Why Co-Sleeping Works For Us, Even If It Horrifies You


co-sleeping with baby mom and dad
How sharing a bed with our baby works for my family.

I don't know when I decided my husband and I would co-sleep with our baby. I know that long before I became pregnant, I bookmarked a link to a co-sleeper bassinet. When someone informed me that babies usually grow out of them around 5 or 6 months, I smiled and said "I'll see if I can stretch it until 9 months."

My daughter didn't spend too many hours in that bassinet (though she did spend some time in there and it did make for a wonderful changing table). Here we are nearly 10 months and she is still in our bed, nestled next to me throughout the night.  It works for us. It might not work for you, maybe it didn't work for your neighbor or your cousin in Indiana.

I'm not here to talk about the safety of bed sharing. There are experts and studies for that. There are just as many statistics speaking to its dangers as there are statistics highlighting its benefits.

Back to me and my family bed.

I love and adore this Huffington Post article by Dr. Claire McCarthy titled, "Confession: This Pediatrician Is a Sleep Softie." In it, she discusses how she shared a bed with her all six of children at some point. She mentions some of the reasons behind it, breastfeeding-made-easy is one of them. Laziness is another.

I can definitely relate to these reasons. Establishing and maintaining a successful breastfeeding relationship—possibly through toddlerhood—was and is extremely important to me. As a result, it has always been easier to just have my baby right there beside me. Me, My Husband And My Baby: Who Owns My Breasts?

She also writes, "Personally, I think that as a culture we are a bit too hung up on getting our kids scheduled and independent practically from the time they are born."

I could kiss her for putting this out there. I can't even count how many times I have been asked if my daughter sleeps through the night. Why is this a common question? Exactly what does that tell you about my baby if she does or does not? No, she doesn't. She probably won't for a few years. Yes, I am tired. But I'm okay with this. This is what I signed up for. I didn't expect to be able to take off my mom hat between the hours of 7pm and 7am. I'm running a 24 hour operation here.

I'm not arguing that my way is better than independent sleep. In my opinion and in my own experience, babies have needs that need to be met around the clock. Even if that need is just to be held close to mom or dad. To me, my daughter is more important than a perfect night's sleep. And I try to remind myself of this at 3am when my natural need for sleep trumps my usual desire to cuddle and soothe.

In reality, before I became a mother I didn't sleep through the night. I wake up to take a sip of water or use the bathroom. Sometimes I wake up because I hear a noise and imagine a situation where a convicted felon made his way into my home. Uninterrupted sleep is normal. Being right there for my daughter when she wakes up and cries in the middle of the night is just another part of my role.

I want to kiss Dr. McCarthy once again when she explains that she is not a softie when it comes to everything: