Why is there no crib? It is the question many have when they enter our bedroom or the nursery, and find this normal childhood furniture absent (not that I am in the habit of bringing all of our house guests into our bedroom!) I had always planned on co-sleeping as my mom and mother-in-law both did it with their kids, and it seemed to make sense.
Yes, there is no crib.
We are co-sleeping.
Then I started reading those free baby magazines that continually tell you why co-sleeping is can be very dangerous, and with this new enlightenment, I changed my mind. Peter was born, and he slept in a cradle next to the bed. I was constantly waking up to check on him, even when he was peacefully sleeping. I regretted that he was so far away. The arrangement didn’t sit quite right with me. Every time I woke up to soothe my crying baby, I second guessed myself. Then I reasoned that at least for naptime, it would seem to be safe. So I did, and I immediately realized how aware I was of his breathing and of his needs, and before he was a week old, we began bedsharing at night. I got a lot more sleep this way, and Peter seemed to be more happy too. I finally had the energy to be alive again. For me, bedsharing was the defining moment for my recovery from childbirth.
“This must be right,” I told myself, “there must be something very right about this.” I searched for research to validate my decision. I didn’t have to look very far. William Sears, one of Americas leading pediatricians, has always been a proponent of co-sleeping. Here is an article by Dr. Sears about co-sleeping. If you do any research at all on co-sleeping, you are bound to find the name of James McKenna, a man who has extensively researched bedsharing and whether or not it is safe. This website shares many articles and videos sharing his research. I also read his book, Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent's Guide to Cosleeping , and found all of the validation I needed to be confident in my decision. So now, I'm very happy to be co-sleeping, and I think it's a very good choice for our family.
Breakfast in bed? The benefits for breastfeedingThere are three different kinds of mammals, and nature provides special milk for each. There are nesting mammals like puppies and kittens who can be left for hours as the mother gathers food. They are often born blind, hairless, and quite helpless. A nesting animal goes to the nest, not the mother, when danger arrives. Then there are animals who walk from birth like horses, elephants, and cattle whose needs are different. Thirdly there are “parent clingers”, those who are carried, who stay close to their mother and are highly dependant on their parents for safety. They nurse often.The truth is that mankind are part of this last category, and our babies need constant physical touch and nourishment. Co-sleeping is very conducive to meeting our babies needs. A breastfed baby will eat three times as much at night when they bed-sharing is practiced. We are more quickly able to pick-up on our babies cues when we are close by. Crying is one of the very last cues a baby will give when hungry, but it can be the last one we register when the baby is in a crib, especially if the baby sleeps in another room. The baby is upset and needs to be calmed down, in addition to being fed. When a baby sleeps next to its mother, other cues are given first, and mother and child go back to sleep much more quickly. I have a personal story to share that reflects this truth. My husband took a nap with our little daughter once, and as I worked in the other room I heard my husband call me. She was snuggling up with him, smiling, and playing with his face, which, in spite of the annoyance of his interrupted slumber, was quite endearing. After all, she is a cute little girl. “What does she want?” he asked, and I replied that she was hungry. “Really?” Indeed she was, and I learned to appreciate my ability to respond to he needs so quickly.
I have never had a sleepless night with Helen. From the beginning I recovered quickly as I got that precious sleep I needed, and I have a very happy baby. The only sleepless nights I had with Peter were the first few nights before I brought him into bed with me. Much of that is because of the security my children and I have knowing that we are in close proximity, but much of it is also because when they are hungry, they are fed faster, and neither of us have to fully wake up in order to meet those needs.