Cosleeping / Parenting

The Down Side to Co-Sleeping

There is still a huge controversy raging out there in parentland about whether cosleeping is good, bad, safe, wonderful, dangerous, or just crazy. We have tried just about every possible sleeping arrangement in our vain attempts to get baby girl to sleep, so I thought I’d weigh in with a perspective looking back on the whole process these past 3 years.

Newborn – 8 Months: Cosleeper
For the first bit, we put baby girl in an Arm’s Reach Cosleeper by my side of the bed. This was wonderful for being able to comfort her and take her out for nursing every two hours all night long. Yes, this lasted months and months, and I loved the fact that I could have her close without worrying about rolling over on her at this age, which freaked me out when she was briefly in our bed.

8 Months – 1 Year: Crib
At 8 months, she was starting to sit up and roll around and was clearly outgrowing her cosleeper, so we tried to put her in the crib, but boy was that a miserable couple of months. My husband and I would actually get into arguments about who was spending more time standing over her crib to get her to fall asleep, and my back injury was still bad enough that I could barely stand up long enough to do this, bracing myself on the edge of her crib for as long as half an hour a night before she would drift off. Yes, we tried letting her cry it out. No, it didn’t work with her, though I know other kids this has worked for.

1 Year-3 Years: Cosleeping
At 1 year old, we went on a vacation where we all had to share a double bed. We brought her into the bed with us, and she slept like a dream. I only had to half wake up to nurse her, she slept for 3 hours at a time instead of 2, and it only took her 15 minutes to go to sleep instead of up to an hour it was now taking her to settle down. Easy decision. However, as many of you know, cosleeping has a downside. She wanted to be in my arms ALWAYS, naptime or bedtime. And–and this is the kicker–attempting a quiet time after she gave up her naps at 2 years old didn’t work at all because it looked just like a time out to her.

Last month, she kicked my neck out of alignment in her sleep, and I couldn’t even stand up from the dizziness when I woke up. I wasn’t seriously hurt, it was just ridiculous how much she was shifting sideways at night and pushing both of us out of bed (cosleeping parents, you know what I’m talking about! :) ), so we finally moved her to her own bed in her own room. Why did this take us so long? Partly because she just wasn’t ready to be apart from me at night, at least not from a gentle/attachment parenting perspective. The other reason is our master bedroom is downstairs and her bedroom upstairs, so putting her in her own room meant moving us nextdoor into the guest room for the near future, which was a bit of a pain. But, well worth it. She still wakes me up at 3 a.m. on a regular basis and takes up to 2 hours to settle down for a quiet time in the afternoon and maybe an hour to go to sleep at night, but I have more space to myself, more time to read and relax while she’s quieting down, and we’re all happier.

It’s that thing with quiet time and time out looking the same that really got us, though. I went 6 months running 12-14 hour days with no breaks because I couldn’t get her to sleep with me anymore and couldn’t get her to let me leave the room either. It got pretty crazy. So, we love cosleeping, maybe me a little more than my poor share-his-wife husband, but there is a definite downside there. We’re all happy to be past that phase and sleeping like nearly normal people again.

How about you? I know everyone’s experience with baby sleeping arrangements is different. Were there things you wish you had known when you first started out? Things you would do differently or just wish someone had told you? I’d love to hear about it in comments. And like I said, I know this is a huge controversy out there, but this is not meant to be a judgment on anyone’s choices. I just want to put it out there that even for people who have found safe, happy ways to cosleep, there can be downsides. I just want to take the “should” out of the equation, and dispel the myth that there’s one right way to do this, even for one family.

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