Before E was born, I had read lots of information about sleeping arrangements and how it was better for your child to sleep in close proximity to mom, but not in the same bed. At that point in time, I decided that I would have E in a cradle just outside the door to my bedroom. But when he came home, he had other plans. I ended up moving the cradle next to my bed for a few days. Except that he never slept in the cradle and I found that he would end up sleeping on my chest as I slept in a comfy chair. He (and I) both slept better if we were next to each other. Knowing that the chair was definitely an unsafe sleeping arrangement, I ended up moving our mattress to the floor and moved E into a snuggle nest , which at the time I thought was the safest way for him to sleep in my bed. Please note that this item has since been recalled and should not be used.
Eventually, it was more convenient and we both got better sleep when E was sleeping in our bed outside of the snuggle nest. It made sleeping better and it made breastfeeding easier. As long as I didn’t have to change a diaper in the middle of the night, I could feed E as needed without waking up all the way. This ended up being a life saver when I returned to work.
There were some things that I did to make sure that E stayed safe while sleeping in our bed.
- We used only light coverings (usually a sheet).
- E slept with his head at breast level so he would not be near my firm pillow.
- E was exclusively breastfeeding (so we were in sync with each other).
- and the other stuff mentioned in Anna’s previous post Co-sleeping (Yes, no, or maybe so?).
We ended up using this sleeping arrangement until E turned 3 and we needed to start transitioning him to his own bed due to his movement (really kicking in his sleep) keeping everyone up at night. Here are the steps that we used to transition him to his own bed, with minimal trauma to him and me.
- Talking up the big boy bed
- Moving traditionally bed time routines into his bed (i.e., reading stories in his bed even when he was still sleeping in ours)
- Using a chart, stickers, small rewards (in our case small dinosaur toys) to reward positive steps.
- Snuggling E until he falls asleep in his own bed.
- Allowing E to return to our room after starting out in his room.
- A larger reward to celebrate the larger steps (for us it was a particular toy train).
At 3.5, E starts his night in his room, but eventually moves into our room. At this point, I don’t even notice when he crawls out of bed, comes down the hall and climbs into my bed. I just know that when I wake up in the morning, I have a child snuggling me. I love having those snuggles in the morning and many days we spend some extra time just being still before rushing to get ready for the day. These type of days make me happy and help me start off my day on a good note.
It’s things like this that make me realize that I am constantly reevaluating how I parent so that I can do what is best for me and my child. I encourage all parents to educate themselves about co-sleeping and make a decision that works best for them.