Co-Sleeping: I am Curious

Let me preface this post by saying that I am not judgmental in any way of co-sleeping. You do whatever works for you, right? But I am curious, I have questions… How does co-sleeping really work?

I was blessed with a baby that sleeps well, so I never had to bring Timothy into our bed. I have always been scared of rolling over the baby, of the baby falling off of the bed, of hurting the baby, of the baby suffocating (just read all those recommendations about not having anything in their cribs – pillows, blankets, not even stuffed toys and look at your own bed). And of not really being able to sleep (and lead normal life later).

So I have never done that.

Well, not entirely true. In the early days, when Timothy was a couple of months old, there were instances when he would wake up to start his day and I would be way too sleepy – so I would bring him into my bed and snooze a bit next to him. But snoozing is not sleeping. And I was not able to fall asleep.

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Timothy made noises, he moved, he flailed his arms and legs, kicked me in the ribs, slapped me on the face. And the whole time some part of my brain was not letting go, staying vigilant, making sure he’s okay.

But looking at the way he sleeps now – one second he is on his belly in one corner of his crib, the next he is on his back in the opposite corner, making full rotations and flips…

How do people sleep in the same bed with older babies? How do they sleep without worrying that the baby’s gonna fall off the edge of the bed, onto the floor? How do they sleep without worrying that they’re going to kick them – and hurt them, like elbow kick into a temple? How do they sleep with the constant noises babies make?

I understand that if it’s this kind of sleep versus not sleeping at all with those fussy babies that cannot, for whatever reason, sleep on their own, then this might be more restful. But otherwise it feels like the co-sleeping parents never really sleep.

And what I also don’t understand is the remark that I see over and over “who knows how many times baby nurses in the night”. It just doesn’t make any sense to me, especially if we’re talking about smaller babies – like 4 month old babies. Do they undress moms and nurse, without moms even waking up? How can they, when they’re too small to even roll over? Do moms sleep naked, leaking milk all over the bed? Do moms nurse hardly waking up and that’s why they have no idea how frequently babies nurse? But then it means that babies nurse awfully frequently, somewhat waking up their moms, so moms never really have the deep sleep phases everyone needs? And then what happens when you need to give the other boob – you transfer baby to the other side and suddenly baby is right next to the edge of the bed – surely you cannot sleep now?

Again, I am not being judgmental. I honestly want to understand how this works, having never had to experience this – while I hear other moms talking about it.

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23 thoughts on “Co-Sleeping: I am Curious

  1. Jay Dee

    We tried the crib for the first while after Tomoe was born, but she wouldn’t fall asleep alone. So, we co-slept until she was able to crawl. During that time, we did well. We could sleep, and she didn’t do much kicking. But when she learned to crawl, we found her roaming around the bed, which was quite dangerous. The only thing we could do was get her to sleep in her crib again. Occasionally, she’ll sleep in our bed, but it’s rare now.

    Reply
        1. newtorontomom Post author

          As much as I hate routines and schedules myself, it’s the best for babies! We introduced a consistent bedtime when Timothy was about 1 month old (back then it was something like midnight) and always stuck to it.
          I remember later on, when bedtime was about 8 or 9 pm, Timothy sometimes would wake up from an early evening catnap in his swing or bouncer, and we would pick him up, bring him to his room, and go ahead with the bedtime routine. Because it was bedtime. And even though he just woke up from a catnap – he always feel asleep, no problem. Because he was used to this being the bedtime, I guess.

          Reply
          1. Jay Dee

            It’s difficult for us, because I work until 9 and get home at 10pm. Tomoe is already asleep by the time I get home, unless my wife comes out to meet me, and Tomoe comes along. But we try to stick with 9pm for her bedtime. Lately, she’s been waking up around 2am and won’t go back to sleep until she’s been fed again. Hopefully, she’ll grow out of that soon. We’d like a full night’s sleep sometime πŸ™‚

            Reply
            1. newtorontomom Post author

              Timothy still nurses once a night, usually between 4 and 6 am. I actually almost weaned him off of it, having pushed that nursing session to 7 am, but then came along “fall back” time change and I basically said “whatever” and gave up…

