It’s Works-for-Me Wednesday!
Before our child was born, we decided to have the family bed in his room and keep the master bedroom as our couple space. We’d read a lot about co-sleeping and thought it sounded like a great way to minimize the disruptions of night nursing and give our baby a loving, secure environment . . . but Daniel already felt his sleep was disrupted by having me in the bed, and he wasn’t sure he could handle having a baby there, too! Also, it seemed odd to set up our spare bedroom as “the baby’s room”, with all the diapers and baby clothes and such, but not have the baby sleeping in there.
Four years later, we’re very happy that we co-slept but got our child accustomed to his bed instead of ours! Here are some of the advantages:
- no feelings of having lost our couple space; no dilemmas about where to be intimate. Our bed is still our bed and is not all full of toys.
- no worries about how to get Nicholas to sleep in his own room–he’s already there! The transition to sleeping alone is just that, not also a transition to a new room and new bed.
- no baby-related fluids staining our couple bed. Before he was born, we got ourselves a new bed and put the old one in his room. (Both are full-size beds. We are thin and don’t move in our sleep very much.)
- crawling into bed with Daniel became an exciting novelty for me!
- comfortable extra bed is all ready when one parent is sick and needs to sleep alone. (The other parent can sleep all night with Nicholas, away from the germs. However, when he was still breastfeeding, I stayed in his bed while I was sick. He never caught any of my illnesses, probably because he was getting antibodies from my milk!)
- parents can do awake stuff–talk, play a game, put away laundry, work on projects–in our room while Nicholas is sleeping.
- I was able to do the full attachment-parenting all-night nursing thing without worrying about disruptions to my partner. It was nice to be able to focus on only two people’s needs, not three!
- co-sleeping can continue as long as Nicholas wants a parent with him. He still gets upset if he awakens to find himself alone, although he’s long been used to the idea that the parent who put him to bed sometimes gets up once he’s asleep. We’re sure he’ll want to be more independent someday; there’s no need to rush it. If we were eager to get him out of our bed so we could have privacy as a couple, then we would be in a rush.
Most American books and articles about co-sleeping are written with the assumption that parents will add the baby to their bed with both of them, and on discussion boards I often see families having problems with that arrangement or wondering if it’s “okay” that Daddy has been sleeping better in the guest room. Of course, there also are families where the father adores sleeping with his child and the parents get their thrills sneaking into the laundry room for couple time . . . every family is different.
If you have two bedrooms available for baby and parents, try setting up a bed in each of them. Maybe you’ll wind up all sleeping together all the time, but it’s good to have options–and handy to have a full-size guest bed!