As my feverish toddler slept peacefully on me, I couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that he’s actually sleeping in MY bed! This never happens, and it’s only due to the fact that he’s sick, and needs his Momma. Usually, when we try to coax him into snuggling with us in our big bed, he ends up jumping on it, or rolling off the side so he can get to our bathroom and start ransacking cabinets and drawers. But not this night. And I loved every second of it. But would I want to do this every night for the last 26 months? No.
Since Kristin shared her story about co-sleeping, and how it fits her family’s lifestyle, I thought it would be useful to talk about the flip side: being a non co-sleeping family. That’s right, I’m admitting to you all that my husband and I decided against co-sleeping from the start. We never felt comfortable with the idea of a newborn in our bed — too many horror stories involving SIDS and injuries — plus, we knew it would impact everyone’s quality of sleep. As selfish as that may sound, we believe we are better parents for being rested and sane, and not worrying about suffocating baby, assures us of that.
In the beginning, Bubba was within arm’s reach, in a bassinet right next to my bedside. I’d bring him in bed to nurse and cuddle, and then gently place him back in his bed. This worked beautifully…for about 2 months. By 2 months, our tossing and turning (hubby and I are both side-sleepers) was waking and startling our baby. He’d hear the bed creak, and the blankets rustle, and he’d start fussing. Within the same month, Bubba started waking us up by grunting loudly in his sleep. After a doctor visit, we were informed that the grunting was most likely due to gas (so was his mild colic), and she suggested ways to relieve/prevent his discomfort, and also recommended we move him to his crib in his bedroom so we can all get a good night’s sleep.
Tough decision. My baby was still so little, and I wasn’t ready to sleep without him by my bedside. Amazingly enough, the kid started sleeping like a rock once he was moved to his crib! So did Mom and Dad. This all went smoothly until about 5 months, when he became more aware of his surroundings, and suddenly did not want to sleep alone. We rocked him, and hung out in his room as long as we could, but refused to bring him into our bed for the night. Even if we brought him in temporarily, he wouldn’t fall asleep–he just wanted to play. We sleep-trained him shortly after (I know, GASP!), and it SUCKED, but I’m happy to say that he has been a pretty solid, independent sleeper (including naps) since 6 months old.
So, do I regret not co-sleeping? It’s two-sided. On one hand, I am proud of the fact that we set our boy up for quality, independent sleep, and that we all get a restful night’s sleep, nightly. On the other hand, I am jealous of the families who get more cuddle time, and wonder if it would have made my son more affectionate toward us at a younger age (at 2, he’s JUST starting to kiss us, and let us hold him down for snuggles.) I sometimes worry that he’s TOO independent.
Just like Kristin may feel like she’s looked at funny for co-sleeping with her toddler, I feel like I get some flack for not co-sleeping–and for failing to wear my baby all over town. “Attachment Parenting” is hot right now, but I guess it just didn’t feel natural to me. I often think of how my next kid will be raised, and I have a feeling I will need to wear that monkey in order to chase Bubba, and keep he/she in our room longer out of sheer exhaustion and convenience.
The thing is this: (and you’ve heard it before) we all parent our own way, and no one’s style is better than anyone else’s, because we are all doing what’s right for ourselves, and our babies.<3
What’s your sleep story?