Co-Sleeping — My Experience and Guidelines

by Dagmar Bleasdale on May 19, 2009

L sleeping 2

My niece invited all the Bleasdale women to New Hampshire to celebrate her bridal shower, and I was exited to go. L is 2 ½ now and I have never been away from him for a night. We practice attachment parenting and co-sleeping, meaning he sleeps in our bed. So going to the shower meant that Don had to take care of Landon by himself for two days, including one night. I am the only one who can get our sweet little boy to sleep, by bouncing with him on an exercise ball or nursing him, so this was going to be interesting. And since L wakes up once or twice during the night to get another few gulps of breast milk before he goes back to sleep, I was a little worried how Don would be able to deal with that.

So we headed to New Hampshire to see Jenny — my three sister-in-laws, a friend of theirs, and my three younger nieces. We had the best time, it was so relaxing to have a meal and not have to get things for everyone and run after a toddler! I had a good night sleep and was anxious to find out how Don’s night had been with L. When I finally got through to him, Don told me, “You have been replaced.” Apparently, L crashed next to Daddy at 11 p.m. and didn’t wake up until 5 a.m., when he wanted to play. So it all worked out fine. The bridal shower was a great hit and we made it back to New York in time for me to get L ready for the night. After hand-expressing milk for over a day so I wouldn’t get engorged while away from L, I was happy to supply the milk to the rightful owner and have him fall asleep in my arms.

Here is a picture of all the Bleasdale women in NH, minus Grandma Faith.

j-shower

While on Twitter today, I came across an article on Babiesonline.com about five babies’ deaths attributed to co-sleeping in the last 10 weeks in Milwaukee. The writer found out that four of the deaths were attributed to the caregiver drinking alcohol. I have co-slept with L from his first day and find it very convenient and safe. When he moves, I wake up for a few moments and make sure he is okay and adjust the blanket so it doesn’t cover him past his torso, but that doesn’t disturb my sleep. Having to get up and check on him in a bed would be way more disrupting. And since I breastfeed him, I have never had to make a bottle for him in the middle of the night.

When done with care, co-sleeping is best for mother and child. Here are the co-sleeping guidelines from Attachment Parenting International:

If your baby sleeps with you:

1. Breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding mothers spend more time in lighter stages of sleep, making them more aware of their baby. They also tend to sleep in a protective position (with knees bent upward) that prevents baby from moving down under the covers.

2. Place baby next to Mom, rather than between mother and father.

3. Use approved side rails or bed extenders when placing baby in the family bed. Fill in any crevice between the bed and walls, headboard, footboard, or furniture with a rolled-up baby blanket or towel. Placing the adult mattress on the floor (like a futon) creates the safest possible sleep environment.

4. Baby should not be left to sleep alone on an adult bed, even during naps. If parents do not have access to a crib or co-sleeping device for naps, place a smaller mattress or futon on the floor, and make sure the room is child-proofed.

5. Be mindful about sharing sleep and settle the baby safely next to mom in a planned environment rather than falling asleep from exhaustion on the couch, a recliner, beanbag chair, or other unsafe place to share sleep.

6. Only primary caregivers should sleep with an infant. Do not allow babysitters or older siblings to sleep with baby.

Obviously, do not co-sleep with your baby if you have been drinking, and also don’t co-sleep on a water bed. Keep those points in mind and enjoy sleeping next to your child!

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy June 7, 2009 at 4:24 AM

Kaitlynn is 27 months old and has slept in our bed or in our room since she was born (basically). I also breastfed her until last month. Co-sleeping if done correctly is very safe. I find it very upsetting that articles attribute co-sleeping with babies deaths or say that a parent should never sleep with their baby. As long as you are safe and use precautions, co-sleeping is a wonderful experience.

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Melodie May 22, 2009 at 12:07 AM

Thanks for this article. I am anxiously awaiting the day (or shall I say night?) that my youngest and I are apart for the first time too, both with excitement and dread.
Funny, I was just starting to write my own post about co-sleeping and breastfeeding based on a letter to the editor in the most recent issue of Mothering Magazine. If it’s okay with you I will link back to this post for the co-sleeping guidelines and your own co-sleeping experience. Let me know!
I’m aiming to have it done for this coming week.
Best,
melodie :)

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Brandy May 20, 2009 at 9:35 PM

I see you mentioned NH and I had to read on since I live there!

I co-sleep with our 9 mos old and if we had not breastfed I am sure he would not be in our bed. I co-slept with my first born the whole time she nursed and our second born I only nursed 8 weeks – after that time he was in his crib. I didn’t realize that nursing moms slept lighter – but I am exhausted and baby K is 9 months and with nursing this past 9 months with him co-sleeping maybe that is why I am so tired!

I do know he needs to get into his crib – the stats are scary and I don’t want Baby K to be one of those bad stats!

Thank you for this post!

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Kasandria Reasoner May 20, 2009 at 4:21 AM

The first night is always the hardest. Enjoyed reading your blog. Keep up the good work! Kas

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Jen Dugan May 19, 2009 at 12:09 PM

Great post. I have co-slept with my daughter E from her first day (she’s 3 now) and find it very convenient and safe too.

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