Monday, April 7, 2014

Purposeful Parenting: how my baby and I get a good's night sleep... together

Before I gave birth, I always said I would never co-sleep. My baby would go in her crib right from birth.

Well, never say never, and also I have learned that if I haven't been in the situation yet, I don't really know what I'd do. We have a family bed and very possibly, nothing makes me happier than that.

For the first couple of weeks, Bug slept exclusively in her bassinett. After that, she slept half in bed with us and half in our bassinett. By about two months, she was exclusively in bed with us.

Then, around the time she turned 9 months old, I decided it was the crib every night. There were a variety of reasons, but the primary being that she fell out of bed around that time (when she was in it by herself, and I also feel the need to note she was in a strange bed not at her house) and scraped her nose really good. It scared all of us so we decided she must sleep in her crib.

Then, around the time she turned 11 months old, I realized no one was happy with her sleeping in her crib. Bug actually slept pretty good in it, but she'd wake sometime during the night, unhappy she was alone. I was unhappy she was not with me. Jason thought the whole crib idea was silly, but it largely unaffected him since he works at night.

When I made the decision to bring her back to bed with me, it was like a light turned on for us. Bug and I are more connected. She and I are like one mind - I know instantly when she's tired, I know when she's hurt, I know when she's scared, I know when she's hot and cold. And not because of any cues she's giving me. I just know. I know when her diaper is dirty and I know when she's filling it.

Co-sleeping isn't always easy, but what sleep solution is easy when a baby's involved? There are nights I do sometimes wish Bug was in her crib. Her bedtime is earlier than my bedtime, so if I want to work on a project, I must do so in another room. If I want to watch TV, well, too bad for me because our TV is in our bedroom. That really isn't such a huge issue, believe me, but my options are limited. For the most part, it doesn't matter. But every now and then, I think the crib would be better.

Until my girl snuggles up to me in the middle of the night and puts her sweet head on my shoulder to sleep. Until I can just lean over and give her kisses whenever. Until I can just know she's okay because she's right next to me and I don't need to walk to another room to check on my girl. Until my girl wakes up in the morning and puts her face in mine with the biggest smile ever. 

Family beds aren't very everyone. No idea ever is for everyone, generally speaking. But if you haven't yet tried co-sleeping, no matter the age of your kid, you might want to give it a go. It certainly has helped Bug's and my relationship blossom. I'm not sure when we'll decide Bug should sleep on her own, but I imagine it won't be anytime before Bug can actively participate in the decision. 

I know I don't like to sleep alone. Why in the world would I have expected Bug to? Co-sleeping is like having a slumber party every single night. Except instead of waking up feeling sluggish because I was up half the night, I feel well rested. Bug sleeps through the night, and I can sleep easier knowing she's totally safe next to me. 

Oh, and that falling out of the bed issue we had when we were at a relative's house? Not an issue any longer. Bug doesn't go anywhere near the edges of the bed. She always comes to whomever is in the bed with her. If no one is in bed with her and it's morning time, I just pile all the pillows and blankets around her. But even when I don't do that, it's still not an issue. My girl wakes up and talks in the morning so I hear her before she's ever near the edge of the bed. She typically just stays in the middle and tries to climb the walls.

There are so many benefits to co-sleeping besides better sleep and an improved loving relationship, and while those other benefits are great, that's not really why I tried co-sleeping. If you're interested in learning about those other benefits, check a book out from the library or Google the topic.

Honestly, just give it a try and see if you like it. If it doesn't work well for you for whatever reason, that's cool. But it may just be the best thing you've done and you may find you and your baby fall even more in love than you were before. 

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