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Friday, July 30, 2010


So, we are officially co-sleepers. As in, we get kneed/elbowed in the face nightly by one or two children (usually two) out of choice.

Well, necessity really.

I sound defensive, don’t I?

Here is how it happened and why I am okay with it.

Mainly, I like to sleep.

I used to sleep in till noon no problem, pre-kids (obviously on those days I wasn’t at work.) I loved to sleep. Lying in bed with a book on a Saturday morning. Oh Lord, it’s heaven on earth. (Especially when dear kind husband would get up and make coffee and bring me a cup, GULP – seriously for real trying not to tear up here – I LOVED THAT. Coffee in bed? And not even on Mothers Day?? Oh the memories…)

So then we have babycakes.

I swore I would never sleep with my kid in our room, let alone our bed but of course, when it came down to it the thought of my sweet dear babycakes all the way in another room was too much to bear. We got a nice sweet little co-sleeper and set it up next to my side of the bed.

We brought our little bundle home from the hospital…evening turns into night…and then, say what?

They don’t just drift off to sleep with a little milky??

Ummm, what, what, are we supposed to do then?


Blank looks.

We were baffled.

He didn’t just NOT sleep. He cried. And this is in our arms mind you. We hadn’t even attempted to lie him in the sweet-little-bed yet!

That first night he, at some point, ended up in a heap on my chest. His little nose nuzzled up to me, swaddled tight in his blanket. I called my mom in a panic the next day. “Is it SAFE to sleep with your baby?? Because that is the only way he will sleep!”

And so it began.

After that it was not about the sweet little bed. It was about sleep. Period. End of discussion.

So what did I do? Being the research oriented person that I am I got the best sleep book in the world  “Happiest Baby on the Block” which details the Five S’s of good sleep “swaddle, shushing, swaying…” something like that.

Anyway, this book, as the kids say these days, is the bomb. Saved our lives.

Pacing and bouncing up and down the hallway turned out to be key to getting him to sleep – the calories I must’ve burned! – a tight swaddle was key to keeping him that way.

So, most nights, after this whole swaddle/walk/bounce routine I had no desire to try to put him in his own bed, not to mention daddy being in law school and mommy usually doing this all on her own. I just collapsed into bed with babycakes and called it a day.

Naptimes usually meant snuggling him into the babywrap while I worked (at home, on the computer) or me holding him, watching Lifetime movies on mute with the titling function turned on. (No joke. Ridiculous eh?)

By months 3-4 he got big, too big to hold that long and I kinda wanted to try and use the sweet-little-bed before he got too old for it. I spent two agonizing days trying to get him to sleep in his sweet-little-bed for naps. Finally it worked. Then, naps got better. He would nap in his crib! On his own! (freedom! I can shower? During the day? Check email? Eat? YAY!)

Still bedtimes were toughest. I was intermittently going for the little bed, if my energy was up for it. He would be there for a few hours on his own and then wake up wanting his milky-milk and into the bed he came.

By month six crawling and pulling up started. He still was swaddled tightly every night for bed though so I wasn’t too worried about him getting out of the sweet little bed. It just seemed with this new found creeping stage his little brain was working overtime. His sensitive little self had an even harder time sleeping. (Ask my family, I spent every family gathering shushing people and started telling everyone he was teething at 4 months…yea, he didn’t get his first tooth till 8 months!) He wanted mama. ALL THE TIME.

So, into the bed he came. Again.

It’s just…So. Much. Easier.

Basically, I can’t understand getting out of bed walking into another room, up stairs in some cases, getting baby to sleep, going back downstairs, waiting for the yelping to come across through the monitor and doing it all over again. Especially with an intense kid like my spirited babcakes. I am exhausted typing that. Maybe I am just lazy? I don’t know.

In any case, with this arrangement I would roll over, offer up my goods, pat him a bit, roll back down to sleep. Simple. But yet, being convinced that sleeping was “an-essential-skill-that-I-must-not-neglect-to-teach-my-child” I still attempted to put him in his crib.

We tried all sorts of arrangements. His crib, in his room. A pack n’ play in our room (this worked from maybe months 9-12 fairly well, or at least he was in there the first few hours of sleep which allowed me to say, drink a bottle, er, I mean glass, of wine, while watching Grey’s Anatomy.)

By a year old he was just too mobile, too vocal, and not into nursing to sleep. We would both lie on our bed, on our backs, watch him go from bouncing up and down on the bed to sitting, rolling over us, and eventually, poor little bugger, falling asleep nestled between us. After all this (more than an hour, most nights) we didn’t dare try and move him.

Somewhere around then, we admitted it to ourselves, this is just easier. And there he stayed…
Around 20 months or so he was ready for his “big boy bed” and we were able to hype it up sufficiently to get him to go for it …for at least the first couple hours…and that is where it is at, still.

