Why I Co-Sleep

On Wednesday, my son Jacob and I appeared on the local CBC evening news, in a story about co-sleeping. Because I am a co-sleeping parent. When I was initially contacted about the story I spoke with a producer who mentioned that she herself had co-slept. All the same, I assumed that some other source would also be interviewed for the story, presenting an anti-co-sleeping message.

I agreed to participate, because I thought it was important to speak out on behalf of co-sleeping parents. I believe many more parents choose to co-sleep than are reflected in statistics on the subject, and I believe that the vast majority of us are not doing it flippantly. I wanted to give voice to that. However, I feel that I was portrayed as being almost dangerously irresponsible. My friend Lorien took up the call with the CBC on behalf of all co-sleeping parents, and you can see her thoughts on how co-sleeping was portrayed.

The truth of the matter is that, in spite of dire warnings from the BC Coroners Service, I’m not entirely sure that I buy the argument that co-sleeping is unsafe. For one thing, as John Hoffman and Annie of PhD in Parenting outline, when a baby dies in an adult bed there is no distinction made between a safe co-sleeping environment and an unsafe co-sleeping environment. Just as a crib filled with stuffed toys and pillows can be unsafe, an adult bed filled with the same things can be unsafe. The difference, though, is that if an infant suffocates under a pillow in a crib the pillow is blamed, and if an infant suffocates under a pillow in an adult bed co-sleeping is blamed.

Hannah 'napping'

In addition, there is conflicting information about co-sleeping from a variety of sources. People like Dr. Sears and Dr. James McKenna write about the benefits of co-sleeping. It’s simply not true that there’s a universal consensus on the dangers of co-sleeping.

But even if the data isn’t as clear as one would believe in regards to the dangers of co-sleeping, if so many pediatric societies and medical bodies recommend against it, isn’t it a good idea to avoid it? I avoided deli meat when I was pregnant, for example, even though the actual rate of listeria infection in pregnant women is about 12 per 100,000. Even if the likelihood of contracting an infection was low, I didn’t want to risk the potentially serious side-effects. Why wouldn’t I take the same precautions with co-sleeping?

Hannah and Dorothy napping together

To answer that question, let me share my experience when Hannah was a small baby. She had a bassinet, and I placed it beside my bed for her to sleep in. My idea was that when she woke up I would bring her into bed to nurse her, and place her back in the bassinet when she was done. In short, I intended to follow the advice of the pediatrician who was interviewed opposite me in the CBC news story. It sounded like a good plan when I hatched it before Hannah was born. In practice, though, it didn’t work at all.

Here’s the thing about babies – they crave human contact. Ask any parent and they will tell you that their baby likes to be held a lot. That desire doesn’t magically end when the sun goes down. So I sat up in bed and nursed Hannah to sleep. I laid her down in her bassinet, and like clockwork she was awake again in fairly short order. I nursed her and tried to transfer her again. And again. And again. Because I was using nipple shields at the time the side-lying position didn’t work for us, so I found myself sitting up much of the night trying to nurse my baby back to sleep.

Jacob sleeping at 3 months

I became seriously sleep-deprived, to the point that I was severely depressed for the first and (so far) only time in my life. I cried much of the day. I was convinced that I had made a terrible mistake by having a baby. I started to become concerned that I would doze off while I was propped up on pillows in bed nursing Hannah. And one thing that I knew for sure was that it was really not safe to sleep while holding a baby surrounded by pillows.

Things were different when I brought Hannah into bed with me. She slept for longer stretches when I was nearby, so I slept for longer stretches, too. Once I was better-rested I stopped crying all the time. I stopped resenting my baby, and feeling that I was the worst mother ever. I stopped imagining what it would be like to just run away and leave it all behind.

Jacob napping

I am not the only parent who makes this miraculous discovery. I’ve spoken at many parenting groups, and chatted with many parents in my daily life. I can tell you that many, many, many parents end up co-sleeping with their baby. They may not do it in the same bed they share with their partner. They may not do it all night long, or every night. But many of us, at some point, cuddle up with our baby just so that everyone can get some sleep.

When the reporter was here she asked if I had blogged about co-sleeping, and I answered that I had. She commented that it must have been controversial, and I said it wasn’t. I suspect most parents understand the very real, very practical issues at play when you just want a good night’s sleep. Many of us swore we’d never co-sleep, and many of us have eaten our words. Just as we’ve eaten our words when it comes to never bribing our kids or never letting them eat sugar.

And so I co-sleep. I have researched safe sleep environments, and I have read position statements from pediatric societies. And then I made the best decision I could for my baby and my family. I would never tell other parents to co-sleep, or not to co-sleep. I would only suggest they do their own research, too, and maintain an open mind when the realities of parenting run smack-dab into their pre-conceived ideas. Because we’re the parents, and that’s what parents do.

