Adventures in Co-Sleeping . . . My Destiny for a Family Bed
And, I can't imagine my life any other way.
When I was a stay-at-home momma to one baby, everyone told me that I "could not" sleep with my baby. Let me just state that ferberizing DOES NOT WORK!!! I tired it and my son stayed awake with me following Dr Fever's book and sitting out in the hallway, heart aching, crying pools of tears over my anguished baby. This baby who clearly wanted and needed me! After that day, I told everyone to mind their own business and I would do what is best for MY child and I tossed that book in the trash bin!
In fact, by attempting to feberize my son, I instilled in him a sleep radar that was not like any other radar in the universe! My son slept ON TOP OF me for the first 9 months of his life. L.i.t.e.r.a.l.l.y. if his little toosh touched a sheet he was screaming. By 12 months he would sleep with my arm around him. And if my husband touched him, he howled.
Before his 2nd birthday he sort of had to adjust to sleeping only beside me as he had a new baby sister. I was tandem breast feeding and breast feeding on-demand and basically it was convenient for me to have both of the babies near me. And frankly, I was used to it by then and couldn't imagine my children in any other bed but mine. My new baby daughter slept with us, not 100% of the time, but definitely up to age 10-12 months (I can't really recall right now).
I moved her into a crib at around 12 months in her own bedroom and this only lasted a couple of months (we moved out of the county and the transition sucked). She was in our bed and so was our son. Purchasing toddler beds did not remedy the situation. I could sneak the children into the toddler beds after they had fallen asleep, but the second they realized what bed they were in, they were screaming. Amazingly, my son actually never once slept in that toddler bed. He would sit there and absolutely refuse to lay down. I would beg, plead, bargain, bribe, or barter with him and that child never once budged.
Both of the children slept with us until my son was 5 (almost 6). Once my son started Kindergarten we told him he had to sleep in his bed on school nights. My husband slept with him for over 6 months(no joke). By this time I had another baby to contend with and as long as my husband was sleeping with him in his room he was at least sleeping in his room. So in my Cal King bed was myself and my oldest daughter and the newest baby in the bassinet. She did so marvelous in this bassinet and I was so proud of myself that I actually was able to get a baby to sleep in a baby bed that I had (especially since all our bassinets, playpens and crib are basically brand new - never been used). My newest baby decided at 9 months that she wanted in on the King bed action and that was the end of that happy story.
I am all for co-sleeping and actually would tell any of my friends to try it. My husband or I rarely lost sleep because I was sleeping next to my baby and I utilized the instinctive response to the baby's first whimper, thus preventing the need for the hard crying that is so stressful to the baby and to all other members of the family. I personally think that co-sleeping with my children until they no longer need(ed) it means that I will never need to 'train' them to go to sleep. I also recognize a deeper sense of love and trust often develops between my children (who sleep near each other), lessening sibling rivalry during waking hours. I find that my children have a greater opportunity to build a deep and lasting relationship because they share the nights and the days. For me, co-sleeping is an unquestioned practice in my house.
My children, who are cared for during the night as well as the day, receive constant reassurance of love and support, instead of having to cope with feelings of fear, anger, and abandonment night after night. I believe my children feel safe through the night, as well as the day. with me close by, will become adults who cope better with the inevitable stresses life brings. As John Holt put it so eloquently, having feelings of love and safety in early life, far from "spoiling" a child, is like "money in the bank": a fund of trust, self-esteem and inner security which the child can draw on throughout life's challenges.
My youngest still sleeps with me (she is 3 years 5 months- I nursed her until she was 32 months). My son still comes in about 40-50% of the time half way through the night (in fact, he has already been down here at the computer telling me he is going to my bed). My daughter (6 years old now) still comes in about 50-75% of the time half way through the night.
I HAVE to say that after almost 8 years of sleeping with kids - I CAN'T sleep unless at least one of my kids are in bed with me! Hilariously, my son told me today on the way home from church that he wished he was an only child so he could still sleep with me every night!