By: Franki & Steph
The topic of co-sleeping seems to be a consistent part of the ongoing ‘mommy-wars’. To be honest, neither of us really felt that sharing your own bed with your child was such a huge deal until we actually became parents ourselves. To us it was an intuition, something that felt right. To others, we were either congratulated for our choice or scowled at like we were nuts. Whenever Stephanie told someone that she co-sleeps, she always braced for a negative reaction, “I was always ready to defend myself for a choice that seemed so normal and right for us.”
I did not realize what a touchy subject this was until after Tatum was born, and I mentioned to someone that Tatum slept in our bed. “She’ll never learn to sleep on her own!” I was told. “She’ll become too dependent!” I heard every line in the book. Among mom blogs, forums, etc. is another place where I realized that there is an ongoing debate regarding co-sleeping. I could not see how this could be debated so intensely. I could not see the harm in letting your newborn baby sleep close to you, where they could be comforted easily.
The day after I had Tatum, we were still in the hospital and I put Tatum down in the bassinet so I could brush my teeth. She started to fuss and I immediately went to pick her up. I was told by a nurse that it was fine to leave her, she needed to learn to be on her own. Being a brand-spanking-new mother, I wasn’t too sure about where my stance was on this, but there was something inside of me that disagreed with the nurse. I went and picked my baby up and immediately felt better and Tatum stopped fussing. Looking back, even though I had no clue what I was doing, my maternal instinct was guiding me, quietly showing me how to mother my little girl.
In the beginning, co-sleeping was merely for convenience sake. I was breastfeeding on demand, and this way I didn’t have to get up every hour and walk to the bassinet to get Tatum. After we had been co-sleeping for a week or two, I realized how comforting it seemed to be for both of us. Tatum slept so well in our bed and I slept well knowing that she was close to me and I could check to make sure she was fine. David liked it too, and we all seemed to form a special family bond.
There’s a great article from PhD In Parenting that goes over the benefits of co-sleeping that I refer to often when questioned about our choice to co-sleep. The ease of co-sleeping, the bonding, the full nights sleep…all good reasons for my family having a “family bed.” In her post, Taylor’s First Year Wrap-up: My Advice to New Moms, Stephanie also has an especially important story about how co-sleeping helped her to respond to Taylor’s cues immediately (and maybe even saving her life).
We realize that co-sleeping is not for everyone. Co-sleeping is not the only way to bond as a family. But this is what works for us, and we are doing it in a safe manner (read more about co-sleeping SAFELY here). Co-sleeping was a saving grace for the both of us. Our own personal intuition led us to co-sleep with our daughters, and we feel that it is what is right for our families. Although we did get a lot of well-meaning advice (and some blatant criticism) from others concerned about our choice, we know that our choice to co-sleep was something we would all stand by.
For those of you who want to learn a few interesting facts about co-sleeping, we’ve listed some from Dr. Sears’ website that we found to be really helpful:
- Cultures who traditionally practice safe co-sleeping enjoy the lowest incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Research by Dr. James McKenna, Director of the Mother-Baby Sleep Laboratory of the University of Notre Dame, showed that mothers and babies who sleep close to each other enjoy similar protective sleep patterns. Mothers have a heightened awareness of their baby’s presence that protects baby. This makes mothers more aware if their baby’s well-being is in danger.
- Babies who sleep close to their mothers have “protective arousal,” a state of sleep that enables them to waken more easily if their health is in danger, such as breathing difficulties.
- Co-sleeping makes breastfeeding easier, which provides many health benefits for mother and baby,
- More infant deaths occur in unsafe cribs than in parents’ bed.
- Co-sleeping tragedies that have occurred have nearly always been associated with dangerous practices, such as unsafe beds, or parents under the influence of substances that dampen their awareness of their baby.
You can read the rest of the article that highlights these facts about co-sleeping as well as several tips to co-sleep safely in your bed (or with a co-sleeper, such as the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper) here.
All of the reasons listed above and many more are why we both chose to co-sleep. Do you have any reasons why you are supportive of co-sleeping, or why you may be on the fence? Share them with us below.