The term “co-sleeping” has always annoyed me. It implies parents are doing something special or out-of-the-ordinary by doing what mammals have always done for millions of years – sleep with their babies.
“Are you going to co-sleep?” people asked when I was pregnant. “What kind of co-sleeper are you going to buy?”
At first, I had no idea what they were talking about. Then I became aware of the vast market of overpriced baskets parents could buy to ensure they didn’t “roll over and kill their babies:”
Co-sleepers, apparently, were the “humane” alternative to cribs for newborns. They enabled mothers to keep their brand new babies close, but not too close.
“Hmm, that seems like a good idea,” I thought, during my baby-shower-wishlist frenzy, but luckily no one wasted their money.
Looking back, the idea of babies sleeping in cribs or co-sleepers seems absurd.
I had a crib – only because someone gave it to me, and I thought it would look cute next to the matching changing table and dresser – but it quickly became a laundry basket. I thought maybe I’d use it now and then to put her down for a nap, but that never happened. I was also given an second-hand bassinet that rolled up to the side of the bed. Never used that either.
Why would I? My baby was 100-percent breastfed and slept best pressed up against me. To this day, at age 4-and-a-half, she sleeps that way. If her father and I roll away, she gravitates to whichever of us is closer, until she’s snuggled up against someone’s warm body.
I remember once, and only once, trying to put her in her crib, when she was about 4 months old. I hadn’t been able to quit my job yet, and was desperate for sleep. After lying awake with my ears glued to the baby monitor for about 30 minutes, I threw in the towel. “This is ridiculous,” I thought. “I’m lying here awake, waiting for her to wake up.”
It felt so wrong and unnatural, trying to sleep without her next to me. My mom would try to take her during the day so I could nap, but every time I started to fall asleep, it’s like an alarm went off in my subconscious – “ALERT, ALERT! WAKE UP! YOUR BABY IS GONE!”
When I finally quit my job and gave in to her schedule, we finally both got solid rest, together, breathing and sleep-cycling in sync, with me practically sleeping through her feedings.
I never once feared rolling over on her – our bodies were too in tune with one another. One of us couldn’t wake without the other waking, and neither of us could sleep without the constant contact we evolved to crave from one another:
I’ve read dozens of excellent articles and scientific studies suggesting “co-sleeping” – like breastfeeding – is best for baby and mother, and I’ll link to a few of them here, here and here, but do we really need a study to prove what nature and our instincts make so obviously clear?
This is natural:
This is not natural:
Keep life simple:
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