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A "dirty little secret" among new parents is that more of them than one might think choose to "co-sleep," which is loosely defined as sleeping with one's infant very near by—even in the same bed.

As a mother who chose to co-sleep, I have heard every argument possible from the Grandmother Squad for getting him out of my bed and into a crib—“You’ll smother him,” “You’ll confuse him sexually,” “He’ll never leave.”  What they don’t know is how rewarding co-sleeping is.  The reward is tempered with worry in the early months, but so is leaving a child to sleep in another room, or living in a continuous state of sleep-deprivation.  

If I had the energy, I would advise the Grandmother Squad, the Mommy Police and the Consumer Product Safety Commission that co-sleeping with an infant should be considered if it can be attempted according to safety guidelines; it may actually guard against SIDS, promote breastfeeding and provide vital tactile stimulation.  But there are a few aspects of the dilemma that need to be teased apart, first.

Real or manufactured controversy?

Back in 1999, an alarming study about a possible correlation between SIDS and co-sleeping enjoyed wide circulation.  It was put out by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and both its construction and its potential advantage to crib manufacturers raised some suspicion.  The study was even repudiated by the CSPC vice president, Mary Sheila Gall.  Among other things, the study failed to differentiate between SIDS deaths, possibly due to intrinsic CNS factors, and “overlaying,” as infant suffocation by a larger person’s body is called.  It did not control for other risk factors such as familial lifestyle choices.  James McKenna, an anthropologist and maternal/infant sleep researcher at Notre Dame University, remarked that “It is a safety issue, but not the only safety issue. . . . Most babies die in cribs, so do you conclude that cribs are dangerous and babies should sleep with parents?” (1)

Recognizing risk factors that could contribute to SIDS or overlaying, McKenna, Sears and others have laid down a set of safety guidelines that should minimize the dangers of sleeping with an infant, summarized below:

Guidelines for safer co-sleeping

  1. Parents who smoke, drink, sleep unusually deeply, have a very high BMI or who feed formula should let the baby sleep in a bedside bassinet or three-sided co-sleeping crib, because smoking and formula feeding increase the risk for SIDS, and alcohol use decreases parental nighttime awareness.  Morbid obesity also decreases awareness of the infant and increases the likelihood of smothering.
  2. No lambskins, waterbeds, pillows, stuffed toys or fluffy bedding.  These are smothering risks for young, relatively immobile infants (and so are crib bumpers).
  3. Don’t overdress or swaddle a co-sleeping child; unlike crib sleepers, they don’t need the extra warmth, and warmth is implicated in SIDS.
  4. No letting toddlers, older siblings, or anyone who is not a parent sleep with a little baby; they aren’t aware enough of the baby’s position or activity during sleep.
  5. Avoid a bed with siderails, head- or footboards or pushed against the wall such that a baby could get stuck and smother.
  6. Avoid falling asleep on the davenport with the baby, or letting the baby sleep alone, there, because of the cushions and the smothering risk.

Night-long conversation

Sometimes sleep deprivation in the mother of a non co-sleeper poses a hazard, too. I used a bassinet at first, and was exhausted to the point of psychosis. The first week home, I would sit up in bed in the middle of the night and nurse my newborn, holding him in my lap on a pillow.  I lost count of the times I would fall forward, dozing, and seal his mouth and nose with a breast.  His panicked gasping would awaken me. At other times he would roll off my lap and I would flop backwards, only to awaken later in a start, finding him just about anywhere on the bed.  In a similar situation, my cousin once dozed off and dropped her newborn on the floor.  Because of those and other factors, she decided to co-sleep on purpose, with safety precautions, and so did I.  The bed got stripped of pillows and heavy bedding, and I dressed my son in thin onesies.  We slept facing each other, and I remember waking a few times a night, long enough to change a diaper or offer the other breast, but getting a lot more quality sleep.

As for quality sleep, there was a 2002 study done on 101 infants by Hunsley and Thoman presenting evidence that co-sleeping causes disordered sleep architecture, as evidenced by lighter sleep than chronic non co-sleepers when they co-sleep, and deeper sleep than chronic non co-sleepers when they sleep apart from the parent.  The authors find that pattern consistent with stress in the infant, and say that such sleep fragmentation has negative effects on development in general and cognition in particular.  (2)  First of all, while statisticians smile on sample sizes greater than 30, 101 is not all that big a sample. Second, and more pointedly, I have to wonder why, if co-sleeping is so detrimental to baby humans, that it is the overwhelming favorite arrangement of parents world wide?  (3) The crib culture in the United States is by no means normative elsewhere.

As I said, in my experience, I did wake long enough to change the baby or latch him on for a feeding, but I was more rested than I had been with the bassinet.  My boy always slept on his side, facing me, as did I, facing him.  He never rolled on his stomach (a position correlated with SIDS deaths), and I would be dimly aware when he became warm because he would kick off the loose sheet we used. As an added benefit, my husband slept like a rock, because the baby never had to cry for my attention, waking everyone. It was as if the baby and I were in a fairly restful, somnolent give-and-take throughout the night.

According to the conclusion of one famous study (Mosko, 1997), the choppier sleep of a co-sleeping infant is adaptive, and protects against the deep slumber that some researchers feel may be responsible for SIDS.  (4) (Failure of the respiratory drive during stage 4 sleep, some speculate)  Moreover, arousal at night may be adaptive in the sense that the infant brain can not go too long without a dosing of lactose.  Enter breastfeeding.

Nourish all night

Human milk is digested after fifteen minutes, so a common pattern is for an infant to demand nursing every fifteen minutes or so, at times. They have that "milk-drunk" posture and expression afterwards, for a time, as if some deep craving has been satisfied, but then the cycle begins again; breast-fed babies are frequent feeders. Although this is just my speculation, perhaps SIDS in formula-fed infants is due in part to the change in brain metabolism in an infant who sleeps more deeply and feeds infrequently.

A certain level of arousal is necessary to latch onto a bottle or a breast, and then drink the milk. As I recollect, my son would stir a little in his sleep, or sigh, and I would offer the breast, which he seemed to magically know was there, because he would not even open his eyes as he latched.  And he would suck for up to an hour occasionally, in an archipelago of sucking bursts, before trailing off and disengaging. That pattern of his remains with me today, like a delicate tattoo drummed on my skin, years since he weaned. It was another aspect of that night-long conversation.

Who knows? Maybe the more constant influx of lactose to the breast-feeding baby's brain mitigates any damage caused by increased stress.  Maybe the different character of a co-sleeping, breast-feeding baby's sleep is somehow more healthful. In any case, co-sleeping promotes milk production and makes breast feeding easier, and breast feeding in turn cuts the risk of SIDS in half for each month it is continued.

Nurture all night

And more sugar for the brain is just one advantage of co-sleeping. So is more “sugar” for mother and infant in the form of physical proximity, a secure attachment and increased touching.  We have all heard of the “failure to thrive” infant in an orphanage—a baby who has not had his or her quota of loving skin-on-skin contact and who is not growing well.  The opposite may be true of a co-sleeping infant—one who has never been “Ferberized” and left alone to cry, perhaps to the point of vomiting.  Absent mistrust of the parent ("Why aren't you answering my cry?"), and with plenty of physical contact throughout the night, the co-sleeping infant might possibly progress more smoothly past the window of vulnerability to SIDS.

I want to stress that while no sleeping arrangement is absolutely safe, there are ways to make sharing a bed with the baby significantly safer, and the practice has several things to recommend it.  Not least of all, the baby may get more secure snuggling with the parent, more mother’s milk, and perhaps enough respiratory stimulation to avoid sinking into apnea and possible death from SIDS.  Furthermore, common sense seems to say that co-sleeping has always been with us, and is probably an adaptive tradition.   Keep an open mind about it.

