokers and don’t drink, or use drugs, and I wake easily and do not roll around or move at night – and she is too young to be mobil and roll or crawl into a crack or off of the bed. I believe these factors make it a safe solution for us. Many of those factors seem to be contributors to the “unsafe” aspects of bed sharing found in most studies- I haven’t seen a study that teases out all of those variables.

    Like

    February 19, 2013
    • Reagan #

      I should also add- she is a voracious eater and easily latches on to nurse in a side-lying position or reclined/laid back position; and she only wakes 2-3 times per night then goes right back to sleep. These facts also contributed to my choice to bed share. If she did not need to nurse at night, had long wakeful periods throughout the night that caused me to be fully awake for hours, or if she could only nurse with me sitting upright, some of the convenience / benefits of this arrangement would be lost. I could see making a different choice with my next child if he or she has different needs.

      Like

      February 19, 2013
  48. The great sleep debate. When I was pregnant with my first, I did a ton of research. My husband and I decided that we would have our son sleep in a bassinet beside our bed for the first few months. After we got him home, however, it became clear that he was not going to sleep in his bassinet for more than a few minute at a time. He also hated being swaddled. So we adjusted and I slept propped up with him laying on my chest. It wasn’t the most comfortable, but I actually slept way more than when he was in the bassinet, nursing was easier and I actually really enjoyed that time. It was soothing to be able to feel his breath on me and know that he was okay.

    I don’t really know how it happened, but he went from sleeping on me, to next to me. It was a huge point of contention between my husband and I who thought it was totally unsafe. I pointed out the fact that in a many countries it is common practice to sleep with your children for years. We solved our differences by using one of those bed sharing co-sleepers. Once he grew out of the co-sleeper it seemed only natural to have him sleep next to me, especially since he was still breastfeeding. I should also mention that this period of time was incredibly hectic for us as my husband had just started a new position within the same company and it required us to move. for a couple of months we bounced around between temporary houses and I think that sleeping with me gave my son a sense of consistency and security. I actually slept better too because I wasn’t worried about him. As crazy as it sounds, and it still happens even though he is sleeping through the night in his own room, I get really sleepy when I hear him make noises because it allows me to relax, knowing that he’s alright. It backfires in the morning when I actually need to get up, but at night those little mewing noises are soothing to me.

    Anyway, back to the co-sleeping situation. While I loved it, and I felt like it was what my son needed at the time, it continued to cause some issues between my husband and me. Ultimately we ended up sleeping in separate rooms because he couldn’t sleep next to our son. Eventually, around 7 months our son grew out of being able to sleep with me. He started waking more frequently and was having trouble going to sleep on his own. We read several books on sleep training and moving babies to their own crib, and even though it wasn’t a method I wanted to use, we ended up letting him “cry-it-out”. It worked for us, and despite the marital strain, I wouldn’t change anything. I felt like I was listening to what my son needed and that is the best feeling in the world. I think so much of the time we turn to doctors and take their advice and the research as a golden rule, but in the end if no one is happy or sleeping, then is it really worth it?

    With the second baby coming in a matter of months, I can’t say if things will turn out the same way again. If I learned anything from the first time around it’s to be flexible.

    Like

    February 19, 2013
  49. Claire #

    When I was pregnant with my son (now 3) we knew that he was sleeping in the bassinet beside the bed, and no way was he ever sleeping with us. We felt that way mostly because we didn’t feel it was safe, but also because we wanted our space to stay ours. When my son arrived we stuck to our plan. I exclusively breastfed, but always got up at night and nursed him in the recliner, held him until he was in a deep sleep and ever so gently laid him down, which worked most of the time. If he just wasn’t going back to sleep my husband would walk with him. When he was 2 months old we moved him to a crib in his room, where he has been ever since. When my daughter (she will be 1 in 2 weeks) was set to arrive we had the same plan. She was born in the evening just like her brother and after her awake period and all our checks with the midwives were completed we went to put her in her bassinet, and she woke up, and cried, and screamed, we picked her up, got her back to sleep, laid her down, and repeat. She ended up spending her first night in Daddy’s arms. For the first two weeks of her life we could not put her down without her immediately waking and crying, so she slept in bed with us, we made sure not to have blankets and pillows near her. We got so much more sleep this way than we did with our son. After the first couple of weeks I discovered that she would sleep on her stomach, another position that the experts recommend against. I felt that this wasn’t much more dangerous than co-sleeping, it made me very nervous to have her there with me when she was so little. We did buy a breathing monitor that clipped on her diaper that helped me relax in both situations. We slowly transitioned to the bassinet, having her sleep there when she went to bed and bringing her into our bed when she woke in the middle of the night. We didn’t move her to a crib in her room until she was over 6 months. If we have another we won’t be planning how we sleep, we will just take it as it comes.

    Like

    February 19, 2013
  50. Birchwood #

    Hi Alice, I love the comment about the two sides of the debate seeming to come from different planets and can relate to wanting each side to be brought some sort of rational discussion about the true risks and benefits.
    Whilst we always had to work very hard to get our daughter to sleep, it became much worse after 6 months of age. She did not transition into a cot from a bassinet or cope with not being swaddled. Any attempt at controlled crying/controlled comforting resulted in literal bloodshed (she would scratch her head raw in distress or beat her head against the cot bars). She would wake in distress every 90 minutes. She could only be comforted by cuddles from mum. After about six months of this, she was diagnosed with a gut abnormality. She was successfully treated but the sleep issues and separation anxiety stayed around for a while…
    We live in a state of Australia that promotes a very strong public health message about the risks of co-sleeping, which is particularly disseminated through its maternal-child health nurses. What helped us was a lovely nurse that, seeing the extent of sleep deprivation suffered by the whole family, found some creative ways to give us the information to reduce any risks associated with co-sleeping.
    For us it came down to a risk benefit analysis: were the risks associated with co-sleeping outweighed by the risks of a parent sleeping only 1-2 hours a night for months on end and also attempting to drive/conduct experiments involving dangerous materials/operate large machinery each day.
    I also wanted to mention that some studies make distinction in risk based on the age of the infant (4 months seems a common cutoff for increased risk of SIDS from bed-sharing. I found DOI:10.1111/j.1651-2227.2007.00413.x and 10.1016/S0140-6736(03)15323-8, but was looking for a study widely reported in the Australian media about two years ago..maybe you are already aware of it.)

    Like

    February 19, 2013
  51. bellytobabyandbeyond #

    My daughter was an emergancy C and borderline premie. At 1 1/2 weeks she developed severe RSV and Bronchiolitis resulting in a week long hospital stay, an oxygen tent, an EKG (her heart stopped at one point) and a very long/slow recovery. For weeks afterwards at any point during the day start choking/drowning in her own mucous. She was tired and weak as was I. Our family did bed sharing with her daddy sleeping next to the wall and I next to him. My daughter slept on my other side with a flattened pillow on her other side and then a bed rail next to it. I am a very light sleeper and this was the easiest way for both baby and I to get rest as well as making it much easier and faster for me to help her breathe again if she started choking.

    Like

    February 19, 2013
  52. Julie P. #

    hi,
    My daughter is 23 mo and we are still bedsharing. Before she was born, I was resolute that she would always sleep in her own bed. Then when she a tiny little infant I WANTED to stay with her and sleep with her. I didn`t want to separate from her at night. Plus, I breastfed so it was handy. It turns out she`s a “difficult” and light sleeper. She doesn`t fall asleep on her own, I still rock her to sleep every night, put her down in her bed and she`ll sleep on her own in her bedroom until she wakes up calling for me which can be anywhere between 10PM to 6:30AM. It`s usually around 11PM or 2-3AM. Then I get up, pick her up and take her into the double bed that`s in her bedroom and we sleep together for the rest of the night. Every night. there`s times now when I wish she could sleep through the night on her own because she kicks a lot and there`s nights when she`s quite agitated.Most of the time though I like cuddling with her. I never wanted to let her cry to sleep. Actually I tried once and for one, it didn`t work and second, I think it did more damage than good. I think she`s even more insecure at night now. I`ve tried other softer techniques to get her to sleep on her own but nothing works. It seems like nothing can replace Mommy`s presence. What influenced my choice were that I went with my gut feeling at first (wanting to be with my baby), my baby`s personnality (light and insecure sleeper) and I believe that parenting doesn`t stop at night. I think some babies are probably naturally better sleepers but I went with my baby`s personnality and I`ll help her sleep if she needs it.

    Like

    February 19, 2013
  53. samarkand #

    I am one of those rare unicorns who made plans before giving birth that we actually wound up being able to implement for the most part. The plan was an Arm’s Reach cosleeper for the first several weeks, then moving to a crib in his own room. I am a light sleeper, my husband is a very deep, active sleeper, and bedsharing just seemed like a really bad idea with that combo. Also? I just didn’t want to do it. I like boundaries. And I love sleep. LOVE IT. I know that the party line is “cosleeping is great because you get more sleep!” but I sleep terribly when I am in bed with a baby.

    As it happens, we lucked out with a baby who was extremely non-snuggly. Not that I don’t like snuggles, but I like it best when snuggles have an “off” button and newborns don’t understand off buttons. So he slept swaddled in his Arm’s Reach at night, and often took naps in his crib. After 8 weeks or so, we moved him into his crib and he didn’t miss a beat. I feel like the Arm’s Reach was the best of all possible worlds–baby was next to me or my husband, able to be touched and soothed and watched, but he was able to become accustomed to having his own sleeping surface and his own space.

    I do sort of get prickly about the idea that in order to successfully breastfeed, you must cosleep. I’ve been very happily breastfeeding for nearly 8 months and the only time I have ever bedshared with my son is under extenuating circumstances such as illness or sleep regression survival mode. Even when he slept in his cosleeper, when it was time to feed him at night, I took him out and sat with him in the glider in the nursery. Nursing was very difficult, physically, at first for reasons that had nothing to do with supply or willingness or anything like that. But in order to latch him on, I needed to be sitting in a very particular way, with the lights on so I could see what I was doing, and then I had to sit there for 30-40 minutes while he did that newborn nursing-forever thing (I watched a lot of the Olympics this way). I wasn’t going to be able to do any of that in bed.

