Let me start off by saying I know that co-sleeping in the form of bed sharing is not for everyone. Some people are not comfortable with it and others don’t do it for various other reasons. You need to do what’s best for your situation and what your comfortable with. For me co-sleeping has been a life saver. Now, just because someone co-sleeps doesn’t mean they actually get sleep. At least not in the beginning. Newborns wake up and they do it often. So sleepless nights will be in your future regardless of your sleeping arrangements.
I was 20 years old when I had my first kid. The first night we came home I put him in his crib. I did not sleep AT ALL that night and not because he would wake to nurse but because I was terrified. I was afraid the moment I fell asleep he would stop breathing, so I laid there just watching his chest rise and fall all night long. It was exhausting. By the second night I just couldn’t take the stress so I brought him to bed with me. Having him right there with me was such a relief and I was actually able to sleep. I don’t think he slept in his crib for even a night after that. There are people who will tell you this is a mistake because once they’re in your bed they will never want to sleep on their own. This is not true. I have successfully transitioned two kids out of my room. The second one was a little harder but I blame the extending breastfeeding for that one. He had feeding issues so had to nurse longer than I had planned.
If you decide to co-sleep, be prepared for people lecturing you on how unsafe it is. Everyone has an opinion, and most feel that they feel they need to share. There are absolutely unsafe ways to co-sleep, if you drink heavily, take certain medications, or do other drugs, it’s probably not for you. For me though it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. When my middle son was only a couple of weeks old he stopped breathing in his sleep. He was right next to me when this happened and the light sleeper that I am, I woke up immediately. Fortunately as soon as I rubbed his chest he started breathing again but had he been in his own bed this story may have had a different ending.
One amazing perk to co-sleeping is, if you nurse you don’t have to get up to feed the baby. There is no shame in sleeping topless so the baby can latch on and you both can continue to sleep. Fair warning though, sleeping topless may result in an unwanted milk bath. Another benefit to bed sharing is that babies tend to sleep longer when they are right there with you meaning you can sleep longer too. Most weekends my five year old is usually the one waking me up not my one year old. Not having to get out of bed to nurse and extra sleep are both fantastic but I think the best part of bed sharing are the baby cuddles, nothing beats baby cuddles.
- Smoke-free mother inside and outside of home.
- Alcohol and drug(including meds that make you drowsy) free mother.
- Breastfeeding mother.
- Healthy full term baby.
- Baby not sleeping on stomach.
- No blankets and baby is lightly dressed.
- Safe bed surfaces. No couches or recliners.