There is nothing I love more than coming up to bed to find the Bean snuggled up next to Daddy, both of them with the same peaceful sleeping expressions. I always have to gaze at that beautiful picture for a few minutes before turning out the night light above our bed.
Before the Bean came along, I never even considered co-sleeping – in fact, I liked to talk about how she would be in her own room from day one (oh how little I knew…).
By the time she was ready to get here, I had decided to compromise with a bassinet next to my bed. But when she finally came along, she was just so tiny! She looked lonely and small in that big bassinet, and I just wanted her next to me anyway, so into the bed she came…and she’s been there ever since.
Now, I know that co-sleeping is not for everyone. Some parents don’t like it; some babies don’t like it – it’s definitely something that only you will know if it is right for you. But I have been excited to learn that there are a lot of benefits of co-sleeping, particularly when we still run into a lot of objections when we try to explain our family bed.
#1 – Aren’t you afraid you’ll roll over on the baby?
In a word, no. The only time I was mildly concerned about this was when she was a newborn and we were dying from that lack of sleep that only parents of a newborn know. I did end up buying her a little bed crib that went right in the middle of our bed, and that she outgrew right around the time I felt safer with her there anyway.
If you are really that heavy of a sleeper, you will know that you shouldn’t co-sleep. Otherwise, it’s very unlikely to be a problem (unless you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol).
#2 – What if she rolls off the bed?
OK, I will admit that this was a worry for me (not until recently, since she couldn’t roll over when she was a newborn!). But I have come up with what I (ever modestly) think is a rather ingenious solution – I got a few pool noodles, and I just slide them underneath the sheet at the edge of the bed to create a barrier. I have actually watched her try to roll over it when she’s awake and there’s nothing doing – it works perfectly!
Other solutions might be to lower your bed (ours is ridiculously high), or have the bed against the wall with baby closest to the wall side. One thing you do want to be careful of is giving her access to blankets and pillows – it is best to keep the bed around her as clear of these things as possible so that there is no suffocation risk. You also want to be careful with things like bed rails, as they are really only recommended for toddler age and older.
#3 – She’s going to want to sleep with you forever!
Yeah…that’s another unlikely. One of the best ways I’ve heard it put is that we will be weaning the Bean from our bed in the same way we will wean her from her bottle and her diapers. It’s not like you would have a newborn immediately begin drinking from a cup and peeing in the toilet because you want to save the bother of training her out of those things later.
When she is ready (and she will be), she will go to her own bed, and it will be like any other transition we will have to make with her.
#4 – How can you…you know?
Well, without going into too much detail, your bed is not the only place you can have sex! A lot of people seem to have concerns with co-sleeping and marital intimacy. The reality for us is, hubby turns into a human furnace when he sleeps, and I have to be able to toss and turn, so we rarely cuddle up during sleep anyway. As for other things, it really just forces you to be creative – and that’s actually good for a marriage!
For me, hubby being on board is one of the best things about our family bed. I was afraid that he would be annoyed or bothered by it, but he realizes that it really is an awesome way for both of us to be bonding with the Bean – particularly as he has to be away from her every day during work, and I will probably have to do the same when my mat leave is up.
If you are interested, here is an awesome post from the Natural Parents Network on the Benefits of Co-Sleeping Past Infancy. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have as well.
It is actually a common practice throughout the world for families to share a bed – Westerners are among the few cultures that do not regularly practice co-sleeping – and even we haven’t had everyone in their own bed for that many years!
Once again, I stress that it isn’t for everyone – but don’t think it’s something you can’t or shouldn’t do if you’re interested.