              And now Timothy is growing two upper teeth at the same time, so he wakes me up a couple of times more, poor thing 😦

              Reply
                1. newtorontomom Post author

                  There’s no such thing as frequency, from what I heard. There are wide enough approximations of when each tooth is supposed to erupt, but that’s about it. Some babies are BORN with teeth, imagine that! 8/

                  Reply
  2. Christina @ According To C

    I totally agree with everything you wrote! I didn’t sleep well with Molly in the same room let alone the same bed. I had nightmares nightly that she was suffocating in our bed. Horrible!
    My thing too was is that I want our bed to remain ‘our’ bed, our space.
    We’re lucky our baby has been a great sleeper since birth.
    I too don’t judge but it just wasn’t for us!

    Reply
    1. newtorontomom Post author

      I am a tight sleeper – with a humidifier on, I don;t notice sounds, not really. But – because I am tight sleeper – I was really scared of hurting Timothy. Those few times that I did take him into our bed, I kept thinking “don’t knock him with an elbow, don’t knock him with an elbow”. We have a roomy king size bed, so I am used to “sleeping wide” πŸ™‚

      Reply
  3. 1st-time mom

    I have always had the same questions about co-sleeping. Our little guy was in his own bed from the beginning. We moved him to his own room after 2 months, so that we could get our space back.

    Reply
    1. newtorontomom Post author

      I understand that many babies are too fussy in those early months – so I get it when parents make a choice to co-sleep then. You do what you gotta do to get any sleep.
      But when it goes on after 6 months? I feel it’s dangerous for the baby – and for the parents’ relationship too, actually. But that’s where I think that I might not know something, having never really tried co-sleeping. So many people do this – then there probably are ways to keep babies safe and sex life rocking?..

      Reply
  4. amandolynne

    This is pretty close to my experience as well! When I went back to work, my son would wake up an hour before I needed to be up so I was pretty exhausted. I starting taking K back to bed with me (my husband sleeps on the couch since we have very different schedules) but he’s such a wiggler! He’d kick, slap, push, and when he got his teeth, he started clamping. At first, I was too worried about rolling on him, so I’d prop blankets behind my back so I could lean back at an angle that worked for us both. I’d also keep an arm around him, which would make sure I woke up if he started to roll. On mornings I was particularly worried, I’d put a pillow on the other side of him and line it up with his shoulders. There were a couple of times I actually fell into a deep sleep, but it was too rare. Now I’ve started nursing K in the nursery and putting him back in his crib. This will get me about 30 minutes of deep sleep as opposed to the hour of barely resting I was getting before. Hope you find what works for you!!

    Reply
  5. Valerie

    I co-slept entirely for the first 2 months. I felt the most comfortable with him in bed with me. I was aware of his breathing and his fussing and could tend to him better than having to hear him from his cradle. I nursed him when he’d wake and didn’t even have to get out of bed, giving me more sleep than if I’d have sat up in a chair to nurse. For me, the statement that the mother doesn’t know how many times she nursed the baby is because it is very easy and quick to start nursing while lying down, and if you’re used to doing that, it is also VERY easy to just zonk back out yourself, not even glancing at the clock to see the time (so then not realizing how many times you’ve done it in the middle of the the night).
    After 2 months old I started putting him to sleep in his own bed but then when he’d wake to nurse I’d put him in bed with me, and he may or may not have been put back depending on how out of it I was.
    Yes, older babies are harder to co-sleep with! You are right. I have a toddler bedrail on my side of the bed, but he can easily crawl over to my husband’s side and fall off or end up at my feet, etc. that’s why I try to limit co-sleeping now. I don’t want him getting hurt. But he generally really likes to be right there next to me and we both sleep well. πŸ™‚
    I think how well the mother can sleep depends on how comfortable she is with the idea of co-sleeping to begin with. I had no fear of sleeping with him because I knew from experience with my older two that I am quick to respond to sounds that indicate baby needs me and can also sleep through the little coo’s, etc. πŸ˜‰

    Reply
    1. newtorontomom Post author

      I kept Timothy in my bed in a moses basket for the first few weeks – getting out of bed after c-section was just way too hard. It hurt! SO I heard him and was able to pat his back or give him the pacifier without so much as lifting my head – without worrying about rolling over him.

