Why Do We Co-sleep?

Of all of the “crazy” things we do (a.k.a. attachment parenting things), co-sleeping seems to be the the one people take issue with most often. I’m always amazed when yet another person disagrees with Peanut sleeping in our bed when at least 70% of people bring their baby to their bed at some point.

Why do we co-sleep?

Safety

Of course, there are certain things you need to do to make your sleeping area appropriate for an infant (read this fantastic article by PHD in Parenting for info on co-sleeping safety), but that’s not what I’m talking about.

Babies sleeping on a safe surface with sober, nonsmoking parents respond to their parents, and the parents respond to them. The chance of SIDS occurring in this situation is as close to zero as we can measure. For better or worse, most babies have never sneezed in their parents’ beds without their parents knowing it. How could they possibly stop breathing without our immediately being aware of the problem and quickly stimulating them back to a regular, safe respiratory pattern?… Newborn babies breathe in irregular rhythms and even stop breathing for a few seconds at a time. To put it simply, they are not designed to sleep alone. — Dr. Jay Gordon

Everything in this article just makes sense. Why do we spend so much of our days fighting our intuition? What feels right about taking this beautiful, perfect baby that was living in my belly for 9 months and put her across the house from me for at least 1/3 of the day? Would I do that in any other situation?

I truly believe that co-sleeping—when done safely—lowers the risk of SIDS. No, there’s no specific research that I can find that says this is true, but it just makes sense to me.

Convenience

I’ve said this many, many times—I think I would be insane right now if I weren’t co-sleeping. This is beyond true. I know many people who have gotten less sleep while co-sleeping, but for me it’s the only way I can get a decent amount. When I was pregnant, I was convinced I wouldn’t co-sleep. I was sure I would roll over on my baby (which is so ridiculous in retrospect. Do you roll off of your bed? No. That’s because you know there’s the edge there even when you’re sleeping. You know the baby is there even when you’re sleeping.) so I bought a crib. I even genuinely tried to get her to sleep in it (in the same room as me) a few times.

I would force myself to sit up and stay awake while I fed her, I would oh so carefully lay her in the crib so she wouldn’t wake (which she still did most of the time), then I would lay awake in my bed cursing myself for not being able to fall asleep. I’ve always had issues with insomnia and forcing myself to stay awake just told my body “Okay then, you’re awake!” and I couldn’t sleep at all. Next thing I knew, I was awake again a half hour after finally falling asleep to do the whole process again.

Along with not being able to fall asleep easily, I’m also a person who needs to get a significant amount of sleep to function. The recommendation is 7-9 hours of sleep, but it’s really a bell curve. The majority of people need that much sleep, but (as I’m sure you know) there are some people who need a lot less and some people who need a lot more. I’m one of those people who need a lot more. There are days when I get a 10 hours and am still yawning and in desperate need of caffeine.

I love it.

Yes, this sounds selfish. It is selfish.

Remember this baby that was inside of me for 9 months? Of course I want to be close to her! Why would I turn down the chance to cuddle my Peanut all night?

Having a very, very active baby means we don’t get many chances to just sit around and cuddle. Even with the fact that she likes to be held frequently, she is still playing the majority of the time I hold her. Even with how exhausting it is to have an active toddler (yes, I consider her a toddler now), I still enjoy it. That said, I also enjoy being able to cuddle my little Peanut and when she’s sleeping or eating (when she’s not doing breastfeeding acrobatics) are the only times I get to do that.

Bottom line: co-sleeping is what works for us. I don’t judge you for your decisions about raising your children, so why do you get to judge me?

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11 thoughts on “Why Do We Co-sleep?