    But I think, all practical and safety concerns aside, the thing bind my decision to try to avoid bedsharing at all costs was a need to have a boundary between me and my baby. I spend so much time with him, I nurse him many times a day, we are together a lot, and I just need some time and some space that does not contain a baby. And luckily, I produced a baby who agrees with me on this point.

    Like

    February 19, 2013
    • I love your comment. I’m glad to hear from someone for whom sleep did go as planned. I think flexibility is important, but I also hope new moms will read this and know that it is possible to have some control over how things turn out.

      I second your prickle about bedsharing being necessary for breastfeeding. The research on this only shows that people who bedshare tend to breastfeed for longer and feed more frequently during the night. I have yet to find evidence for a causal relationship here or that fewer feedings during the night will diminish your supply. My daughter breastfed for 2 years, and she also slept in a crib with long stretches of sleep early on. She was feeding once per night from 3 months, then sleeping through completely from 7 or 8 months – that was all she asked for. (I pretty much always offered the breast when she woke during the night.) I think she wanted to sleep, not eat during the night, but she might have snacked more if I had been lying right next to her. I have no doubt that bedsharing helps make breastfeeding easier for many mom-baby pairs, particularly during the first few months, but I don’t think it is necessary for a healthy nursing relationship. It also does have the effect of increasing number of feeds during the night during late infancy. Many moms don’t mind this, but others would prefer to be sleeping longer stretches by then (me included!).

      Like

      February 22, 2013
      • Samarkand #

        I feel like a rock star just noticed me from the stage!

        The research on breastfeeding and besharing sounds like it just says “people who feed a lot at night have babies who feed a lot at night”? Who funded this?! 😉

        I think there’s a lot surrounding this topic that’s so wrapped up in very qualitative issues of how we see ourselves as mothers and what our relationships with our babies are all about, statistics about who breastfeeds for longer (when I get the impression that pretty much everything after 1 year for babies living in developed nations is kind of a wash, health-outcomes-wise) probably don’t come into play for most parents. Sleep is so extremely intimate (we’re vulnerable while sleeping, there are other more adult things that traditionally take place in bed surrounding sleep, each of our individual sleep habits are with us from childhood and are sort of an immutable part of who we are) and it’s also a biological necessity that takes up a huge amount of our time. It’s not optional, but a lot of people talking about parenthood act like it is. How we deal with the issue of sleep once we become mothers I think says a lot about how we view our own new status as parent and nurturer. It’s probably the parenting topic I feel most strongly about and am most interested in, for these reasons.

        While I have you, I’d also like to thank you for your series on sleep. It was reading your entries that got me interested in the science of infant sleep and the greater issues surrounding sleep and babies. Once upon a time, I was very anti-CIO (before I really knew what it was or what it was supposed to do, I just knew it involved the word “cry” and who wants to be pro-crying?). Reading your blog completely changed my mind about properly and safely applied sleep training. And not a moment too soon, too because our son’s 4 month sleep regression was a doozy and at 5.5 months my academic interest suddenly became very personal as we cried it out ourselves. (It worked like gangbusters and we are all sleeping fabulously now.) So, thank you for doing what you do and I really am looking forward to your book.

        Like

        February 26, 2013
        • Hi – For some reason, I missed this reply! I’m glad you appreciated my series on sleep, and thanks for letting me know. I think I got a little too engrossed in the topic, but it still fascinates me and leaves me feeling conflicted. No, nobody wants to be pro-crying, and I really don’t want to be known as a sleep training advocate. But I do think it is so important that we be honest about the real potential risks and benefits of sleep training and acknowledge that sometimes we really just need some kind of solution worth trying, because, yeah, sleep deprivation can be debilitating. I’m glad it worked out for you. And I love your thoughts on why this topic matters so much to us. This is so true: “How we deal with the issue of sleep once we become mothers I think says a lot about how we view our own new status as parent and nurturer.” Thank you for your thoughtful comments!

          Like

          April 4, 2013
  54. Larah #

    My daughter slept in a bassinet that attached to our bed. My husband is a very heavy sleeper and I was breastfeeding, so we thought that was the safest and most conducive option to everyone’s needs. We planned on her being there for 6 months, but ended up moving her to a crib at 3 months. That was when she started sleeping through the night. This told me the nighttime stimulation (mostly my husband snoring =]) was keeping her from having a restful sleep. We are a few months away from having our second child and don’t plan to change the sleeping arrangements, although we are flexible to what is best for the baby (ie. earlier crib sleeping, or longer bassinet sleeping).

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    February 19, 2013
  55. I have two boys (4 years, 6 month), and both times my experience is little different. With the oldest boy I tried to put him in his cot, but sometimes, when I breastfeed, I felt asleep together ant then he shared our bed. I didn’t like it, because he wanted to seep very close to me and I felt tired. Second time around my son never slept in our bed in the night time, because I had experience how tricky is teaching him enjoy his bed after, and because I think parent’s bed is for parents. And it is not very safe , too. Now I am very happy that we got back our bed and both my boys sleep at night-time at their beds. For naps it is ok, if they want to seep in our bed. They can choose.

    Like

    February 20, 2013
  56. Kathleen #

    Oh baby sleep. I opted for a co-sleeper those first few months, the kind that is a mini crib but snuggles right up to your bed. I passionately wanted my daughter near me at night but felt that neither of us slept much if she was actually snuggled in my arms. With her next to me, I was able to get some solid sleep myself but still be aware of her needs. I could nurse with as little disruption as possible and pull her in for some long snuggles if that’s what she needed. I felt this worked for us as it combined the need for us to be close, hear each other breathing, smell each other and all that good, basic, human connection while at the same time providing her with a safe un-smooshable space to sleep and with any luck help us on the journey to being an independent sleeper. At three months she transitioned herself to her crib almost by accident. This was no end-all transition, she still spent many mornings in my bed and there’s those sleepless teething nights but now at 16months she confidently prefers to go to sleep on her own, in her own bed.

    Like

    February 20, 2013
  57. So…Emily would not sleep alone for the first two months of her life. Period. Put her down, and she’d wake and cry. So, we coslept. At first, she slept on one of us, and then, at about two weeks, between us. At two months of age, I experimentally put her down in her basinet, and she slept on with no problems. I didn’t continue to cosleep, because I simply can’t sleep with a baby in the bed with me. I was a zombie that whole two months, because I was never truly asleep. I was constantly afraid I would hurt her.

    Zachary, on the other hand, slept alone from Day 2. Not Day 1 – that single night in the hospital, he couldn’t sleep alone. He was a terrifically poor sleeper, though – he screamed and screamed from 4 in the afternoon until 11 or midnight, and then would start the two hours at a time deal. It was actually worse if I tried to let him cosleep. At six weeks old, in a moment of desperation, I put him on his tummy, and he’s been the dream sleeper ever since. I mention this because the AAP also seems to ignore the babies who can’t sleep on their backs. And Zachary always preferred the comfort of his own bed to ours. He’s that mythical baby who just goes to sleep when you put him down in the crib.

    (Incidentally, Emily still winds up in our bed every morning.)

    Like

    February 20, 2013
    • Your point about prone sleeping is an interesting one. Many babies DO sleep better prone (or maybe ONLY sleep prone, like Zachary), probably why prone sleep was adopted so quickly by parents in the 50s. I was reading this paper (below) today and actually thought of you because I remember that you brought this up before. I think the evidence is solid that back-to-sleep makes sense as a public health recommendation, but I like how this paper discussed the “healthy adopter” phenomenon. When prone vs. supine sleep was first studied in the 70s and 80s, when lots of babies were sleeping prone, the ORs for SIDS and prone sleep weren’t really that high (though significant). But after Back-to-Sleep, the ORs shot up, probably because those babies already at greatest risk of SIDS were the ones that weren’t getting the public health message, while prone sleep in the control population dropped dramatically.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=gilbert

      Like

      February 20, 2013
      • KT #

        I am absolutely fascinated by the prone/supine sleep question, largely because my daughter was clearly a baby who preferred prone sleep but I was terrified of it. One of my parents is current working on a PhD in a research-intensive field and very much poo-pooed the studies that back-to-sleep is based on after reading them, opening up a lot of doubt in my mind. So now I’m just stuck between low-level rage over the days of lost sleep I’ve experienced and knowledge that back-to-sleep will always be a huge factor in my sleep decisions
        for future children.

        On one baby sleep forum where I spend some time the mothers who are comfortable with attempting tummy sleep say that their children are able to transition sleep cycles between naps much more often (so far fewer 45 minute cat-naps) and sleep much better at night. Given the long-term negative effects of sleep deprivation on babies and fmilies plus the delay in gross-motor-skill aquisition related to back-to-sleep I really find myself struggling with the whole thing. That and the way that new parents are smacked over the head with terrifying messages about SIDS.

        Like

        February 21, 2013
      • I would have had Zach sleep on his back if he was able, but he really wasn’t. And he was really miserable. (As was I.) I decided that the risks of riding in a car with a mom who was completely sleep-deprived were greater than the risks of SIDS. And he was a lower-risk baby for SIDS – his only risk factor was maleness…and then, of course, the prone sleep.

        Like

        February 22, 2013
      • Yes, geekylabmom. I don’t want to be blase’ about SIDS, but I do think it is important to recognize that MOST babies that die of SIDS have more than one risk factor for it. There’s some evidence that using a pacifier is protective of SIDS (though this is not as overwhelming as the supine sleep observation), but if your baby doesn’t take a pacifier, what can you do? There are some factors that we can only control so much – I think it’s OK to accept that.

