Co-sleeping questions

I couldn’t tell you what we did during the night when Ryan was first born. I can’t remember.

So I’ll start with what I know… Ryan would sleep in his bassinet at night and when he woke up to eat (every 2 hours), I would get up, sit on the edge of the bed, and nurse him. When he was done, I’d put him back in his bassinet.

I can’t remember when or why, but I eventually brought Ryan into bed with me. Maybe because Steve was working nights so I had the bed to myself? Maybe because I got tired of getting up every 2 hours? Or because my back was killing me from nursing on the edge of the bed?! Anyway, I learned how to nurse him in the side-lying position and I could not even believe I used to actually get out of bed to nurse. It was GREAT.

But at the same time… I wasn’t used to sleeping so still. To not being able to move (because I was still getting used to this co-sleeping thing). So my quality of sleep wasn’t that great. Eventually, I tried him back in the bassinet (around the time we moved to our house) and what do you know… he was sleeping 7-8 hours IN A ROW! He’d go down around 8pm and be up around 3-4am to nurse, then back in his bassinet and up for the day around 6-7. It was awesome.

I miss those days. What happened?! I have no idea, but Ryan stopped that crazy nonsense and started waking up after 4 hours (around midnight). I dealt with it for a few days and finally brought him back into bed with us. Back to co-sleeping!

And now? I can’t believe we were ever not co-sleeping. I love cuddle time 🙂 I do think Ryan wakes up MORE often, which means I do too, but at the same time–I’m getting more sleep. I simply scoot toward him and put in his paci or nurse him and I’m back to sleep. I’m happier and I most certainly think Ryan is happier. Steve, however, spent quite a few nights on the floor or couch because he was afraid. I solved that by pushing a twin bed up against our queen size… so now it’s super huge… and we’re one big happy co-sleeping family 🙂

Yep, I’ve heard lots of comments and have gotten lots of looks about it (a post for another day). BUT I do have questions for you guys if you could help me out!

1) How long did you co-sleep?

2) If you want to stop co-sleeping at some point (move baby to crib), when? and how? Was it difficult?

3) Steve’s grandma said we’re asking for trouble in the future by co-sleeping now. Thoughts? (I am a little worried about it. To clarify, we do plan on moving Ryan to his crib at SOME point. I just have no idea when. And he does seem SO dependent right now on me sleeping next to him).

4) Along with my note in #3, do other parents who co-sleep have that issue? If Ryan wakes up and sees I’m not next to him, he freaks out and I have to go in the bedroom and calm him down and basically put him to sleep all over again.

5) Is it “bad” to always put Ryan to sleep rather than letting him learn to fall asleep on his own? No, I don’t mean letting him cry it out (we’d never do that), but… we rock him or I nurse him until he’s basically asleep and then we put him down. I read that falling asleep is a learned trait so he should be learning how rather than having us do it for him. Make sense? I feel that he’s still too young… but don’t want to run into problems later. Know what I mean? (Can you tell I’m a newbie??? haha)

6) This is more of a nursing question… I shouldn’t worry about what’s “normal” because we feed on demand anyway, but I guess I’m just wondering what happened to his 8-hour sleeps at night? And now (that he’s in bed with me) he seems to be waking up nearly every 2 hours again and I’d say most of the time a paci doesn’t work and I need to nurse him. But maybe he’s not actually hungry and he’s nursing for comfort? Will that cause us problems later when we try to move him to his own bed?

THANKS!

11 comments to Co-sleeping questions

  • here is what happen with us and co-sleeping, btw co-sleeping rocks!!!

    We did the same as you tried the bassinet but was not working for me needing to nurse on demand (to us that meat every 2 hours night and day!!!!)

    So we put our first little on in bed with us! I nursed her then fell back asleep (she was a very dependent Mama only baby) but around 10 month she started to sleep trough the night and nursed only once (at around 2pm) so we set up a crib in our room and put her down after I nurse her and no problem at all, that little goose had become very independent and wanted to sleep alone!!! Weird, but the fact that she knew that we were there for her make her more confident and more independent and therefore more social!

    When baby #2 came along we did the same, and yes around 10 months move her in the crib and to her sisters room around 13 months (they like sharing a room)

    We have no sleeping issue, they are now 3 years and 17 moths old I send them to bed at 7 pm awake, they play with each other for 30 min then just fall asleep 🙂 all alone until 8 am the next morning, I love it!!!

