We’re A Bunch Of Co-Sleepers

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In light of the controversial campaign by the Milwaukee Health Department (as seen to the right), I would like to share my thoughts and experiences with co-sleeping, or more specifically in my case,  bedsharing.  If you’d like to read a bit more about the facts of co-sleeping, please visit this article at Kaia Magazine.

I suppose I should mention first that I am a breastfeeding mom (this comes into play in a moment).  I was 22 when I had my first baby and the idea was really not one I was comfortable with.  I wasn’t yet comfortable with my body, but once E was born and I looked into those eyes…  Well, let’s just say that I was his.  He had a hard time latching and I was inexperienced – we would spend more than a month pumping, crying (both of us!), nursing and everything in-between.  I started like any new mom with a crib and bassinet to keep him close, but I soon found myself with my sweet baby in bed with me.  It was partially out of ease, but there was more.  It felt right and he did better – he nursed better, he slept better and he was far happier in general.  I was able to sleep better as a result too.  I slept lighter, but I slept.

Fast forward 3 years and our first daughter is born 7 1/2 weeks premature.  She was amazing and so strong, but still so small.  We brought her home at just two weeks old, but still quite early and small.  My husband was scared of her sleeping with us, and really who could blame him?  We bought one of those movement monitors to keep an eye on her breathing, but a week later she would too find her way into our bed, sleeping peacefully.  L would go on to spend about 15 months in our bed before moving to her own, though that would change after we brought G home from the hospital.

G came right home and into our bed.  Twenty-six months later, she’s still there!  I would complain, but she’s amazing.  She sleeps like an angel and I can’t think of anything better to wake up to than her cheerful face, snuggles or “I love you”s.

When babies take over!
Notice the bed on the floor for L (where she began to sleep after G was born) & the crib to the right – our first failed attempt to get G out of our bed.  Have no fear, I moved and/or arranged everyone properly before I went to bed.

I want to say first and foremost that co-sleeping (bedsharing) is not for everyone.  I do think that most people would be surprised by how aware of their child they become, but infants aren’t experiments and this is an area that requires deliberate action and some confidence.  I do believe that co-sleeping is a good thing and I know that there are proven physiological benefits.  I highly recommend reading up on Kangaroo Care for some amazing insight into the physiological benefits of close contact. While they aren’t exactly the same, the physiological benefits do mirror one another.  It’s really quite amazing the way that our bodies work with others, especially our infants.  In addition, co-sleeping helps families bond.  There is a closeness there that is simply amazing, for my husband too!  He works all day and I’m here with the kids, but each night he gets to snuggle up to his baby girl.

So here’s the deal – Safety is key.  Just as there are precautions to take with crib sleeping (no bumpers, pillow, toys, etc), there are precautions with co-sleeping.  Pillows do not go near babies, there should be no gaps for baby to fall ino/get stuck in and light blankets are a must, in fact I sleep with only a sheet.  My husband uses a light cotton blanket, like the one seen here.  I even used a breathable bed rail for quite some time as extra security, just like you would use for a child transitioning to a big bed.  There are even devices to help provide baby with their own space, while co-sleeping.  The Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper is one great solution.

While co-sleeping is not for everyone, I feel that scare tactics, like those used by the Milwaukee Health Department, are harmful by not providing full and accurate information.  Whether people choose to co-sleep or not, they should be informed in order to help empower them to make the right decision for their family.

What are you thoughts on this campaign, or on co-sleeping?  I’d love to hear them!


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Amanda Hearn
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18 Comments

  • I had my first baby under the impression that sleeping alone in an empty crib was the only rational way for a baby to sleep, and that all babies understood this and would sleep happily alone in their crib. Baby N disagreed. We fought with him for 3 months to get him to sleep ANYWHERE other than our bed (bassinet, pack-n-play, swing, bouncer, anything…), but we were all miserable until I finally let him sleep with me. He is now 6 months old and sleeping through the night in our family bed, and we are all SO much happier because of it. He actually didn't start gaining weight properly until then – probably because he's getting enough sleep now and my milk supply is better because I'm getting enough rest. For me, it would have been the wrong decision to force him to sleep in his crib.

