A Case For Co-Sleeping: The Tale Of A Mama On A Co-Sleepless Night

the precious tale of a mama on a co-sleepless night: the case for co-sleeping

Co-sleeping has benefits that we just can’t even begin to put into words. Special little nuances that will only be remembered as the feel of our children in our arms as they went to dreamland. But co-sleeping has measurable benefits too, and they’re worth sharing.

We often hear about the ‘why-nots’ of co-sleeping, but how often do we hear of the ‘whys’? As many new mamas look more and more to the Internet to find answers, we wanted to revisit a sweet rationale of co-sleeping from one of our mama authors and share some benefits too.

There are many, including:

  • Infants who co-sleep often go to sleep faster and stay asleep longer.
  • Babies who co-sleep often get more rest, especially if they are nursing. When they rouse to eat, they are able to be soothed and eat without fully waking up, giving them more rest and less disturbance in the eating and waking cycles.
  • Co-sleeping often helps to promote breastfeeding because nursing is easier when co-sleeping.
  • Research suggests that infants that co-sleep have stronger emotional relationships with their parents.
  • Research has found that, with the proper precautions, that children who co-sleep are less at risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
  • Extended breastfeeding through the first years often occurs when co-sleeping.

Related: How Co-Sleeping Builds a Connected Family

But the benefits for parents can’t be ignored. There are several benefits to parents when they co-sleep, and they don’t all have to do with the increased amount of rest that many parents (especially nursing mothers) get when they co-sleep. Some of the benefits for parents include:

  • Parents often get more sleep.
  • If you are breastfeeding, it might help to maintain your milk supply as you are nursing more often and more rapidly on demand.
  • It helps to decrease the risk of postpartum depression.
  • It may help to decrease the likelihood of an unexpected pregnancy and increase the age gap between children.
  • When you co-sleep you are more likely to stick with breastfeeding and you have a higher chance of extended breastfeeding well beyond the first year, especially if you continue to co-sleep when your baby is a toddler.
  • Parents are more easily able to bond with their baby and develop a stronger emotional connection.

The following is the remembrance of co-sleeping–or the lack thereof–and how sweet the memories are.

I can’t photograph this. I can’t take a video and post it for all of my friends and family to see. There are barely words. Despite being a stay-at-home mom, I am not always present. My mind wanders to my next chore or I daydream about not having chores. Sometimes my six-year-old catches me pretending to listen to his latest video game monologue and snaps me into real life temporarily. I can’t be the only one who nods in agreement only to realize I’ve just accidentally promised extra candy to the sugar-fiend.

At night it’s different. I’m breathing. I’m still and quiet. These are the golden dark hours where I can be the mom I always wanted to be. Tonight my daughter restlessly alternated between eating and twisting and rolling and we were bent likes pretzels. I was filled with joy to have this time to stare at her fingers and play with her hair. Soon she’ll be big like her brother, but tonight I could comfort her with my body and my whole heart was hers.

There are always people on both sides of the co-sleeping theory. Some go into motherhood believing that they will never co-sleep, but then they find themselves snuggling in their beds late at night with their little ones to catch just a small glimmer of sleep. Others are strictly against it, believing there are inherent dangers to co-sleeping that outweigh the benefits of it. For many families, though, we sort of fall into this habit of co-sleeping simply because it works for our family. Maybe we start out of necessity. Maybe we start because that is the way we were raised. Or maybe we start because that is our style of parenting. But no matter our reasons, co-sleeping has significant benefits for both babies and the parents- and many co-sleeping families will tell you that it seems to benefit the parents just as much as the babies.

Six years ago I co-slept with my son out of necessity. I was single and cherished every second of sleep I could steal. He snuck into my bed until about a year ago and I only pretended to mind-unless he kicked me in the face or something obnoxious like that. I know this time around how fast the ride is from infant to independent. That knowledge is painful in a physical way. So I might stare at the tiny features of my daughter to capture the kind of memories you can’t post to social media.

Related: Social Media Privacy: Where Do You Fall?

Her birth was a fairy tale that included lying in my own bed and being handed a swaddled bundle who slept until daylight. Every night since this is where we watch infomercials or dream. I certainly don’t sleep through the night. Sometimes the diapers leak and I wake up to a puddle. Some nights both kids take turns needing me and I need a nap! There are real arguments against co-sleeping. I respect them. Good job to anyone who has taught their baby to sleep in a crib. I failed at that and it’s okay with me.

I have these sweet little memories for this mental scrapbook I can never compile. As I type this baby is snoring perfectly. This is the music I want to fall asleep to. Who does co-sleeping benefit more, me or her? Knowing she’s safe allows me to fall into the deepest sleep possible as a mother. Except for tonight…I had too much coffee.

Photo: George Rudy/Shutterstock

 


18 thoughts on “A Case For Co-Sleeping: The Tale Of A Mama On A Co-Sleepless Night”

  1. Thank you so much for your post! I can completely relate to your words, and they give my feelings validation…especially when they are not shared by my husband, or others in my circle that are not mothers to a needy baby. Thank you for making me feel not so alone.

    1. Kim, you are definitely not alone! I’m the minority in my world also. My husband and everyone else gives me a hard time about the co-sleeping but since no one is offering to stay up all night with little man I decided it’s my decision alone. What happened out of necessity has become something I now cherish.

  2. Falling asleep to the sound of my 9 month old baby boy’s breath right after I press “post comment”! We have co-slept since day one, wouldn’t have it any other way.