        Like

        February 22, 2013
  58. Jo #

    I think it is a combination of your own views on sleep and the temperament of your child. Both my children were swaddled until they were mobile and wanted the freedom to move around in their sleep (son until 5 month and daughter six and and a half months). I can’t imagine the early weeks without swaddling – it worked like magic and was their cue that it was time to sleep. Other than this I worked hard to minimize the help I gave them to get to sleep and tried to promote self-soothing as I think it is an important skill and as someone who doesn’t sleep easily I would like my children to be better at it than me. We also all seem to have a better day when we’ve had a peaceful night. As far as where to sleep is concerned it never crossed my mind to co-worker with my son. We lucked out – he has always been a fantastic sleeper and slept through from four months with very little help from us and transitioned from bassinet to cot in our room, cot in his own room (at four months) to being in a room on a different floor in the house and then to a bed with no problems at all. However he is a very active and noisy sleeper and just wouldn’t have snuggled down and slept in bed with us even if we had wanted to. Any illusions we may have had his sleep pattern was anything to do with our great parenting went out The window when his sister was born. Although she learned to self-soothing relatively early ( when she was left to cry for a few minutes while we were attending to a toddler tantrum!) she is a much more erratic sleeper. Sometimes she sleeps great and sometimes not so good. I have had to be much more responsive to her differing needs. Sometimes I have co-slept with her because that has been what she needed on that night and sometimes I have left her to cry because I know she is just having a bit of a grizzle in the night. I have also been more flexible in terms of breastfeeding at night. My son just didn’t need any milk at night after five months so if he woke in the night my husband would go in in and check on him. My daughter is now seven months and it is much more of a judgement call because although most of the time she will settle herself sometimes she does still need milk in the night.

    Generally I think that you have to be prepared to adjust your plans for each child and be responsive to their needs. So many stories on here seem to echo this but they really are all different and if you have too many preconceptions about when, how and where your child will sleep you might miss the clues about what will work best for them.

    Like

    February 20, 2013
  59. Heather #

    Originally we planned to co-slept with our twins. I thought that not only would we get more sleep but that perhaps I could somehow make up for my divided attention by keeping them with me at night. Unfortunately things did not work out as planned. I found that my babies just wanted to eat all night long one after the other after the other. My partner on the other hand was so afraid he was going to roll over on one of them, despite following correct bed sharing procedures, that he woke up for every cough, burp and fart. Needless to say neither one of us got much sleep. Around 6 weeks after the kids were born I reached such a point of exhaustion and depression that my milk supply began to dry up. In a panic we called a lactation consultant who suggested we remove them from our bed. We compromised by putting them in a crib with it’s side removed and firmly attached to our bed on my partner’s side, the hope being that when they were not next to me they would sleep a little more soundly and we could all get more sleep. This situation worked for us until they were 3 months old when we put them in separate cribs across from our bed both because they were getting too big to share a crib but also because we wanted them to begin to experience a bit of separation from each other. At 6 months we finally moved them to their own room because we needed a bit of privacy and because we were much better able to darken their room for naps.

    Like

    February 21, 2013
  60. Becky Patouhas #

    My son Kosta slept in an Arm’s Reach MiniCosleeper attached to my side of the bed. I roll all over during sleep–even on top of things– and our bed has a very soft mattress and is full of pillows, so I was really too nervous to have him sleep in the bed with me! I thought a cosleeper would be a perfect compromise and help me reach him more easily to nurse during the night, or even do side-lying nursing with him in there and me on the edge of the bed.

    The side-lying nursing never ended up working out, but we loved having him right there at arm’s reach! It was lovely being able to have an arm around him, but know he had his own safe space. We knew we didn’t want to do long-term room-sharing and we were starting to wake HIM up during the night, so we moved him into a crib in his own room when he outgrew the cosleeper at 5.5 months. He didn’t have a problem at all! He’s been sleeping so well that I think he probably would’ve been fine there from the start–but it was better for me to only have lean over to grab him and nurse every few hours early on.

    Now at 12 months, I really miss those early days of seeing him right next to me when I woke up and hearing his snuffly noises in the night! We sometimes bring him into our bed in the morning, but he wiggles to get down and play–he doesn’t want any of it!

    Like

    February 21, 2013
  61. Wow! What a great conversation… Sleep has been the hardest issue that I’ve struggled with as a parent. Like you, I’ve tried to balance what I learned from research about sleep, my own judgments about what’s best for my son’s temperament, my son’s developmental stage, and what our needs were as a family at any particular time. I have an entire shelf of baby and toddler sleep books, and I must say that I’ve hired professional help — from a sleep “consultant” twice — when things became completely unmanageable. As far as co-sleeping, before my son was born, I didn’t want to have anything to do with it, both for safety reasons and because I knew far too many parents whose babies started sleeping in their beds as infants and were still there in elementary school. Once my son was born and I was breastfeeding, I quickly came to understand the practical, potential, and immediate advantages of co-sleeping and then when it became obvious after a few months that my son was not going to be a naturally good sleeper, I tried again to co-sleep. I was so tired of getting up again and again to rock him back to sleep that I figured that co-sleeping might allow me to get some rest. My son would have nothing to do with it. He wanted his own space and resisted co-sleeping with every ounce of his little body. Since he was born, he has either wanted to be held and rocked while sleeping (preferably walking around the room and rocking him vigorously) or his own space completely.

    I don’t know the research on this, but it seems to me probably the most “dangerous” co-sleepers are the ones like me: whose babies resisted both sleeping in bed with their parents and often staying asleep in their cribs. What I would often find myself doing is falling asleep in the glider or on the couch in the middle of the night, trying to stay awake while rocking him in my arms. And then I’d awake up an hour later in horror, realizing that I had fallen asleep unintentionally with the baby in my arms. Isn’t that where many of the co-sleeping deaths actually happen: on the couch or in a recliner?

    Like

    February 22, 2013
  62. As a pediatrician, I advise against bedsharing, but I frequently share my own history with it with my patients. My daughter was a great breastfeeder from day one. She slept in her bassinet easily (up to 6 hrs!) when I was on maternity leave, but things changed with going back to work when she was 6 weeks. My stubborn baby refused to take a bottle when she went to daycare. I worked long hours, but she simply wouldn’t take more than a suck or two. They tried various people feeding her, different bottles/nipples, and different temperatures of milk. We even tried formula to see if it was just the breast milk. Nothing helped. My daughter gained weight well by feeding every 2 hrs from the time I picked her up at daycare until the time I dropped her off the next morning. This lasted until she was eating foods well and could get in calories during the day. Needless to say, I was exhausted. She slept with me and it was very dangerous, but I was exhausted and didn’t see any other way to survive. There were times I didn’t remember feeding her, but I know I did because my bra was unhooked. She had a complete crib phobia and would sleep between feeds fine if held or in bed with me, but if placed in her crib she would wake after only a brief sleep (5-10 minutes). Even at daycare she was known as a cat napper from day one. She only slept brief naps throughout the day. I have no idea how she did it. She is now a tween and still not a great sleeper. I often wonder how things would be if I was a stay at home mom…

    Like

    February 22, 2013
    • Kristen, I have talked with several pediatricians who have similar stories. One was in med school and training when she had her babies, and bedsharing was vital to maintaining her milk supply and spending time together. Your experience sounds difficult, but you survived! Thanks for sharing your story:)

      Like

      February 22, 2013
  63. ST #

    With my first son, I was afraid of rolling on him and suffocating him in his sleep. In addition, the nurses at the hospital where I had my emergency c-section told me the story of one woman who fell asleep in a chair holding her newborn and dropped the baby, leading to brain damage (hello, scare tactics, anyone?!). I hadn’t even considered bed sharing with guy. However, he was colicky, and would only sleep in his bassinet for short periods of time. So I’d bring him to bed, and TRY as I might to stay awake (thanks to the nurse’s comment). After a few weeks of that, I got smart and decided to co-sleep.
    Every night, we’d put him to sleep in his bassinet at the foot of our bed, and then bring him to our bed at his first wake-up (usually 2-3 hours later). At 4 months, he got too big for his bassinet, so we moved him to his crib but still brought him to bed after his first wake-up. After about 6 months, however, he was waking every 1-2 hours and would cry if I didn’t nurse him back to sleep. We ended up sleep training with a sleep doula at 7 months. I still dream-fed him until he was 10 months, but at least he (and we!) was getting 6-7 hours of consecutive sleep.
    With my second son, I bed-shared with him at the hospital (nurses be damned!). He wouldn’t sleep in the bassinet, so he was with us in bed all the time. But, because he was used to sleeping with me at night, he wouldn’t nap without me, which is next to impossible to do when you also have another kid (there’s 22 months between the boys). He’s a big guy (was 23 lb at 6 months), so we decided to sleep train him at 6 months since milk wasn’t absolutely necessary around the clock. I did still dream feed him until he was 10 months old. Now (he’s 13 months old), he does come to bed with us for the last hour in the morning (5-6am). Otherwise, they’re both good sleepers on their own, for the most part!

    Like

    February 22, 2013
    • ST #

      oh, and we’re in Canada. First time around, I had trouble nursing in the early days. My milk didn’t come in until he was over a week old and I had started taking domperidone. Had to supplement my son with formula for the first couple of weeks. But, we kept with it and nursed until he was 17 months old. Second son, my milk came in on day 2. Maybe the cosleeping made the difference? Both were c-section births.

      Like

      February 26, 2013
  64. R. #

    Our initial plan was for our baby to sleep in a bassinet in our room for the first 6 months, then in a crib in her own room. Before she was born, I used to imagine her sleeping peacefully nearby, no fuss! Nothing prepared me for the reality of colic. Getting her to sleep by herself in the bassinet/crib, whether for naps or at night, was impossible. She always needed to nurse or be carried to sleep, and the second I’d put her down she would immediately wake up screaming. It was a very difficult time and we ended up bedsharing. She would either nurse to sleep next to me, or she would fall asleep on my chest after being carried around or rocked to sleep. We practiced safe bedsharing- no pillows or blankets, no sleeping in the middle, etc. She’s now nearly 16 months old and still sleeping with us. I love the experience, but my husband thinks it’s time for her to sleep on her own. Although I’m happy to co-sleep, I do worry she will have a hard time transitioning to her own bed.. but at the same time, I cherish this fleeting period in our lives. One other issue is that she is still breastfeeding and wakes up frequently at night to nurse. It’s easier to have her in bed with us because I can nurse and fall right back asleep. It would simply be too exhausting to get out of bed 3 times a night to feed her. [I’ve considered night weaning, but to be honest I’m scared of the sleepless nights. She also needs to gain weight, so it doesn’t make sense to me to cut out the extra (and much-needed) calories- plus she still refuses to drink anything else besides water. No formula, no milk, no juice, nothing!]
    You can say I’m an accidental co-sleeper. It was never planned, but that’s just the way it worked out, and I have loved the experience and would do it again. I just hope it’s not too challenging to get her out of our bed when the time is right.

