Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fellow Co-Sleepers, Past & Present!

Had you used co-sleeping in a phrase while talking to me pre-baby, I would've (internally) rolled my eyes. Despite my free spirit and laissez-faire way through life, I still was dumb closed-minded to the idea of co-sleeping, writing it off as a hippie, flower-child brand of parenting. I've never been the attachment parenting type, not believing that babies suffer by being allowed to cry and being put down. And then, I had Ava.

The basic principles that babies, to a certain extent, need to learn to deal with a bit of crying and frustration are still things I believe. So tell me why, six-and-a-half-months past birth, Ava has never been left to cry?

This precise question was raised yesterday while on the phone with my grandma* on the drive home. Since I live so far away, I tend to phone a rotation of relatives on a regular basis - my mom, my grandma, and my aunt - so as to not feel left out or have them feel like they're missing out. It works quite well for us. Or it did, until my grandma and I found ourselves at a stand-off with regards to parenting styles.

Don't get me wrong - there are no hard feelings or grudges being carried or any melodramatic nonsense. But it was made quite clear to me that she feels that us allowing (and dare I say enjoying??) Ava in our beds is a big fat no-no. She made it clear that she feels that babies should be in their own rooms by four months at the latest, and that we're doing ourselves and Ava both a disservice by continuing to keep her in our rooms, let alone bed. I do not agree.

While yes, being a parent has opened my heart and mind in ways that blow my mind on a regular basis, and I now embrace co-sleeping, it is out of necessity, not a shifting view in what my ideal parenting approach and/or sleep situation is. Basically, people, we're just trying to get by. If co-sleeping is the best way for us to all get some much needed rest, to keep Ava feeling secure and learning that sleep is a peaceful, enjoyable state (as well as keeping her from ever having a little baby brother or sister - LOL), then so be it. Would I love for her to sleep 12+ hours a night straight in her crib? Uh, duh. Does she? No. So for the time being are we in a place where I get enough sleep to function, and she gets enough to stay healthy, grow and develop on target, in an environment that fosters a secure attachment? Yes, and isn't that what parenting is really all about?

So, fellow co-sleepers, past and present - I ask you this: When the time came for you to move baby to their own crib, how did you ease the transition? At what age did you make the change? Would you recommend doing it at/by a certain point? Is (*gasp*) my grandma onto something?

*If you read grandma and automatically think frail little old lady, generation upon generation apart from me, let me stop you right there. My family is all pretty young - I'm actually the one in the family who was the oldest when I had my first baby! - and there is only a mere 37 years between my grandma and myself. We definitely don't have your typical grandma-granddaughter relationship...


  1. You know my stance on this, as we've talked about it before. If I didn't feel like I would suffocate her, we probably would have let Baby Butterbean sleep with us. But, she did sleep in her cradle in our room. On a related note, we're moving her into her own room tonight. I think I'm having an anxiety attack just thinking about it. But her being in our room is affecting everyone's sleep. I think had everything still been going smoothly, we would have let her stay in our room for a few more months. I say it doesn't matter what everyone else says, you have to do what works for you!

  2. I can't really help you since I moved Jack to his crib at 2 months. Co-sleeping was a necessity for me as well, because with me breastfeeding and Jack waking every 1-2 hours to eat, having him in my bed was the only way I could get any sleep. But I knew it would be better for both of us if he was in his crib by the time I went back to work, so I started putting him in his crib when he first went down. The first time he woke to eat, usually 4 hours later, I would then bring him into my bed for the rest of the night. Eventually he started sleeping longer stretches and now sleeps the whole night in his crib. Usually I'll bring him into bed on weekend mornings in the hopes that he'll let me sleep longer. I also love cuddling with him for a little bit!

    I think you need to do what's best for you and your family. Just know, that Ava could very well still be in your bed when she's 2! If you're okay with that, then great! If not, start thinking about how to change it. I do think it'll only get harder the older and more attached she gets. But you do need sleep and if this is working for you, then stick with it! Good luck!