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  • Hi mama!
    Co-sleeping rocks! My husband and I co-sleep with our 6.5 and 4 year olds and love it. I just love how, no matter how crazy the day is, I can look at them before bed and just soak in how amazing and beautiful they are.

    So to answer your other questions 🙂
    2. I’ve never wanted to move them out of the family bed b/c we all enjoy it. Sometimes my oldest does sleep in another bed… and that’s cool too.

    3. I remember when we first started co-sleeping I was worried about whether they’d ever want to sleep on their own, and a mom who was AP’d as a child told me she wanted to sleep in her own bed when she was 2.5. Every kid will be different of course. Basically, when a child feels secure and independent – on her own timetable – is when she’ll move out of the bed. Don’t listen to conventional-think about how we need to push our kids to be independent. All kids naturally want to be independent – they crawl, walk, eat, etc. on their own timetable. Same will happen with the family bed.

    4. My youngest is more needy than my oldest, so yes, when she would wake up and not see me there, she’d scream! I’d hurry back, though, and all would be fine.

    5. “Learning to fall asleep on their own” is another conventional myth… everyone wants to be cuddled to sleep – even us adults, yes? All children will learn to sleep in their own time, I promise. Continue loving/nursing that babe to sleep for a long time. I still lay down with my girls every night, read them books, let my youngest hold my breast (she’s still very attached to them although she weaned a year ago), til they fall asleep. That’s how I would want life if I were a kid, you know?

    6. Babies sleep patterns shift incredibly depending on many things… teething, hunger, developmental leaps (crawling, walking), and yes, the need for comfort. Sometimes they’ll sleep well, other times, they won’t. It very well may be that he’s waking because of something physiological and thus he’ll begin to sleep long stretches again. However, breastfeeding/co-sleeping babes do often wake more than crib babes because they know you and your breast are there and yes, they want comfort. There’s nothing wrong with that… I believe our job as moms is to give them that comfort whenever they want it. It does become harder after a long period of the every 2 hour waking, it’s true… my youngest woke every 2 hours until she was 22 mo old at which point I gently night weaned her. She slept better after that. But – what got me through and what you have to keep in mind during the night waking days is the very important reason you are attachment parenting… because you want to meet your babe’s needs and provide that comfort and security she deserves. Remember that the studies show that AP’d children are far more secure, independent, self-confident, as adults than their mainstream parented co-horts. I personally believe that so many people are sooo unhappy in life – and look to drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. – because their needs weren’t met in their primary years.

    Anyway, you’re doing great! What a super first time mom you are!!

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  • Blair

    I’m going to tackle just a few of your questions! We were a partially co-sleeping family. My daughter spent some nights with us and some in her crib depending on her need. We did not have any trouble transitioning to her sleeping by herself most of the time–that probably happened at around a year? We did have to either nurse, or hold/rock her to sleep until she was about 22 months. She stopped nursing to sleep at 18 months. At 22 months she was able to understand how to put herself to sleep. She put her head on the pillow and lay still until she fell asleep.

    The thing I always tell my new mom friends is that sleep patterns are going to change a lot, especially over the first year. I think the expectation of longterm sleeping through the night is unrealistic. (Not saying you have it but a lot of people do.) My experience with my first daughter is that she would sleep through for a lot, then she would start teething or working on a milestone and she would get in the habit of waking and that would be our new normal for a while. For the times when she slept I just tried to appreciate it. For the crazy times when she was waking up once an hour I reminded myself that this too shall pass.

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  • Blair

    “she would sleep through for a while,” not a lot…

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  • We ended up cosleeping for the EXACT same reasons you did – once I figured out how much more sleep I got nursing in bed I never looked back. Although I had all the same questions you did, this is how it worked out for us:

    When my son was about 7 months old he started to toss and turn and thrash when I was cuddling him at night. I didn’t feel safe putting him back in the co-sleeper since he could sit up but neither of us was comfortable in the bed. So I decided to try the crib – and he loved it. He’s just a very independent sleeper (although he was NOT AT ALL when he was a newborn) and likes to be able to roll around.

    To make the crib transition as easy as possible we started a strict routine of bath, pjs, nursing, rocking, music and bed. When he was about 11 months the routine calmed him down enough that we could put him in the crib still awake and he would “talk” to his stuffed animals until he fell asleep. I have to tell you though, this was just a milestone he reached on his own, I have NO IDEA how to replicate the results with anyone else’s baby.