Did you co-sleep? How did you come to your decision? And would you do everything the same way again? I’d love to hear!

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  1. This is a fantastic post! So well written and I applaud you for trying to stick up for co-sleeping mothers. Its a true shame how they flipped the story to make it look like you were an irresponsible parent. I was one of those mother’s who said I would never co-sleep with my baby BEFORE I had a baby. Well what I have learned is that EVERYTHING you say you would never do before having a baby totally changes. I co-slept with my boy for the first 9 months of his life so that we could both get some sleep. I truly believe that it was what he needed and he is who he is today because of all of the cuddles he received during his early months. Thank you so much for writing this post. Making this decision isn’t something that parents make lightly and I wouldn’t change my decision today.

  2. I watched that clip and am so disappointed in the CBC. A baby in a bassinet beside the bed is absolutely NOT the same as a baby nestled in bed with momma. Just isn’t. You have addressed this so well in your blog post today, and I am still angry at the CBC piece. For the record my first was in the bassinet beside the bed from 4 weeks old onwards, my second co-slept until four and a half months and I feel that she is a cuddlier, cozier little person as a result. I loved every second of snuggling with her, and loved all the sleep I got!! I wish pieces like the cbc one would come out and address the socio economic risks, the risks of a parent drinking and co-sleeping, and the increased risk when formula feeding rather than breastfeeding. Breaking down that “11 deaths” number by those factors may shine quite a light on the actual lack of risk for many of us.

    Also, let’s face it, strapping kids into carseats and hitting the highway is far far riskier than co-sleeping and we do it every day!
    eva’s last post … Nine Months (on the outside)!My Profile

  3. I co-sleep with my daughter too and was another person who thought that people who did that were just irresponsible parents. Why co-sleep when you have a crib? I thought. Ha ha. I started co-sleeping with my daughter after the 3 week growth spurt when I was up with her every hour for 3-4 days and thought I was going insane. The lactation consultant at the hospital first suggested co-sleeping to help her get enough milk and for me to get some rest and it’s been wonderful. No matter how fussy she is during the day and into the evening, she always settles down for a good snuggle and some milk in bed and I love waking up on weekends to her smiling face.
    Holly’s last post … Toddling!My Profile

  4. We co-sleep with our children. My oldest was born 11 years ago next month. I was a single Mom and it was easier for me to have him in the bed with me. He ended up co-sleeping until he was almost 5 years old. He had his own bed and from about 3 years until he was almost 5 he would go back and forth as he wanted.

    After I got married and we decided to have another child there was never a question, we knew that we would co-sleep. That is why we have a king sized foam mat that we have on the floor to sleep on with a toddler bed between our bed and the wall on my side. It’s very similar to the futon that I slept on as a child, Japanese style futon not American. I actually prefer futons or bamboo mats to traditional beds here in the US.

    The middle child is now almost 28 months and he still sleeps with us. He recently night weaned so I suspect that soon he’ll start sleeping in his room with his big brother & coming to our bed as he needs. The youngest is definitely still co-sleeping with us as she is only 14 weeks old. With her though I start her off for the night in her bassinet, she goes to sleep for the night about 3 hours before I do. About an hour or two after I go to bed she wakes to nurse so I bring her into bed with us for the rest of the night.

    I never really thought about doing it any other way. I knew that I slept in the bed with my parents as did all of my 6 siblings. It’s one of the things that I knew I’d just do not only because it’s convenient, but it feels right to me.
    Amy’s last post … Staycation Across the USA 2011My Profile

  5. Although, we personally never co-slept with Dharma, I am very pro “do what works for you and makes both child and mummy happy” argument. My sister in law co-slept with three children. A friend of mine back home, co-sleeps and gets stick from many people because she breastfed her child until he was 5. I constantly get stick because we eat a vegetarian/vegan diet and had to endure long discussions with ignorant people about that. Seriously, if co-sleeping works for you then go for it.
    Mel’s last post … End of an eraMy Profile

  6. We never slept with Theo in our bed at night mainly because he snored like a Huskavarna as did my husband and I could not sleep; however, we nap with him in our bed all the time. We realized if it’s just ONE of us then it’s fine but three of us just did not work. We also went through a long phase of one of use sleeping half the night with him – a case of musical beds. All of us waking up in different places from where we started. I think that scenario is the most common.

    That said, point is well taken that unsafe sleeping environments are more likely to be associated with lack of safety in general that crib vs co-sleeping.

    Plus as I said above, I think most parents do some degree of co-sleeping depending on the child’s needs – scared, sick, can’t sleep etc..