  • We started room sharing from birth with an arm's reach co-sleeper. I never nursed in bed b/c of latch issues, so I would have to get up in the middle of the night away. But The Good Daughter would sleep so much better when she slept with us that we moved her out of the co-sleeper and in to our bed when she was too big for it. She slept great, we slept great and that's where we are today. At two and a half, we will put her to bed in her crib and then in the middle of the night if she cries, we will go get her and she will spend the rest of the night in bed with us. Sometimes she cries and sometimes she doesn't. It just depends. But I love cuddling in the morning and wouldn't ever want to take that away.

    Plus all the safety issues outlined but the MDPH are all things you can safely do while bed sharing, like putting them on their back, no pillow, no blankets, etc.

  • That ad is ridiculous!

    We co-slept (bed sharing) with our son until he was 7 months when we had to stop because he is a bed hog. Loved every single moment of it.

  • I just love this post! 🙂 I cannot believe that ad actually released.. I bet there are many angry parents out there because of it. But I loved your reasoning and your stressing that safety is key. I did not co-sleep for the only reason that I could not sleep with my boys in my bed. I wake up to everything and was not getting sleep… :p So they are in their own beds in the room next door. Its what works for us. But I for sure wouldn't say that sleeping with your child in your bed is as dangerous as the ad claims..

  • I have had a multi post series on co-sleeping scheduled for a few weeks, before this all blew up. Now I'm seeing co-sleeping posts everywhere! Hope you will check in, my first two posts are scheduled for tomorrow. 🙂

  • I absolutely LOVE co-sleeping with my two kids. The post I linked up above was from when my daughter was a bit younger but now we've upgraded to a king size bed and have given up any thought of transitioning her to a crib.

    We're actually going to convert the "nursery" into a playroom for both kids and will be getting a bed for her to put in her brother's room shortly for when she wants her own space. I need to update the blog with a new post about our views 🙂

  • I love co-sleeping. I look forward to snuggling at night and my DD sleeps so much better. Like you, I sleep lighter, but I at least get to sleep. 🙂

  • When I first saw this on the internet about the campaign, I thought of my country (Philippines). I mean, I grow up in a country were babies are sleeping with their moms. You don't necessarily have to buy cribs for the baby and other crib accessories, but just you and the baby sleeping together and it has been that way for so many years since the old times. I mean I was sleeping with my mom since I was born and because of that I am for co-sleeping. When I had my first child, we sleep together and I find it more helpful because I get to have good sleep and I can check on the baby right away and see how the baby's doing since he's right next to me. My husband has no problem with co-sleeping either and even if my boy is already 3 years old, he still likes to sleep with us. Fine with me because I grew up in a country who co-sleeps with their kids. Like you said it creates more bonding with your kids and it's one of those precious moments that you look forward to during sleeping time. To cuddle with your little ones and go to bed sleeping well. Of course, it comes with being careful and cautious as well when you co-sleep just like putting the baby in the crib. I would say co-sleeping is for me and it works. Good thing we have a huge bed that we are able to sleep together. 🙂

  • I can't imagine having not co-slept with my sons when they were little. The first happened by accident. I fell asleep rocking him at 3 weeks. After that, he wouldn't sleep unless he was touching me or my husband. We co-slept until he was about a year old. With the second, we co-slept from the start. He moved into his own room around 7 months after naptime went great in there for a few weeks.

    With the twins, there was no way I was going to be up & down all night long. Hubby worked out of town, so I literally just switched sides of the bed whenever one got done nursing so I could get more sleep! They moved into their own room when they started rolling around, but still sleep together at 23 months.

  • Oh, it would have been nice of Milwaukee to point out when co-sleeping (bedsharing) isn't appropriate instead of making a false blanket statement.

  • Co-sleeping in a safe bed was a lot safer and better for me than falling asleep while nursing in a chair.

    I wish more people would consider trying it before assuming that they would "never be able to sleep with a baby in bed". It does take some practice to get a comfortable routine down, and it helps to know that the hormones involved with the breastfeeding pair seem to make the mom more aware of the baby. I am sure there are some people who it genuinely doesn't work for though.

  • I think that the recent ads are atrocious considering that the research is very mixed on the subject – there are some studies out there that say cosleeping actually produces lower rates of SIDS, yet those are completely ignored!

    My own baby will be here any day now (currently 5 days past my due date) and my husband and I haven't decided whether we will cosleep or not, but I think that's a question that's best answered by "let's wait and see what works for us". Maybe we will and maybe we won't, but I will be breastfeeding too and it seems like it would be the most convenient option.

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