1. McKenna Interview, quoted in Mothering Family Bed Safety; Stephanie Nakhleh. Issue 132, September/October 2005.
2. Hunsley M, Thoman EB. The sleep of co-sleeping infants when they are not co-sleeping: evidence that co-sleeping is stressful. Dev Psychobiol. 2002;40:14–22.
3. McKenna JJ, Thoman EB, Anders TF, Sadeh A, Schechtman VL, Glotzbach SF. Infant–parent co-sleeping in an evolutionary perspective: implications for understanding infant sleep development and the sudden infant death syndrome. Sleep. 1993;16:263–282.
4.Mosko S, Richard C, McKenna J, Drummond S, Mukai D. Maternal proximity and infant CO2 environment during bedsharing and possible implications for SIDS research. Am J Phys Anthropol. 1997;103:315–328.
Updated by rhubarb at Wed Mar 9, 2011, 02:00:40 PM

Thank you, Rescue Rangers! I am flattered that you chose this diary for the community spotlight. The comments are, of course, terrific, and I must compliment everyone for resisting the urge to flame. Parenting is so very personal.

The manifold topics under the co-sleeping umbrella include breastfeeding, American culture and, to get political, class warfare, when you examine what our current economic system exacts from us as parents.

Any posters out there who co-slept as children?  Mine was limited to crawling into bed with Mom and Dad on Sunday mornings.  Memorable and fun!

Originally posted to Rhubarb Pie on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 01:10 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for posting. (8+ / 0-)

    I had all my kids in Germany, where there is quite a bit more openness to co-sleeping.

    I rarely had mine in my bed because there wasn't much space to sleep, but I did nurse in bed sometimes when we went down for a nap. It made me wish I had a king size futon with lots of space and little risk - it was wonderful.

    Once my kids were sleeping for longer stretches they went into their own rooms. I was lucky that they slept so well.

    What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding? - Elvis Costello

    by bluesheep on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 01:30:59 PM PST

  •  We had the sidecar. (14+ / 0-)

    It attaches at bed level to the bed, but has 3 sides that keep the baby from rolling off. The "shelf" the baby lies on comes off and the whole thing can be used like a pack and play.

    There are downsides -- it gets harder as time goes on for everyone to make the transition to seperate rooms -- but it was well worth it.

    I can remember waking up between the two people I loved the most, listening to them breathe, and feeling something I'd never felt before.

    •  Yeah, like parenting general, (11+ / 0-)

      co-sleeping is not all roses.

      My eight-year-old still crawls in a lot, with my husband or me. (I sleep in another room from husband because, well, he snores)

      I look at it this way: my child still gets something out of sleeping next to a parent, and I can tell he's pulling away more and more as he gets older. He won't be little forever, so I remind myself to treasure what infantile closeness that remains.

      Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

      by rhubarb on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 01:54:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I just don't get that. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rhubarb, myrealname

        Good sleep is several factors of 10 more important to me than snuggling with a kid.  God bless ya, and I don't judge ya for it, but I flat out don't get it.  Getting a kid to sleep alone takes some crying, but good lord I thought it was worth it.

        •  We're all different (10+ / 0-)

          Getting good sleep was one major factor for my co-sleeping, and I still sleep well with the kid.  Well enough, anyhow.

          He'll sleep in his own bed much more, now, and it does not yet seem like a battle worth picking.  At the rate he is maturing, I'm sure he'll be 100% "alone" by this time next year.  The 'rents are seeming less cool, you know.

          Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

          by rhubarb on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 03:43:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  yep. i was a lot easier in the middle of the (10+ / 0-)

            night for breastfeeding.  When you have a small child, getting good sleep is not possible... wasn't for me anyway.  I still have my 18 month old waking up in the night, but it is not nearly as frequent as it was.  

            HOPE!!! it does a body good.

            by ejpoeta on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 04:01:30 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Parenting requires adaptability. (14+ / 0-)

            I used to wish I could find a better parenting book, but after raising my two and hearing lots of other people's stories I realized that the book is difficult to write since children and their needs are not all the same.  There are certainly basic developmental needs, but children have different behavior and needs even during a pregnancy much less after birth.  (I'm an obstetrician.)

            The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of OB/GYN recommend breastfeeding, and many women find this difficult to do with the baby in another room at night due to the need to get up often for feedings.  This can be balanced out by the fact that many of the babies who do not tolerate their formula well are up at night crying, instead, and I would far rather have the contented naps between feedings than the crying baby sleepless nights.

            Personally I had the baby-in-the-room-but-not-in-my-bed approach and it worked well for me but I appreciate the safety guidelines given for co-sleeping and I think that it is difficult to make conclusions based on studies since there are many potential confounding variables when we deal with human beings.  

            Good diary, thanks.

            •  With baby books, (5+ / 0-)

              I always said, "They're good, but the babies don't read them!"

            •  Great points! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Our daughter started sleeping in her own room her second night home.  But then my husband did all the diaper changes-- he would get up, change her, and bring her to me to feed-- so it wasn't hard work for me.  And she slept 7 hours the first night home, getting to 12 h by 3 months, so there wasn't that much getting up, anyway (she made up for it by eating 60 min out of 90 during the day, and then continuously from 3-9 pm).

              I only had one book-- the American Academy of Pediatrics handbook.  It is great for milestones and figuring out if you need to see the pediatrician.  I looked at some other books and they all made me crazy because they advocated for a single approach to most things, clearly nuts when every kid is different.

        •  I had WAY better sleep when my kid was in bed.. (9+ / 0-)

          ...with me than when she was in the crib at the foot of the bed.  With my son, I had ZERO sleepless nights.  ZERO.  Your mileage may vary, but sleeping with your kid does not automatically mean bad sleep.

          •  being a nervous new mom, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rhubarb, sngmama

            I knew that i would be forever getting up during the night to check that my child was still breathing. It made SO much more sense to me to have her next to me, where I could check her without getting up.
            We had a big futon on the floor for my husband & me, and a little futon next to me, so it was also possible to nurse her without really waking up.

            So, for me, I slept much, much better with my daughters in my room.

            When they were 2 and 4, we put a futon in their room, and told them only kids were allowed on it-- there was no problem getting them to sleep there, although they occasionally "visited" us in the middle of the night with nightmares.
            I loved hearing the slap of their little feet on the floor in the morning, when they would run into our room to wake us up. They stopped doing THAT, and visiting us in the middle of the night, when they were each @ 10 (so much for the theory that family beds are bad for "boundaries."

        •  It's been a lot of yrs, 35 to be exact (4+ / 0-)

          since I co-slept and nursed my daughter. All it took to convince me was standing braced against a wall and holding her to nurse. Did I drop her? No, I went down, still holding her and sound asleep. I figured co-sleeping could not be any more dangerous than a mother who was so tired that she could fall to the floor, stay asleep, and still nurse her child.

          I was only able to nurse her for about 9 more months because I was put on a medication that came through the milk and had to quit. I had the choice of more sleep deprivation or co-sleeping and formula feeding. At that age, SIDS wasn't a big concern and we did the latter and slowly transitioned her to her crib.

          "But much to my surprise when I opened my eyes I was the victim of the great compromise." John Prine

          by high uintas on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 08:43:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  My babies were in a crib next to the bed (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rhubarb, peachcreek

          but there were times when I'd pop one into bed with me for a feeding.  

           I had a really hard time at the end of the last pregnancy, and with two older sons was exhausted much of the time.  

          I took the mattress off the sofa bed in the living room and put it on the floor, and would sleep and nurse the baby on that through the night.  It worked splendidly--plenty of room and if he did manage to "fall" the most he could have fallen was about 4 inches.   Wish I'd done that with the first two!  Husband could have had more sleep.

          "It's a big club--and you ain't in it!." - George Carlin

          by revsue on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 09:47:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Risks and benefits (8+ / 0-)

    Like anything else, co-sleeping has risks and benefits. I don't think it would be accurate to suggest it is risk-free. However, we co-slept with both our kids because we needed sleep, desperately, after several months of trying to care for a night waking infant who was sleeping in another room.

    With my second one we slept in the same room from the get-go, but he was in a bassinet next to the bed at first, later to come into the bed.

