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  • Cozy sleepers!

    You know what co sleeping is, right? It's when a sweet little baby snuggles up with you in the middle of the night to keep warm. It's pretty wonderful.

    There is a funny controversy surrounding the act, however. Now, I'm not a co sleeping activist. It's none of my business where people choose to sleep. Similarly, it's no one else's business where our family chooses to sleep. But this discussion seems to pop up in conversation a ridiculous amount. I'm either doing my kids a disservice by co sleeping, or I'm doing them a disservice by not co sleeping the right way. At any rate, we do what we do because it works for us. I want to share with you my own bittersweet stories of elbows, baby pee, and curling up all nice and tidy.

    I remember just before Marc was born, his father and I did extensive research on how we were going to raise this baby. Breast feed, papoose, cloth diaper, and co sleep. The cloth diapering was my idea. It didn't last very long, by the way. But as for co sleeping, Marc's dad had found several articles stating the benefits of what was called the "Family Bed". He said families who do it are more emotionally connected and that children who sleep with their parents until age 6 were more emotionally stable and had better sex lives.

    Plus, I got to snuggle with a sweet little baby in the middle of the night. Count me in!

    Well, count me in until he hit about nine months old. He kicked me in the ribs, elbowed me in the face, and kept me up somethin' awful.

    Yes, I said "somethin' awful". I'm from the country.

    Still, even after he started sleeping in his own bed, I couldn't help but bring him in to cuddle in the wee hours of the morning. Naptimes involved me laying down in the big bed with him until he, and I, fell asleep. After his dad and I divorced and I found an apartment of my own, I would always put Marc to bed in his own room. However, it wasn't long after I went to bed myself that Marc would find his way through the dark apartment and into my bed. Every morning in that apartment he would wake up with me, look outside, and giggle a little two year old giggle. I asked him what he was laughing about one time. He said "there's a bird!" Giggle! He continued to do this until... well, until my fat and pregnant belly wouldn't let him into the bed. He would have been eight.

    Confession: to this very day I lay down in bed with him for about twenty minutes each night. The other night he rolled over and hugged me and said "Mom, you're awesome." Can you hear my heart melting?

    Now, when Charlotte was born, our situation was different even though our philosophy was the same. Breast feed, papoose, cloth diaper, co sleep. The cloth diapering worked out this time, just FYI.

    As for co sleeping, our bed was small and my husband was large, but I still had a need to be as close to my daughter as possible. She slept in a little bassinet butted up to our bed at first, but as you can imagine, she always made her way into the bed in the middle of the night. She would wake up crying wanting food, a clean diaper, or something else, and it was sleeping next to mommy or daddy for the rest of the night! As I write this, I remember Marc sneaking in a few mornings after the baby was born, too. Can you imagine two adults, an eight year old, and a baby snuggled up together? There were feet in my face, elbows in my thighs, and someone pulled my hair. It was hilarious!

    I won't tell you about the time I got peed on. I just want you to know it happened. 

    Yes, yes, I know all about the dangers of sleeping in the same bed as your baby. I know all about how the pillows and blankets and bodies can squish or suffocate an infant. I know what horrible things have happened when parents have slept with their children. I know. I could use this blog space to spew facts and links to convince naysayers that these claims are unfounded, but I just don't want to. I just want to tell you some warm and comfy stories. I'll save the research for someone else.

    Lotte is sixteen months old now. She doesn't fit in our bed, and we can't afford a bigger one. But you can be sure that mornings and naptimes are for snuggling! There's just nothing quite like waking up to a tiny hand grabbing your nose, her voice saying "noh-shh!".

    That, my friends, is how I want to wake up. Co sleeping is the bomb! Well, for me it is. Different people do it different ways and to different degrees. I stand firm that it isn't for everyone. We do what works for our family, and our family likes to snuggle!