  7. I really hate these binary arguments. Pitting one extreme against another is so counterproductive. People need to use their common sense. We’ve broken a lot of rules. Theo slept on his front from birth. He sleeps for the most part in a drop-side crib (all bolts were tightened) AND we even have a foldable stroller, which apparently could amputate his fingers. But I don’t let him play with knives ro loaded guns.

    You have to be able to weigh the odds, know your kid, know yourself, and act appropriately.

  8. We co-slept, all three of us on a mattress, on the floor, and I still smile at the happy warm snuggly memories.

    We decided on co-sleeping before the Wee Guy was born, and true to my own personal style, I researched every aspect of it to make sure we were safe and prepared. I agree totally with Amber and other comments about being well rested (me) and well fed (him). We had a quite an eventful first three months and I’m sure that the co-sleeping helped us all come thru it.

    The CBC report annoyed me – it didn’t allow Amber to carefully explain her informed choices, and didn’t represent a ‘professional’ point of view to counteract the ‘advice’ from the medical representative. There are plenty of them out there – why couldn’t one have been reeled in to provide a balanced non-tabloid, non-sensational view? I hope the co-sleeping reporter raises a stink too!
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  9. Oh CBC, for shame – I see we can’t rely on you for balance, either.

    We are accidental co-sleepers. I was really tired one night and laid down in the guest bed with Shannon to nurse her and fell asleep. She wasn’t really mobile at the time but she dozed off and so did I. I woke up a couple of hours later – I hadn’t moved but she had rolled onto her back (and my boob was cold – oy). After that, I never objected to sleeping with her, although I did have her bassinette in the bed with me and would move her in to it if I had the opportunity.

    She still sleeps with me occasionally at 2 (in fact, she insisted last night and it was the only way any of us were going to get any sleep. Sometimes she’ll sleep in our bed between us, sometimes we’ll sleep on the blow-up bed in the living room (which is actually pretty comfortable). It works. We’re well-rested. Except for the whole 5am wakeups on weekends. WTF?
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  10. We cosleep. I have a 6.5, 3.5 and 1 yr old. We have two big beds. Everyone is happy and safe.
    Hillary’s last post … Birthdays, a Funeral, and a Wedding {and love}My Profile

  11. I like the idea of cosleeping but we tried it a number of times and it just didn’t work for us. My husband couldn’t fall asleep because he was so worried about having the baby in bed with us, and I would wake up every time the baby made the slightest bit of noise. We compromised by having the baby in a bassinet in our room, which I know isn’t the same thing, but it seemed to be the best solution for us to have babies and parents who all slept reasonably well. I made sure to have lots of close physical contact with our babies through the day.

    But really, that’s just what worked for us…I would never presume to dictate any other family’s sleeping arrangements. As our kids have aged, we’ve often ended up sleeping with them for at least part of the night. We joke about how we sometimes play musical beds in the night, and it’s a tossup what room any of us will end up waking up in come morning. If the kids have a nightmare and need a snuggle, I’m happy to stay with them through the night.
    Mary Lynn’s last post … CoincidenceMy Profile

  12. I also made the ¨miraculous discovery¨ of sleeping more when I accepted my girl in my bed. We went from waking up every day at 5 to waking up at 7 – Nice.

  13. I co-slept with Gabe for the first 4 months, and I can’t imagine having survived that time any other way. Co-sleeping just makes sense to me. It is standard practice for most of the world. We in the west are WAY too uptight about the whole issue.
    Joyelle’s last post … In the Sun: Summer SeductionMy Profile

  14. Co sleeping was the only time we actually slept in our house. We coslept until our girls were older and even now I joke that we have an open bed policy. It’s one of the reasons we have a king size bed.
    Heather’s last post … I Hate ThunderstormsMy Profile

  15. Oh, we co-sleep. As soon as I was pregnant I “got it”, but once I had her in my arms I couldn’t imagine any other way. We never had any problems. She’s 4 now. I’m getting riled up just thinking about what happened with you and the arguments against. I agree with you… a safe environment makes a difference, whether crib or bed. I think it’s far safer to be able to stay in tune with your baby, especially when they’re so little. My daughter didn’t cough or couldn’t possibly have chocked while I was there noticing every change in her breathing.
    I love the photos of your little angels sleeping! So sweet.
    People who don’t co-sleep miss out on so much.
    teresa’s last post … Good Mommy?My Profile

  16. We started co-sleeping around 12 weeks or so, and everyone slept so much better we never stopped, our son is now nearly two. It’s clear he feels safer and sleeps much longer stretches when he’s in bed with us. Some children like having more space around them when they sleep and co-sleeping doesn’t work for them, but I wish doctors etc wouldn’t vilify it so much. It kept me sane through the worst of the teething. I just lie about it or don’t mention it if people ask, as it’s really none of their business anyway.