    SIDS is one factor to consider, but it's not like SIDS exists in a vacuum. There are lots of other issues as well. How safe a driver are you if you can't get any sleep? How good a parent are you? Can you perform at your job, if you have one?

  •  I have three kids all girls... (3+ / 0-)

    and they all slept in bed with us when they were infants.  My youngest who is 18 months still does if she wakes up in the middle of the night.  Her crib is in our room too but that will change soon.

    When we had our oldest, we were crammed in a small bedroom the three of us.  Not a lot of room.  We didn't even HAVE a crib.  We tried a bassinet but she wouldn't sleep in it for nothing.  But when she got her own room and a toddler bed she slept in there and never looked back.

    My middle child took some work to get to sleep in her own room.  Ended up employing super nanny's fix for that and it worked for getting ehr to sleep in her bed.  but she would come in in the middle of the night.  after awhile of being to tired to make her go back to her own bed I did the super nanny thing to get her back in her own bed.  after a couple of days she was fine.

    I see nothing wrong with having a baby sleep with us.  I admit I would wake up panicking and still do frankly whether abby is sleeping with us or not.  But I sleep better when she is in her own crib.  

    HOPE!!! it does a body good.

    by ejpoeta on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 03:58:03 PM PST

  •  It worked for me and mine (12+ / 0-)

    Of course, I didn't know it had a name other than " I'm so tired we'll just lay down while you nurse."  We moved the baby to their own bed when it felt right.  When my oldest finally had her "own" room, she invited her younger sister to sleep over every night. They were both used to the closeness. I've urged family and friends to try it, it is such a bonus if you are nursing, keeping the safety concerns in mind.

  •  cosleeping works best with a big bed (21+ / 0-)

    especially once they get bigger and start having the muscle strength to wedge themselves in sideways and kick the hell out of you with their tiny little feet while they sleep.

    seriously though, i was appalled at all the scaremongering BS advice that the baby book & busybody industry foists on parents. i eventually banned "what to expect" from the household, since my wife started getting stressed out and worrying about random shit every time she cracked it open.

    the really insidious thing about a lot of it is that there's this underlying implication that if you don't do things the strict parent/patriarchal party line way, your kid will a) die or b) end up irreparably damaged due to your bad parenting.

  •  We co-slept with both our daughters (15+ / 0-)

    Animals are designed through evolution to co-sleep. Babies in the wild are to vulnerable to be left alone. I can't think of a single reason for crib culture from the babies perspective. It seems like the result of Victorian nanny culture followed by the Industrial desire to sell baby products. If you have a crib than you need a lot of other "things". If you co-sleep you need very little.

    My wife and me co-slept mostly out of an intense love and sense of constant care for our children. We couldn't imagine why we would put them anywhere but right next to us warm, attended, and protected.

    Nothing against people who do not co-sleep, btw. I colleague at work just had a baby which they put to bed in another room and she sleeps through the night (for now, hahaha). Babies adapt and have no frame of reference (except for their evolutionary memory).

    As for long term effects. Our first daughter got her own bed when she was 2.5. The transition was actually very smooth as we set up her own space that made her feel special. She and her sister are starting to really play together and we are going to move them to their own room together where they'll wear each other out. I expect things to work out perfectly. Perfectly I say!

  •  No cage for our baby! (12+ / 0-)

    I was terrified of SIDS so when my daughter was born we put the bassinet mattress right on our bed with rolled towels under the sheet on each side as "speed bumps". I was able to sleep with my arm touching her, which reassured me that she was actually breathing during the night. At the time the common wisdom was that an infant sleeping in the same room as a parent was helped by the "metronome" of hearing the adult breathe to regulate their own breathing.

    For a brief while my husband and I slept apart and he took the baby and the first night feeding (which I pumped during the day) which gave me 4 solid hours of sleep. He then passed the baby to me and I slept with her the rest of the night, which gave him 4 solid hours of sleep on top of the shorter sleep earlier in the night.

    A couple of months later, we had our queen futon and a twin futon side by side on the floor for 6" high wall-to-wall bed. My husband actually slept next to the baby as I was having trouble getting all the way to sleep if I slept next to her. He would nudge me when she needed to nurse, I'd roll over him like a speed bump, side-lie nurse and doze and then roll back over him when she was done. Minimal waking for us all.

    She then transitioned to her own bed in our room and finally her own bed in her own room. We put in the "extra duty" early and we've been reaping the benefits ever since. It's especially noticeable now that my daughter is turning 13; the bedrock of safety and trust that we started when she was an infant is giving her a firm place to stand as she weathers the storms of puberty.

    Yes, I was sleep-deprived for the first couple of years (she nursed every 2 hours, around the clock, for the first 9 months) but I would willingly pay that price again to enjoy the close bonding with my child that makes parenting a joy to this day.

  •  My 6 year old grandson still (2+ / 0-)

    sleeps with his mother.  She's at least as guilty of continuing the habit as he is.  In this discussion, perhaps you could discuss the issue of ending the habit of co-sleeping?  How?  When?  I'm not a believer in co-sleeping, but I wouldn't be  critical if I didn't see the end result - parents having a hard time getting their bed back.

    •  Every child is different... (4+ / 0-)

      In my case, it was the kid I didn't co-sleep with at first who wouldn't get out of the bed.  The one who was in bed right from the get go was secure enough to go to his own bed at 12 months and never look back.  

      But, every child is different.  At some point when he's ready he's going to go to his own bed and if the parents want that day to come sooner, they just need to insist on it.

      •  Yup! When you meet the (0+ / 0-)

        child's needs early, they sometimes declare their independence early.

        As I mentioned above, my  8-y.o. still sleeps with one of us, frequently. I don't always like having a sturdy leg or arm flopped on top of me at 2 AM, but I feel as though he gains something by the proximity, and am rolling with it for a bit.

        Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

        by rhubarb on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 09:45:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  All three of our children (7+ / 0-)

      just naturally moved to their own beds/rooms in their third year.  My youngest, who's not quite three, just decided a couple of weeks ago that he wanted to start sleeping in his bed, in his room (he shares a room with his older brother - we already had the bed ready for him) and so he did.  So we never ran into any issues of ending it - just as our kids naturally liked sleeping with us when they were little, they apparently naturally liked the space of their own rooms and beds when they were a little older.

      Bad decisions often make the best stories.

      by CheapTrickster on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 07:13:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  our first two coslept, and moved to their (4+ / 0-)

      own beds when the next one was on the way so we could make room for baby.

      Our youngest slept with us until about 4, when we successfully transferred him to his own bed.

      We moved across the country not long after, and he came back in with us for another long couple of years, but he was very resistant.

      We started moving him to his own bed while he was asleep, so then he would wake up there.  That started the process of him realizing he could sleep in his own bed.  It took a few months, but he eventually made the transition.

      If she wants him out, that is one thing.  If they are happy, then I see no problem with it.

      In our case, he got to the point where he was just so BIG, that we wanted our own space.

      Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government. ~Thomas Jefferson

      by k8dd8d on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 07:37:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  thank you thank you thank you! (9+ / 0-)

    I've done both, and I wish I'd known this stuff before my first one. We'd have both been happier, I think. I nearly lost my mind (quite literally) from sleep deprivation. With the second, I trusted myself more and co-slept most of the first several months. I used a "baby nest" type of thing that eased my mind about SIDS. I can remember the breast-feeding guru at the hospital kind of telling me that "co-sleeping is okay but I can't tell you that so you didn't hear it from me." I had to figure it out for myself. I think the guidelines you posted should be given out to every new mom!

    •  Hospitals are wary of liability (0+ / 0-)

      So you'll only hear the "don'ts" from them.

      I was nursing my baby in bed in the hospital when his pediatrician showed up, and I got some "sternly worded" input from her on how stupid it was.

      And as for "losing my mind," I remember trying the get up/nurse every 1-2 hour thing for the first week and a half.  Sitting up in a chair or in bed, dozing off on top of him, getting up to change his diaper with milk dripping all over my feet (Cold!) . . . and one day in there, my mom called up and started giving me unwanted baby care advice.  I was trying to talk to her, eat a bowl of oatmeal and nurse the baby at the same time, and suddenly I was flat out screaming at her over the phone to just leave me alone.