      I tried nursing in bed and it was really not comfortable – if I didn’t keep a very specific position, he would lose the latch. And staying in the same weird position for half an hour was more inconvenient than sitting up in a rocking chair… But then Timothy rarely nursed more than once in a night.

      What I also wonder (and I do not expect anyone to really give an answer here) is how does a couple continue with their, er… marital life with babies and toddlers co-sleeping?

      Reply
      1. Valerie

        Oh, well a moses basket in your bed is no different than co-sleeping for you, like you said, because you could hear him the same. πŸ™‚ I figured out how to position a pillow behind my back so that he could stay latched and so that I wasn’t having to hold my position (I know exactly what you are talking about with the discomfort!) I guess it just depends on what is best for you and baby; everybody finds their own groove.
        Well, we don’t only have sex in the bedroom, nor do only do it at night, so I guess that about covers it! lol It probably changes how a couple *used to* be intimate, before kids, but it doesn’t have to eliminate it. πŸ˜‰ Many things change, sex is just one of them. Haha

        Reply
        1. newtorontomom Post author

          I agree – bedroom isn’t the only place for doing the deed, but still… I don’t know, bed is probably the most comfortable place – especially when the little one is fast asleep!

          Reply
  6. denisemf

    My little is only 2 1/2 months, and in the first couple weeks, she slept on me-it was the only way she would sleep. I had pillows propped up around me and never was in a deep sleep because I was too nervous of something happening. This made for a very tired momma after a few days since I wasn’t getting good sleep.
    After the first couple weeks I made sure to put her to sleep in the pack and play which was next to our bed. I would get up to nurse her, and be sure to put her back in her P&P after nursing to help me sleep better. When she was about a month & a half old, I started nursing her in bed while laying on my side-this was both good and bad…
    It was so much easier to feed her during the night, but I found myself falling asleep while nursing. Again, since she was right next to me, I was always in a light sleep, waking for every little sound. Now at night I still nurse her while laying down (she falls asleep quicker after nursing this way) but I am sure to stay awake so that afterwards I can put her back in her pack and play.
    At times I feel like if she’s closer to me, she feeds more than she needs to…that’s another reason I like to make sure to put her back in her pack and play during the night, if I don’t-I notice she’s up way more to feed. I’m looking forward to moving her into her own room/crib-I think it will only help everyone sleep better/longer!
    A question for you mommas out there…when you moved your little into their own room/crib, was the first few nights rough or did they sleep soundly after the transition? And…even with a monitor-I’m scared I won’t hear her get up to eat, did you use just a normal baby monitor? I’ve been waiting to move her into her own room until I get a video monitor…but those are pricey and I haven’t bought it yet (still saving my pennies) πŸ™‚

    Reply
    1. newtorontomom Post author

      I chose to sleep in Timothy’s room to begin with, so I never had to transfer him there. Around 2-2.5 months he was sleeping from about 10 pm to 7 am, with one nursing session around 4-6 am. he slept the rest of the night, so when he turned 3 months, I returned to my and hubby’s bedroom. Timothy never noticed πŸ™‚

      And you’re right, I suspect that sleeping next to mama is the same as you sleeping in a bakery… it smells so delicious it wakes you up!

      The monitors have volume settings – if you’re too worried, you can increase the volume. I found that I sleep through his grunts and occasional whimpers, but his crying always wakes me up – even though I am a very tight sleeper. I’d say you shouldn’t worry about not hearing the baby!

      It happened a couple of times that I forgot to turn on the volume on the monitor – Timothy woke me up from his room anyway πŸ™‚

      Reply
  7. babiesandus

    Kyra slept in her cot next our bed from the day I brought her home. I just could not and did not want to sleep with her in my bed. It worked for us, I hope that when/if we have a second child the same would apply.
    But I just can’t imagin sleeping with a baby in my bed. The three times Kyra did spend a bit of time in our bed because she was sick and needy none of us got sleep.

    Each to their own though!

    Reply
    1. newtorontomom Post author

      Absolutely. By no means am I saying no one should co-sleep. I am just curious how that works!

      I also hope baby #2, whenever it happens, will be at least half as a good a sleeper as Timothy…

      Reply

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