    Like

    February 22, 2013
  65. Jenn #

    When I was pregnant, I planned to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months. We didn’t seriously contemplate sleeping with the baby at night, mostly because of the safety concerns we had heard about, but we planned to keep the baby’s crib in our room for the first six months to facilitate breastfeeding (as recommended by Canadian public-health officials.) So, we bought a crib and set it up right next to our bed.

    And then our beautiful, screaming baby girl was born and, within days, exclusive breastfeeding had been established but back-sleeping most certainly had not. As she did not tolerate sleeping flat on her back, for the first four months of her life (the approximate duration of her “colic”), our daughter slept primarily in a bouncy chair in front of me, which was the only place where she could relax enough to sleep (other than my chest, which was not a restful option for me). Once the long stretches of crying/screaming abated at about 4.5 months, we discovered that our daughter was fine with sleeping flat on her back in her own bed, so we moved her crib into her own room, where she has slept well ever since.

    In the end, I did exclusively breastfeed her for six months, and, 14 months after her birth, I still nurse her before her bedtime and when she rises at about 6 AM (as well as on-demand during the day). During bedtime, this obviously entails rising from my own bed to fetch her and bring her to our bed to nurse, but I really don’t mind the extra step, especially now that her nighttime nursings are infrequent.

    I have since done a lot of reading about attachment and sleeping arrangements in other cultures, and if I were to do it all over again, I would talk it over with my partner. Perhaps we would at least try co-sleeping with a sidecar-style cot, as I think it can be the most rest-promoting way of breastfeeding (at least for mom and baby!), and another wonderful way to bond with baby, and help him or her feel secure.

    Like

    February 22, 2013
  66. Katheryn #

    With my first baby, my daughter, I had it all planned. She would be in the bassinet next to our bed for a few months and then her crib. I ended up with a c-section and had a lot of trouble recovering emotionally, and she did NOT have any interest in sleeping alone. She was in our bed from the start. I am a very light sleeper though, and barely got any sleep sandwiched in between my daughter and my husband. We slowly slowly transitioned her to a crib around a year, and for close to 2 years she would come back to bed for part of the night. I worried a fair amount about getting her into her own space. When my son was born I decided that he would just be in bed with me. My poor husband got the boot, because all I wanted at that point was to maximize my sleep. My son loved sleeping with me, until he started moving. He became more and more wakeful – every little wakening would jolt him wide awake because he was so thrilled to see me. He scooted around the bedrail and rolled off the bed one night, and we started transitioning him to a crib. When I do try to sleep with him, it is a sleepless venture for everyone. He pops awake saying “hi hi mama mama” several times, and sometimes I can’t even nurse him back to sleep without getting up anyway and sitting in the glider. He is a baby that sleeps much better in his own space – and this time I was disappointed! For both, I did really have to follow their lead. I felt guilty about having our daughter in our bed. It’s seems like lately I’ve been hearing a lot more talk of people defending their co-sleeping (understandably!) and how beneficial it is – and now I feel guilty that my 12 month old sleeps in a crib. Oh well! I trust our parenting enough to know we’re getting the best sleep for everyone.

    Like

    February 22, 2013
  67. Sara #

    I had planned to put my son in a crib or bassinet right next to our bed. I had friends who co-slept and I thought they were insane, although they assured me it made breastfeeding much easier. But I also knew I was adamantly opposed to cry-it out type sleep training. The thought of it made my toes curl.
    In the hospital, after my son was born, I remember sitting awake holding him while I slept pretty much the entire first night. I couldn’t sleep, and I was afraid to move or disturb him! Also, I just didn’t want to let go of him.
    When we got home– he wouldn’t sleep in the crib or in a bassinet or pretty much anywhere but in our arms. He would startle awake the second we laid him down, and on the rare occasions he didn’t wake up immediately, he would wake up within half an hour to an hour. All night long. Swaddling didn’t help and he never would take a pacifier. Putting him down drowsy and awake was also a failure, both then and later.
    We struggled through that for the first week or so, and then stayed at my parent’s house for a few nights. They didn’t have a crib, so he was in bed with us– and suddenly he slept for 4-6 hours at a stretch!
    So we ended up cosleeping. In some ways, it worked well for us. My son was always a very frequent nurser and had trouble gaining weight, so I felt good about letting him nurse at night. And he very clearly wanted to be in close physical contact at all times– any attempt to ease him away from me, even just a few inches, resulted in immediate hysterics. Also, I was pretty anxious and tense, and I had a hard time letting go of him, even to sleep. I do like the snuggles.
    But the fact remains, I didn’t sleep well, and really haven’t slept very well since he was born. I was exhausted, and I think it contributed to my post-partum depression. I had trouble falling back asleep after nursing sessions. And as he’s grown older, he’s become a much less pleasant bed companion– he thrashes and kicks and takes up an incredible amount of room.
    He’s nearly three now, and gets really upset and frightened if we talk about having him sleep without us. I have to lay down and nurse him still to put him to sleep. I can get up and sneak away once he’s asleep, but he cries if he wakes up and we’re not there. He still wants to sleep pretty much right on top of me. Sleeps through most of the night but still has an early morning nursing session pretty often.
    So right now I’m feeling pretty ambivalent/unhappy about our co-sleeping experience. I wish in some ways that I’d been able to bring myself to do the whole sleep training thing, because the notion of being able to put him to bed and walk away sounds so blissful. But for various reasons it’s never felt like a feasible option. We made attempts to keep him in his crib more, but they always ended up with him back in our bed, because he resisted strongly and it was just too exhausting and too hard to stay awake all night trying to get him back to sleep. And now it feels like it’s too late and I really don’t know how we’re going to move him, but it clearly needs to happen.

    Long note, but I wanted to add: we learned later that my son had sleep apnea, and as I said he never nursed/fed well when he was small (possibly due to a lip tie and congenital overbite, but that’s speculation), so I suspect those physical issues contributed to his sleep issues. It’s hard to sleep when you’re hungry and can’t breathe! We finally got surgery for the apnea when he was 2, and that made a huge difference in his sleep– but of course by then he was pretty set in his ways.

    I have a friend with a newborn right now with really bad reflux, and she won’t sleep anywhere but upright in her parents’ arms. And I have cautioned her that it might not work so well for the long term– but it also drove home for me that some children have physical issues that make sleep really challenging for them. Which is a perspective that seems to be lacking from a lot of sleep books and recommendations by sleep experts.

    Like

    February 22, 2013
    • Sara, thanks for sharing your story so honestly. I think it is important for new parents to know that whatever route you choose, there are pluses and minuses, and there are some factors that just feel like they’re out of your control. Taking control of them (as in sleep training) is a possibility, but that’s a personal decision based on your own comfort level. Your point about physical issues is also important. For your sake, I hope that your little boy gets comfortable with the idea of his own bed soon. Have you considered a mattress on your floor or something? I feel like I hear lots of stories of bedsharing toddlers who transition to their own beds with little to no fuss, but I don’t really believe that it is always that way!

      Like

      March 2, 2013
  68. maggie #

    I never hear anyone address the correlation between feeding habits and infant sleep. They are almost always addressed separately. And yet we found that using the very old fashioned method of giving our daughter cereal before bed made all the difference in her sleep patterns. Any time she started to wake up in the middle of the night, we increased her dinner by about a half a teaspoon of cereal. So she slept through the night from about 3 weeks on, and that made moot the need to have her in bed for easy breast feeding.
    Everyone in the comments talks about feeding and sleep inter-related. But when parents are researching the topic, they are hardly ever mentioned together. It would seem to me that the choices of how you feed your child and how you sleep are dependant on each other; certain sleep methods work better for certain feeding methods, etc… Can you address that in your book?
    Also, we found that an issue that was overloked was the wake-up time. Insomnia experts tell adults that the best way to set good sleep habits is to set a fixed wake-up time, but that doesn’t filter down to the discussion about children’s sleep habits. Because our daughter was in daycare from a young age, she was required to wake up at 6am, every day, no matter what. That helped fix her sleep schedule, and really improved her routine. Of course, it does mean that she wakes up on weekends at 6am, too.

    Like

    February 25, 2013
    • Maggie, I think you’re right that feeding method plays a big role in sleep situations. I think we’re seeing and increase in bed-sharing in part because of the increase in breastfeeding. Breastfed babies do wake more frequently during the night (on average), and breastfeeding in bed is pretty easy to do for many mom-baby pairs, whereas fixing a bottle will require getting up out of bed whether baby is sleeping in a crib or the bed. Many bedsharing advocates actually ONLY recommend bedsharing for breastfeeding moms, because they assume that a breastfeeding mom is more attuned to her baby sleeping next to her, and the breastfed baby already has more arousals during the night, which may protect her from SIDS. I’m curious if there are formula-feeding moms who take issue with this assumption, however.

      But on your point about adding cereal to baby’s bottle – this is not recommended and has been shown to not increase sleep duration. It may have done so for your baby, but it doesn’t for the average baby. More importantly, though, babies really aren’t equipped to digest solid foods (even when added to a bottle) until at least 4 months. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/pages/Cereal-in-a-Bottle-Solid-Food-Shortcuts-to-Avoid.aspx

      Like

      March 2, 2013
      • maggie #

        I never added cereal to the bottle. We always fed from a spoon. And I’m interested in the studies because every single mother over 50 (and that was close to 25 women and almost 70 children) that I talked to had the same experience that I did; cereal from a spoon helped them sleep.

        As for “equipped to digest”; she clearly did digest it. My husband is a medical provider, and he very carefully examined the diapers when we started to be certain. Better him than me 🙂

        Like

        March 3, 2013
    • KT #

      I find this interesting because I too found that solids helped with sleep, but we started them after proper sleep associations were already in place via sleep training. Solids coincided with my daughter dropping from 1-3 night wakings to none. I also made sure to begin meats on the early side at 6 months (with my pediatrician’s approval) because I am 100% convinced that whatever foods help adults feel full should help babies feel full, assuming the digestion is prepared for them. I also think it is valuable to look into not just feeding method but feeding schedule. 12 Hours by 12 Weeks and Babywise anecdotally do seem to help some babies eat better/feel fuller at night even though they are absolutely the wrong feeding method for others.

