To Co-Sleep or Not, that Is the Question

by Deborah Cruz on May 3, 2021

Co-sleeping seems to be getting a bad rap in the news with the Milwaukee Health Department’s campaign against co-sleeping and the recent cases of babies dying while co-sleeping, but I have always been an advocate of co-sleeping. Our family has found co-sleeping to be the perfect fit for us.

We didn’t come to co-sleeping as a plan or by way of drawing a line in the parenting sand. We came to co-sleeping because our first-born would always fall asleep when I nursed her (on me). I would try to put her into her bassinet but as soon as she was removed from my warm body or from her place in bed next to me and laid on the cool sheets, she would wake up and cry.

Like any mother, I picked her up and got her back to sleep and again I’d try to place her in her bed and she would startle awake. It made more sense for us to leave her in the bed with us. I realize that it may sound like lazy parenting to just give in but I wasn’t built for letting her cry herself back to sleep and I really didn’t mind sharing our bed with her.

In case you have never co-slept, let me assure you that I have never slept soundly since my children have been in my bed. Yes, there is comfort knowing they are safely lying by my side and the random midnight cuddles are priceless but the days of sleeping like a rock are long gone.

I think the only way a parent who co-sleeps could ever sleep like a rock  (because it is your natural instinct to stay safely away from the baby) is if you were to consume alcohol or take a sleeping pill. You just can’t sleep at 100% when you are aware of every single breath that your baby is making. Your Mommy senses go onto hyper alert.

I can say that in those first few months, sleep was not the sleep that people without children experience. No, my sleep was half-awake, hearing every single noise, breath, fart of the night, being uber aware of any motion in the entire house and the yard, pseudo conscious delirium…at best. I was terrified that I’d roll on top of my sweet co-sleeper and smother her. I know you were all thinking it.

So, in those first few months I never really got any sleep of any benefit. What I did get was a crazy tight bond. You know, the bond you get from breastfeeding? When you co-sleep, for me, the bond is that times two. There is something magical and reassuring about waking up and looking over and seeing that little face so peaceful in the middle of the night.

The smell of a little next to you, the feel of little gangling arms and legs, surprise hugs and kisses, even the occasional head bunt, reassuring karate chop and rogue face punch have become endearing to me. By bed-sharing when my little one wakes in the middle of the night, they put a hand out to find me or the Big Guy and they are reassured and go back to sleep. There is something to be said for being within arms reach.

Now, most of the cases that I have read where a child has been hurt while co-sleeping have been in instances when the parent was either intoxicated, has taken drugs (prescription or otherwise) or did not know that the wee little one had been placed in the bed in the first place.

Co-sleeping can and should be done safely. This means following a few simple rules.

  • No consumption of alcoholic beverages, sleeping pills or any medication that has sedating effects.
  • Make sure that there are no gaps between the mattress and the bed frame in which the baby can fall and suffocate or get injured.
  • Just like in a crib, be sure that there is not a bunch of blankets and comforters for the baby to get wrapped up in and smothered by.
  • Co-sleeping should be done in a queen or king size bed; anything smaller is putting all the bodies in the bed too close to one another. Babies need space to sleep safely.
  • ALWAYS place baby on his back to sleep.
  • If you want the co-sleeping experience without the fear of rolling on top of your baby, I suggest a side-by-side co-sleeper that attaches to the side of the bed and only has 3 raised sides; the fourth side is flush with the bed.
  • NEVER place a newborn in a bed to co-sleep with a parent who is already in a deep sleep and has no idea that the baby is even in the bed. This will not lead to a good outcome. We can’t be careful with a child who we don’t even know is in the bed with us.

These simple rules can help you enjoy co-sleeping safely.

Did you co-sleep with your children? Why did you choose or decide against co-sleeping?

Photo Source: Deborah Cruz

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Henny Ort May 2, 2021 at 11:07 pm

I co-sleep for the same reason you started. My baby wouldn’t sleep any other way. On the other hand, its hard for me to get comfortable with a little thing near me. So i always rock her to sleep for the first half of the night. After I’ve settled, and she wakes up, I take her into my bed. We’re friends again. There’s nothing, nothing that compares having a little face near your breast, both of you groggy and relaxed.

lindascott May 3, 2021 at 1:13 am

Hi, I’m Linda.. new to this space. Can someone help me find a site that offers natural/ eco-friendly baby products?

I’ve found a few sites but not all their products are organic or eco-friendly, and it’s hard to find a site that has cute stuff.

JDaniel4's Mom May 3, 2021 at 3:13 am

We tried co-sleeping when JDaniel was a baby. He was a terrible sleeper. It didn’t work for us, because he didn’t want to sleep with us either.

Liza May 3, 2021 at 8:15 am

I co-slept with my first son 11 years ago just because i didnt want to put him in his bed but you both become addicted to it and it is torcher to train them to sleep on there own so if you plan on never drinking again or taking medication or having sex again great go for it but it was the worst decision i ever made now with my newborn i am training him to sleep on his own if he falls asleep in my arms i lay him down in his pack and play and i keep my body on top of his for the warmth when he relaxes i go back to bed myself and at 12 he sleeps by himself and through the night (10 hours of straight sleep)

Kalee May 3, 2021 at 8:45 am

I myself co sleep with my daughter, she is 9 months now and it was never a initial plan to but after delivery I had some major issues and had to have surgery and all kinds of stuff; so co sleeping just seemed like the better solution. I absolutly love it, and im pretty sure she does too! In a few short months she will be 1 and will have to start over night stays with her daddy, he sleeps like a rock and now im afraid i have created a horrible habit for both of us and it will just make the seperation anxiety horrible for not only her but me as well. any suggestions!?

CC Fowler May 3, 2021 at 9:09 am

We used a combination of both and I never slept well with either of my children being in our bed. We co-slept for only the first few weeks with each of my children and eventually placed them in their cribs. In my opinion, they need us in such a way those first few weeks that having them with us nesteled is natural and comforting to them.

Practical Parenting May 3, 2021 at 9:13 am

I think every family needs to make their own decisions. It’s not about better or worse. I do think that the biggest issue with co-sleeping is lack of education. As you said, there are safety precautions that need to be taken. The mattress needs to be on the floor and no blankets, duvets, pillows. Maybe not the most comfortable….but safe for baby. Basically, the mattress needs to be set up like a crib.

Julie C. May 3, 2021 at 9:56 am

Personally I found that a small cradle in the bedroom with us was the way to go for the first three months. Baby could hear breathing in the night, and see us if he wanted to turn his head our way. We knew he was safe and could hear every little breath and sigh, without endangering him in our covers and blankets in any way.

I’d bring him to bed to nurse at night, still half-asleep, and place him back in after. With a rocking cradle, he quickly went back to sleep again. I did this with two children and moved them into big cribs in their own rooms at three months.

Kristen @ Busy Kids = Happy Mom May 3, 2021 at 1:31 pm

Many people rave about co-sleeping! It wasn’t for me - I couldn’t even handle having him in a bassinet in my room because he was such a loud sleeper! I was always checking on him. Works for some people!

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