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October Unprocessed 2012
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Co-Sleeping Barriers – What’s Stopping You?

Welcome to the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival hosted by Monkey Butt Junction . Our bloggers have written on so many different aspects of cosleeping. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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English: A sleeping male baby with his arm ext...

Image via Wikipedia

Bean is sleeping upstairs right now in the middle of our queen size bed. It’s fairly chilly in our room so she’s got a few layers on, along with a halo sleep sack we found awhile back on Babysteals that helps keep her toesies warm.

In a few hours we’ll be joining her, as we have for the past 15 months, sharing a family bed.

I never imagined what a meaningful effect bedsharing would have on our family before Bean came along. I gain so much peace of mind from having her right there next to me where I know she is OK and can respond immediately if she is not.

I know I get a lot more sleep – she’s always been one to wake relatively often during the night to eat – and I literally can hardly imagine actually getting out of bed and going to another room to feed her. Having her right there makes that part of parenting much easier!

The husband gains a lot from it – he had to return to work basically right away after she was born, while I had her most days every day for her entire first year. Sharing a bed was a way for him to maintain a very strong bond with her for more hours of the day than he might normally get. Now that I’ve returned to work, I feel the strength of that bond as well.

In many ways for me, bedsharing has become a cornerstone of the trust my daughter has for me. She knows that I will always be there for her – no matter what time of the day – especially when she is at her most vulnerable. The dark doesn’t matter because mommy and daddy are always right there next to her. There are many ways to gift one’s child with that trust – and it is a powerful and much to be desired gift for them to have. I am thankful that we have found such a way of giving it to her.

I could go on and on about the benefits we’ve found in our co-sleeping arrangement, along with the other benefits that studies have shown will last throughout her lifetime.

But what I want to touch on here is the fact that I came very close to missing out on all of this, for two reasons.

The first was cultural. I had little understanding of attachment parenting before I had Bean and I had certain ideas of what was and was not going to happen in our household, above all that my child would not be ‘spoiled’ (oh how parenting changes you lol!).

Part of that meant – and it was something I said frequently – that my baby would be sleeping in their own room from Day One. I think back and wonder where I got this (what I now consider to be, for our situation) nonsensical idea, and I realize it must have just seeped into me from the prevalent culture I came from, along with all kinds of other things I have no intention of accepting as normal now.

At any rate, it wasn’t until a few weeks before she was born that I decided it wouldn’t be that bad of an idea to move the bassinet into our room, for a few months at least. It would be easier to feed her and all.

It was not much longer before the second thing that almost prevented us from co-sleeping came into play.

I was in the hospital waiting room shortly before Bean came along when I noticed a poster on ‘Safe Sleep’. They had the standard back to sleep, avoid crib bumpers, etc. But included on that list was a scary looking pronouncement that admonished: Never share a bed with your infant.

I thought to myself, “Wow, I had no idea that was so bad! Good thing I found out before she came along!

With all the other millions of things mothers have to be paranoid over, I could now add another to my list.

Thankfully, Bean herself and my wonderful midwife helped me past both of those barriers. Seeing how little and perfect and defenseless she was, my first instinct was to keep her as close to me as possible at all times. Sleep all by herself in another room? Hah!

And when I did try briefly to put her in the bassinet to sleep (mindful that I ‘shouldn’t’ have her in our bed) and spoke to my midwife about how she didn’t seem to like it, she stepped in and dismissed all my fears with her plain common sense and reassurance: “Of course she doesn’t want to sleep all by herself – she’s spent the past 9 months right there with you! And right now that is the best place that she can be.”

I was so relieved to know that – that it was OK to have her next to me in the bed – and even advocated by a medical professional!

So I kept up the practice, and did a lot more research on my own to make sure I was doing everything safely (very easy to figure out, by the way) and Bean has been sharing our bed ever since. She even gets to bed share with her grandparents who care for her during the day (being Chinese, the practice is totally normal to them – they share a bed with my niece as well when they care for her).

Of course, if I had seen a poster in the hospital as dramatic as the one the city of Milwaukee has recently been promoting, I probably would have listened to it – as a new mom who knew very little about such things I would have felt it necessary to go against my instinct in order to protect my baby from something as ‘dangerous’ as allowing her to sleep with a giant butcher knife.

