V. >> This is one of the posts where you’ll get to see how different R. and I are as mothers and why we love writing WWST. There’s no one right way to raise your child – only the right way for YOU. Check out R.’s post on sleep routines.
You know how, before you have children, you think that you know how a baby should be taken care of? It’s like we’re the biggest know-it-alls before even learning what it REALLY means to have a baby.
That concept isn’t anything new. For me at least, it isn’t. Although there are many things that I thought I would do as a mom that I’ve stuck to, there are other things, such as co-sleeping, that I never thought I would do, but that do work for me.
I know, I know… It is definitely not recommended to sleep with your child in your bed because you might roll over on him or her. You don’t have to tell me twice ;). It’s not that I think that co-sleeping is 100% safe and I’m immune to crushing my baby in her sleep, which is why I don’t co-sleep every night. I’m actually terrified of hurting my baby and on the nights where she’s not with me in bed, I often get into a state of semi-alertness where I start panicking and look through the pillows and sheets, and scream at my boyfriend to get the baby out of bed. Interestingly enough, never once was she with me during these night terrors. When she does sleep with me, I never even panic. Weird…
Since I don’t necessarily believe it’s 100% safe, then why do I do it? I do it because sometimes, it’s what my baby needs. There are nights where she can fall asleep on her own. Those are the easiest nights, and they seem to only happen when my boyfriend is there. Obviously *eyeroll*. Then there are the nights where she just needs to be rocked to sleep, and can be put in her bed and will go through the night without a fuss. Those happen most nights also. But then there are the nights when she is fussy – where she seems restless, unsettled, where she wakes up every few minutes and doesn’t feel right. And instead of having to constantly wake up, get her asleep again, put her back into her crib, and walk back to my bed, I grab her, lay her down on me or next to me, and we drift to sleep together. Or my boyfriend does. My baby is content, whether it’s mom or dad holding her.
When my daughter is in bed next to me, I sleep differently. I wake up more often, just to make sure that she’s okay, that the blankets aren’t covering her head, and I even put my hand to her chest to see that she’s still breathing. I don’t move at all in my sleep. And those nights, she sleeps deeply and contently, and my boyfriend and I sleep better knowing that she feels safe next to us.
I’d like to mention that my daughter has been sleeping through the night since she was 6 weeks old. I am one of the lucky ones when it comes to sleeping since she as never really needed a routine or structure to fall asleep at the same time every night and wake up in the morning at the same time. At first, she would sleep from 2 am until 7am. Then at 2 months old, she started falling asleep at midnight. Now, I usually am able to get her asleep at 10pm, and some nights, I even get her to bed at 8. Hallelujah! I try not to impose a schedule on her since she isn’t much of a fuss child in general. I’m a lot more of a go-with-the-flow type person. With another child, I’ll probably change my tactics. But for now at least, it works!
It is not my intention to have my child in bed with us until she is 5 years old. I still insist on her sleeping in her bed and having positive experiences there so that she knows that this is her bed, and this is where she sleeps. The nights where my boyfriend is home (he sometimes works night shifts), we tag-team it in order to encourage her to stay in her bed. But the nights where he’s away, let’s just say that for now at least, I’m a little bit less insistent on her sleeping the night in her bed if she’s not into it. At 4 months of age, what’s important for us is that we have a good night’s sleep.
I used to judge moms who co-sleep, and maybe there is a part of me that still judges moms who co-sleep all the time. However, now that I’ve had to re-evaluate my own choices as a parent, I guess I’m a bit more understanding of different parenting techniques. If co-sleeping works for you, go for it! You know what you’re doing. Some babies need more reassurance to get to sleep at night. Some need less. What’s important is that you listen to your child’s needs and find ways to make them feel safe at night.