      Like

      March 5, 2013
  69. Jonina #

    I have been reading a lot of everyones stories as these comments continue to roll in. As a new mum, I began a new job when our little one was only 2 and a half months old but am convinced that paid maternity leave should be at least four months after birth! Seriously the lack of sleep and the time it takes to really learn the new habbits of our little one sure takes time.

    Like

    February 26, 2013
  70. Sandra #

    Hi,
    for us, we thought the baby would sleep the first few months in a little crib next to our bed before moving to her own bedroom… here in Quebec, we get a visit from a community nurse a few days after getting home from the hospital with a new born baby. That nurse was the greatest thing that happened to us. In the hospital, the nurses had forbidden me to keep my sleeping baby in my bed with me all night and said she needed to learn to sleep on her own from the start (!!!!). We did not know any better, so we trusted them and tried that, of course it did not work and nobody got much sleep in our house until that community nurse came to visit and said “you know, you can sleep with her in your bed if you want, she might sleep better that way”. We were surprised and relieved to hear that from a health professional ( I am a nurse myself, but adult ICU nurse). From that night, she slept in bed between us, and boy did it make a huge difference. From then on and for many weeks, I would go to bed with her very early (around 7pm!!) and we had the best sleep ever. It’s only when she started turning and rolling more that we started putting her down in her own bed, in our room, for the first part of the night (at some point I started spending evenings with my husband again…). then she would come to bed with us after she woke up the first time. The transition to her own bed and her own room was very long, but in the end it was the right way to do, we did it when her sleep was no longer as good and felt it was no longer the best solution for all of us.
    I am now pregnant with my second baby and will be much less stressed out this time about sleep as I will know that no pattern lasts forever and that we can change things when they don’t work anymore.
    By the way, I really can’t wait for your book to come out. Good luck with it.
    Sandra

    Like

    February 26, 2013
    • Thanks Sandra! One of the things I find most interesting about this topic is how vastly different advice is on infant sleep! It’s also amazing how the advice that you get during those first few weeks can really shape how things turn out for you and baby. Glad you found something that worked well for you:)

      Like

      March 2, 2013
  71. During his early months, baby K slept in bed with me most of the time, simply because he wouldn’t fall asleep in his bed and I was tired. After a while I figured out that I was the reason he didn’t sleep in his own bed, because I liked the company, but as he grew older he wanted space for himself and both of us sleep better now. He is now 6 months old and I think he prefers to sleep alone and so do I, because we both move in our sleep. Still happens that he sleeps with me though, if he wakes up during the night and won’t fall back asleep again, I just put him next to me on my bed and we continue sleeping. Easy little sweetheart ˆˆ

    Your book sounds great by the way! Never read anything that focused on both sides of co-sleeping/not co-sleeping, so what you’re planning on sounds really great!

    Like

    February 27, 2013
  72. Bonnie #

    We started in a co-sleeper (bassinet) from 0-4mo, then from 4-6 in a pack n play because he out grew the bassinet, then his crib in his room from 6-20mo, and bed sharing 20mo-current (22mo). Each step was child led and directly connected to his night time breastfeeding schedule. We weaned at 21 months. But after over a year of independent sleeping, a switch got flipped and he needed us for emotional and physical comfort. He was still waking 1-2x a night at 18/19 months but as soon as he moved to our bed he started sleeping 12hrs. Again, all child led…he needed to be close from 0-4, he wanted his own space from 6-20 months, and now he seems to need us at night again.

    Like

    February 27, 2013
    • I’m so glad that you commented, Bonnie, because this is actually a really unique scenario among parents who have responded to this post. Interesting that the same child can have such different needs at different ages, and contrary to the stereotypical belief, it isn’t a linear path from needing close proximity to needing or tolerating greater distance. Fascinating – thank you!

      Like

      March 2, 2013
  73. I nominated you for Liebster Blog Award! Check it out: http://j.mp/LiebsterBlog

    Like

    February 28, 2013
  74. Alisha Kovach #

    I am a new mother at a young age. I just turned 21 two months before my beautiful baby girl was born. My older sister has 4 children, two being a set of twins. She breastfed all of her children. I started to breastfeed my daughter when we brought her home from the hospital. I put her in her bassinet, on her back the first night and she seemed to be doing well with it. The bassinet was in our room right next to my side of the bed. Oh how I freaked out that night making sure everything was perfect and she was still breathing! She slept in her bassinet for a couple more nights until she started to fuss with the idea. One night I fell asleep with her on my chest, her lying on her chest. She slept 7 hrs straight like this. I couldn’t believe it, a 7 day old baby sleeping 7 hrs straight at night. That’s unheard of. However, she soon came to the conclusion that she wasn’t going to sleep in her bassinet anymore that moms chest was much more comfy. I do not sleep heavy at all so I was able to be aware of just laying on my back and not moving at all. After about 3 weeks of this every single night I couldn’t do it anymore! I put my foot down and said that she was going back in her bassinet. I felt so much like I was pregnant again when she would sleep on me. I had to stay in one spot and couldn’t roll around. The first night in the bassinet was a bit of a challenge but nothing I couldn’t handle. I rolled up a blanket into the shape of a log and I put it against the wall of the bassinet. I then layed her on her left side with her back against the blanket. She loved it. Finally at about 3 months of age, I wanted the privacy in the bedroom back. I decided then I was going to try her in her crib. I put a boomerang shaped pillow in the crib and rolled up a blanket, again in the shape of a log, and I put it next to the pillow. She sleeps on her left side with the pillow and blanket on her back. She does amazing in her crib. For some reason though she just loves having the pressure of something on her back. I really want to try taking out this pillow and blanket but I’m not sure on how she is going to sleep then.
    I changed my thoughts on her sleeping habits a lot once she was here.

    Like

    March 1, 2013
    • Alisha, thanks for your story. I know I couldn’t sleep with a baby on top of me, either, so I’m glad that you found a way to transition your baby to her own bed so that you could get some sleep, too! I do want to add that I would be very careful about side-sleeping and adding something like a rolled-up blanket to your baby’s sleep environment. Neither are recommended. Babies often roll from their sides to their tummies, which increases their risk of SIDS. Also, anything besides a fitted sheet and a firm mattress in the sleep environment could potentially pose a suffocation risk. I know we all do what we have to do to help our babies sleep, but for the sake of other parents reading this, I just want to point out that these may increase baby’s risk.

      Like

      March 2, 2013
  75. I just wrote a lot on the various baby sleep books i read and how they applied to me. (http://sixfortynine.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/mommy-training-part-one-resources-on-baby-sleep-and-routines/) I think I’ve done the whole gamut – from co-sleeping to CIO,based on each child’s personality and age.

    Like

    March 2, 2013
  76. I DO NOT like to be touched when I sleep. I just can’t sleep if I’m being touched. I knew this before having a baby and had no illusions of idyllic co-sleeping fused with peaceful nighttime nursing. My baby slept in a bassinet next to my bed for quick response to his needs. We went to my recliner to nurse every time. When he was too big for his bassinet, he moved to a crib in his room and the nursing routine stayed the same. By three months he was sleeping through the night. I have tried to sleep with him on two occasions because he was having a hard time. These experiences were so freaking terrible because of his rambunctious sleeping tendencies. I am pregnant with our second child and I have the same plan for sleeping.

    Like

    March 2, 2013
  77. Bethany #

    My baby girl is just now 10 weeks old. Since we brought her home from the hospital she has slept in her crib at night. We decided before we had her that we were not a family-bed kinda family. Partly because the folks I know that went this way still have five year olds in bed with them but also because we wanted to foster her independence and be able to sleep soundly ourselves without worrying about the covers suffocating her (we live in a cold climate and she was born in December). Her crib is in our room. But, for the first week she was home we had her sleeping round the clock (she was slightly premature, so a very sleepy baby) in the pack and play in our living room, with one of us awake and keeping vigil over her at all times, taking shifts! Quickly we realized that was ridiculous and moved to having her go down for the night in her crib in our room. She has never had a bit of trouble with this sleep arrangement. Also, I am unable to breastfeed so we have been doing bottles since the beginning. If I had been able to “sleep-breastfeed” like my friends, I guarantee you she would be in my bed right now (I am writing this while waiting for her to rouse for her last feeding of the night!). She is now sleeping 5-6 hours in the evening, followed by 2 or 3 stretches of 3-4 hours. She does like to wake up at 6:30 and thrash around until we release her from the swaddle. At that point I have been bringing her into our bed and she happily lies next to me and waves her arms around while I doze until she is ready to eat and then we get up together. This works for us. Every family and situation is different and I think feeding habits, baby temparment and parent needs all factor into it. I read a bunch of sleep books while I was pregnant and they just made me anxious, and it turned out that just following our instincts and her cues was the best way to go. Of course, I realize she could wake up tomorrow and have sleep problems so I still think it is good to read those books when you are pregnant and have the time, so that when you need the information you can groggily search your memory and maybe find the book that possibly speaks to your situation!

    Like

    March 3, 2013
  78. The first six months with Georgie were a nightmare, I am sorry to say. He suffered with colic for four months straight, crying for hours on and sleeping very little. I spent the majority of those months with him in my arms and at night, occasionally in our bed much to the dismay of everyone who kept warning me I was asking for trouble, setting myself up for a trap. But I found it easier as a mother who was breastfeeding and a thoroughly exhausted person overall. I had read up on the matter of ‘habits’ and knew that a one month old could not really form any. He eventually got used to the bassinet in our bedroom, which he slept in until he was four months old. His bedroom and bigger cot was used at nap times, to get him used to the feel of the room so the transition wasn’t that hard. Where I come from, mothers, unfortunately, are ill-equipped when it comes to sleep and food, carrying on silly ‘sayings’ and ‘traditions’ that make no sense. I was even told he was ‘being difficult’ and I shouldn’t give in! I was told my milk was to blame and i should get him started on formula. I tell you, the support was overwhelming! When I began sleep training, they could not, for the life of them, understand what I was talking about. It was hard to say the least, being judged like that and at the same time trying to deal with a baby who wasn’t too keen on learning how to sleep. I insisted on an early bedtime which was followed by a bath and milk -breast until 18 months and now organic goat’s milk. Again, where i come from, tucking your child in at 6.30 is considered madness. But I am so glad I stuck to my guns because now, at 2 years, he sleeps in his own bedroom for 12 hours straight while I sit around hearing horror stories of parents begging their children to sleep at 11 o clock at night. Routine is important, I have found and so is discipline on both parts.
    I have read ALOT on the matter, became kind of obsessed you could say. But I was and still am adamant that a child should LEARN how to sleep well and it is, as parents, our obligation to help them do this.
    I wish I could write more but my hair is begging for a wash!
    Thank you for touching on this subject. New mothers dealing with sleepless nights should know that there is a way out.