      That's when I knew I had to get more sleep, and a kind, co-sleeping cousin told me what she did to stay safer.

      It cured my "psychosis" and my baby blues.  YMMV.

      Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

      by rhubarb on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 09:54:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you (10+ / 0-)

    I posted something along these lines on a SIDS thread the other day and got little support.  Thank you for posting this - I will most definitely support your post.  

    Part of the prevailing animosity towards family bed or co-sleeping may come from economic pressure.  No furniture company makes money when people have their babies in bed with them - the same exact way no formula manufacturer made money when mothers breastfeed.  Companies have a powerful incentive to create poorly designed studies to back up tenuous claims but if you wanted to do a bias free, definitive study that accounted for all the variables, who'd pay you for it?  It's the money, Lebowski....

    By the time I convinced my hesitant husband to let my daughter stay in bed with us, I was 3 weeks into massive sleep deprivation and my milk supply was suffering.  The first time I nursed her in bed was the first time I was actually able to relax while feeding her and, consequently, the first time she got really sated from nursing.  From that day on I knew I was doing the right thing.  

    When my son came along, I didn't even think about putting him anywhere else.  He was in bed with us from the first day and I NEVER lost a single night's sleep.  Not one.  I would rouse whenever he became restless and give him the breast almost without fully waking.  When he first came home, he had an odd, uneven breathing pattern, almost like he wasn't sure what he was doing, but within 2 or 3 days, it became regular as clockwork.  Because I never had him anywhere but our bed, when he was 6 months old and sleeping through the night I was able to put him in his own crib at the foot of our bed with no fuss at all.  Later he went to his own room without complaint.  The daughter who we'd kept from the family bed at first fought to stay with us, and was still nursing when her brother self weaned at 2 years.  

    The above is, of course, anecdotal evidence, and being a very scientifically based human, I don’t like having to rely on it as a basis for action.  But until there is economic incentive to do a really good definitive study on the merits of co-sleeping, anecdotal evidence is better than corporate sponsored, poorly designed and biased science.  

  •  Confuse him sexually?!? (11+ / 0-)
    As a mother who chose to co-sleep, I have heard every argument possible from the Grandmother Squad for getting him out of my bed and into a crib—“You’ll smother him,” “You’ll confuse him sexually,” “He’ll never leave.”

    Tell your detractors that the Victorians called, and they want their morals back.

    Judging from personal experience and conversations with all of my friends with little kids, up until about the age of 5 or so, every little kid's ideal of sleeping is snuggled up to mom and dad.  As soon as my kids were old enough to scale the crib rail they were sneaking into our room in the middle of the night and crawling in between us.  We'd usually let them lay there a bit (and maybe even doze off) before bringing them back to bed, but still.... the closeness that a small child feels for a parent is pure innocence and should never be discouraged.

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 05:14:16 AM PST

  •  We coslept (10+ / 0-)

    with all our babies. My first two were two years apart, so at one point we were four in a king sized bed! The older two transitioned well to sleeping in the same room apart from us. My third, who is seven years younger than my second, has had more trouble transitioning, probably because she has her own room.

    Almost all traditional cultures co-sleep.  We lost it in the west because of the upper classes' habit of using wet nurses and nannies to raise their kids. Because the wealthy did it, it became desirable and thus the norm. (Just like eating white bread).

    Child rearing is a personal issue, of course. Not everyone is comfortable with co-sleeping. I have no regrets having done it, though. It worked well with breast feeding.

  •  Grandmother here (8+ / 0-)
    It was as if the baby and I were in a fairly restful, somnolent give-and-take throughout the night.

    This beautifully describes the advantages of co-sleeping. As some have pointed out, because breastmilk is so  much more digestible than formula, breastfed babies don't usually sleep through the night at an a early age. However, because breastfeeding is so easy, this really isn't a problem if you just tuck the baby in bed with you, as people have been doing for thousands of years all over the world. I did this with all three of my now grown daughters, all of whom have turned out to be amazing, independent women.

    Good thing we've still got politics in Texas -- finest form of free entertainment ever invented.- Molly Ivins

    by loblolly on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 05:46:10 AM PST

    •  Thanks! And as I always say (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      breastfeeding is the lazy mom's secret.  It is so dang easy.

      Although I feel compelled to say that so many in our culture do not have the luxury of breastfeeding, thanks (or no thanks) to economic exigencies.

      Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

      by rhubarb on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 09:59:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Co-sleeping rocks (10+ / 0-)

    I didn't intend to co-sleep with my son - I'd inherited my sister's sidecar and planned to use it.  I was worried I'd roll over on him if he was in the bed with me.  But he just wouldn't fall asleep anywhere but lying on my chest.  For the first few days, I tried to gently put him in the sidecar after he'd fallen asleep, but he usually woke up.  Finally, I was so exhausted that one day I fell asleep with him on top of me, and both of us woke up several hours later in exactly the same position.

    That cured my fear of rolling over.  Plus, once I realized how well be both slept when he was in the bed with me, there was no way I was going to give that up!  

    Sleeping with my son when he was younger was a really important way for us to bond, especially since I went back to work full-time when he was 14 weeks old.

    And don't even get me started on how much easier it is to night-nurse when you're co-sleeping.  After a few weeks, I was literally able to nurse him in my sleep.  The thought of getting up, taking a crying baby out of his crib, sitting in a chair for 20 minutes to nurse, getting him back to sleep, then doing it all again a few hours later makes me want to scream, even years after my son weaned.  

    Here's a link to a site with great information on co-sleeping safely (and lots of other advice on gentle parenting)

    •  Me too (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rhubarb, Pintlala, high uintas

      I never intended to co-sleep because I'd read about how awful and dangerous it was.  But my daughter had other ideas.  I'd get her to sleep, and the moment her body touched the bassinet or crib mattress, she'd be awake and screaming again.  After 72 hours of no sleep, I gave up and laid down in the bed with her.  She slept for 6 hours straight and we never looked back.  When my son came along, there was no question that he came into bed with us.

      When they were really small, I'd go sleep in our guest bed alone with the babies, because my husband couldn't sleep well with them in bed.  Eventually, I'd lay down with them in their own beds, then get up and leave when they were asleep.  We had no problems getting them to go to their own beds--although my son still shows up in our bedroom every morning about 5-6 am wanting to get in with us.

      You have to be conscious of safety concerns and  following the guidelines in this diary is a great place to start, but there is nothing wrong with co-sleeping.  

      "Going to church does not make us Christians any more than stepping into our garage makes us a car." --Rev R. Neville

      by catleigh on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 07:51:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I would literally take 2 minutes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to rouse enough to latch him on, then doze off.  He would apparently latch in his sleep.  I never felt sleep-deprived unless he was "cluster feeding" through a growth spurt or was sick.

      Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

      by rhubarb on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 10:01:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I didn't even rouse most nights! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I knew he'd been nursing, because I wasn't engorged in the morning, but I had no memory of waking - or even semi-waking - to feed him!  I was one of the least sleep-deprived new mothers ever.

        I can't say it enough: if your baby is still nursing or taking a bottle during the night, co-sleeping is the way to go!

  •  How is lighter sleep, by a cosleeping baby... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...reconciled with the human need for all stages of sleep, including the deepest stages?
    I've read about this in connection with sleep apnea in adults. Don't babies need all stages of sleep, including the deep stage four sleep, too?

    I'm the plowman in the valley - with my face full of mud

    by labradog on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 05:59:43 AM PST

    •  I believe that babies sleep fine (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and more peacefully on a full stomach and near mom. Breast fed babies wake up and drink all the time, they even sleep as they suckle. They sleep great, it's the mom's who are in danger.

      "But much to my surprise when I opened my eyes I was the victim of the great compromise." John Prine

      by high uintas on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 08:58:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There are hints in this diary (0+ / 0-)

      about different sleep needs.  Perhaps there is an adaptive, developmental trade-off to frequent arousal in food intake.  