  17. I never set out to follow a philosophy of co-sleeping. Both my babies had their own cribs in their own rooms. The first one was happy to sleep in his baby hammock, and later his crib. The second one wanted to snuggle more often, so I’d bring him into our bed in the mornings, and we were all cheerful (well as cheerful as possible, given newborn sleep patterns) with that too.
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  18. I co-slept with both my kids too (the first from age 6 months onward – the first 6 months were harder than they should have been!). It was great, and I’ve never hesitated to recommend it.

    However, I wonder if the recommendations against co-sleeping fall in the same category as the “you should never drink alcohol while pregnant” story. Re: drinking, the fact is that as long as you’re not drinking within the first 3 months, the odd alcoholic drink does no harm – but public health officials, etc, have to pitch to the lowest common denominator, ie, the moms with low intellect/sophistication, in an effort to make sure that a woman doesn’t unintentionally damage her baby by drinking. Could co-sleeping be the same way? In other words, many moms, and experts too, know it can be done safely and very effectively, but not every parent is going to “read up” and figure out how to co-sleep the right way, so the safest thing is to just tell everybody not to do it.

    Your thoughts?

    PS – Sorry I missed your interview! It would have been interesting to see.
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    • The story is online now, here: http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/Canada/BC/1258521056/ID=2044060790

      I agree with you completely. I think the blanket statement is a “cover your butt” kind of thing. But from my point of view as a parent, the people who read the Canadian Pediatric Society’s position statement on co-sleeping, and seek out researched sources to make parenting decisions, are the very same people who will co-sleep safely. The “lowest common denominator” are less likely to co-sleep safely, but they’re also less likely to seek out and heed warnings from authorities. At least, that’s my take. So the net result is that they’re chastising parents like me, who have made considered choices based on the best information we have, and our individual family situation.

  19. Ugh, I’m just sorry that your words were twisted like that. Grrrrr.

    I was open to cosleeping, because I slept with my parents when I was a baby and small child, and crawled into bed with them often while I was growing up. But I admit, I would have been happier if Joe would have slept a LITTLE in his own bed. But that’s the thing. He just didn’t flippin’ sleep any other way. He wouldn’t sleep in the bassinet in the hospital, and he wouldn’t sleep in his sidecarred cosleeper at home. He would ONLY sleep right next to me.

    It’s all very well to say that cosleeping is unsafe, but what if that’s the only way your baby will sleep? I feel a little betrayed by the medical establishment on this one, and I was just glad that there are doctors that advocate for cosleeping and don’t offer women an ultimatum (and yet another thing to feel guilty about) without any real solutions.

    Great post! Man, I’m still steaming about that news report.
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  20. I also co-slept with my daughter, who is now 19. We tried the crib/bassinet thing and she just didn’t sleep enough so consequently, neither did I. I got her a “big girl bed” when she turned 2 and she would freely move between my bed and hers, but still to this day, one of my favorite memories of her growing up was the little “thump thump thump” of her sleeper covered feet as she walked across the room (single mum, one bedroom apartment) and then the feel of her body falling into the crook of my arm, fitting perfectly between my armpit and hip. She will still crawl into bed with me if I’m napping… even as an “adult”… and there is nothing more comforting, more reassuring or wonderful than the fact that she still loves and trusts me enough to sleep beside me.

  21. I never thought I would co sleep. But I did. Not as much with V but for about 10 months with A. It worked for us and we all managed to get sleep which ultimately is what’s important.

    I get that there are dangers but I do wish they would show the positive, safe aspects of co-sleeping. Obviously humanity has been doing this since we first walked upright. You can’t tell me Storkcraft was in existence way back then. There was ONLY co-sleeping as an option and hey, guess what? Humanity has survived!! What a shock.

