My 3.5 month old son sleeps next to me every night with my nipple in his mouth or his head on my breast. Usually at some point in the night he unlatches and rolls to his back. Right now, this doesn't bother me-- I love it in fact-- but I am afraid that he will eventually need to move either to make room for a sibling or if he becomes a sleep disturbance to me. I have fibromyalgia and sleep deprivation is a major pain trigger for me. That's how we ended up sleeping like this in the first place... I needed him to find a way to sleep through the night and he does! But now I'm afraid that this will be a difficult habit for him to stop. Should I keep doing what I'm doing and hope he will be okay with a little more distance when he's older or should I try to get him used to sleeping without the breast now? I had a lot of sleep problems as a child and I don't want him to go through the same thing.
Sleeping at the breast
You and your son have together found the perfect bliss and perfect solutions to your challenges. I sure see no reason to mess with that. Babyhood and motherhood are both full of transitions. Things change for both of you practically every day, and you both adapt and grow on an as-needed basis. We can't spend our time worrying about making babyhood too cozy or wonderful, for fear that one day it may need to be less so.
There's a small possibility of one future challenge I should just make known. If you happen to be one who experiences frequent yeast challenges, the development of yeasty nipples is a possibility, from them staying wet for so much of the time. If you are not prone to yeast, I wouldn't worry at all. If you are, I'd just watch their condition for tell-tale signs that a little something is starting -- a little discomfort, redness, or itching. The UV in sunlight is the best treatment, as well as preventative, and it's the right season for that. Again, there's no reason to worry about the future as long as everything is going well.
Just enjoy these times.
Oh how I miss those times! My son and I found that we both slept better by co-sleeping. When he became too big and I didn't sleep as well we slowly changed our sleeping arrangements and he is now sleeping in his own crib in a different room. It was harder for me than it was for him, I found myself waking in tears and feeling alone way more often than he ever did. But I eventually managed to get used to sleeping without him by my side. He then went through a time of night terrors and was brought back to our room until that time too passed. Through reading Dr. Sears' books I realized just how normal it is to sleep with your child. My ped. told us to "baby the baby, and you can never baby him too much, he's a baby after all." Many mommy friends have said that if it works for mom and baby, the rest will work out too.
Your child will love you for all the bonding time you will have spent together in these early months. Enjoy they go by so fast!
I'm not going to be too much help, but I figured I could let you know my thoughts :)
DS does the same thing - right now he NEEDS me to sleep. He will go to sleep eventually if someone else is rocking him, but for the most part he likes to fall asleep nursing. He is 6.5 months old. From what my mom tells me about how I slept, he is very similar to how I was - needing to sleep on Mom's chest. She tried several different methods to try to get me to sleep on my own, and I was old enough that I can still remember feeling scared alone in my crib. My parents would pull out my crib so I could see them, but I didn't feel safe unless I could SEE that they were safe. Eventually I got better about not waking them up, but I've woken up between sleep cycles all my life. I'm fairly certain that it's not because of any particular technique that my parents used or didn't use, or that I never learned how to sleep "right", just that this is how I sleep. I'm guessing that DS is going to be just like me, and eventually he will grow out of needing me to sleep. I might try to teach him to sleep without me (via the pantley suggestions), but I think it will more likely come when he is ready. At this point I am more than happy to let him sleep on my chest, since we are actually able to sleep that way.
I also think of it as though, I didn't TEACH him to sleep like this - it's instinct. It's going to help him feel secure, and right now that's my job :)