      Perhaps stage-4 sleep, maintained too long, is one of the problems in SIDS-susceptible individuals, and therefore lighter sleep is beneficial to new infants.

      In any case, babies get one heck of a lot of stage IV sleep naturally.

      There is plenty of room for research on this.

      Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

      by rhubarb on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 10:34:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for posting an informative diary (4+ / 0-)

    This is an important topic and you cover it well. As far as I know, nobody in my extended family co-sleeps because the baby of a family member died in a tragic co-sleeping accident. It is important to observe the safety precautions you outlined.

  •  A Mixture here (7+ / 0-)

    I adopted my son when he was 4 1/2 months old, and co-slept with him starting immediately. In fact, for naps he would sleep no more than 30 minutes without me sleeping either next to him or with laying on me. He needed closeness during sleep for a year or two. Until about 2 years old, I would lay with him in my bed every night until he fell asleep, then go about my evening routine. One or two nights a week I'd put him in his crib and the other nights he slept with me. It kind of became routine...and now, at age 4 he continues this routine...usually one or two nights a week he will want to go to sleep in his bed (a twin size loft-type bed) and the other nights he likes to sleep in my bed...he goes to sleep on his own in both, though, which is nice.

    And some nights he will crawl into my bed, even if he'd chosen earlier to sleep in his own.

    I had always planned on co-sleeping. I'm a biology guy, and my take on it was primarily from that point of view. Animals, mammals, apes have been sleeping in communal setups (especially parent(s)/children) for millions of years and it obviously works - so, go with it. In many countries it is still the norm for families to cosleep, and I think it's a great tragedy that more developed nations have started to export the fear of cosleeping to other countries like VietNam, China, and other developing nations as if it's something to aspire to.

    I will note that cosleeping with children who have been adopted or other children with possible attachment issues can be a wonderful way to encourage bonding of the whole family.

    •  Me too, adopted 3 baby siblings (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G35Guy, rhubarb, Cassandra Waites

      We migrated from the infant in a crib next to the bed and the other 2 in our bed to having 2 king sized mattresses side by side. Since these were high risk foster-adopt case, I had lots of support and these professionals - half a dozen pediatricians, developmental specialists and child psychologists - visit to study our bonding and nurturing sleeping arrangements, completely shoot form the hip. They're 7,8, & 9 now, fearless, sleep in a heap in one bed and leave the other 2 beds in their room unused, although half the time I wake up with the youngest one, or two.

      My first foster child was a profoundly abused 5 year old boy (neglect, abuse, raped by a boy in a foster home, molested by his father) and his 2 year old sister. I was advised to warn my neighbors and let him scream himself to sleep at bedtime. He'd wrap his body up with the sheet like a mummy.

      Co-sleeping with foster children is prohibited. Each child needs their own room. I knew nothing about parenting that didn't come form a class.

      After a couple of night "by the book" I stayed with him and sat in his bed. I read and sang to him until he fell asleep. I whispered to him that if he woke up alone to call or come get me and I would stay with him. He fell asleep and I left. Later I felt him crawl into my bed and spoon his body into mine, but staying at the edge of the bed. That happened every night. He was very stiff in the day but at night he melted into my arms and slept all night. I kept my hands away from his body and just touched his hair and he'd stay and sleep peacefully, no crying or wrapping. He was an angel.  Towards the end he'd sit in my husband's lap and let him cuddle and love him as well and he'd let go of the stiffened back.  

    •  Attachment issues (0+ / 0-)

      entered my mind as you spoke of your experience.  Bless you for the remedy you employed!

      I'm with you on the biological rationale.

      Note that many of the factors that make co-sleeping unsafe are unique to our current way of life.  Not many morbidly obese apes out there :-)

      Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

      by rhubarb on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 10:41:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another happy co-sleeper here. (7+ / 0-)

    We bought a crib, decorated a baby room, and bought a bassinet to go next to our bed, fully intending for our newborn son to sleep in them.  No chance.  He absolutely insisted on being next to one of our bodies 24 hours a day or else he would cry endlessly.  He wouldn't even consent to ride in the convertible pram/stroller we'd bought (though when he was older he loved the jogging stroller). We ended up carrying him on our bodies in baby slings during most of the day and keeping him in our bed, breast feeding on demand all night.  It was comforting for everyone, and it was the only way any of us could get any sleep. I read an article at the time that claimed that cultures in which mothers carried their babies next to their bodies had almost no incidence of colic, and I have to say it did the trick.  He was a very happy baby as long as he was next to a warm body. Of course, he eventually learned to crawl and walk and gain independence, but he didn't get out of our bed and into his own until almost age three (and even then he'd sneak in to cuddle if he woke up in the middle of the night).  It was difficult, and I envied mothers who had babies who were happy just laying on a blanket on the floor staring at the world or sleeping quietly in their cribs, but clearly that was not going to work with the temperament of our son.

    Nothing amuses me more than the easy manner with which everybody settles the abundance of those who have a great deal less than themselves. --Jane Austen

    by feeny on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 06:12:05 AM PST

    •  we fully intended for our first daughter to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rhubarb, feeny

      sleep in her own room-- bought a crib, decorated the room, etc.
      A close friend of mine fully intended to cosleep (& I thought it was the weirdest thing I had ever heard of, at the time).
      Of course, I ended up cosleeping with both of my daughters, due to a combination of laziness & anxiety (it started for those reasons, but turns out I loved, loved, LOVED sleeping in the same room with those two sweeties)-- and my friend's daughter turned out to be a thrasher, and ended up sleeping in her own room.

      •  This is why "theories" of child rearing (0+ / 0-)

        are not that reliable or applicable in any systematic way.  Each child is an individual with individual needs; each household is configured differently; each parent has his or her own sleep pattern.  Parenthood necessitates love, flexibility, patience, and attentiveness to the needs of one's children.  Beyond that, we all have to improvise.

        Nothing amuses me more than the easy manner with which everybody settles the abundance of those who have a great deal less than themselves. --Jane Austen

        by feeny on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 11:28:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  We co slept with our son (3+ / 0-)

    At first because he out grew the bassinet on the third day, and we never got around to getting a crib. I loved being able to always hear him breathing and the ability to let him nurse w/o having to get up and make an entire production of it. He loved it too, and went to his own bed on his own terms, when he was ready.

  •  We used this gadget: a snuggle (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It was fantastic, it solved all the smother anxieties etc.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 06:49:52 AM PST

    •  I should add that co-sleeping has some (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rhubarb, Question Authority

      big drawbacks, and that's getting the kids out of the bed.

      We don't need to go into this but I know that friends who did not do co-sleeping had a much easier time with this than we did. And, both our children did not sleep as well as theirs once they got into their own beds.

      Our first climbed out of her crib at 1 year 3 months, and by 1 year and a half, wanted out completely. So we put her in her own bed, in her own room, at 1 1/2, and she slept through the night.

      Our second fell out of her crib at 11 months (but that's another story) and was in her crib until 20 months and is now sleeping in her own bed next to her sister.

      From the time they were out of our bed (say 6-9 months) and in their cribs to the time they were in their beds, it was a total travail that made us second-guess co-sleeping.

      That being said, we wouldn't have done it any other way.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 06:54:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is nothing better (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Renee, rhubarb

      than being able to listen to your child breathing.  You know they are alright when they are with you.

    •  I was about to search for the name (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      of that gadget. We used that, too, for my first child. She was small and fit wonderfully in it.

      For my much larger baby, I used a co-sleeper that attached to the bed as an extension. It was great and, like the snuggle, removed most/any? suffocation risks associated with co-sleeping.

  •  HAHAHA (9+ / 0-)

    Almost picked that last choice on the poll--my younger son is 10 now and still (rarely though) crawls into bed with us!

    We co-slept with both of our boys till they were close to 4.  They are 4 years apart in age so they didn't both share the bed with us at the same time.  My mother did not approve.  Of course I breastfed my second son for years and that was looked down upon as well.  