  1. It’s like you looked into my head! Those are almost the same reasons for my decision to co-sleep. I didn’t buy a crib because I knew from friends that I wouldn’t use it for at least the first year, so I thought I was being smart by buying a bassinet for my bedroom. Well, that bassinet is a great storage bin! My kid has slept in it once. Oh well, at least I didn’t spend a fortune on it :)

  2. co-sleeping is awesome for many reasons
    my fave reason right now is I was tickled to find my 8.5 month old clapping in her sleep!

    tho, i have to say, my back hurts from the sidelying nursing…

  3. I also LOVE co sleeping, and it is the one thing people really get mad at me about. I don’t think it’s because they are judging, I think it’s because they don’t know. Here, in the USA, co-sleeping is DANGEROUS. They know, because the APA told them so. They don’t know that more babies die (by far) of crib accidents than co-sleeping accidents, they don’t know that co-sleeping negates the risk of SIDS, they don’t know that it is actually safer. They think I am putting my baby at risk because I don’t want to buy a crib. So thank you for posting this, the more educated people are the less they’ll get mad at me. :)

    • I’m consistently amazed (and amused) by how people just listen to whatever an “authority” tells them without question. Every situation is different. The government can’t say “Co-sleeping is bad if you don’t take necessary precautions” because people are stupid.

  4. I loved this post! I often feel as though I’m being the truly selfish one by cosleeping…others who have to go through all the drama and stress of sleeping with baby in a crib have NO IDEA what their missing out on. I can’t IMAGINE how I would have gotten through all these nights without being able to simply turn on my side and nurse LO back to sleep!

  5. Hey, Just stumbled upon your blog in search of info on baby-led weaning. Love it!

    Regarding your comment above “I truly believe that co-sleeping—when done safely—lowers the risk of SIDS. No, there’s no specific research that I can find that says this is true, but it just makes sense to me.”

    if you want some evidenced-based studies to back up your natural instincts, check out James McKenna’s sleep lab http://www.nd.edu/~jmckenn1/lab/
    He is opposed to the AAP’s black and white guidelines on the subject of co-sleeping and has done a lot of work to demonstrate lower incidence of SIDS for families that practice safe co-sleeping.

  6. Pingback: “The 10 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make” - Seriously? Seriously?!! | Crunchy Domestic Goddess

  7. I know this is an old blog but I’ve been reading up on your website a little bit today and came across it. We semi cosleep with our 22 month old daughter. She has a co-sleeper cot which is pushed up against our bed. It gives me a little bit more space to move yet keeps her within arms reach for night feeds and cuddles. I am currently expecting baby number 2 and was just wondering how you continued your cosleeping relationship when Twig came around. Did you continue? If so, how does that work in day to day life?

    When Peanut was little would she ever sleep in the bed alone? Our girl would sleep in the cosleeper on her own sometimes during the day or early evening if I wasn’t ready for bed yet. We would alternate with the sling, sofa, swing seat or whatever happened to work at the time. Just trying to think about the practicalities of doing this with a new baby in the mix.

    • I’m happy to answer questions! I know how it is expecting your second and wondering how life will work with two.

      When Peanut was a baby, she would nap alone in the bed/sometimes swing or on me. She would also sleep alone on the bed from when I put her down until I went to bed myself, usually a few hours. Once I was in the bed though, she’d roll towards me no matter what. She’s honestly the same way these days. Just loves sleeping next to a warm body! She did move to her own bed when she was about a year and a half because it seemed like my being in the bed woke her up more than anything. She’d usually come into our bed around 5-6am for some early morning nursing and cuddling. When I was pregnant with Twig though, she decided that she didn’t want to sleep in her own bed alone anymore, so she moved back into ours.

      With Twig, she’s napped in the swing (more often than big sister did), on the bed alone, or on me. Occasionally I get to nap with her and she definitely naps longer when someone is next to her, but it doesn’t happen much anymore now that Peanut doesn’t nap (for the first few months, I’d put them both to sleep nursing and then unlatch them and we’d all nap together on the bed. It was bliss. Anyway, with Peanut sleeping in the bed with Twig at night, I wasn’t comfortable leaving them alone in the room together in the beginning. I would just hang out and knit or play on my laptop until I was ready for bed. Eventually I became more comfortable with leaving them alone together and would just make a line with the pillows between them. And I always keep the monitor on the loudest it can go so I can hear any little noise. I also would try to keep myself between them when we were all sleeping in the beginning, but eventually got more relaxed with that too.

      Just a couple of weeks ago though, Peanut decided she wanted to try sleeping in her own bed again. She’s slept there since, but with daddy joining her now. Eventually when she’s comfortable, he’ll move back into the big bed with me and Twig.

      I hope that answered your questions! Let me know if you have any more.

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