    I blame those prudish Victorians and their proper ways :p
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  22. I bed shared with both my girls and still do sleep with the youngest who climbs into bed with me like clock work around 11:30 pm. I do it for the sake of sleeping. I tried for about 2 days to keep my first in a bassinet by the bed. Just like you, it didn’t work. Baby woke up almost immediately and eventually I figured out that she would sleep soundly and for longer periods of time if she was next to me. And then it became apparent that she was actually safer sleeping with me because our sleep cycles meshed and I would wake up when she was ready to nurse and could quickly attend to her needs as they arose. I am also a light sleeper so I never felt that my babies were in danger because even if I was the most sleep deprived woman on earth I would wake up if my baby made the slightest move or whimper. I like my sleep. Even though for those early years I didn’t sleep great, I know that I slept better than I would have if we had slept apart.
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  23. We were cosleepers for 18 months with Abby, and when she got to a point where she was too big and we were no longer comfortable, we made the switch. It worked SO WELL for us.
    Cosleeping, to me, is like baby wearing and contact loving. They’re kind of obvious ways to keep the peace with a brand new infant who, up until birth has been held for every second of his/her existence.
    I can tell you, however, that the parents that I know who have been the most rested have had some variant of attachment parenting and cosleeping in their lives. Thanks for being the voice for those of us who made the decision to cosleep.
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  24. When I heard the first story about SIDS on the radio (also the CBC) on Tuesday this week I a) got furious b) in part because I was reminded of trying to leave the hospital with my firstborn NOT in an infant car seat (bucket seat).

    We had bought a convertible carseat that would last until the babywas ready for a booster, and it was installed in my mom’s car, which was not able to come upstairs to the ward to get the baby. The nurse was losing her mind because You can Only Release A Baby from the Ward If The Nurse Watches you Buckle it Into An Infant Seat. And yes, I was a 2 day old new parent, but maybe you could trust me that I just went through a day of labour and delivery and I DO NOT WANT to kill my baby. If I need your help I’ll ask for it. Thanks. (in the end she walked us down to the car and watched us buckle the baby in the car seat.)

    I am not a co-sleeper. I put my baby in my bed on my squishy pillow-top mattress once and thought “hmm, I bet he wouldn’t be able to roll over on his own and he might suffocate.” It was easier for me and my kids to sleep separately, but I can appreciate that other people are co-sleepers and I can trust that people are able to make decisions for themselves and their families without my input.

    I’d watch the clip but I feel really ragey about this issue this week so I’d better not. Brave you, for putting yourself out there.

  25. Karen and Kezzy says:

    I was lucky I worked in NICU with a nurse who had been/was a researcher in co sleeping and cot death, I knew the benefits as well as the risks. From what I had read the most risk was if you accidently fell asleep while breast feeding, drank or took meds which effected your state of arousal (which can include some prescribed meds) plus being over tired. I figured having to get up several times a night was going to make me over tired and more likely to fall asleep unexpectedly with my baby the most logical step seemed to be plan to sleep in the same bed. I was also lucky that I have a chronic back problem I cannot turn or roll over without waking and this had even happened through my worst bouts of insomnia (I was used to sleeping under 3 hours a night pre pregnancy) I knew I was not going to roll on her no matter how tired I was.

    I slept with my daughter from birth including the 10 days we spent in hospital not a single midwife commented, this may have been helped by the fact I was in a side room (not common in the UK) and when I was awake my daughter lived down my front skin to skin unless I was in shower, eating …. so they were just not used to my daughter being in a cot. My mother was horrified I was sleeping with her but I had all the answers 😉 and she gave up scolding me about it. My SinL told me I was making a rod for my own back maybe have not sure I care I have a happy confident daughter.

    Have to say once my daughter decided to feed night feeds were a doddle I barely remember waking and hardly felt tired, I know she fixed her self there were times she got it wrong and gave me a lovely love bite one night or made my nipple very sore once or twice in the early days, This is probably partially due to me being used to so little sleep but it is also because I barely (if at all) wake when she feeds.

    Co sleeping is not for everyone I have no partner to worry about it is just me and Kez but I would say research it, make sure you know the safest way of doing it, plan in case you fall asleep accidently. Why make being a mother any more difficult and tiring than it is?

  26. Hey Amber, support from the Arbolodge. I still snicker at all my “I will nevers” pre kid. Cosleeping was the only thing that kept me sane and after a while i grew to like it. Not for everyone – absolutely – but then, neither are culottes and lima beans and motorcycle riding. Three parenting rules in our house: 1) feed the baby and 2) whatever makes it through the night and 3) trust your gut. After about 18 months, admittedly I was getting tired of a foot in my gut or a arm smashed into my face and so we switched from a crib to a bed and POOF he didn’t want to sleep with us so much. Now, when he sneaks into our room at 7AM and climbs in for cuddles, it is bliss. I think there are a lot of people simply scared by the term, but don’t realize that what they do could technically be classed as “co-sleeping”.
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  27. I’m from India and I had not heard about SIDS until I came to US. Co-sleeping is considered unsafe only in western contries.My son and I had so many sleepless nights becuase I followed “expert advise”. But in the 2nd year, I was confident enough as mother and decided to cosleep and my son has been sleeping through the night since then. Now I look back and feel I was cruel to him by putting him in a big crib with just the matress and him in a overall and no blanket. If I have another baby, I’ll be cosleeping for sure 🙂