    The only down side to having the baby in the crib is he still usually gets up once a night to nurse, so I have to get out of bed. It’s not ruining my life by any stretch, but when he’s going through a rough patch (teething, learning a new skill, etc) he wakes up a lot more often. I did night-wean him once but then he caught the flu and we went back to lots and lots of nursing. I think I’ll probably night-wean again when his molars come through, around 15 months.

    I think people who say co-sleeping now sets you up for trouble forever don’t understand that all babies are different. Co-sleeping at 5 or 6 or even 12 months isn’t the same as having a 5 year old in your bed, stopping you from, uh, connecting with your husband. If you know what I mean.

    Good luck!

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  • I started co-sleeping with Moo her second day of birth. I had to have stitches and it was so painful getting up and down from that awfully uncomfortable hospital bed. So, even though one of my doctors from my Women’s Group practice had told me not to start co-sleeping, all I could think was ‘she’s not feeling my pain.’ And what do you know, she slept so peacefully and longer than she had that first night. Well, my third night in the hospital, I tried letting her sleep in those plastic things they call beds and she hated it. She kept rolling over and hitting her head on the plastic and then she’d burst into a fit of tears.

    Let’s just say, I figured out quickly that co-sleeping would be the way for us. Her dad couldn’t stand it at first. He went on and on about how she would be sleeping in our bed until her 18th bday. So, he opted to sleep on the couch for 8 months until we went our separate ways. Well, my Moo is now one and we still enjoy co-sleeping together. We have a king sized bed so there is lots of room to roll around. It’s nice and plush with a mountain of pillows on her side so that she won’t roll off.

    She has slept away from me. So, I don’t think it’ll be much of a huge problem when she turns two to ween her. And I think it’s perfectly fine to have a bedtime routine like rocking your baby to sleep. As they get older, they won’t need to be rocked, but read to instead. As long as, you guys are physically hurting him by rolling on him, I think that you should proceed as usual. Just be sure to set a time frame on when you want to start weening him. And maybe for naps you could let him sleep in his crib in his own room.

    That will help. I let Moo sleep in her own room for naps. And to my surprise she can sleep up to two hours without waking up frantically searching for me.

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  • THANKS so much everyone! I feel relieved…I know I shouldn’t listen to what others say and what books tell me to do, etc. and just do what works for us, but it does get hard–esp as a first-timer when you question everything you do! But I’m feeling much better now about keeping him in our bed (with no timeline) and rocking and nursing him to sleep 🙂

    This comment below comes from Beth. She was at work and the comments were blocked on her network so she sent me an email. Thought others would be interested in her story and her answers (because I found them helpful!) so here ya go:

    M started in a cradle in our room (one that my grandfather made for me, so it was extra special). He slept there until he was about 3 months. One night around 3 months A and I weren’t quite ready to turn off the lights and be quiet when M fell asleep so I put him in his crib. He slept through the night THAT NIGHT. Which meant… I was all about crib sleeping for the next few weeks. It went great. Then he hit 4 months. I don’t know if it was teething, or just him figuring out that the world is a cool place, or what – but his sleep was shot to shit. He was up every 2 hours or less. By now I was back to work full time and so in my exhaustion we started co-sleeping. We loved it. M loved it. I continued putting him in his crib to start the night, but at his first wake up (usually before we went to sleep), I’d bring him into our room and lay him down next to me, snuggle and nurse him. This went on until M was 8 months. I realized that I was getting more and more irritable and I didn’t know why. I was grumpy at work, rude to my husband, and was just all around unhappy. That night I made a concious effort to count the number of times I was “waking up” to nurse. I put waking up in quotes because I usually wouldn’t totally wake up, but that night I made a concious effort. Are you ready…. 10. In a 9 hour period of time, I woke up 10 times to nurse M. I realized this had to stop. At 8 months there is NO WAY he needed to nurse 10 times at night. I was a disaster. No wonder I was so grouchy – I wasn’t sleeping AT ALL!!! Lots of tears, and many phone calls to various support group members led me to decide we’d be putting M back in his crib. I told my husband that it might be two or three nights of pure hell, but that M would need to start sleeping in his crib. It occured to me that if I had chocolate chip cookies on my pillow next to me while I slept, I’d probably eat them too. Why wouldn’t M nurse when I was right there snuggled up next to him the whole night??

    We put M in his crib. We set “rules” that if it had been under two hours, A would go in and try to rock him back to sleep – if he was rocking for longer than 10 minutes, I’d go in and nurse. M woke up 4 times. I nursed him 3 of those 4 times. I felt like a new woman the next day. Even though I had to actually wake up to go into his room and nurse him, I was able to actually sleep when it was time to sleep. Since then he has gotten even better. He now wakes up twice – once at 1, and once at 4. Both times he eats and goes back to sleep. Usually at the 4 o’clock wake up I’ll bring him back to our bed with us, and snuggle with him until it’s time for me to get up.

