Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bed Sharing

Co-sleeping and bed sharing is a controversial topic to many, but today I want to share our experience with it.

Penny has slept in our bed from day one. It started out mostly from necessity, as we were temporarily staying at my parents' house while we were relocating for Adam's new job. The guest room was a generous size but our king sized bed and two dogs just took up a lot of real estate! So we planned on bed sharing and figuring out details later.

About a week before she was born we pulled out the The First Years Close and Secure Sleeper. When researching co-sleeping options, I found lots of side car cribs that you could push against the side of the bed, keeping the infant in their own space but close. Neither Adam or I move around while we sleep, so fear of rolling onto the baby was never an issue. I also naturally felt the instinct to keep her close - and even the sidecar option seemed too far away for me. Plus, again, we were dealing with a lack of space. When I found the Close and Secure sleeper I knew this is what I was looking for. It kept the baby off the mattress and had soft side walls (I had no idea how infants slept.. did they roll around?) and also provided a barrier for either of us in case we did happen to roll closer to her.

The first few nights I couldn't bear to lay her down in it, after all - I had slept with her inside me for the last 9 months and just because she was born didn't mean that my baby didn't deserve to be enveloped in the loving arms of her parents! So she slept on my chest and this gave me relief in knowing that I would be right there in case something needed to happen.

We slept with the sleeper in between us until she was about 4 months old, at which time she was too tall for it and we packed it away. Since then she's slept on the mattress with us.

Through different developmental stages we face some challenges, such as when she first was starting to crawl she would act it out on her sleep, or during teething episodes when she is a lighter sleeper. But for the most part, a quick easy way to soothe her back to sleep is either by nursing or bringing her up onto one of our chests and gently patting her butt. There are times where she seeks out the comfort of our bodies and wants to be right next to our faces, snuggled as close to us as possible. There are nights where she wants her own space and spreads out her limbs like a star fish to keep us away. But every morning she is snuggled up against either one of us. Adam says those are the mornings that are the hardest to leave us.. and who could blame him? Lately if she wakes up a few minutes before either of us, she greets us with hugs and kisses to bring in the new day.

Bed sharing has never posed any safety issues to us. I did my research, talked with other bed sharing families and figured out a tactic that works for us. Once Penny started to move around in bed more continually, I pushed the pack n play up against my side of the bed so that I wouldn't worry about her rolling off.

We've benefited so greatly in keeping her in bed with us.
  • The greatest benefit to us was more sleep for everyone. She has slept pretty soundly from the beginning, simply because she has the comfort in knowing we're close by. I didn't have to get out of bed to nurse her or tend to her, which allowed us to fall asleep quickly once done nursing. 
  • By bed sharing I've been able to continue night nursing. With her being in the bed already neither one of us really is completely awake when she does want to nurse so it's allowed her to continue to nurse on demand and keep up my supply at 15 months. 
  • Finally, a somewhat latent reason why bed sharing has benefited us is because we travel a lot on the weekends and by already being accustomed to sharing bed space has made the night time a lot easier. Penny isn't scared or her sleeping schedule isn't terribly thrown off because she didn't become attached to sleeping in her specific crib. The phrase comes to mind, "home is where the heart is," and this case.. bed is where mama and dada are! 
I know that bed sharing isn't for everyone. Some parents move around a lot, are smokers, the bed is too small, or simply want that division of personal space. I get it. Bed sharing (or any co sleeping, for that matter) should be beneficial and safe for the parents and baby.  Just like with any other choice in parenting, sleeping arrangements are up to each family as each situation is completely unique!

Here are a few great resources and personal stories for those who are interested in bed sharing.

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  1. We didn't co sleep with our first at all. With our second it was just more convenient in the early days to not have to get out of bed to feed. She is four months now and in her own room, but only because I am a light sleeper and her moves and grunts woke me up.

  2. We didn't bedshare because Im a tummy sleeper!! I couldn't get comfortable with my kiddo in bed!! Now that he's a toddler its like sleeping next to a gymnast lol!! He is a pretty good sleeping and likes his own bed :)

  3. we dont share, my husband sleeps too soundly..its not safe



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