    I'm glad co-sleeping worked out for you. I tried it, and it was an absolute nightmare. We had one of those bassinets that connects to the bed, and I'd snuggle up with my baby, but every time he moved or even took a deep breath, I'd be jolted awake (not that I was ever fully asleep, with a baby right there). I never realized how active newborns are even when they're asleep! Then again, I've been an extremely light sleeper all my life and have suffered insomnia since childhood. I've been known to be jolted awake by the sound of a car passing on the street, the newspaper hitting the driveway and even the furnace clicking on. Both my son and I were thrilled when I gave up and moved him to his crib when he was about a month old. He immediately took to it and dearly, dearly loved it as he grew older. Anytime we traveled, he was SO happy to come home to his crib!
    We've slept with both of our boys, too. With the first, we used an Arm's Reach Co-sleeper when he was teeny because we had a very cushy pillowtop mattress (pretty squishy and therefore unsafe for newborns and very young infants). I was so relieved when he was about 4 mos old and had all the strength and control needed to just stay in bed with me. (The co-sleeper became our cloth diaper storage area. The crib that I thought I should have? Storage for all those quickly-outgrown baby clothes!) We upgraded to a bigger, latex mattress, so #2 slept with us from his first moments earthside. We transitioned #1 to his own mattress next to ours around age 2; he's 5yo now and sleeps in his own room every night. #2 goes to sleep with big bro, but always comes to snuggle with mommy & daddy. I can't complain--I LOVE waking up to his snuggles and smiles every morning! The best part of co-sleeping (besides the snuggles)? The ease of breastfeeding and NOT losing sleep trudging back and forth anywhere to tend to baby's needs. :D (Sarah, I think listening to your own body's needs and getting the rest moms so desperately need in order to care for our babies was the best thing you could do. And your son probably has the same light sleeping tendency as yourself, so sleeps better without interruption, too. All we can do is listen to our bodies and our babies and do what is best.)
    Although DS had his own bassinet, we wound up co-sleeping. It lasted until he was about nine months old (when we finally had our own house, separate bedrooms, and his kicks got too strong!). I don't think we'll repeat it with baby #2, but I still love those sweet moments of cuddling up for a nap... It really is the best!
    I love reading your co sleeping stories! Keep 'em coming!
    Our son (now 3 1/2) slept with us until he was about 4 months old. Then, no one was getting great sleep. We moved him to a crib, and everyone did better. We still brought him up to our room in the middle of most nights for the first year. It is the same story, currently, for our daughter (nine months.) We also spend a good amount of time snuggling our son in his bed at bedtime, or if he wakes up in the middle of the night. I figure it is only a matter of time until he doesn't want to do anything like that, so I better soak it up now! It is so great that you posted this. At six a.m. this morning our daughter was already up in our room. My husband was getting ready to leave to go dig our business out. Our son woke up, so I scrambled downstairs to bring him on up. He, the baby, and I got to sleep until 7:30 or so. I woke up surrounded by two of my favorite people on a cold, post-blizzard morning. Life is pretty good.
    Great blog, as always, Val! I loved sleeping with my baby boy. Xander slept on my chest for the first 6 months of his life. I know some people think that is crazy, but his skin against my skin, breathing together, kissing him and sniffing all the new baby smell from his head were great. He does have his own bed now. He is almost 3. But, he falls asleep in our bed, we move him to his bed, and he finds his way back into our bed. It's both annoying and lovely all at the same time. I miss having room to move around, and having little boy feet up my rump when I turn over aren't ideal, but waking up to see his precious face? Yeah, I'll take that.
    I loved co-sleeping with all of my kids! I co-slept with my oldest till she was about 9 months old. Her sister a litle longer, then her brothers the longest! I got the best sleep with this arrangment and it made nursing so super-easy! I hear all of the stories but it just worked really well for me and I made sure I took the necessary precautions. We kept a crib in our room if the babes neededtheir own space and that made it easier too, though we ended up using it alot for storage.
    My daughter and I slept together for a Lon while after she was born. Besides the fact that it's wonderful to sleep with your baby, it's easier to nurse. Plus, I have a hearing impairment and wanted to be sure I knew when she needed me. That was easier to do when she was snuggled up next to me. I heard co-sleeping was controversial, but it worked for us, and I never got any grief for it.
    We co-slept with each of our three children (ages 8, 4 and 19 months), and it has worked for us very well. In fact, we occasionally have a night where all five of us are in the bed. This makes for a very interesting attempt at sleeping! Our 4-year-old usually falls asleep in our bed. And, like another poster, if we move her she often finds her way back anyway. As for the 19-month-old, he usually starts off in his own bed, spends some of the night in our bed and sometimes goes back to his bed (he often wants to go back to his own bed). And while it sometimes drives me crazy (I chalk it up to the lack of sleep) to have them in and out of the bed, I also know that, in the grand scheme of things, it does not last for long and that I will truly miss having my 4-year-old daughter snuggle up with me.