    Like

    March 3, 2013
  79. Well, I’m not a mom, I’m a dad but I had a sleep story I wanted to share in any case.

    Our daughter is almost 4 now. When she was born we had her in a cosleeper next to the bed. That worked out great for about 6 months then we actually, and quite painlessly got her to self sleep in a crib by following the sleep guildelines from our pediatrician.

    About a month into it, she got a cold and my wife brought her into bed. I found out at this time there was no chance of me being able to sleep with our baby in bed. I am too sensitive to sound and movement and the first 2 nights didn’t sleep at all and the duration of the cold, I spent on the couch.

    The issue became however, is once our daughter was well, my wife decided she didn’t want to return Her to the crib. Fast forward to almost 4 years, and my wife still sleeps in bed with my daughter, in her room.

    The unfortunate part of this was that I as the father and husband was never considered in this decision and it has resulted in a large strain on my wife and my relationship. I have been bery upfront and vocal about my opposition to this. We have maybe slept in the same bed 10 times in 3 years. My wife also does not sleep well in my daughters bed and I constantly hear that frustration when my daughter “keeps her up”. I have found I can’t even be sympathetic because she is doing this out her own fears of our daughter one day leaving the house and not being close enough. This is not a “poor me” situation. But if both parents are not on board it does make things difficult. Thank you for listening.

    Like

    March 4, 2013
    • Hey, I’m SO happy to hear from a dad! I wrote this post hoping to be inclusive of both parenting halves, so I’m glad you responded. You bring up an excellent point – that whatever the path you take with your baby’s sleep, parents might have different ideas/plans/tolerances, and that can cause a huge strain. I know that if we had chosen to have Cee in our bed when she was an infant, it would have meant that she and I slept together and my husband slept in the guest room or on the couch. That probably would have been fine for a while, but I think that would have eventually been a strain on our relationship as well, and I think I would have missed him! It’s one of those tricky balancing acts of early parenting. Some are willing to make more of a sacrifice in the adult relationship department, and sleeping separately from spouses for the sake of sharing a bed with an infant is a norm in some cultures. In our family, I don’t mind my daughter knowing that my husband and I have our own special relationship and that we value time alone because we love each other. Plus, I’d rather her have parents with a happy marriage than a strained one. Other couples don’t have a problem with this at all or make a joint decision to make the nighttime proximity with baby more of a priority.

      Thanks again for sharing your story and good luck:)

      Like

      March 4, 2013
    • jonina #

      Great to hear a dads point of view on this subject. Thank you!

      Like

      March 16, 2013
  80. Jen #

    Our daughter slept in a hammock next to my head. She was as close to me as she could get without actually being in our bed. There were nights when she just wouldn’t settle and I would nurse her and bring her into bed with us. Spooning with her normally did the trick, but the problem was that I couldn’t sleep. I was too nervous that I would unintentionally do something to hurt her that I would lie there listening to her breathe…. and eventually move her back into the hammock. There were nights that I was so tired that she would fall asleep nursing and I would fall asleep too, only to wake up with a start thinking “Oh god, I fell asleep, is she ok?” Of course she was perfectly content and fine, but I felt terribly guilty about what might have happened. I think bed sharing is perfectly safe, done correctly. But I think most Mum’s aren’t completely confident that it is safe and therefore avoid it, just in case.

    Like

    March 5, 2013
  81. Lisa C. #

    we never intended for our little guy to be in bed with us although we had read about & discussed co-sleeping. we bought a co-sleeper & attached it to the bed. when he came home, he was jaundiced & ended up with a biliblanket (day 2 of being home). that night i just couldnt stand the thought of him all alone & i was afraid he would be cold, i cant explain it i just needed my baby close to me, touching me, and so into the bed he came. as he got older he developed horrible colic that always hit in the middle of the night (oversupply/ foremilk/ hindmilk imbalance) and so when he was gripy/ gassy he calmed much better if he was next to us & we could soothe him. we figured once he was clear of that we would move him out of the bed & into his crib. well the gassiness never let up, he had both reflux & MPI. he’s almost 9 months old & still sleeping in our bed. why? well he nurses to sleep & so when he wakes in the middle of the night, its just easy to start nursing him & we both fall back to sleep. we are hoping to move him out of there soon, maybe at 1 when my work schedule gets better & i can deal with the transition.
    i think a few things let us be comfortable with the co-sleeping-I am a very light sleeper so I knew i would not hurt him. he has always been a big guy (8lbs 7 oz at birth, regained birth weight in less than 1 week) so he was physically a presence in the bed. I dont know if i would do it differently. if you guaranteed me more sleep if he was in his crib id be there yesterday but right now this works for everyone.

    Like

    March 5, 2013
  82. Our son was very small when he was born. At full term, he was only four pounds and a few ounces. He spent his first nights in a bassinet next to us because that’s just what you do, right?

    When he was bigger—at probably 1month—we were having a particularly tough night. I’d nurse him to sleep, and when I tried to put him in his bassinet, he’d wake up crying. He would only sleep while I held him.

    I was tired, confused, and frustrated. All those post-partum hormones. Such little sleep. My darling husband saw my distress and said, “Why doesn’t he just sleep with us?” So, I made a little next next to me, and he’s been in our bed since then.

    Only later did I learn what a controversial issue this is. It was only after I started researching having the baby safely in our bed did I see terms like “co-sleeping” and “bed sharing.”

    But that seems to be a running theme in our parenting choices. We do what seems natural, common sense only to discover later that there are a whole host of nay-sayers who disagree with a gentler way of raising baby. But we have also discovered a community of breast-feeding, baby-wearing, cloth-diapering, bed-sharing folks, too. 🙂

    Like

    March 8, 2013
    • Honestly, neither husband and I could really bear the thought of our tiny baby in that giant crib, all alone. Baby seems so much safer nestled in my arms, baby hairs tickling my chin, little wiggly legs kicking mine.

      There have been a few night where he’s kept me awake. But I imagine I’d be awake worrying about him if he were alone in a crib.

      Like

      March 8, 2013
  83. ChloeAnna'sMum #

    Chloe and I co-slept until 5 months. Dad sleeps on the couch.
    We made an informed decision after a few bad nights sleep for Mum that it was better for the purpose of getting more sleep. It really did in our case work. We would ensure it was a safe environment by moving pillows and blankets from around her and I slept on my side she slept on hers.
    The transition came after she was sleeping through once her 4 month regression ended. I would recommend it to breastfeeding mothers needing more sleep. I think it’s natural and great for bonding.

    Like

    March 9, 2013
  84. Deborah #

    We planned to have our daughter sleep in her own bed in our room, but ended up with her in our bed. Having her in our room seemed best for easy night feedings and also for reducing SIDS risk, but she just wouldn’t sleep on her own. We would spend hours nursing, rocking, holding her and waiting for her to fall into a deep sleep, only to have her wake up as soon as we set her down and then we’d have to repeat the whole process. If we set her down awake, she’d just scream, never tested how long, I couldn’t stand listening to it. I was falling asleep while nursing on the recliner or propped up in bed, then waking up in a panic as I felt her slipping from my arms. I was exhausted, my husband was tired, our daughter was cranky and spent a few hours most nights screaming because she was tired and couldn’t sleep. The best sleep everyone got was when she dozed off on my chest after nursing, so we finally, when she was about 4 weeks old, accepted that she would have to sleep that way. We did some research on safe bedsharing and babyproofed our bed the best we could. At 6 weeks or so I finally mastered nursing laying down, and we’ve slept with her in bed next to me ever since. My husband and I both work full time and our daughter dislikes bottles (she eats about half of what I pump most days), so cosleeping has made it easier to deal with her need to eat at night. She’s almost 8 months old now and we’re satisfied with the current sleeping arrangement but also looking forward to someday transitioning her to her own bed, maybe once she’s eating more solids during the day and not needing the night feedings anymore.

    Like

    March 9, 2013
  85. Lori #

    Here is my personal experience: Being a physician, I have unsuccessfully tried to revive several babies brought in to the ER in the morning after being found lifeless in bed. Every single one so far has been bed-sharing. The faces and cries of their distraught mothers has been etched into my mind for eternity, I’m afraid. This is only my personal small sample, but as you can well imagine, I can’t bedshare. Even in situations where it would be preferable (camping, traveling, sick child), I cannot fall asleep!!! I was lucky that my son agreed with this plan and slept well in his own bed from the beginning.

    Like

    March 11, 2013
    • Jonina #

      Wow Lori, I can’t imagine how horrific this experience must have been, especially for those parents of course. Even though it is terribly sad, thank you for sharing.

      Like

      March 12, 2013
    • Mar #

      How old were these babies?

      Like

      March 15, 2013
      • Lori #

        The oldest was around 6 months old and the youngest 1 week old.

        Like

        April 6, 2013
  86. Mar #

    I used to judge bed-sharers. Our daughter slept in a bassinet in our room until about 5 months. It was around then that I finally learned to side-lie nurse and so that’s when we started bed-sharing. It was just so much easier not having to get up in the middle of the night. She always woke up when we moved her to her bassinet and preferred to be next to us. Around 6 months, we tried Ferberizing her, but after 2 weeks of crying, I couldn’t handle it anymore and quit. She is 15 months now and we are still bed-sharing. It is not ideal but it works for us because it is the only way I can get a good night of rest. We also like the cuddling, too. I think in an ideal world, she would be in her crib in our room for the first 2 years, and then she’d transition to her own room after that. I am uncomfortable with this modern western model of forcing babies into sleep independence.