    Great diary!

  •  There is a simple, safe solution for co-sleeping (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rhubarb, ALifeLessFrightening

    Get yourself a co-sleeper bassinet.  We used one from Arm's Reach like this:

    It works great, it's safe, and the baby is right there next to you and there is no need to worry about anyone being hurt in any way, other than perhaps a flailing arm.

    •  If your baby will sleep in it. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Renee, theboz, rhubarb, Question Authority

      We "side-carred" a crib, but our little one wouldn't sleep in it.  He wanted to be right next to mom.  So the crib ended up being a safety rail, of sorts--when I nursed on that side, I didn't have to worry about the little guy rolling out of bed. If he rolled, he'd just roll onto another flat surface (crib was even/flush with the bed). But he never slept in it.  And honestly, when he was first born, I was too injured to even reach that far to get him in the middle of the night (I'd had a c-section and also suffered a really painful nerve injury in my neck and arm at some point during labor).  

      But I agree, side-carring a crib or using an Arm's reach can be a good compromise for a family if co-sleeping isn't the perfect fit.  Every baby is different--I've heard of some sleeping better with an Arm's Reach-type setup.  

    •  I used that and loved it! n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      theboz, rhubarb
    •  I considered an Arm's Reach (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      while I was still pregnant, (my family had given me a shower gift check for a crib), but was unable to obtain one, and winged it instead.  

      Turned out my son was a very inert little guy, and never rolled into a crack, fell off the bed, or anything.  I wondered how mothers of little gymnasts who rolled over early and all managed to cope with this.

      Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

      by rhubarb on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 10:45:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What a lovely diary! (7+ / 0-)

    And thank you for sharing your story.  I really enjoyed reading it.  Had to laugh when you mentioned falling asleep while feeding your baby.  I used to do that too--my husband found me one morning fast asleep, although I was sitting up in bed, with our son nursing on the left side and my right hand holding the tea mug.  

    Americans are too hysterical.  Co-sleeping has been practiced in other countries for years without noticeable ill effects, except for the hazards you mentioned.  I'm a great believer in skin-on-skin contact.  I kiss, touch, and caress my precious two-year-old granddaughter all the time.  She's with me during the day while her parents work.  And she is thriving!  Not obese, taller than most little ones her age--she's a delight.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 07:17:39 AM PST

  •  I'm 100% a sinner (7+ / 0-)

    I co-slept with an infant who had joint contractures and scoliosis.  His chances of passing from SIDS were enormous compared to others too which made me triple paranoid from hell.  I could barely let him out of my grasp.  I did allow him to sleep in a bassinet next to the bed for about two weeks until I was practically losing my mind from insomnia.  And God, I would wake up if I didn't hear him in my sleep move a little....look over the side of the bassinet, poke him with fear and he would do that horrible baby startle.  Seems funny now, not so funny when you are living through it though.

    When he was first born he had a lot of difficulty getting his diaphram to do what it needed to do too.  He was more muscularly weak due to a gene mutation.  He should have eventually been on a feeding tube too because almost every other infant with Freeman Sheldon Syndrome ends up on one, but he never was.  I nursed for a year, he had such a good layer of baby fat on him.  He needed every bit of it too.  Wish I could get some fat on him now.  He is eleven now, straight "A" student who loves life and learning.

    •  Congratulations to you and your son. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Renee, rhubarb, Militarytracy

      It sounds like you did a great job of helping him to find a path to good health.  I wish for the both of you continued success.

    •  The miracle of true (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Renee, rhubarb, Militarytracy, Pinto Pony

      nurturing will save your soul.

    •  You are modest, and not a sinner (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Do you suppose your son did better than expected because of the intense sense of security?

      Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

      by rhubarb on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 10:48:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't doubt it a bit (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        His mouth has a bit of deformity too.  Looking back, it was all such a wild time.  He was born in a military facility so they weren't terribly enlightened.  An older nurse got in a fight with me about nursing him because I was being very insistent upon trying to nurse him.  She yelled at me, "Can't you see his mouth is different."  I told her that I could see that but did that automatically mean he wouldn't be able to nurse?

        He was officially diagnosed by a geneticist when he was two months old.  What he has is extremely rare.  The geneticist told me that the gene mutation had been occurring in all ethnicities and sexes since we have been able to keep a record.  He told me that there was a totem pole in Canada where they are fairly certain that the medicine woman depicted had it.  While we were talking our son became hungry so I started to prepare to nurse him and the doctor looked completely stunned.  He said to me, "Do you nurse him?  I've never seen a child with Freeman Sheldon Syndrome nursed."  I asked him how he thought a Native American medicine woman from hundreds of years ago got to be a medicine woman?  They didn't have Platex drop in bottles, I know that much. Everything we did back then was winging it, there was no book of stats or rules to guide us, so we went with love and nurture and we did everything we could to take very good care of both of us and it turned out very very well.

  •  co-slept (4+ / 0-)

    Two boys and it's the wife's culture that we sleep adjacent on futons. We used a bassinet for a while but the first boy would cry until he was between us. For the first six months it was a relatively terrifying experience ("is he breathing?!?!") but now both boys sleep through the night and when they're asleep, they're asleep, so we don't have to worry about noise and light - although I don't usually survive bedtime as it's a really early wake up.

    No cigs, drugs or booze in the family and I've always been a light adaptable sleeper so that helped us though the infant stages. Plus no bottle, all breast feeding.

    I recommend co-sleeping. Having the baby asleep on top of me relieved a lot of the stress and worry during the night and made it easier for the wife to nurse without fully waking up.

    If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

    by jgnyc on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 07:30:18 AM PST

  •  When our first was born, I never (5+ / 0-)

    had considered co-sleeping, as I had been raised with that American order for them to be independent, they have to sleep on their own.

    BUT, my husband came from a culture where co-sleeping was the norm.

    The first night in the hospital, babyboy slept in the bassinet next to me and I nursed as necessary.  I'd had an emergency C and by the second night, I was exhausted and needing some sleep, but told the nurse I didn't want to send him to the nursery. She suggested, Let's have him sleep with dad.  They had my husband take off his shirt, put the baby in just a diaper and laid him chest to chest on the fold a bed with my husband...and he slept all night.

    So we brought him home, I put him in the bassinet, he whimpered, husband said, that's not working for me, and he was in bed with us from then on.

    When his sister came along 20 months later, I never really considered the crib.  We moved across country when she was 4 weeks old.  She slept on my chest for the first 6 weeks, and would scream whenever laid on her back.  One night, in exhaustion, I rolled her onto her stomach next to me and she slept, I kid you not, 12 hours.  For the next 7 months, after cluster nursing, she slept 12 hours straight on her stomach.

    I was scared because of the back to sleep thing, but my pediatrician, also a nursing mom with a baby just a few months older, was supportive.  This surprised me, and she was clear that it was not (whatever the Pediatric board) recommended, but she told me that there was "some evidence" that co-sleeping reduced SIDS, she said because of both the movement, and the breathing, and that I was probably mitigating the on the stomach thing with the co-sleeping thing.  She said that in studies, when they put a mom and infant in the same bed, regardless of their position, they would wind up sleeping face to face, and her theory was that the breathing feedback helped the baby to "remember to breathe".

    IDK, but it worked for me, and it was heaven to have a nursing baby sleep 12 straight hours every night without once waking or nursing!  She's 12 now, and I have to say, she was easier then than she is today!

    Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government. ~Thomas Jefferson

    by k8dd8d on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 07:51:41 AM PST

    •  Wonderful story, and— (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      —notice in these comments and other accounts that a common theme is going with your strongest parenting instincts?

      The most joyous co-sleeper I know started with all the "American" preconceptions.  "As if baby was one more thing on the to-do list," almost immediately followed her gut, got rid of her crib, scrapped all her plans, quit her job, and never looked back.

      I should point out that a lot of people do not have the economic luxury to follow their gut feelings.

      Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

      by rhubarb on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 10:52:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  not only did I do all of that, I am (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        now homeschooling all three of them.  Again, not something that was ever in the plan, but it goes back to trusting your guts to meet their needs.

        And yes, I understand that I am very privileged to be able to do this for them.  It has taken sacrifice, but we have the means to do it.

        Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government. ~Thomas Jefferson

        by k8dd8d on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 07:34:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hello, I'm TDS and a pediatrician (7+ / 0-)

    and I co-sleep with our 9 month old daughter.  AAP guidelines be damned... This seems to be working for us.

    CIO is a whole 'nother topic, but I figure that if we evolved keeping our babies quiet, then it's best not to CIO.  It seems like new research is starting to bear this out.

    We've got serious work to do. Health care and civil rights for all, please!

    by the dogs sockpuppet on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 08:05:04 AM PST

  •  Co-sleeping is safe (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Renee, rhubarb, Pinto Pony

    Mammal infants sleep with their mother usually. As a species,
    we've been cosleeping from the beginning. What's new is "apart sleeping."

    Our 5 year old is slowly migrating to solitary sleep on her own. She starts the night in her bed and often finishes in ours, with the average time spent on her own gradually increasing.

    People should not be scared to do cosleeping.

  •  Thank you for this. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Renee, rhubarb, Question Authority

    Every baby and family is different, and I don't judge someone if they don't co-sleep, but my goodness for me I can't imagine having done anything but co-sleep with my baby.  And I just can't understand the hysterics over it.  Like you said, it can be done safely or unsafely.  A bit of common sense goes a long way.

    When I was in the hospital after my son was born, he slept in my arms.  The pediatrician on call came in for the routine exam and woke us.  He made some sort of comment about him sleeping with me...I sheepishly admitted that I'd been sleeping with him in the bed.  The pediatrician went on to assure me that was exactly where he should be--and that his own son had also slept in his parent's bed as an infant and young child.  I was grateful for his encouragement.  I knew my baby would be in my bed when we got home, too. We had purposely bought a king-sized bed when I was pregnant.  I knew then he wouldn't sleep in a crib (I did try the side-car arrangement with the crib, but the kidlet refused to ever sleep in it, even though he was never out of arm's reach).  

    I received a lot of negative comment when folks found out my baby slept in our bed.  The argument that seemed to work best was a selfish one.  I wasn't getting up out of bed--much less walking all the way down the hall to another room--to nurse my child several times a night.  For whatever reason, that seemed to be the explanation people understood best.  It wasn't untrue, but it also wasn't the primary reason I chose to co-sleep.  I wanted my baby close to me.  I never understood why people expected an infant or young child to sleep alone.  I'm in my 30s and I don't want to sleep alone, why should a baby?  There's good evidence that closeness and touch are important for an infant to develop healthy and normal.  Both my husband and me also wore my son in various types of baby slings (my favorites being the mei tai and the moby wrap) as an infant quite a bit.  

  •  My 11 year old just moved (7+ / 0-)

    back out into his own bed.  He had been sleeping in his own bed since he was 3 1/2.  My husband dropped dead before our eyes one year ago.  I slept on the couch with CSpan on the TV for months.  When I moved back into my bed and my son joined me.  He was in my bed for about 4 months through the winter. Now that the days grow longer and the nights are not so cold, he is moving back to his own bed.  We are recovering.
    He has been my rock through this tough year.  His fear is abating and I am not crying everyday.
    It is in the hard times that the benefit of co-sleeping in infancy pays off.  He has been more emotionally stable and happy than I am.  His life and activities continued and because of him, so did mine.

    •  I am so sorry for your loss. (4+ / 0-)

      It had to have been very traumatic. I think you are correct that the bonds and patterns you formed early in his life have helped you to cope with this loss.  
      I also have seen the power of physical closeness in troubled times.  My youngest daughter was hospitalized and extremely depressed after a serious suicide attempt.  The entire family dropped everything they were doing and converged on that hospital room - coming from all over the country.  There were never fewer than two of us in the room, and her sisters crawled into bed with her - cuddled, tickled, painted toenails - even their fathers.  I saw them help to pull her back into the land of the living.  I was very ill with bronchial pneumonia  at the time, and probably should have been in a bed next to her, but rarely left the room. But in a crisis it was amazing to watch the close bonds that existed within our family, even years after a divorce.
      Towards the end of the week, I asked one of the nurses if they were tired of us cramming the room.  She look at me like I was crazy, and said that she knew that my daughter was going to be ok because she knew how much she was treasured.  Then she broke my heart when she told me that the often saw kids in similar situations who never had a single visitor.
      I think that co-sleeping is just one of the ways in which we build enduring family bonds, but everything we can do to make them strong should be pursued.  It is important for our everyday lives.  It is essential in a crisis.
      Best wishes to you and your son.

    •  So sorry to hear (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Renee, rhubarb

      Thanks for your thoughtful remarks.

    •  I'm so sorry! (0+ / 0-)

      Good for you to meet your son's needs for closeness this way during an very tragic time in your lives.

      It's natural for young people to fall back on older developmental patterns during stressful times, and the sudden loss of a parent probably trumps them all.

      Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

      by rhubarb on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 10:55:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Our own experiences (4+ / 0-)

    I was completely against having our baby in our bed at first because some firends of ours had LOTS of problems eventually getting their kids to move out , into their own bed.   However, our kid was a terrible sleeper and contantly up at night.  Eventually, my wife was way too tired to keep getting up for night feedings and just breastfed laying down with the baby in our bed.  Then if they fell asleep they fell asleep.  

    Eventually it was just easier for us to have him in our bed than to keep getting up and putting him back to sleep.  Especially if he didn't want to eat.

    I was never really worried about smothering.  We found we were always keenly aware of the baby being in the bed and where he was.  We also found, though, that having the baby in our bed didn't help him sleep any better.  If he was restless and constantly waking up, that was happening in our bed just as much as his own crib.  The only difference was that if he was in our bed, we didn't have to get up to put him back to sleep or comfort him or whatever.

    Despite our friends issues, we haven't had any trouble moving him into his own bed.  He still is a terrible sleeper most of the time regardless of where he sleeps, so we figured we might as well just put him in his own room.  We just bought him a full sized bed, with some protective rails.  That way if we are too tired, me or my wife will climb into his bed and sleep.  That way at least one of us will get some rest.  The person who sleeps with our kid may get an okay sleep or may spend the whole night getting kicked, climbed on, hit, scratched, clawed, etc.

    We sometimes think we should have just taught him to "cry it out" but frankly, I just didn't have the heart to do it.  But even so, books and personal accounts have pointed out that even that can be spotty.  I've had friends with excellent success doing it, and friends who said it made zero difference.  Especially once the kid is old enough to climb out of bed on his/her own.  

    Each kid is different they say.  I guess that is true.

    •  How old is your kid? My girl didn't really (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      sleep through the night until she was 4. There is hope yet!

      •  I look forward to it. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Actually, i've always been a light sleeper my whole life so part of me wonders if that is a genetic thing or something.  

        But he will 3 in a few months.  I actually work with a woman who told me the same thing.  That her daughter didn't sleep through the night until she was about 4.  

        What is funny now is that the odd (very rare) night he does sleeps through the night, we keep waking anyway and wondering if he's ok.   We are trained to be waking up.

        •  Yes that training dies hard. (0+ / 0-)

          I am naturally a deep sleeper, but I slept lightly for … gosh it must have been 8 or 9 years. About as long as I breastfed my 2 kids for total. I just loved that time in my life, but sometimes it was so overwhelming too. People would tell me it goes so fast and I would privately think they were insane.

    •  I have to think your gut instinct (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to not let your son cry it out was right.  I strongly object to the notion that you can "spoil" an infant.  Babies don't cry for "attention," they cry to get their needs met, and I think holding and touching is just as legitimate of a need as being fed and having a clean diaper.  

      I really think that leaving a baby alone to cry just teaches them that they can't depend on--or trust--the adults in their life.  Mostly I am not judgmental of others parenting styles and techniques, but the idea of leaving a baby alone to cry is something that, for whatever reason, really upsets me.  

