When my sister had her first born, I told her she was wrong for co-sleeping. I warned her that she was only creating bad sleep habits for my niece. I criticized her, but that was all before I had children of my own.
It was never my intention to co-sleep. I had registered for the Arms Reach Co-Sleeper only because I knew I wanted my baby close for breastfeeding and my own comfort. Each night I would swaddle my daughter and try to lay her down in it, but all she would do was scream! I also purchased a Rock ‘n Play out of desperation! She was up every two hours to eat, so to maximize my sleep in between, I would lay her next to me. As the night went on, this method seemed to get us all more sleep, and even for longer stretches. Over time, we evolved into co-sleepers!
As I had my second and third child, I didn’t want to fall back into the same co-sleeping pattern, but somehow we did! If my baby was safely (pillows and blankets removed) by my side, they always seemed to sleep more soundly! I came to the conclusion that this is what worked for us, and it was our new norm! Of course, I could have tried other sleep training philosophies, but that wasn’t of interest to me.
I’m not normally comfortable talking about co-sleeping to just anyone. Over the years I have received eye rolls from friends who think it’s silly to allow my child’s sleeping schedule to dictate my social life (home for bedtime), was judged by other family members who oppose the idea of co-sleeping, and have been criticized for my attachment parenting style. Co-sleeping is a hot topic and can cause heated discussions and “mommy wars,” so I always tread lightly.
When I do feel comfortable to share my children’s sleeping habits, I often get asked, “How do you get them out of your bed?” My number one piece of advice? Patience and slow transitions! We have transitioned each one of our children out of our bed slowly. We have followed their lead, with a little tough love mixed in! When we felt one of our daughters was ready to move out of our bed, we set up a toddler bed in our room as a transition point. They would sleep there for a period of time before going into a big bed in their own room cold turkey! Our middle child even needed one more step, a crib mattress on the floor next to our bed.
My older two daughters now sleep soundly in their own room, and my youngest is 75% there! If they make their way into our bed in the middle of the night, I embrace the snuggles and know its only a phase! So, if you’re trying to get a little one out of your bed, muster up some patience! Find sleeping arrangements that meet your child halfway, keeping them out of your bed but still comforted by you!
And, to bring my story full circle, I did apologize to my sister for judging her choices for her daughter. It wasn’t my place, and I was in the wrong, but I didn’t understand that until I became a parent myself!