The other day a woman left this comment on my post about transitioning your baby from co-sleeping to their own crib at I Think We Could Be Friends (you can find the article here– it has been one of the most popular!) and it made me think back to our first year of parenting. Here is what she wrote:
It feels good to find an article that doesn’t make you feel like a bad parent or a failure because you decide to co-sleep. Our little man is 8 weeks and we started co sleeping with him at 5 weeks when he had a bout of gas and bad tummy pains. It was emotionally draining for us fighting to put an already suffering baby in Moses basket (bassinet) that he did not feel comfortable in.
It works for us to co-sleep, I can feed him whenever he needs and easily calm him by letting him know that we are there. Thank you for this helpful and honest article and for not passing judgement. Being a new mother is already hard without people judging you.”
I knew exactly what this new mom was talking about. I distinctly remember feeling very isolated and like we were doing something wrong when we decided to co-sleep (after we SWORE we wouldn’t).
Before we had kids I imagined co-sleeping to be an inconvenience with perfectly good nights of sleep ruined by flailing limbs. And sensing that this was also the opinion of the general public, I was very careful not to mention that our baby slept with us at night until the other mom would somehow suggest that she co-slept, too, at which point it felt safe to let my guard down.
And while I wasn’t a proponent of co-sleeping before we had kids, it actually surprised me how natural it felt to have my babies right next to me. I loved the snuggle time and NOT having to get out of my warm bed in the middle of the night to nurse. Our youngest is 6 months now and just snuggles right in next to me. As they get older they become more active, which is why we transition them out around the one year mark–but you don’t have to!
And as I’ve read more about co-sleeping over the years, it is interesting to see how science can support the case. It turns out that moms who co-sleep actually get more sleep at night (this was definitely true with our colicky first), and mom’s sleep cycles synch with the babies and we naturally awaken about 5 minutes before they want to nurse. There is also really cool information about how our exhaled carbon dioxide (monoxide? I don’t remember which) helps to regulate the baby’s blood oxygen levels when they are first born.
But while I know all of this now, looking back, I realize that I was just looking for someone to say that what I was doing was ok and that I wasn’t a bad mom because of it.
So, if you find yourself in a similar place, know that it IS OK to co-sleep (and more moms do it than you probably realize!).
And, if I do feel criticized by a (usually well-meaning) mom who has decided not to co-sleep, I just try and extend grace and remember how I used to feel about it.
AND, all of this to say: if you choose not to co-sleep, that is ok, too!
I have a friend who said that her husband would sleep on the couch if she brought the baby in bed because he wasn’t comfortable with it. So co-sleeping probably isn’t for them!
In the end, do what is best for you, your baby, and your family and try not to worry about what “other moms will think” :)