Co-sleeping is such a highly debated topic these days. I’m admiting right up front that we have been co-sleeping with our girls since they each came home from the hospital and we LOVE it. We now have a 3 year old and a 14 month old in our bed every night and we still LOVE it.
Our girls are now 4 and 2. We are still co-sleeping at night but the girls do nap in their shared bedroom.
Whether you co-sleep or not is totally up to you and your family. I want to share my own opinions and our co-sleeping journey because I feel like it is important for other families to know that its not as taboo as some doctors make it out to be.
Just to get this out of the way, I am NOT a doctor or in any way trained in co-sleeping safety. You should fully research co-sleeping before you make the decision to do so. These are strictly my own observations and experiences.
Before our first baby arrived my husband and I were STRONGLY against having a baby in the bed with us. We had slept with our dogs for years but somehow we were convinced that sleeping with a baby was the wrong thing to do. We ended up kicking the dogs out of the bed a few months before Everleigh was born because we wanted to get them trained to sleep elsewhere in case the baby needed to be in our room for some reason.
The First Few Weeks
From the moment Everleigh was born she wanted to be held. There was never any laying her down. So many people, mostly the older generation, have told me its because we “spoiled” her. Y’all when you are pushed to the edge of sanity by lack of sleep and pain from childbirth you will do about anything to keep that baby from crying.
In the hospital we were sternly warned that our baby was NOT to be in the bed, on the couch or in a chair with a sleeping adult. She must be in her crib because we might kill her if we slept with her. This is honestly what we were told. We ended up taking turns staying awake to hold her while she slept because the screaming was unbearable if we laid her down.
The same thing continued once we brought her home. My parents were there to take shifts with us at night to hold her and stay awake. However after a week my parents went back to their house 12 hours away. The week after, my husband went back to work and there were no more nighttime shifts for him.
We had been to the pediatrician twice at this point and we also received very stern lectures on the dangers of co-sleeping. We were so scared that we were going to kill our baby.
I eventually discovered that I could sleep sitting up on the couch with Everleigh sleeping on my chest. I was still way to scared to sleep with her in my bed.
We had a little infant bed in our room that she would sleep on for maybe 30 min at a time. It was rounded on the sides and made her feel more secure. We swaddled her which helped her sleep for longer stretches of time but she still HAD to be held in order to sleep.
I started to have severe anxiety about going to bed at night. It would start right after dinner, get worse during bath time and by the time I was rocking her to sleep I would be sobbing. Every single night. I knew she would only make it 30 min by herself and then she would end up in bed with me. I was convinced that one morning I would wake up and she would be dead.
Every time we went to the pediatrician I lied when they asked me where she slept. I was so ashamed that I was putting my baby in so much danger.
When Everleigh was about six months old my mother in law gave me the best advice. She told me to make my peace with the situation and move on. So she was sleeping with me, who cares? She’d been doing it for six months and we had tried EVERYTHING. “Give it to God and go to sleep” she said.
I did some research at this point and found out that I wasn’t the only mom with an infant in her bed! There are some doctors who recommend sleeping with babies saying its actually healthier for mom and baby.
I felt betrayed that my doctors had convinced me I was putting my child’s life in mortal danger.
Check out some info from Dr. Sears on why co sleeping is safe HERE.
Another thing I realized was the whole situation had been pretty traumatic on Everleigh too. A baby spends nine months in a wonderfully peaceful place within your belly, constantly in contact with you, hearing your voice, hearing your heartbeat… then the moment she is pushed out into this world we expect her to no longer need that contact? It’s unrealistic to expect a baby to cope with something like that.
Be Safe About It
I want to explain the precautions we took when our tiny little baby was in bed with us. I think its important to note that in the wrong environment co-sleeping could be very dangerous.
Our babies only ever slept with mom. I’m not cutting dads in any way but biologically mothers are more in tune with babies needs. Even to this day I wake up if my kids move but my husband can sleep through a night terror.
Both kids ended up being side sleepers. They never wanted to sleep on their backs so they slept curled up in the crook of my arm. I believe this was part of the reason they never wanted to sleep on their own. While back sleeping is now the recommended safe position, it was just never comfortable for my girls.
We faced away from dad so there was no way he could roll over on top of them.
I never slept in loose clothing.
We never slept with more then one very flat pillow.
We slept with anything heavier then a sheet with our newborns.
I never had alcohol before sleeping with them.
My husband never had alcohol before sleeping with us.
The dogs were never allowed on the bed with us.
I feel like these are all pretty common sense things, but please be safe about it. If you know that you are a heavy sleeper then co-sleeping is probably not the best idea for you.
If you are taking sleep medications, or any medications that make you drowsy, co-sleeping probably isn’t for you.
Talk to Other Parents
I was the first of my friends to have a baby and many have approached me since with the same fears about sleeping. They have these tiny little humans that refuse to sleep in their cribs and my mom friends are so scared into thinking they are hurting their baby by sleeping with them.
Sometimes co-sleeping is the only choice you have. Sometimes it’s a choice you want to make.
With our second baby I just knew she would be in bed with us eventually. So while I did try letting her sleep in her own bed I didn’t stress over the nights that she ended up in mine. We got so much more sleep the 2nd time around because we weren’t worried about something happening to her. We’ve also found a new pediatrician who doesn’t condemn us for having the girls in our bed.
My advice if you are expecting would be to talk to other moms, talk to your pediatrician, do your research. Don’t let anyone use scare tactics when it comes to your children. You are the mom, you know what’s best for you, your child and your family. If you have any questions on co-sleeping please ask me!
Update: We are still co-sleeping BUT we have also started using a DockATot, which is an awesome baby/toddler nest. I totally wish I had this nest when my kids were infants. Check out my full review here.
A big thank you to my bestie Amanda, and fellow co sleeping mama who let me photograph her adorable little one.