  3. I feel your frustration. Trust me. My mom was on me and on me about letting Riley sleep in our room and especially in our bed for months! I was like you in that there was no way I was going to co-sleep. That was just plain silly and totally unnecessary. Yeah right. I was so worried the first two months of Riley's life that she wouldn't wake up, that I had to have her near me so I could be reassured in the middle of the night when I looked over and saw her little chest rise and fall. We used the bassinet for 4 1/2 months, bringing Riley into bed with us as needed if she needed to be soothed. I was breastfeeding/pumping so got no shift help from the hubby. He got to sleep blissfully through the night... grrrr. lol. I don't hold a grudge though. He was just fine with me bringing Riley into the bed with us and even suggested it on nights when I'd try to put her down in the bassinet. :-) Anyway, long story short.... we made the transition when she outgrew her bassinet. She had no trouble sleeping in the crib at daycare, so we gave it a try at night. The first couple of weeks, she would sleep for several hours in the crib and then wake up. I'd go to her room, pick her up and bring her back to bed with us. All in all, it was a fairly easy transition period. Granted, she was pretty much sleeping through the night by 3 months old, so that made it a LOT easier. Just go with the flow and do what you feel is best for you and her. Now, if she's still in bed with you when she's two years old, we can revisit your grandma's argument. LOL. Good luck. :-)

  4. Co-sleeping is your choice...and your bedmate's. How does D feel about it? If you haven't considered it, you might want to.

    Your relationship with D needs to factor into whether you co-sleep as well. You laugh about Ava sleeping in the bed preventing her having a little brother or sister, but I don't know a guy alive who wouldn't resent not getting any attention from his wife/girlfriend, no matter how much he loves you and the baby.

    When I say attention, I don't mean sex. I mean true alone time that doesn't involve the baby, you talking about the baby, or you doing something to prepare for the baby to wake up.

    The real issue here isn't really the co-sleeping. It's the fact that you guys basically get no time at all away from the Ava as a result of doing it.

    All relationships, no matter how strong and stable, need maintenance. If you give up your relationship at the altar of Baby all the time, you either will have one you can't stand, or you won't have one.

    So, co-sleep if you all agree for now, but set a cutoff date for it, and stick to it. Most folks transition babies, I am told, around this time, but YMMV.

    Be prepared for a heart of steel the first week you put her in her crib...she will scream for hours, depending on how stubborn she is.

    The first time we had to put M down and let her scream (5 months), J had to physically prevent me going upstairs. I was so angry at him for it, but it was the right thing to do. I learned then I have a very stubborn little girl.

    Just like her Mommy and Daddy! We're so proud.

  5. I sometimes think you and I may be sharing parallel existences.Seriously- what we have in common blows me away. Down to the city we live in. (My town is named after yours)

    Ok- back to the question. We moved James out of our room at 4 mos. Having said that- he came back in pretty much every night. Until he was almost three. And then- just like that- it was over. He slept in his own bed and life was fab.

    My opinion is to just let nature take it's course. Put her in her room. When she wakes up at night, bring her to bed with you. But, at least you'll get a few uninterrupted hours before she wakes up. As she gets older, it will be less and less.

  6. I'm in the same shoes as you. Before my baby girl was here I would have said we were not going to co-sleep. When she was first born and she was nursing it was just so much easier. She is now 6 months old and not nursing. So what is my 'excuse' now? I work all day and I NEED bonding time with her. If while we are sleeping the only time I get that, than so be it. Hubby doesn't mind too much. He understands. After she falls asleep we have our alone time in the living room. Not a big deal. I do dread when we do put her in her own bed. I have no idea when that will be though. As long as the 3 of us are comfortable with co-sleeping than I'm not addressing it. I am curious what others say they did though after 6 months.
    Good luck!


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