  28. My friend just remarked that a lot of people say they don’t co-sleep when what they mean is that they don’t co-sleep all night every night. I realized that this is me – I always say I don’t co-sleep because I don’t want to make a claim that isn’t true, but I sleep with my kids quite often, and have since they were born – we’re a musical beds family. I love the quote about co-sleeping only being considered unsafe in western countries – I added to that “right. In many countries it’s just considered….sleeping.” I think it’s just incredibly sleazy and shameful when a media outlet does to someone what they did to you – if they want to present both sides, they should do it fairly. The CBC has fallen seriously in my estimation.
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    • yes, exactly! bringing your baby to bed at 4AM to sleep for 2-3 hours is technically co-sleeping, but a lot of people see that as “bringing baby to bed in the morning”.
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  29. p.s. I never get tired of looking at that picture of Hannah (is it Hannah? or Jacob?) sleeping on the bed with the cat.
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    • That’s Hannah.

      And I feel compelled to issue a PSA and say that she was 18 months old when that photo was taken. If she had been under a year she obviously wouldn’t have been by herself in an adult bed, napping with the cat on top of a down comforter. If you’re going to co-sleep, co-sleep safely!

  30. Love the photos of your sleeping little ones! Thanks for posting this. I only caught the last bit of the report on CBC and I could tell it was of the OH NOES THE DANGER, WON’T YOU THINK OF THE CHILDRENS!!!! flavour of coverage sadly. CBC usually rises above. Oh well.
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  31. I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments. In fact I had written about my own family bed a while back:

    I distinctly remember being so tired and frustrated that I quite literally gave up. That’s how I decided to bed share. The hubby wasn’t pleased to have our son in our bed and he even moved into our spare bedroom for a while. It didn’t matter because it was the only way I was going to be able to survive the baby years… luckily, the hubby eventually came around and now we are 4 in the bed. I have never felt so rested 🙂
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  32. Wow, that CBC clip made me angry. Mainly because it silenced you, with the voiceover while you play with Jacob, and by not airing your point of view. It also makes me upset when SIDS and smothering are lumped together. I mean, 21 deaths in the first six months of 2011 is alarming! But if a death is attributable to smothering, it is by nature NOT SIDS. Perhaps, as you point out, the coroner and CBC could focus on safer sleeping, in crib or parents bed, rather than alarmist finger pointing. I noticed the end of the clip mentioned, “If parents insist on cosleeping….” and then some safer tips are mentioned. So condemning rather than educational.

    We co sleep, some nights that means six in a bed (infant gets dibs on outer corner and although she’s smallest, ironically often gets the largest chunk of bed, ha ha), but that’s rare. We started because I had a cesarean with my first and getting up and down to nurse my baby was incredibly impractical. My mom, who is a crunchy labor/delivery nurse and a hippie at heart, suggested he sleep next to me in our bed, and we never looked back. It worked for us. It still does. I don’t love it EVERY night, but when do I love anything EVERY time I do it?
    It’s not right for everyone, but I really think it is a safe option that works for many, and that there are safer ways to do it.

    The big SIDS preventers are:
    smoke free environment
    back sleeping

    Why don’t these get as much airtime as cobedding?? Drives me nuts. I’m all about safety. I’m a paramedic. I saw a baby die in a parent’s bed once. She was drunk (visiting out of town friends) and rolled on her baby, it was one of the more tragic things I’ve seen. But there you blame the drinking, not the bed.

    And it is like birth: there is no risk free option, you simply choose an option which has as few risks and as many benefits as possible. And which suits you well.

    As for myself, I would feel so horrible if my baby died alone in his or her crib with no one close by that I think I would never get over it. It makes me nauseous just thinking about it. Crib deaths happen too! If my baby died in bed next to me, tucked into my armpit, I would feel so much grief but it would comfort me to know that at least he or she wasn’t alone when they died. Even if it was a smothering or something one could see as preventable with a crib. What an awful subject to contemplate. =( But not being alone when you die, that’s pretty big for me.

    FWIW, I think CBC got their terms wrong, too: cosleeping I think is technically when the baby sleeps in the parents’ room, and cobedding is when they sleep in the same bed. Cosleeping IS preventative for SIDS; Dr Sears conjectures it may be the proximity to parent breathing patterns/noises, or general movement of parents while they sleep keeping babies from dipping into a deeper more dangerous sleep. I don’t know if that’s true because like many of the comments above, my babies sleep longer tucked up to me than they do alone in a bed. Currently my four month old sleeps all night long with no waking to feed if she’s in our bed, and wakes up at two, four, and six if she’s in her own bed. Hello? Sign me up for all night sleep, dudes.