    WARNING: This comment contains something that is a little disturbing. Don't read any further if you don't want to hear about a pediatric death. I don't read blogs usually, but the title got my attention, because I recently ran a pediatric code blue (a death of a child) at work. About two months ago or so. I only have one child and we were half co sleepers and half not. Sometimes dd would sleep in her crib (when she was a baby) and bed (when she was toddler/preschool age) and sometimes with us. I always loved sleeping with her. I have no problem with co sleeping and thank goodness nothing freak like what I saw recently had happened. However, this recent experience did open my eyes to how it is potentially dangerous and that some safety considerations have to be taken. The basics of what had happened at this arrest is that the 15month old child had gotten wrapped up in a comforter, and somehow wedged herself between the mattress and the wall. She smothered and the dad did not hear her to wake up and help her. The downtime was unknown. To me, this says a couple things. One, I want anyone who co-sleeps with their children to have an awareness like no other, of the child in the bed. I used to be a real deep sleeper, and I have to admit that when my dd was little, I probably did not have this awareness. Hindsight is 20/20 and boy do I feel lucky. Another thought is that the blanket was an inappropriate size and thickness for her size. This is something that I never would have considered either. I don't know if this situation could have been avoided or not, it's not my place to judge that. But, I do know that it was lethal and I wanted to share this, just in case these considerations had not crossed your mind. I never want to see that again and I certainly don't want it to happen to any of you. Thanks for reading.
    I adored cosleeping, in part because I'm L-A-Z-Y at times :) Wanna know why I loved breastfeeding? I didn't have to get out of bed at 2am! We used one of those wedge side/back sleepers for both boys. You know, the big wedges or rolls that have a space between them so baby won't flop themselves face down? It gave me a COMPLETE sense of awareness but allowed us to snuggle up tight. My youngest sleeps horridly, and most nights ends up in our room at about 3am. I'm okay wtih that because I know it doesn't last forever. And even now, almost EVERY morning I end up in a jumble of arms and legs with the hubby, an 11 year old, a 5 year old (and my boys all have looooonnnng legs, let me tell you), and a very frisky cat :) It's fabulous!
    I'm glad it worked for you... but I was always scared to have my newborn in bed with us... I didn't want to smother him. He's 5 now, sleeps in his own bed. Which is a blessing for us. Sometimes, if there is a bad storm or he has a nightmare... we will allow him to come into our bed. But, I never sleep well when he's with us. He moves around a lot and kicks me in the back and I wake up sore. I never understood how mom and dad could have time to themselves when their kids were sleeping in the same bed with them... but I'm sure there are ways ;)
    After reading Riss's comment, I feel like I should add something: She's right, and you really can lose a child if you're not careful. Co sleeping is the bomb, but you shouldn't do it if you smoke, if you've been drinking, if there's too little room, if you have too many blankets and pillows, or if there is any chance that your child could suffocate in any way. Do a google search on how to co sleep safely. I kind of assumed that most people knew these things, but I guess not! Thanks for the reminder.
    So glad you found what works best for you!!! We cuddle with the kids, but I like my room when I sleep so they have never really slept with us. Now maybe if we had a king bed, but we don't so they have their own beds!
    We co-slept with my lil one until she was almost two. I tried the whole crib/bassinet thing, but she hated it, and neither of us would get any sleep. I loved cosleeping, and she was always right in between Rick and I. I haven't been a deep sleeper since before I was pregnant with her, and I was always aware of the tiniest wiggle. It was wonderful to wake up to her just patting my cheek or gazing at me with those big blue eyes of hers. Nowadays, she has her own bed, and falls asleep really quickly in it. But every so often, especially if one of us is feeling kind of yucky, she slips into bed with me, cuddles up, and zonks out. As far as personal time, well, we DID have both a crib and a bassinet. ;)
    My daughter had her own bed; however, she was with us during the entire time she was nursing. From 12 to 17 months she slept in her crib. When we moved to Kansas she didn't like her room (seriously) and slept with us until she was 4. She is very hot so it was like adding a furnace to the bed!
    Co-sleeping is a mixed bag for me. I do love it, but it usually ends in a bit of scuffle. I have had a foot to my mouth more times then I can count. Both of my kids are wild sleepers. It's like they do aerobics in their sleep! For a while, when my son was ill, I spent lots of nights in his bed at home and at Childrens.' He got accustomed to me being within "elbows distance." After his health improved and things started getting back to normal, it was a battle to keep in his bed at night (and me or his dad from sneaking up there). My daughter still loves crawling in with us too. She and I usually have a "sleep over" a few times a month. It's fun. She holds my hand until she drifts off. It's the best feeling in the world, at least until I am kicked in the ribs a few hours later. I usually have to take a nap the next day, to catch up on sleep.

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