      FWIW, I was left to cry alone as a child (generational?  My parents were products of the 40s and 50s, I'm sure being left in a crib to cry was "just the way it was done" then), and I was a clingy, whiny, insecure child who grew up to have some mild attachment issues.  I had what I would could consider a "good" childhood--I was not spoiled, but I had it easy, and had parents who certainly gave me the attention I needed.  I also remember having trouble sleeping alone as old as the age of 8 or 9, and would often drag blankets and pillows into my parent's room after they fell asleep so I wouldn't have to sleep by myself in my room.  I have to wonder if I had felt confident and supported as an infant/young child, would I have been so insecure later?

      •  Thanks for the story. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rhubarb, ALifeLessFrightening

        It is tough to know the right thing to do and I guess we all just do our best.  I grew up during the spanking times and thanks to me and my brothers, the wooden spoon was legendary around our house.  I honestly don't think I was abused or overly punished, but I could never hit my own kid.  Mainly because I know for a fact the thought of getting a spanking didn't ever stop me, as a kid, from doing something I thought might get me in trouble.  So in my experience, spanking isn't a deterrent for anything.

        But when my wife and I started having the discussion that maybe we should try the crying thing, neither of us could actualy go through with it.  I just kept thinking that little kids don't know what is going on or undertand.  All they know is the moment, and I kept thinking how scary it would be for a small child to think that maybe he was abandoned and all alone.  

  •  I slept in a crib as a baby, but (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Renee, rhubarb

    as I got older (i.e. mobile) I would wander into my parents bedroom to sleep with them.  This continued almost every night until I was around 6 years old.  I just didn't like being awake by myself in the middle of the night (I've always been a VERY light sleeper).

    Who knows, maybe if I had co-slept from a younger age, it would have given me more confidence to sleep on my own a lot sooner.

    "Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself." - Robert G. Ingersoll

    by Apost8 on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 09:13:57 AM PST

  •  I co-sleep with 5 dogs (3+ / 0-)

    ..including one who loves to cram on his back between me and the S.O. (It's funny when someone is the classic design specialist and finicky about cleaning everything, then lets the bed go entirely to the dogs). This is what happens when 2 people can't make their own child.

    If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people. --Tony Benn

    by rhetoricus on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 09:19:07 AM PST

    •  LOL, A good doggie will do! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I sleep with 2 Bouviers and a little rescued road mutt.  Husband sleeps with 3 cats because they don't mind his snoring.  Our son slept with his Doberman and I guarantee no big bad boogieman ever kept that kid awake nights.

      •  Pooties (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pinto Pony

        I have 3, and they manage to demand most of the bed.  But that is the way of the cat and staff must comply.

        Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

        by rhubarb on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 11:23:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Glad to join the co-sleeping pet thread. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rhubarb, Pinto Pony

          After successfully co-sleeping with our son until he was about 3 or 4, we now have two dogs who share the bed with us.  I guess I just got used to the coziness of it all on winter nights.  Now I wouldn't be able to get to sleep without them.  Furry snuggles are great for curing insomnia.  Interestingly, our son thought he wanted one or both of the dogs to sleep in his bed, but then when he tried it he said they kept him awake.  So his bed-mates are limited to stuffed animals (he's now in high school, but he still has a koala and an elephant secretly tucked away in there).

          Nothing amuses me more than the easy manner with which everybody settles the abundance of those who have a great deal less than themselves. --Jane Austen

          by feeny on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 11:58:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  We have had great results (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Renee, rhubarb, EclecticCrafter

    opposing "furberizing" and tolerating the presence of children in the bed. My wife was also able to breastfeed the kids past the age of two until they themselves decided to ween completely. And for much of that time the breastfeeding was more of a sleep-aid than anything.

    Our kids, 9 and 4, have achieved lasting separation, despite their desire to still check into the "family bed" every so often. They demonstrate a lot of confidence in the course of their day and don't seem bedeviled by much of the psychological turmoil that many of their more difficult contemporaries exhibit. Our belief is that "family bed" has made each of them far more able to handle our absence, and in the case of our youngest the adaptation to the Pre-K environment was especially easy. Whether I'm justified in assigning causality to sleep habits, I can't say. It's just a hunch.

    •  Hunches often work! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      My kid was an extended breastfeeder, and after a year or so, "sleep aid" was basically all it was.  !0 minutes of sucking and Shazam!—asleep.

      I thought of it as "rapid sleep induction."  When he weaned, reading a story sufficed, and we have never had fights about bedtime.

      Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

      by rhubarb on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 11:25:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What a lovely diary! (4+ / 0-)

    I saw your title and I started to read, thinking I was going to have to frame an opposing comment. But no, we are on the same page. My kids are 16 and 13 now, and I miss the early years even though I'm sleeping more soundly now. My grandmother used to say to me that the best years she ever had were when her children were sleeping under her roof.

  •  I guess I was lucky (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    My daughter slept in our/my bed for quite a few years. Yes she had a crib but sometimes was in our bed, between us. I can specifically recall her warm little body snuggling against my back. I very much enjoyed having her nearby. I knew nothing of SIDS or the idea that I was doing anything wrong. Of course I never was in the bed drunk or anything. And it seemed to me that even though I slept, I knew full well exactly where she was. Always.

    We divorced when my daughter was 5 and even for a few years after that she would occasionally climb into my bed to sleep, or just fell asleep there after I read to her. It was nothing creepy (yes I had on pajamas) and she just grew out of it naturally.

    She's 15 and still she will snuggle up to me on the couch sometimes (even though, officially, she thinks I'm a total dork). I hope she never outgrows that. I believe that this all has contributed a little bit to our ability to stay close even through the divorce.

  •  There is a simple answer to this. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Second, and more pointedly, I have to wonder why, if co-sleeping is so detrimental to baby humans, that it is the overwhelming favorite arrangement of parents world wide?

    They only have one bed.  In tropical climates, snakes, nasty insects are nearby; in cold climates, the bed is the only warm place available.

    Do you have only one room?  Do you have to go outside to relieve your waste products?  Are there other children and/or adults in that same room?  Plus all your belongings?

    Then co-sleeping makes sense.  Otherwise no.

    •  Assuming everyone else on earth lives in a hut. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rhubarb, sngmama

      About 60% of people have indoor plumbing.

      Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn. - Poor Richard's Almanac 1755

      by mungley on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 11:18:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for your opinion (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sngmama, mungley

      I do need to point out that, de-facto, co-sleeping is common in the developed world as well, and one aspect of my argument is that it has been adaptive (bugs, snakes, warmth, security)

      I am interested in the rationale behind your "Otherwise, no," statement.

      Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

      by rhubarb on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 11:29:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We did, sorta. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Ex-wife and sons would frequently fall asleep after nursing and stay until morning.  But once they slept through the night, starting when they started on solid foods (that's another story in itself, it's not natural to nurse until kindergarten) they slept in their own rooms with no issues.

    WTF!?!?!?! When did I move to the Republic of Gilead?!

    by IARXPHD on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 10:42:57 AM PST

  •  Falling asleep while nursing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Yeah I remember one night me and my wife both woke up and found the baby rolled off to the foot of the bed. Apparently my wife fell asleep while nursing him and dropped back in bed and the baby just rolled off.

    After that my wife learned to nurse lying down. Much easier for everyone.

    We co-slept w/ both our kids.

  •  I have always wondered (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    how it could possibly be that co-sleeping could be dangerous, when it is obviously the default in the human species. But given that copious fluffy bedding, high rates of obesity, and other such factors are historically new, it makes sense that co-sleeping is now seen as more dangerous than cribs, even though we know cribs have their own dangers. Your hypothesis about how use of formula may contribute to SIDS was also enlightening, and I think you may well have a point.

    I'm very appreciative of the diary (and the CS team, even though it's only of theoretical value to me. If by some longshot I end up with a child of my own, I would definitely feel more comfortable co-sleeping after reading it.

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