    Good article. Sorry you got edited down to voiceover. >=(
    Melissa Vose’s last post … Rights and WrongsMy Profile

  33. Fantastic article. There’s been a lot of negativity about co-sleeping and it peeves me that people feel the need to tell us that “co-sleeping” is a “bad habit” to start with. I co-slept with my daughter the first night she came home from the hospital and I have NO plans on transitioning her out of the bed. I am not ashamed to tell people that she sleeps in the same bed as me. People has that surprise sound in their voice, “Oh, she sleeps with you. Wow.” and I respond proudly that “Yes, I DO co-sleep.” Even my mom co-sleeps with my daughter on the weekends she stays with my parents. There is absolutely nothing wrong with co-sleeping as long you are taking safety precautions.

  34. Is this a post about how they somehow misrepresented you? Or is this an advocacy for co-sleeping? As an older mother of older kids (my youngest is 4 yrs old, but the average age in the family is higher), I’m kind of tired of all these endless discussions and pointless judgemental statements about people’s parenting choices regarding the ways their kids are born, (breast or not) fed, or sleep. Ultimately, I’m convinced that the (real) problems parents have to face have nothing to do with -say- co-sleeping or not. A child can become a happy and healthy individual even if he/she had a medicated birth, was bottle fed, and slept in their own bed/room. Or the opposite. Those are not the problems, that’s not what will make a difference in the adult years.
    However, the early years are fundamental in building a good parent-child relationship. So, what works for the parents in this respect, is good. (and, btw, last time I looked into it, SIDS’ causes were still largely unidentified, though they seemed to have to do more with cigarette smoke than with stuffed animals or parent pillows).
    Francesca’s last post … Sunday still life ~ italo-franco-english teepeeMy Profile

    • It’s neither. The post is about how I made my personal decision, and how important I think it is for us to allow parents the room to make their own conscientious decisions. What irritated me about the news story is that they made blanket statements – never co-sleep, ever – rather than giving parents the actual tools to make good choices for their families.

      I feel this way because, fundamentally, I agree with you. Whether or not someone is a well-developed adult has little to do with any particular factor during their childhood, whether that’s breastfeeding, co-sleeping, or anything else. But I do think that making good decisions for a family can make a big difference to a parent’s happiness level, and happier parents are generally more patient and more fun to be around. And what kid wouldn’t prefer that?

  35. Jennifer Walker says:

    Hi Amber. I think you did a fantastic job with the CBC interview and it is unfortunate that you were not given ample coverage to allow for a balanced perspective. For our family, co-sleeping works for us. My son is almost 14 months and still breastfeeding (including night feeds) so it is easier for all of us to sleep. You have obviously done your research and are doing what works best for YOUR family and that is what is MOST important. Good for you!!

  36. Co-sleeping rocks! We did an Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper for awhile but nothing worked as well as a twin mattress up against our low bed. Sebastian spends some of the night on ‘his’ twin bed and some of it snuggled with me on the big bed. Before Sebastian was born my husband and I decided that co-sleeping until two is OK (if he still wants it) and we’ll evaluate at that point. 🙂 Both of us slept in our parents’ beds as babies and it just felt natural. I am looking done at my sleeping son as I type this. 😉
    Janine’s last post … Sunday Link LoveMy Profile

  37. Jennifer says:

    I also co-slept with all three of my babies. I had twins first, and I would get up and feed them and be up half the night or would end up falling asleep on a chair holding two babies getting poor sleep. After time, both my husband and I ended up taking the twins to bed. I slept with one and he the other and every 1.5 hours we would swap twins because one was hungry. I’d just nurse in my sleep. I got so much more sleep this way and so did the babies.

    So when my next baby came along, I didn’t even blink. He was in bed with me.

    Thanks for this!

  38. I co-sleep with my three and a half month old baby girl. We make sure the bed is safe with no pillows, sheets, blankets near her. Nursing is so much more of a fluid and natural part of the night with my baby by my side. I feel so close to her and love that she sleeps much longer when I hold her in the crook of my arm. I love Dr. Sears books and his attachment parenting style, those books resonate truth for me. Thank you for speaking out! I believe that many more people than we may realize co-sleep.

  39. When our daughter was born two years ago, we lived in a very small apartment. We were planning to move in just under two months, but until then there literally wasn’t a separate place for her to sleep. My husband’s father was building her crib, and it wasn’t ready yet. In addition, even in the hospital she simply WOULD. NOT. SLEEP. unless she was in physical contact with one of us. And as a breastfeeding mother, I found it SO much easier to sleep and nurse throughout the night with her next to me. Two years later, we’re working on getting her out of our bed and finding it mildly difficult, but it’s the nursing that’s the problem for us, not the bed.

