Motherhood comes with a host of choices to make about what is best for you, your family, and your child. We at BurlingtonVT Moms Blog have a variety of moms who want to embrace these choices instead of feeling guilty or judged for them! In light of this, we have decided to begin a series called “Perspectives in Parenting” where moms from our team share differing opinions about a particular parenting topic. While you may not agree with every parenting style presented, we hope that some may resonate with you, and that we can all learn to respect each other’s decisions and support one another through this journey of motherhood! We are beginning our series, Perspectives in Parenting, with a look at co-sleeping.
Co-sleeping can mean many different things for different families.
For our family it meant mostly sleeping within arm’s reach of my daughter and also bed sharing for part of the night. Co-sleeping was sanity saving and allowed us to maximize our entire family’s total sleep time.
Before my daughter was born, I knew that I wanted to have her very close to us during the night. I had several key phrases that stuck in my mind from various parenting books, friends, etc, which were all supportive of close attachment parenting such as “Cave babies didn’t sleep in cave nurseries” and “Mothers are meant to be close to their babies at all times”, that definitely influenced my thinking. Although, I was excited to have my baby so close to me, I was apprehensive of how it was really going to pan out when I would be running on the least amount of sleep (and personal space) of my life!
We purchased an arm’s reach original co-sleeper as our main “crib” with the expectation that we could drop it into the pack n play feature eventually. This ended up working really well for us and we never actually purchased a separate crib.
From the beginning, we sort of fell into a routine that was beneficial for both my daughter, my husband and I. We would put her down in her co-sleeper where she would end up sleeping alone for several hours (parental alone time!!), then she would wake for her nighttime feed and I would end up snuggling her back to sleep. She would typically bed share with me for the rest of the night.
I really love those fancy monitors that track breathing, so we had both an Angel Care monitor and a Snuzu.
The Angel Care monitor was our favorite as the snuzu didn’t end up working that well with cloth diapers. The Angel Care monitor gave me peace of mind that my daughter was safe when she wasn’t within arm’s reach of me (these monitors obviously aren’t foolproof and should not be solely relied upon for your baby’s safety). We are expecting baby #2 and I can’t wait to try out the Monbaby monitor this time!
When we were bed sharing, I was able to scoot into the middle of our bed. This placed her in the middle of me and her co-sleeper. This area was clear of pillows and blankets and was a large, flat, firm surface for her to sleep.
She was able to nurse in a side laying position, fall asleep, and then be moved over to her own area while still remaining with me in bed.
This worked up until she was around 7 months old. She then learned how to roll out of her co-sleeper. I did not feel safe leaving her unsupervised in the co-sleeper as she could roll onto our bed and then onto the floor which thankfully never happened.
We then dropped the co-sleeper into the pack-n-play mode and moved her across the room. This worked out for another 10 months and her sleeping alone time grew longer and longer. She would still wake up anywhere between 4-6 AM to nurse and then fall back to sleep with me, thus continuing our co-sleeping.
Eventually at 17 months, she learned how to climb out of her pack-n-play and we switched her into her own room. We did a Montessori style sleeping situation and gave her a twin mattress on the floor. We made her entire room childproof (mounted her dressers and furniture especially!) and therefore sort of like a giant “crib”. She was taking some naps on her twin mattress prior to the switch so she was accustomed to it which made the transition a little easier.
Our nighttime routine stayed the same despite her sleeping in a separate room. She would still wake in the early AM to come find me to nurse and snuggle back to sleep. My husband would also wake at this time and switch beds with my daughter as his wake-up time was early and he could get more uninterrupted sleep alone this way. We would also take family naps from time to time.
When she was 3, a friend gifted her an ingenious alarm clock (Teach Me Time! Talking Alarm Clock and Nightlight) that would turn green when it was OK to wake up and leave her room. We reinforced this with a sticker chart reward system and along with nighttime weaning.
She now sleeps the whole night in her room.
Our entire co-sleeping journey lasted roughly 3 years. For some families it lasts much shorter or even much longer. I feel our transition to sleeping alone was relatively gentle and took our entire family’s sleep needs into consideration. With baby # 2, I plan to go the same route, but who knows if it will work! Each child is so different. We also upgraded to a king size bed, so I’m looking forward to a lot more room if co-sleeping does happen again! Sleeping is such a personal and private family matter that it is often hard to open up about it without fearing judgment or criticism.