    Like

    March 15, 2013
  87. jennylc223 #

    Just a bit of background – I have a Phd in developmental psychology and specialized in educational research about children with special needs, evaluation, assessment and stuff like that. My partner and I (we are a same sex couple) have two kids ages 5 years (girl) and 4 months (boy). I grew up co-sleeping with my uber-hippie parents. We all slept with them, and then room shared with them, for a few years – I believe I was 3 when they got me my own bed, and was 9 when I got my own bedroom. I am the oldest and my youngest sibling is 7 years younger (there are 3 of us.) It was mostly happy but very crowded. I don’t remember sleep trouble as a child but have had lots of trouble sleeping (insomnia, and lots of anxiety related issues) since high school. So, I always thought I would co-sleep with my own kids. Maybe not to the extreme they took it, probably only when they were actually babies. In any case, when my daughter was born my partner and I planned on co-sleeping with her. We had an arms reach co-sleeper but did intend to bed share. The baby hated the co-sleeper and almost never slept in it. The cats slept in it more then she did to the point that we referred to it as the cat-sleeper. Anyway, for a while, bedsharing went really well. And it was lovely and cozy – FOR THEM. Not me. I could not sleep well with my baby next to me. Not because I was afraid I would hurt her, but because she kept me awake. It was like my body went into a hypervigilant state. So I’d nurse her, then she’d sleep in her other mom’s arms. They slept really well together for a while. Around 3 months old it started going downhill, little one woke up a lot and wanted to eat every hour or so. We put up with this for a bit, thinking that it was a growth spurt or some kind of phase. Eventually though we couldn’t take it anymore. I was struggling with some PPD and sleep deprivation was definitely making it much worse. We tried a lot of things (I can’t even remember what all at this point) to get her to sleep longer in the bed with us but nothing worked. One night at about 2am in a haze of no-sleep we decided to put her in the crib and see what happened. It broke my heart a little but we had to at least try it. Right then we decided if she cried for more than 15 minutes we would go back and get her and just deal, and she cried for exactly 8 minutes, then slept for 4 HOURS. It seemed clear to us that she needed her own space – she was around 5 months old at this point. After that we embarked on sleep training (I read a bunch of books in about 2 days…) and (to my horror at the time) ended up doing CIO. We tried some of the “softer” methods (pick up, put down, mom in room…) but all of that actually seemed to just make our little one mad. If we were in the room, she had to have our attention and would stay awake for astounding periods of time. She still fights sleep now, but does go to sleep on her own and sleeps well and has slept through the night since I night weaned when she was 11 months old. With our new little guy, we also co-slept in the beginning and it lasted for about 2 months when he got very wiggly and woke us up a lot. He was not waking, just waking us. So then he slept in a little rock n play sleeper for a few weeks, until one night I put him in his crib instead and he did fine. He is a mellow guy and does not fight sleep. He is swaddled because otherwise he whacks himself in the face and wakes up. He goes through periods where he wakes every 2 hours and is hungry, but they usually resolve within a week or so. He gets rocked to sleep because it takes about 5 minutes, so why not? If it stops working, we’ll change something but right now I am enjoying learning through personal experience that there are in fact babies who enjoy sleep and rest. Our daughter still does not really know how to rest her body. We talk with her, and lay with her and have tried to sort of do guided meditation with her to help her but she typically ends up jumping on the bed or something. I feel like it is important though for her to learn to chill the heck out – I’m not worried that she has an actual clinical problem with this, but that it would be a disservice to her to not at least attempt to help her learn to rest and be calm. I could go on all day about this, but I’ll stop here. Thanks for your work, I have just recently discovered your blog and am really enjoying it.

    Like

    March 18, 2013
  88. Rebecca #

    This topic definitely deserves its own chapter! I look forward to reading your thoughts as I really respect your research and enjoy your blog very much.

    Our son is almost 15 months old. We planned to have the baby in a bassinet in our room for the first while, then transition him to a crib in his room around 6 months, as per guidelines. But this was all very fuzzy in my mind. I knew babies woke in the night but had no idea of the minefield of baby sleep. I had heard of ferberizing but somehow didn’t think of it as something I might ever need to do.

    For the first few weeks he slept in the bassinet, waking every 2-3 hours to feed. Around the time the books said he would start lengthening his between-feed times after regaining his birth weight and then some (three weeks or so), he stopped sleeping in his bassinet or anywhere other than on a person. Literally as soon as we would start to lower him down, he would wake up. On the rare occasion we could put him down asleep in his bassinet, he would wake up within 5 minutes. Putting him down awake didn’t work very well either, but in retrospect I wonder if we could have worked harder on that. We swaddled, sound machined, bedtime routined…he did not take a pacifier though and that might have helped.

    So what did we do? I started passing out on the couch with him while nursing. We have a sectional and I would prop my feet up there and that’s where we slept, with him nestled in the nursing pillow. My husband and I had endless debates about the safety of this. I knew it wasn’t “safe” – but it was literally the only way I slept. After a month of discussion, we agreed that I would try sleeping in the bed with the baby and my husband would sleep in the guest room as this was a safer arrangement than me passing out on the couch from exhaustion. This was when our son was around 2 months old. And that is still what we do now. We borrowed a co-sleeper from someone that went in the bed, but that didn’t serve the purpose we needed as my son seemed to need close physical contact to stay asleep.

    The upside has been very decent sleep for all of us, except when our son is sick. Even when he is sick, I feel like his sleep is less disturbed because I nurse him back to sleep very quickly if he wakes. He has no trouble falling asleep when we travel. And I LOVE sleeping with him. Absolutely love it: the cuddling, the closeness, his sweet breath. Especially since he has started daycare and I’ve gone back to work, I crave that closeness. We have the micro wake-ups for a bit of nursing through the night, but this doesn’t disturb me that much. The downsides are that I miss sleeping with my husband (who still does not feel safe sleeping in the bed with us, though I am keen to try) and that our son is very used to me being beside him so he wakes up every hour or two if I’m not there, so I rarely go out of the house in the evenings. We have a mattress on the floor where I put him down around 7-7:30pm, then I creep away when he’s asleep, and then I bring him to bed with me when I go to bed. He sleeps until 7 or so most mornings.

    I would have never anticipated this arrangement, although as a child I slept on and off in my parents’ bed until I was 7. I put a lot of research into it myself (I am also a scientist with a PhD) and feel confident that we have minimized the risk factors associated with bed sharing. I am ready now to spend more time with my husband and have more of a life in the evenings but as I mentioned I really do love sleeping with him and change is hard. We have discussed at length trying to sleep train him but neither of us can face it. He now naps well alone in his crib at daycare so that’s a start.

    I would be happy to provide more details and discussion if needed for your book.
    Good luck!

    Like

    March 19, 2013
  89. My almost 9mo old son initially slept in his moses basket next to our bed, and then we both discovered the world of co-sleeping. I had never considered it, and did not know much about it. My son was a big guy at birth, 9 lbs, and was rooting around immediately. That was a characteristic of him for all of those early months, if fact, he would rather eat than sleep. There were nights that he would need me every two hours, and there were others when he would only be up 2-3 times. He slept in his own space a lot of the time, but it got to a point where worked out better for the both of us when he slept in our bed. It was a lovely time, he fit in the crook of my arm perfectly and we breathed each other in each night. The toughest part of bedsharing was the social pressure to not do so, and the eyebrow raises I received from family & friends. My guess is that I was very sensitive to what others thought because O is my first baby, and it was a new adventure for us both. So, again, I tried to give him his space and transitioned him to his own crib at around 3 mo old, some nights would be ok, others…not so much. I remember one morning I called La Leche League cause they had a help line that would connect me with another mom immediately, and she gave me some very valuable advice when it came to my baby, she said, “Do what works for right now.” She helped me remember that my mothering gut was and is always right. So, at that time O slept with me. Yes, it disturbed my husband a bit, yes it went against what my mother thought, but it worked for us. Now, at nearly 9 months old, O sleeps in his own crib. He still gets up often, 2-3 times per night, but we are getting 6 hour stretches from time to time and I am so proud of us both.

    Like

    March 28, 2013
    • I think one of the most interesting things about the debate around bedsharing is that it is SUCH a debate. It’s a scientific debate, too. Researchers in this field can read the same papers, look at the same data, and come to different conclusions. That’s frustrating to us parents, but it is an indicator of how complex these questions are. Meanwhile, we are somehow so quick to judge when other do things differently or to get defensive when our practices are questioned. I think that in many ways we as a culture are a bit unmoored when it comes to infant parenting practices right now. Our cultural expectations for parenting are shifting, and we don’t just expect to do things the way our own mothers did. That leaves us feeling vulnerable to criticism. I’m glad that you did what felt right and what worked for you. I think that’s important, whatever the data say.

      Like

      March 28, 2013
  90. This is so emotional for me. My first wanted her own space and has never slept with us. She is 2 now. I work full time and after I became pregnant with number two and stopped breast feeding I almost wished she would have slept in our bed occasionally because I missed that closeness. With number two she is 13 mo and is a horrible sleeper. I haven’t slept through the night since she was born. I’ve tried everything including nursing her all night and having her sleep with us. Nothing has helped and I realize she is a different entity all in itself and cannot be compared to the normal child. That being said, every woman has a choice to breast feed or not. I feel like the mothers that didn’t are so defensive about NOT breast feeding that they are so quick to poo-poo the idea of co-sleeping. What a sensitive topic! And who is right? You do whats works at the time. Mama bear knows best and don’t try and give her advice on what is an innate instinct in her. Your chapter will be interesting to read. Sleep deprivation is emotional and has the potential to make you crazy. The first child is easy, subsequent children add so much fuel to the fire on already empty tanks. Good luck. I so enjoy your posts. Cheers to you.

    Like

    March 28, 2013
    • Yes, sleep is so personal, and is it any wonder that we aren’t going to do things the same way, given our different philosophies, needs, feeding types, baby temperaments, etc.? And sleep deprivation is so tough. Bedsharing helps some to get more sleep, but it has the opposite effect for others. No one-size-fits-all solution, that’s for sure! Thanks for your comment and your kind words!