  3. You’ve painted a beautiful picture of how co-sleeping works in your family without making blanket statements (unintentional pun) on how it works for every family or every child. Thanks for sharing this lovely piece of your journey.

  4. I definitely need cosleeping with my baby at least as much as he needs co-sleeping with his mom and dad. Thank you for posting this.

  5. I’m co-sleeping with baby #5 currently. He doesn’t even have a crib =) I love it too. The thing that I can’t wrap my mind around is how someone could leave their precious little one in a completely different room. I think I would have a panic attack if I didn’t co-sleep. For thousands of years mothers have slept with their babies/children near by. Whoever decided to separate mothers and babies during the nighttime was just not thinking strait. Or they were very selfish people. Either way, I enjoyed relating to your co-sleeping bliss!

    1. I don’t think not co-sleeping is a selfish option. I get plenty of time with my kids during the day as a stay at home mom. I chose not to implement co-sleeping with my 3 children because I don’t sleep well with them in my bed. I also value the intimacy with my husband at night (which is sometimes my only time with him) in our bed. I think that everyone’s decision is appropriate for their own family. It doesn’t make someone selfish because they do mothering a different way. I think it’s important to respect other people’s choices 🙂

      1. My wife and I co-sleep with #2 but didn’t with #1. Neither choice made us selfish. We were and are doing what works for us. When it comes to parenting different doesn’t mean wrong if babies are safe, healthy, loved and happy.

    2. Yeah, and for thousands of years children worked in the fields, women couldn’t vote etc etc. I fail to see how this means people who don’t sleep with their babies are “selfish” or “not thinking strait (sic).” If thats what makes you happy and works for your family, good for you, some other people find that a crib lets everyone sleep better. I hope your precious co-sleeping baby doesn’t end up as judgemental as his mother!

    3. I coslept with my first child, I loved the closeness and the bonding, I loved how calm it made him, and breastfeeding convenience but he suffocated from being too close to me one night. We were cosleeping safely, no blankets, I’ve never touched drugs or achohol, he just rebreathed too much CO2 and died while he was sleeping, against my skin, I might add, (do you have any idea what this kind of guilt has done to my mind?) I have a second child now and I refuse to even hold her if I’m too tired. She has her own cosleeper crib She’s hooked up to breathing monitor and I have PTSD episodes every night.
      I don’t think I was “selfish” for cosleeping with my son, but I’m certainly not selfish for choosing to give my daughter the chance my son never had.

      I’m not against cosleeping but I’m never going to do it again. Just because it’s been “done for thousands of years” doesn’t mean it is infallible.

  6. thanks for this. love,love it! i too have a boy and a girl who are six years apart. right now my daughter, who is 16 months, co-sleeps with us for half the night. some nights she doesn’t let go of my breast and i can’t sleep well and get frustrated. your beautiful words help remind me to cherish this time and be thankful for the time with have. peace, laura

  7. Thank you for sharing your story. I co-sleep with my 7 month old daughter, my first and only child. I love it!!!! Although some in my family don’t approve I wouldn’t have it any other way. One of my favorite moments happen in the morning when I’m woken up by my daughter’s hand rubbing my cheek and her big smile.

  8. I loved this….I’m a mother of 3 girls and only with the last one I actually co-sleep until a few months ago….but even now if she cries during the night…she comes with me into our bed 🙂 …I love the fact that at least with her I will forever have that bond ….if I could change the past I would do it will all 3!

  9. I have an arms reach co-sleeper which works wonders for myself and my little 5 month old boy. He was a 10 week preemie and loves his mummies touch and comfort. Daddy is a heavy, legs, arms, body everywhere sleeper, so not safe in with us. Daddy gets up at 4am so when little one wakes for his feed at about 5, he then comes in with me and we sleep for another few hours. He looks forward to it, I can tell. He loves Mummies snuggles until 7. Wouldnt have it any other way. X

  10. What a lovely blog I don’t co-sleep and never have with any of my kids (I’m on number 3 now she us 15 weeks 🙂 ) but this is a great article.
    I do object to being labelled as selfish though as I choose not to I am no way selfish when it comes to my kids just because they don’t sleep in my bed does not mean I love them less than a parent who does. This is what I don’t like about styles of parenting the parents who believe what they do is the best and only way to raise a child!!! This may be th case for u but not every family is the same and have the respect for other to recognise this please. For he record I understand the blogger is not saying this. Good luck to every parent out there in raising your gorgeous children it’s the hardest but most rewarding job in the world whatever way you choose to do it!!!

  11. I just love this. I have 2 girls 19 months apart and have co slept with both and am now listening to them sleep on each side of me in their own “big girl beds” what I have often thought is that my most cherished times and memories came while cuddling to sleep or the arm that flings out around your neck or the half sleepy “love you mom” all of that extra sweet time to offset the daytime struggles and toddler typical behavior that can somedays be down right exhausting- that extra night time sweetness is the pay off – the mommy paycheck- the I’m growing a little person as I stare at her in awe moments- I ended up co sleeping by default with my high needs first daughter who is now almost four and so thankful that her demanding demeanor introduced me to this “extra” time – to cherish the sweet before their awesome independence sets in.

  12. Co sleeping is normal.
    I dont know why people create dramas for themselves. We co sleep, and we dont have those dramas people are always going on about. Thanks for the article.

  13. My wife and I no longer co-sleep with our son. We transitioned him off his swaddle into a Zippy from Sleeping Baby and it helped in normalizing our bed time routines and allowing all of us to get much needed rest. I am grateful to have insight into your life through your post particularly the part about realizing how fast they go from infant to independent 🙂

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