I woke up this morning, with my 2 year old daughter tucked under my right arm, and my 1 year old daughter tucked under my left arm, just like I do almost everyday. The girls woke up simultaneously and my 2 year old climbed over me and started hugging her sister and they both began giggling and sat like that for about 10 minutes, just hugging and giggling and being sweet.
I felt blessed. At that moment, I felt like a very content, happy mama to see her two babies sharing so much love with each other.
We started co-sleeping when our 2 year old was just hours old and haven’t looked back. We have two older children, that did not co-sleep with us for various reasons, the main one being we adopted them, and as foster children they were never allowed to sleep in our bed with us. (side note: we completely feel as though they would have been happier, more secure children had we been allowed to co-sleep — but we have learned to cultivate that in different ways.) So we started when our first daughter was born and she still sleeps with us & our 1 year old. We’ve had support from people for this decision, but there’s also been a lot of eye-rolling and “Isn’t that kid out of your bed yet??”
Before I go any further, let me just say that co-sleeping is not for everyone. I realize that. It’s just another one of those things that has to fit your family’s lifestyle, like home-schooling, breastfeeding, cloth-diapering, being a stay-at-home-parent, etc. One of those things that nobody — absolutely nobody — can decide for you. I believe that my two little girls are happier, more secure, better sleepers because we co-sleep. Unless they’ve been sick, they both have slept through the night since about a month old. (They would wake occasionally to nurse, but since they were sleeping right next to me, they would literally sleep while nursing. Never any crying, having to get out of a warm bed, feed, fall asleep in a rocking chair and wake up with a crick in my neck.) They are both amazing, well-adjusted, very loving children and I do think this is a reflection on our decision to co-sleep. I’m definitely not saying that you’re horrible parents and your kids are evil if you don’t co-sleep. Again, and I stress this, to each his own! Part of my point is that parents need to make their own choices about how they raise their children and to not let people bully them into a certain way of thinking. If you try it and don’t like it — do something else. Don’t let people make you feel guilty with things like “Aren’t you afraid of rolling over on her/him??” or “I really need my sleep, so I can’t co-sleep.” Our reason for co-sleeping was based on our unwillingness to let our tiny newborn, who was completely and utterly dependent us, cry herself to sleep. Through this decision, we came to realize that there’s a whole group of people out there of the “attachment parenting” lifestyle – when we started this journey I had no idea there was a label for this type of parenting!*
Obviously if you are planning on co-sleeping, just be safe. Use common sense. Make sure your baby doesn’t get overheated. Make sure there are no spaces for baby to fall between the bed and wall. Don’t co-sleep if you’re under the influence. (People that need medication to sleep, that’s you!) Stuff like that. Also, it’s been reported that co-sleeping may reduce SIDS — that would be enough to make a convert out of me!
I should point out that at almost 3, our daughter is starting to leave the “family bed” more frequently to sleep with her big sister. Some days she wants to, some days she doesn’t. She knows she doesn’t have to always sleep with her sister and that there’s always room in Mama & Daddy’s bed for her!
If any of you are co-sleeping, have done it, or have a desire to — leave a comment — share your story!
*Attachment parenting is considered a style that includes co-sleeping, breastfeeding and baby-wearing that promotes trust and security in a child-centered environment. There are plenty of books out there if you’re interested in learning more of the basics, such as The Attachment Parenting Book, by Dr. William Sears and many, many more. I suggest going to Amazon and typing “attachment parenting” into the search box. Over the next few months I’ll most likely have some reviews on several of the books I’ve read on this topic.