    So that’s the long story. Here’s the answers to your questions:
    1. full time, 4 months… but we still co-sleep part of the night
    2. It wasn’t hard. We had one night where he wouldn’t go back to sleep unless he was held. Now, we can feed him a bottle while he still lays in his crib and he will go right back to sleep.
    3. Steve’s Grandma is WRONG. How many things have you heard from how many people about how to raise your child? I know it’s harder to ignore when it’s from family that you love and trust. But do what you feel is right for you, Steve, and Ryan and forget everyone else
    4. The first night it wasn’t easy. It got easier and easier each night. There is an adjustment period, and Ryan will need to know that you are going to come and get him and love him and be with him. That’s going to take a little bit for him to realize, but he will realize it eventually.
    5. I don’t think so. We put M to sleep until about 2 weeks ago. Then suddenly he stopped falling asleep during his last bottle and started talking to us for about 10-15 minutes afterwards before just rolling over and going to sleep. I keep telling myself that if he hasn’t done XYZ by the time he turns 1 then I’ll worry about it – and so far he has done every single one of those things in his own time (except crawling).
    6. Like I said – imagine if someone put your very favorite food next to your face at night. Wouldn’t you eat it? Then after you eat it and go back to sleep, they replace it with MORE delicious food!! It’s totally normal. Your boob is there, so he’s going to eat.

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  • Becca M

    I love love love co-sleeping. It is the only way I would ever sleep. I co-sleep with Lucas and we co-slept with Adam.

    1 and 2. We transitioned Adam into his own crib around 8 months. He would wake up in the middle of the night and I would bring him into bed with me. When we got pregnant with Lucas, we needed Adam to sleep in his own bed through the night, so we made a really big deal about his big boy bed. We decorated and celebrated his big boy room. It took about 3 weeks for him to sleep through the night in his own bed, own room, but he did. Now, he doesn’t want to sleep in mommy’s bed, and sometimes I wish he would! lol.

    3. I blogged about co-sleeping recently and I said we do it regardless of what others say because it works for us. Everyone parents differently so there really is no “normal”. You have to do what works for you and your family. If co-sleeping means you are able to get enough sleep to where you can function in the morning, then that it perfectly fine! You have to ignore everyones comments, everyone will always have an opinion so unless they are going to come over and take care of the babe in the middle of the night…

    4. Ryan is still young, it is a comfort thing to see you next to him. When he gets older he won’t freak out.

    5. He will eventually fall alseep on his own. As long as you enjoy rocking/nursing him to sleep, keep doing it! It is doing no harm to him and one day you are going to wish he wanted to cuddle with you!

    6. Even the best sleepers go through phases. Ryan may be just going through a phase: growth spurt, teething, etc.

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  • We still cosleep! Glade is three in July and starting to want to sleep in her own room, but I am letting her set the pace. She doesn’t need us to fall asleep with her anymore, but she sleeps through the night if we are there. If not, she will wake up anytime from 2 to 6 crying and comes and gets us or comes into bed with us.

    I don’t find a problem with us sleeping with her. She didn’t STTN until she was almost two, so the best way for us to get sleep was cosleeping. And I just love it! Me and her both get more sleep, and it is just cozy cuddle time with a very active toddler haha :).

    We decided to not even put up the crib with this one, and just cosleep from the start. I want to get Glade into her bed before the baby comes, but we have time and it will happen when it happens.

    You’re doing great mama!!

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  • We co-slept until my little one was 7 months old. I also had a c-sec, and our first night home from the hosp I looked at my husb and asked how this was all going to work. We nursed, I put him in the bed beside me in the little contraption that keeps them from rolling over, and I made sure the blankets on the bed were no higher than my waist. It worked for us. Especially when I returned to work and he was still nursing 2-3 times a night.
    He moved to his crib at 7m when he learned how to crawl and in the middle of the night he crawled to the foot of the bed (where there were no safety rails) and fell onto the hardwood floor. OUCH. He spent the remainder of that night in his crib.
    We usually put him to bed when he was already asleep, I would nurse him to sleep, just because I loved it so much, it was our bonding time. If he woke up, we could usually go talk him back to sleep or put on his mobile and he might cry a few minutes, but for the most part, he just learned to put himself back to bed.

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