(originally written 1/27/2018)
What is co-sleeping?
Sharing a bed with your baby – sharing the same sleeping environment – sleep-sharing, a family bed – any way you want to put it, that’s what it is.
When I decided to write this post, I chose to back my decision with research. I decided I would be as unbiased as possible, drawing the pros and cons of co-sleeping versus babes sleeping in their own beds. I would take myself and my experiences out of this post, and I would cite many credible(ish) sources about others’ experiments.
Here’s what I found out, rather quickly:
- I am biased. I’m biased about how much cooler my family is than anyone else’s; I’m biased about how much smarter my son is than the other kids his age; I’m biased about certain parenting choices; I’m biased against assholes who raise asshole kids; I’m biased against closed-minded individuals. Man, the list could go on, you know? (What’s that saying? “If you can’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything?”)
- There’s truly not a lot of research (so I’ve found… I’ll elaborate in a bit) against co-sleeping, so it’s a bit difficult to stay neutral.
- I hardly have time to write this blog (never mind actually write on time) (sorry 3 loyal readers), so researching and then actually READING the research – you’re joking, right? – it’s close to impossible.
A fun little story:
Co-sleeping has been a topic I’ve wanted to delve into for a while now, and I figured this week would be a great week to do it. So, Karma, of course, gave me a bit of a nudge a few days ago.
A close, loyal client at my gym (also my job) brought his wifey to his training session. They both know I’m starting this cloth diaper service, so wifey wanted to show me a good friend’s brother, to see if his reviews could give me some ideas, etc. etc. etc (turns out he’s a really popular baby product promoter – The Baby Guy NYC, have you heard of him?). I go on YouTube and watch an interview. Toward the end of the interview, he starts talking about – yep, you guessed it – co-sleeping! And how wonderful it is, and the physiological effects on mom and babe, and yada yada – and I think, shit, boi, we have a connection and you don’t even know it, but we’re destined to be best friends, so… whatchyo numbah? Can I hazz it?
(God, I’m annoying)
My research tactic was a very respected one, completely unbiased, and definitely not linked to my search history – I googled “co-sleeping,” and printed out all of the articles on the first page of the search (pretty legit, right?). Here’s what they had to say (in a gist… I don’t want to bore you with an entire research paper over here – just the goodies. And shit, read the damn articles yourself if you’re interested, yah lazy!)
(Also, the cool thing about these articles is they’re not all based in the US. Why is that cool, you ask? Because I’ve found the US, out of all places, are HUGE sticklers for rules and safety guidelines – if only for “precaution.” Stay tuned next week for my rant about drinking wine while pregnant…. YEAH).
Co-Sleeping: Yes, No, Sometimes? Mentioned all of the following benefits of co-sleeping: respiratory gasses that stimulate breathing between mother and baby; sleep harmony; sleep interaction; a possible lower risk of SIDS due to patterns of naturally sleeping on back and side; easier breastfeeding; better connection between parent and child; and better yet (best yet?) – “growing to your full potential, emotionally, physically, and intellectually.” This was all in an article written by someone who has been observing co-sleeping for THIRTY years, mind you – not just some snobby blog writer with one kid who claims she has all the answers (whoo, meeee?).
Cosleeping with Baby, Is it Safe?: “cosleeping with baby is the biological norm;” ANOTHER mention of a lower risk of SIDS; more sleep for baby and mom (check! Sign me up!), mom and baby sync sleep patterns (already mentioned as well); less intimacy with partner (disadvantage – true); high ratio of infant death and co-sleeping in one study – lacked information about drugs and alcohol.
The Myths and Truths about Co-Sleeping: Negative Nancy’s sister, Sort-of Negative Nancy, wrote this one, and hones in on the aforementioned study about SIDS increasing with co-sleeping. Sort-of Nancy describes the “OK” version of co-sleeping, which is sleeping in the same room, but not in the same bed. That’s totally fine – but I’ll tell you right now (and later on), that the same bed and the same room are two VERY different things. Sort-of Negative Nancy does, however, mention that co-sleeping helps baby’s “thrive,” like our first article mentioned.