He gets up every night and runs to our bed.


No, seriously, I don’t think you get it. EVERY NIGHT.
I think he has sleep in his bed all night maybe, MAYBE, a dozen times? Maybe less.

[Note re babycakes the first, super duper intense little man. Sensitive. Intense. Spirited. Funny as heck. But did I mention intense? All this greatly contributes to his sleep issues. A long day at the mall/playdate/grandma’s = tossing and turning for hours before finally FINALLY going to sleep. We still have to lay with him to get him to fall asleep. Every night. No. seriously. EVERY STINKIN’ NIGHT.]
So, when babycakes the second came along you know what we did?

Tucked her into her blanket (easygoing kid that she is she doesn’t need or even like swaddling!), nestled her between the two of us (no bouncing, no walking), and fell asleep... And there she has been every night of her life.

And you know what, when I wake up in the morning to see my two babies cuddled up to each other, holding hands, well. I kinda like it.

[caveat #1 Ok. So that is all nice sounding some days yes, I scream inwardly “how-I-wish-I-could-put-you-in-your-bed-and-kiss-you-good-night-and-shut-the-door” but alas, my babies do not work that way…]

[caveat #2 obviously there are safety concerns sleeping with little ones, particularly babies. Read here for more on that. We sleep on a king size mattress (heaven!) purchased out of necessity when babycakes the second was a few months old. It is pushed in the corner. She sleeps between daddy and me. When brother comes to bed I flop her over to my other side, against the wall. I have blankets rolled tightly and pushed against the bed and wall to prevent bumps/getting stuck. With newborns, especially squirmy ones, you really have to be careful with that gap issue. Also, never go to bed after drinking/feeling buzzed. Stay up. Drink water. Be safe. Also I never take any kind of cold medicine/sleep aid that might make me unresponsive to my baby. Ever. Other safety items are listed on that site. We have had one, maybe two scary middle of the night baby crawled off the bed incidences, but never with a newborn – I think my son was 14 months old and crawled off the foot of the (low-lying) bed in his sleep. I think that has been it. Maybe he rolled off the bed napping with me too once? In any case, kids climb out of cribs, get limbs stuck so to me it’s not a “risk” of this sleeping arrangement per se, just worth mentioning.]

[caveat #3 re SIDS. I don’t even want to bring this up. But….from what I have read SIDS is now more correlated with improper serotonin levels in a newborn rather than sleeping environment alone. Also, once your baby can lift their head the risk becomes much lower. Newer studies show that sleeping with a baby can actually DECREASE a risk of SIDS because baby responds to mothers breathing cues. Also, re studies with deaths in co-sleeping…apparently they are skewed, from what I have read, because they include deaths that happen on unsafe surfaces (couches, etc) or in unsafe conditions involving drugs, drinking, etc. It is amazing how the nursing mother is in tune with her baby. You really do know where your baby is. Its like, your body knows not to roll off the edge of the bed so even more so your body knows where your baby is.]

[caveat #4 I hate contention/arguments/debates. Perhaps it is my polite Midwestern upbringing? Being from a large family? In any case that is not the point of sharing all this. Some babies need their space, mommies and daddies too, and I hear that. I get that. I am not FOR or AGAINST any particular sleeping arrangement mind you, just for doing what is best for you and your baby. Being a responsive parent but taking care of yourself too. Ok. End of caveats.]

Sleep. Love. Be happy!

Next up: Baby gear


  1. Jack screams in my face (at naps) until I leave the room so he can sleep already, dang it. :-) It's actually kind of funny. Of course it means I have to get my snuggle time in some other time, which sometimes makes me sad, but it's what works for us. (And I sneak it while "burping" after eating so I still get plenty.)

  2. This is great! I have never been one to co sleep past the first few months, but sounds like you have it working out great and works for you guys...Love this! Great perspective on this!

  3. I think one of the hardest things about parenting is sleep deprivation. There is no way to prepare for this, and its effects are far-reaching and painful. With that in mind, I'm all for doing WHATEVER it takes to get sleep. My daughter was really fussy, and some nights the only way she slept was on someone's chest. OK, then, if that's what it takes, that's what we'll do! We, too, got the warnings, but both hubby and I always knew where she was, and some days that's how we saved our sanity. On the good nights, she was in a pack-n-play in our room. She nursed every 2 hours, like clockwork, and was vastly offended by bottles. I was seriously sleep-deprived for a full year, and didn't even realize it until she started sleeping though the night (accompanied by a choir of angels singing endless praise). I still don't know how I functioned.

    So congratulations on finding a solution that works for your family, because sleep is a gift every bit as precious as your two gorgeous kids!

  4. doing what works is the key. and being flexible to change it up as your kids needs change...

    in any case, i have set up a little bed in our sons room so maybe baby dear will sleep there soon in the future? maybe? might be nice.......


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