      Like

      March 28, 2013
  91. Joanie #

    My son was born at home and we decided to co-sleep for many reasons, one being the ease of breastfeeding. We felt most compelled to co-sleep so we could monitor our son. I didn’t personally feel it was a safe option to put him in a bed by himself away from us. I needed to wake up, check his breathing, feel his chest move and the warmth of his skin for my own personal sanity. I have always struggled with sleep, so waking and traveling to the nursery to check on him 6-7-8 times a night was not an option for me. However, I, too, was a little concerned with the risks associated with co-sleeping so we opted for a mini-bed placed between my husband and I (I don’t want to advertise but it was called a Snuggle Nest) for the first month or so. It worked out great but he soon out grew it. We received a second-hand mini co-sleeper that attached to the side of the bed, but again, my son out grew that by 4-5 months. At that point he came into bed with us. He is now 13 months old and we are all bed sharing quite happily.

    However, sleep deprivation is a huge issue still, especially for myself. My son and I are both very light sleepers so we constantly wake each other up. I also suffer from many bouts of insomnia, none of which are related to the safety of son. I have had insomnia issues all my life. If my son was comfortable sleeping on his own, we may go that route, but as it stands he still occasionally reaches out for the comfort of me or my husband, so we gladly oblige by keeping him in bed with us. He also still nurses 3+ times a night so co-sleeping just makes sense to us. He is not a fussy baby, and never was, so I feel that the few things he aks for, we can accommodate.

    I will say, however, that now that we are using sign language, he lets us know when he is tired by signing “sleep”. I have taken him to bed, laid down with him and had him fall asleep for naps just fine. We have also placed him in his crib for naps with success, though his naps only last 30 minutes or so.

    I will also note that our family is very pro-bodily contact. My son naps when he wants (usually twice a day) but its almost always in my arms (He’s not nursing to sleep however. He signs “sleep” when he wants to nap, and I am happy to hold him while he does). He slept a lot as a baby in my, my husband’s, or his grandma’s arms, so he is very used to waking up with breathing, heart beats, and warm skin. He also naps happily in his car seat, carrier, stroller, etc, so being held is not really necessary, just something we do as a form of bonding and cuddling.

    Like

    March 30, 2013
    • Joanie #

      Oh, I forgot to say that our night time ritual is very simple in that I say good night downstairs, my son waves goodbye and my husband takes him up to bed. It takes 10-15 minutes max. My husband typically lays him in his crib and returns to me, but my son being the light sleeper that he is, often rolls around and right into the crib walls INSTANTLY waking up and jumping up to attention (where he then pokes at the video monitor until one of us comes to get him). We then either take him to bed with us (if we are ready for bed ourselves), or get him back to sleep and try again. Since we started laying him in our bed when he’s ready at night, he stays asleep MUCH longer because he has way more space to roll in our king size bed. He is a very active sleeper, so I don’t think the crib is ever going to be a decent option for him. It was never an option for my mother when I was a baby for the same reasons (I am the lightest sleeper in my family, roll around constantly, suffer from insomnia, hardly ever dream, and wake up fast and totally awake). I have tried everything from light medication to every pseudo-science theory imaginable (and some helped other aspects of my life, but not my sleep).

      I was hoping my sleep issues would not be inherited by my son, but it looks like he is exactly like me. I have often debated signing up for a sleep study to find out if my (and now his) behavior is normal and if we are getting the best quality sleep we can. Since I am so used to poor quality sleep, having a baby really wasn’t that big of a behavioral shift, at least not on the sleep side of it.

      Like

      March 30, 2013
  92. Sara U #

    You may find the La Leche League International handout “Safe Sleep for Breastfeeding Babies” interesting. I think sleep location and “training” is different depending on whether baby is breastfed vs. bottle.

    My baby is 2 months old and he sleeps really well when he is swaddled either in his co-sleeper bassinet or next to me. My intention is for him to sleep in the co-sleeper, but I usually fall asleep while sideline nursing and he ends up sleeping next to me in bed part of the night. I’ve definitely noticed that our sleep cycles often synchronize. Like, when he wakes I am in a very light state of sleep and can wake easily. During the day, (I am still on maternity leave) I try to have him take at least one of his naps in his big crib so that he gets used to sleeping alone there. Eventually (not sure when?), he’ll sleep there… I can’t imagine not having him right next to me at night. It would be such a sleep interruption for both me and baby if either of us had to go from horizontal to vertical…

    Like

    April 15, 2013
    • Yes, sleep is different between breastfed and formula-fed babies, and bedsharing behavior is too. It probably is safer for breastfeeding dyads, since both mom and baby are sleeping more lightly and waking more frequently. Although this is fairly speculative, I think it is good to be cautious. That doesn’t help formula-feeding moms whose babies really need to be close to sleep. A cosleeper bassinet is a good option, but otherwise, I think every family has to do their own risk/benefit analysis. As I said in the post, these decisions are complex. Safety definitely needs to be considered, but it isn’t the only factor.

      I think it is very smart that your baby has the flexibility to sleep in his crib as well as next to you! Flexibility is always good, and it will allow you to make decisions more freely based on both your and his preferences as he gets older.

      Like

      April 17, 2013
  93. My husband has mainly worked Graveyard since our son has been born so my son and I would share the bed. I breastfed him (still do) and I just found that getting up all the time to nurse him made me more exhausted. I’ve always been a light sleeper and I feel like we were more in tune with each other when we slept together. Even when he was first born he knew when daddy left at night and he would get fussy. Having him sleep with me and (this is going to sound kind of gross) smelling daddy’s scent on the bed helped him sleep better and not be so anxious. Up until he was about six months old he would sleep on my chest for his naps. Sometimes I would take a nap with him or put him in the moby wrap so I could make lunch or do some light cleaning. After he turned about six – seven months he slept in his crib or on some blankets on the ground wherever I was for his naps. Once he was about 11 – 12 months old he wanted to sleep in his own bed so he slept less with me and more by himself. It was a process. For his first birthday we made his crib into a toddler bed. He knew how to get in and out without a problem in only a couple days of practice. So now at 16 months he sleeps in his own bed but he will get up around 6 and come in bed with me so I can nurse him in the morning. Then my husband comes home and they have their own time while I get another hour of sleep.

    I should also say that the entire time that my son slept with me I kept all pillows off the bed with the exception of a little one for myself and I always made sure it was a ways away from him. Also we took all soft bedding off and used a light sheet for a blanket. I made sure to keep it a lengths away from him and once he was about four/five months he would kick all forms of blankets off anyway. I also made sure to keep him in the middle of the bed and never near the sides. When he was older and understood things more we would teach him safe sleeping on the bed. We would make a game out of it, like not getting close to the edge when he started crawling. We would tell him that is owie and my husband would pretend to fall off the bed and be hurt.

    I hated it when people would tell me that by him sleeping with me that he would never learn to sleep by himself and would have problems with his independence. That couldn’t have been farther from the truth with us. Like I said he initiated sleeping in his own bed and asserted his independence without me having to push him. For us, I think that sleeping with me gave him the confidence in himself that he needed. He knows at his core that he can go and do his own thing but always come back to mom and knows that I will always be there. I think it made him a more well-adjusted and confident person. That is just us though and what worked for us.

    Like

    April 30, 2013
  94. rosec23 #

    Before our LO was born, we had bought an Arm’s Reach Co-sleeper and were very excited to use it. It seemed like the perfect answer to our desire to cosleep yet not have her in our bed, which we were worried would be just too tight. When we got home from the hospital, she ended up sleeping next to me in bed for the first 2 weeks, at which point I transitioned her to the cosleeper. She had reached 10 lbs by then, so I felt she was starting to be too big for what I felt was safe cosleeping, and I thought that at that weight she might be able to sleep better away from me. Also–I was having a hard time sleeping with her next to me.
    By 3 months, we were having pretty regular night wakings (5-8?) that were not improving. I was returning to work and was desperate, so we bought a swing and that worked like a charm for about 1.5 months (only 2-3 night wakings). Then…we found ourselves in pacifier hell. She started waking up every 45 minutes b/c the binkie would fall out of her mouth and she wouldn’t let us give it back to her unless we picked her up and rocked her! We had to take the binkie away and there was a lot of crying, but we got back to the 5-7 wakings at night. By 5 months she would try to arch out the swing, so we had to ditch that and tried the cosleeper again. Just before 6 months, though, we had had enough. We were tired of sleeping with blasting white noise, of having tip top around our room at night and read by flashlight, so we made the decision to put her in the hallway right outside of our bedroom. We all started sleeping SO much better. She started only waking 2-3 times a night and the white noise was out of our room.
    I really wanted to be a cosleeping mom. I guess I was one, but not for as long as I had originally wanted. I know that the research supports it for baby and for everyone getting more sleep. But at a certain point it just stopped working for us. When I would try to bring her in bed with me between 4-6 months, it seemed like we were constantly waking one another up, and she couldn’t sleep without my nipple in her mouth. I can count the number of times she’s fallen asleep at the breast…it excites her more than calms her when she’s really sleepy. She can, however, sleep soundly in bed with my husband, who doesn’t have the temptation of food to offer! I think that just like any evidence-based recommendation, you also have to take into consideration the individual.

    Like

    May 21, 2013
  95. Amy D. #

    Hi! Thanks so much for all your research and honest insight! Good luck with your book. I think it’s a great idea. I actually came across your blog while reading up on infant sleep and sleep training.
    I have a 4 month old daughter and am so torn over how to proceed with sleep. My husband and I didn’t plan on having her sleep in our bed at all, and talked about her sleeping in a bassinet in our room for only two months. She is actually still in our room, in fact in our bed, most nights. She slept in bed with us early on and we felt it was fine because she was so used to being near me all the time. She would wake easily when we put her down. We needed our sleep too and the is something so sweet about cuddling near your babe to sleep (obviously, we took all the safety precautions). We did transition her completely to the bassinet where she slept beautifully for about 2 months before she out grew it. We thought we’d keep her in our room awhile longer in a pack n play but she started waking frequently in the night so she’s back in our bed for the time being. I love the closeness of having her there (they are only this little once and for a short time!), and she sleeps so well there, but we also want her to learn to soothe herself to sleep (mostly for naptimes, because that is a whole different issue). We’ll probably sleep train in the next couple months (if I can stand the crying!)
    Thanks for your posts on sleep (especially the one about stress-that really helped us feel better about sleep training, though we might still take a more gradual approach). So many things change when you become a parent, and some of the plans just goes out the window!

    Like

    June 3, 2013

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