Safe Cosleeping Guidelines: Basically talking about how to “safely” sleep with your baby, this article does actually talk about sleeping in the same bed. “It is important to be aware that adult beds were not designed to assure infants safety!” (I can get on board with that one… please, continue); Bottlefeeding babies should be on a separate surface (why bottlefeeding babies specifically? It doesn’t say); don’t put an infant in a bed with an adult who doesn’t know infant is there (fair), infants under a year shouldn’t sleep with older siblings (also fair); don’t use drugs or alcohol while co-sleeping (the fairest); if you’re excessively obese, this isn’t a decision for you… (I wouldn’t know, but I can see how that could be an issue); don’t co-sleep if you think you could probably suffocate your baby (100% agree… like, wut?).
Co-Sleeping and Bed-Sharing: Talks about advantages – like the ones mentioned above (including REDUCING the risk of SIDS up to 50%!!), no nighttime separation anxiety (also mentioned in previous articles, just not mentioned in this post), more sleep for babies (and moms) – also talks about creating safe sleep areas, such as a firm mattress, no loose objects, no gaps between wall and bed, etc.
So, I’ve printed out more than 5 articles, apparently, because I’ve summarized five and I still have two articles to go (Co-Sleeping with your Baby and Co-Sleeping Safety) (I’m writing blog posts here, not writing mathematical equations, okay?)… But, basically, they’re mainly all saying the same thing (except for Sort-of Negative Nancy, who wanted to base her findings off of ONE research study, which was also biased because it didn’t mention anything about whether parents were intoxicated or drugged out, so…)
MY experiences, suggestions, etc:
- The worst night sleeps I’ve gotten since Cheeky, Jr was born are the nights I’ve fought him to sleep in his own bed.
- There’s a significant difference, even now, about how many times he’ll wake up when I’m in bed with him as opposed to when I haven’t gone to bed yet or I’ve decided to sleep somewhere else.
- I’ve always slept better, and been better rested, when CJ slept with me and woke up with me.
- Breastfeeding 4 times throughout the night would have probably killed me, or put me in prison for killing someone else, if it weren’t for co-sleeping.
- Since co-sleeping took over, Papa Cheeks has not slept in bed with us – definitely a con you’d want to consider if weighing your co-sleeping options (pretty sure he was always worried he’d sleep too heavy and crush the nugget. Cheeky, Jr. and I are also bed hogs, so I don’t doubt we’ve knocked him off the bed a few times.)
- I once rolled on top of CJ in my sleep. I am not proud. However, it wasn’t a full roll – I was not blocking airways. it was more of, like, discomfort for the nugget, and he yelled a quick yell to let me know my weight is not one for an infant to bear, and I quickly adjusted. This is where knowing your limits comes in – if you are known to sleep through anything, co-sleeping is probably not for you (however, mom brain definitely becomes attuned to babe’s needs, so.. who knows – except for you – not me, I don’t. All I know is that co-sleeping has allowed me to age 7 years in one as a parent, rather than 15 years in one, so.. thanks, Co-Sleeping).
- Get. A. Bed. Rail. There is NO reason not to – Cheeky, Jr. fell off our bed a couple of times when he was itty bitty. Our bed is really low to the ground, thank goodness. It scared the shit out of us, though (why we didn’t think of a bed rail then, I don’t exactly know – first time parents, just trying to get through the day? Probably)
- DO NOT SLEEP WITH YOUR BABY IF YOU’VE BEEN DRINKING. Duh, duh, duh (easier said than done – this is where you’re tested. stay. away. from. your. baby!)
Alright, so you got yourself some legitimate research, here. I hope it didn’t bore you to death.
(why not Thursday?)
CJ’s bed time routine is so great, I typically fall asleep with him, too – and yesterday was no different – we were both asleep by 7:30, and I hold only a wee bit of shame. Mainly pride, because I’ve created a routine that can even put me to sleep… no big deal. Ask me later if you want the secrets. Or don’t, I really don’t care… I’ve gotten all the sleep for both of us, anyway.