There are so many ways for a baby to sleep, but most parents will choose from one of three ways – full crib, full co-sleep or half-crib and half co-sleep. There are so many reasons that you choose the sleep pattern that you do. However, with three kids and three different ways of teaching them to sleep I have had a lot of experience in doing it the wrong way. Co-sleeper or crib? Let me say that I have slept with babies in my bed as well as having babies exclusively sleep in a crib. Co-sleeping is almost as controversial as the vaccinations. Many women feel guilty about co-sleeping – but I don’t.
The Crib Sleeper – As a new parent I thought what all of the ‘older and wiser’ people were telling me was the truth. So without question I listened. However, there is some research that says that it might not be best to co-sleep. The number one problem is sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In the western cultures there are so many different types of bedding and even mattresses that can make a big difference when thinking of co-sleeping.
Out of my three children my oldest one is the one that never spent a day in my bed as a baby. He was the child that was laid down in his bed and was allowed to cry it out to help to acclimate him to being alone. Man was that a mistake. After he was old enough to walk he would climb out of bed and crawl all over me. To this day as a teenager he still tries to climb on of me and snuggle. This makes me feel that maybe he missed something as a baby.
My half-crib and half co-sleeping baby – Once realizing the older and wiser might not ALWAYS be correct, I went with my gut a little more when considering a co-sleeper or crib. Even though I thought about SIDS, sleep deprivation won in this case. Unlike my previous child I decided to breastfeed this baby. Waking up in the middle of night to walk across the house was horrible, and cold, so we did the dreaded co-sleeping. It was so much better than the constant waking him up to sleep.
There were some cons to co-sleeping. Co-sleeping can encourage breastfeeding, which made it easier for me to produce milk. This allows moms to get a normal sleep cycle rather than the roller coaster sleeping. This style of sleeping can also help to build a closer bond with your child.
My middle child decided that he wanted to leave my bed by the time he was 6 months old. He was climbing out and crawling around the house without my fully awake knowledge. So he was placed into a crib rather than getting hurt around the house on daddy’s stuff. This also cut down our nursing relationship, because now daddy could wake up and feed him. No more waking up at nights pleased me a little more, although now he’s a love, he has many abandonment troubles. Could sleeping be the cause? I hope not, but you never know.
My Co-Sleeper – This was a wonderful experience. After asking weather we wanted a co-sleeper or crib, we realized it was really about the child and what he or she needs. I started the first week with her sleeping in a crib. Daddy would wake up and bring her to the bed, so I could nurse. Then he boycotted waking up. So we decided that since I was nursing we would try co-sleeping. The biggest benefit is that parents are able to gain my sleep, which pleased my husband.
There were some wonderful benefits that I noticed. Breastfeeding became easier, when she was hungry I would just roll over and help her latch and then fall back to sleep. There were no nighttime separation problems, because she fell asleep next to me and wakes up next to me. This gave her the security that she needed to depend on me in everything that we did. Since we co-slept we were able to nurse for many years without trouble. I also had a more united bond with her, she knew that I was there whenever she needed. It could be something as simple as a boo boo or as big as a nightmare. She comes when she needs comfort and love, however is independent any other time.
My experiences will not be the same as other people. However, with my three children each had a different reaction to their sleeping situation. My favorite and most recommended way is to co-sleep throughout your entire first year or more.