And sadly, many other parents are being influenced by that same message, and many will likely follow it out of the simple will to do the best for their children. And for that I say for shame, Milwaukee.

There is no excuse to terrify parents like that – especially over a practice that has been proven over and over again to be safe and beneficial for parents and children alike. Instead of creating fear and paranoia, maybe you could provide some simple education.

The problem, of course, is that beyond the fear lies the cultural boundaries – and for most those are the hardest to shake. As long as our culture perceives co-sleeping as weird, unnecessary, a means of spoiling the baby, etc., we will have unwillingness all around to actually look at the topic in a clear-headed manner.

But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to try. It only took one person to open the door for our family to experience the benefits of co-sleeping. And it is my hope that this positive sharing will ultimately have precedence over a campaign based on fear and ignorance.

If you’re new to or curious about the idea of co-sleeping, please understand that I do not advocate it as the only or even the best way. For our family, it has been – for yours, it may look totally different and be just as awesome. But I do encourage you to not let that fear have a place in your life. There is so much information out there on both the safety and the benefits of co-sleeping – however you choose to do it (bedsharing, side-car crib, crib in your room, etc.) that it would be a shame to let any ad campaign or ‘expert’ scare you away from it.

I’m sure this carnival will turn into an amazing resource for the subject all around, and I am happy to answer any questions you might have about our own experience at any time.

In the meantime, I think it’s getting to be about time to join Bean up in our bed. Good night!

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Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival

Thanks for reading a post in the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival. On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the #CosleepCar hashtag. Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

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  • Emotive Co-Sleeping Campaign – Miriam at Diary of an Unconscious Mother talks about her feelings on Milwaukee’s anti-cosleeping crusade and its latest advertising campaign.
  • Why Cosleeping has Always been the Right Choice for My Family – Patti at Jazzy Mama shares how lucky she feels to have the privilege of sleeping with her four children.
  • Cosleeping is a safe, natural and healthy solution parents need to feel good about. – See how Tilly at Silly Blatherings set up a side-car crib configuration to meet her and her families’ needs.
  • Black and White: Race and the Cosleeping Wars – Moorea at Mama Lady: Adventures in Queer Parenting points out the problem of race, class and health when addressing co-sleeping deaths and calls to action better sleep education and breastfeeding support in underprivileged communities.
  • Reflections on Cosleeping – Jenny at I’m a Full Time Mummy shares her thoughts on cosleeping and pictures of her cosleeping beauties.
  • Cosleeping and Transitioning to Own Bed – Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine shares her experiences in moving beyond the family bed.
  • What Works for One FamilyMomma Jorje shares why cosleeping is for her and why she feels it is the natural way to go. She also discusses the actual dangers and explores why it may not be for everyone.
  • Really High Beds, Co-Sleeping Safely, and the Humanity Family Sleeper – Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama gives a quick view of Jennifer’s bed-sharing journey and highlights the Humanity Family Sleeper, something Jennifer could not imagine bed-sharing without.
  • Crying in Our Family Bed – With such a sweet newborn, why has adding Ailia to the family bed made Dionna at Code Name: Mama cry?
  • Dear Mama: – Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares a letter from the viewpoint of her youngest son about cosleeping.
  • Cuddle up, Buttercup! – Nada of The MiniMOMist and her husband Michael have enjoyed cosleeping with their daughter Naomi almost since birth. Nada shares why the phrase “Cuddle up, Buttercup!” has such special significance to her.
  • Co-Sleeping With A Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler – Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how co-sleeping calls us to trust our inner maternal wisdom and embrace the safety and comfort of the family bed.
  • Fear instead of Facts: An Opportunity Squandered in Milwaukee – Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction discusses Milwaukee’s missed opportunity to educate on safe cosleeping
  • Cosleeping: A Mini-rant and a Lovely Picture – Siobhan at Res Ipsa Loquitor discusses her conversion to cosleeping and rants a little bit about the Milwaukee Health Department anti-cosleeping campaign.
  • Our Cosleeping Story – Adrienne at Mommying My Way shares her cosleeping story and the many bonus side effects of bedsharing.
  • Cosleeping can be safe and rewarding Christy at Mommy Outnumbered shares how her cosleeping experiences have been good for her family.
  • Adding one more to the family bed Lauren at Hobo Mama discusses the safety logistics of bed sharing with a new baby and a preschooler.
  • The Truth About Bedsharing – Dr. Sarah at Parenting Myths and Facts discusses the research into bedsharing and risk – and explains why it is so often misrepresented.
  • Cosleeping as a parenting survival tool – Melissa V. at Mothers of Change describes how she discovered cosleeping when her first baby was born. Melissa is the editor and a board member for the Canadian birth advocacy group, Mothers of Change.
  • Dear Delilah – Joella at Fine and Fair writes about her family bed and the process of finding the cosleeping arrangements that work best for her family.
  • CoSleeping ROCKS! – Melissa at White Noise talks about the evolution of cosleeping in her family.
  • Safe Sleep is a Choice – Tamara at Pea Wee Baby talks about safe sleep guidelines.
  • 3 Babies Later: The Evolution of our Family Bed – Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment talks about how her family’s cosleeping arrangements evolved as her family grew.
  • Tender MomentsThe Accidental Natural Mama discusses tender cosleeping moments.
  • Cosleeping Experiences – Lindsey at An Unschooling Adventure describes how she ended up co-sleeping with her daughter through necessity, despite having no knowledge of the risks involved and how to minimise them, and wishes more information were made available to help parents co-sleep safely.
  • The early days of bedsharing – Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares her early memories of bedsharing with her then new born and gets excited as she plans including their new arrival into their sleeping arrangements.
  • The Joys of Cosleeping in Pictures – Charise of I Thought I Knew Mama shares pictures of some of her favorite cosleeping moments.
  • Symbiotic Sleep – Mandy at Living Peacefully With Children discusses how the symbiotic cosleeping relationship benefits not only children but also parents.
  • Co-sleeping Barriers: What’s Stopping You? – Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares how she was almost prevented from gaining the benefits of co-sleeping her family currently enjoys.
  • Co-Sleeping with the Family Humanity Sleeper – Erica at ChildOrganics shares a way to make co-sleeping safe, comfortable and more convenient. Check out her post featuring the Humanity Organic Family Sleeper.
  • Why We CosleepThat Mama Gretchen’s husband chimes in on why cosleeping is a benefit to their family.
  • Adding to the Family Bed – Darah at A Girl Named Gus writes about her co-sleeping journey and what happens when a second child comes along.


