I know a woman who has two kids. These two kids co-sleep with her. They can’t sleep without her. Case en point, when we went out one night, they were still awake when we returned (very late, I might add) because they couldn’t go to sleep without their mom in the bed. I would’ve understood, had her kids not been older, like 5 and 7. And one female and one male. Odd, right? This was a few years ago, and they are still all sleeping in the same bed. Very weird.
On the flipside, I have a friend who’s husband is completely against their infants even being the same room with them. Not even in a pack ‘n’ play, not even when they are just brought home from the hospital. I thought this was strange, especially because she was going to breastfeed. But not even for that reason; what about the closeness that the baby needs? How could she be there for the beck and call of her little one? Those first few weeks, months, are crucial to make the baby feel like it is cared for and that you will be there when they need it. How could you do that if they are in the other room?
I wondered how I would be when I had the situation presented to me. When my first would cry for a feeding, I thought it was easier to pull them into bed with me. But there were many times (scary, I’ll admit) that I fell asleep without even realizing it, and woke up an hour or so later to the baby in the bed with me. My husband was completely, 100% against it. I could understand why. Even after we moved our first (and our second) out of our room from sleeping in the bassinet to the their cribs, he would shoot straight up in the bed, in the middle of the night, as he slept, groping the bed. He would ask me in his sleep, “where’s the baby?” Even after our first was moved into a toddler bed from a crib in their own room, he would still worry. I agreed that it shouldn’t become a habit, but in the times that I was so exhausted and couldn’t think of any other way to calm the baby down, I relented. And didn’t admit it until later. But truly, they were few and far between times, and when I had no other out. We actually slept our second in the swing for the first three weeks of their life because it was the only thing that let them sleep for longer than a few hours at a time, and it was just easier. So that isn’t technically good either, is it?
Who am I to judge, right? Everyone needs to do whatever is right for their family. I personally don’t think that the baby should stay in the bed, or even your room in their bassinet, too much longer than 6 months, because I do see that habits can form from that point on. Even earlier, in some cases. Our first started playing us at 6 weeks. But you can’t go with your kid to college, so it has to stop at some point earlier in their life. So how do you know what’s right for you and your child? Or is there no way to tell but trial and error?
I still love to cuddle and let my kids sleep on me. It’s a guilty pleasure. I would love it when they would wake up early from their nap, drink some milk, and promptly cuddle into me on the couch and fall back into a restful sleep. I would hate to wake them up, and put off using the bathroom or moving my arm which had fallen asleep 15 minutes ago or compromising my uncomfortable position for their comfortable one to have them stay on me that much longer. Maybe it was because I felt genuinely that they needed me to sleep, but in any event, it was/is glorious (although, admittedly, it’s few and far between that it happens anymore). I am guessing that isn’t great either, so I try to keep it more so now when they aren’t feeling well, so it’s more of a comfort thing instead of an expected thing.
How DO we know what is right? Do we have to wait until they are older to see what’s what? The first mother I spoke of is extremely close to her children; so much so that they get jealous over her at times. The other parents, the ones who didn’t have their children sleep in their room at all, I noticed a difference there, too. Their child was super clingy and jealous as well, and threw fits when their parents would leave them for any amount of time (adjustment at daycare and other activities was difficult). Maybe every kid reacts differently no matter what you do, and therefore, we can never really know what works for everyone as a whole and makes the ninth hurdle more difficult to jump. So the articles that are either for or against co-sleeping? Use them to weigh out the positives and negatives, and then make your own decisions based on what works for you. Or you can be like me and judge everyone else for what they do or don’t do. (You know you do!)