  40. We never planned on cosleeping but when I had to have an emergency c-section things changed. I was nursing and unable to lift him in and out of his crib. I remember us trying the first few nights and it just seemed so pointless for me to have to wake Joe up to get him and bring him to me, stay awake and then take him back to bed after I was done nursing. So Joe suggested that B sleep with us. I was nervous about it so I researched how to do it safely and we started having him in our bed. Best decision ever. I loved the cuddles, ease of nursing and waking up to those baby blue looking right back at me. We did it for just over 7 months and than transitioned him to his crib because none of us were sleeping well anymore.
    Jen’s last post … Black Toilets Hide AllMy Profile

  41. Oh, heavenly co-sleeping…I’m on child #3 and with #1 we shared a bed for 2 weeks before she was transitioned to a bassinet in our room. Then at 4 months we were waking each other up, so she transitioned to her own crib. During some home remodeling when she was about 9 months old, my husband & I had to sleep on a futon in her room and she woke every hour for 3 nights. Husband and I ended up sleeping in the recliners in the living room and she went back to sleeping through the night. Co-sleeping didn’t work with her. Child #2 came along and I thought we’d do the same. Now that our son is 2, one of us usually ends up in his bed 3 nights a week. He has never been a good sleeper and if sleeping with him in his bed gets him to have a restful night of sleep, then that is what we do. Due to the restless nature of Child #2, I brought Child #3 to bed with me from the beginning. We sleep fantastic, he is well rested, I feel great due to the vast amount of sleep I’m getting and the whole family is happier. Once we move to the new house, we will probably attempt to begin transitioning #3 to his crib, because he seems to like playing in it, but if it doesn’t work, then he’ll stay with us for a while. I co-slept with my parents until my little brother was born. My husband’s family didn’t support co-sleeping or breastfeeding, but when the two oldest got stuck at Grandma & Grandpa’s house during a snowstorm, Grandma & Grandpa ended up co-sleeping with #2 and they still talk about how lovely it was to have the cuddle time. Co-sleeping wasn’t our first choice, but it worked for us to make our family happy. If it doesn’t work for you, don’t criticize those it does work for.

  42. Those lack-of-sleep days are a faded memory, so I don’t remember how many times my son slept in my bed when he was little. It seemed I would get more sleep with him in his crib because I was always worried about that little body in between my husband and I. Now, at 4 years old, it is a different story, 5 nights out of 7 he comes into our bed at some point.

    Do what is best for you. Everyone should be worried about the real problems of the world instead of if mothers choose to breast or bottle feed, or co-sleep or not.
    Emily’s last post … No-Bake Chocolate Chip Coconut CookiesMy Profile

  43. I coslept with my now 19 yr old dtr. It also started with breast feeding and falling asleep. She was very well adjusted and slept at friends and relatives when in school. As she got older she slept in her own room at times but slept in my room many nights. She now has a full scholarship to Stanford so it did not harm her. I now have a 5 yr old she also sleeps with me, she is also well adjusted. I feel it gives them a sense of security and love. I understand it does not work for all but it has worked for us. Also when my older daughter was a teen she spent the evenings with me in the living room with me instead of in her room, I think this had a lot to do with our close relationship that was helped by cosleeping

  44. Me and my daughter ended up as co-sleepers under very similar circumstances, at 8 and a half months old we were both getting no sleep due to my daughters dislike of sleeping in her cot other then us both falling asleep in my bed during night feeds, desperate and losing the will to live and joy of being a first time mother i decided to take steps towards making my bed a safe place for us both to sleep rather then the dangerous accidental co-sleeping that was happening, two months later me and my daughter sleep together every night and sleep well and safely. Not only have our moods and daily living improved from much needed sleep our bond as a mother and daughter has strengthened dramatically and i wholeheartedly believe this is from our co-sleeping.

    As a mother i believe in positive parenting listening to and responding to my child’s needs rather then expecting her to know what i would like her to do for my own ease and have realised i was not doing this by ignoring her nightly needs of comfort and reassurance from.

    I was an anti co-sleeper before my own desperation led me to realise it is a wonderful, loving and safe method of parenting as long as your take the responsible steps to ensure it is, just like advised to so with crib and cot sleeping.

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  1. […] that it is possible to make a conscientious decision to co-sleep, and to do it safely. That is why I choose to co-sleep, and why I would do it again if I had another […]

  2. […] for anyone to see. In doing so, I understand that not everyone will agree with everything I do. I co-sleep, I breastfed my children well past their second birthdays and I have been known to feed my children […]

  3. […] confused. He had no idea how to answer the question – and I can understand his confusion. Years of co-sleeping have blurred the issue […]

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