A big thank you to all of the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival participants!

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16 Responses to “Co-Sleeping Barriers – What’s Stopping You?”

  • Melissa Vose says:

    Well put! I love how you share the progression from "Not for me!" to "Totally works for us!" So much of parenting is a learn-as-you-go process. I think we grow and learn as much as babies do, especially in those first weeks as a new parent! I also appreciate how you leave the topic open; it works for many, but not for all. Parents know themselves and their 'beans' best, and will make the best decisions for their family and situation if they have access to good information. I like that you share your personal journey, and I am sure it will be very helpful to other families out there looking for information on cosleeping!
    My recent post CoSleeping ROCKS

  • I completely agree with the idea of our culture being a big reason why many first time parents feel bed sharing is taboo. It's almost an underground sort of thing. Once one parent 'confesses' their baby is in their room, then you'll hear another mama chime in…well, us too!! So if we keep sharing it publicly maybe it won't be so taboo down the road..and we have to get rid of those posters too! ;-)
    My recent post Co-Sleeping with the Humanity Family Sleeper

  • I cannot imagine what a zombie I would have been if I'd tried to put my babes in a different room – I'm already an insomniac, and it is compounded whenever there is a stressor in my life – knowing my baby was away from me would have sent me over the edge!

  • boheime says:

    I never would have slept with my child in another room. I find it mystifying that every "professional" claims that young children should always be supervised by a parent at all times but then proceed to say it's wholey accpetable to place a child in a room alone for the entire night.

  • Zapparina says:

    I have often been concerned because we will not be able to have our infant in our bed. My partner has epilepsy and occasionally has seizures during the night and I have sleep apnoea and can thrash pretty wildly when I can’t breathe. Not a safe place for a newborn. Being quite interested in the principles of attachment parenting this kind of made me feel like we were failing a bit. But then I read this and you mention side car cribs which is what we are planning on doing, and it’s comforting to know this is still co-sleeping.
    We definitely still want to be able to respond to baby as soon as there’s distress and to be as alert to them as possible. Sleeping in separate rooms was never going to be for us.
    Thank you, this has been so reassuring for me.

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