In our series The Debate, our community of real moms tackle the pros and cons around common parenting choices. The truth is, like so many decisions around child rearing, there is no right or wrong answer. At HATCH, our job is to give voice to both sides of any debate, peppering real mom wisdom with the necessary facts so that you can make the best decision for you and your family.
Some mothers can’t stand the thought of sharing a room with their new babe, much less a bed. Just the idea of being woken up at every whimper, moan or sigh is enough to guarantee a totally sleepless existence. Plus, there’s the whole, “What if I roll over and kill them?” thing. But other women aren’t ready to separate just yet, even if separation means a nursery down the hall. Why schlep into their room at 3am every night to feed when they can be resting right alongside you? So what’s the best decision? Like just about every aspect of parenting, there is none – so long as the baby’s safety is a sure thing.
“As a responsible educator, it’s important that I give the same recommendations as the AAPD, which does not recommend co-sleeping in the same bed, but does recommend sleeping in the same room,” says pediatric expert Dr. Aliza Pressman. “But I think it’s a personal decision, and when you pull out the higher risks of co-sleeping, it’s really about what a mom feels most comfortable with. I’ve heard of successful experiences when moms are really attuned to their infants in a totally safe environment.”
We reached out to mamas in our community – one who slept with her baby for the first year, while the other put her baby into his nursery from day one. We hear their stories in the hopes that they can shed light and guide you on whatever path is right for you.
And Now for Co-Sleeping Bliss….
“We have a one bedroom apartment so we never had the opportunity to have a separate nursery, but we knew from the start that we wanted to share a room with her. However, we weren’t planning to co-sleep in bed. That happened naturally as the months wore on. Once it was safe to have her in our bed, I felt like it was so much work to go the crib everytime she got up, and I was exhausted. At first, we weren’t sleeping well, because she was always kicking me and I was nursing constantly, but the more we did it, we realized it was the best decision for us. I tried putting her back in her crib, but it didn’t work out well. She was crying constantly. We were considering sleep training her, too, but that’s something that didn’t feel right, either. So for now, we have her in bed, and she’s not sleep-trained, so that basically means I nurse her until she goes to sleep.
I was nervous about co-sleeping at first. I brought her into bed once she was past three months and started to roll. I knew she’d be OK if she could roll on her stomach and back, but I was pretty nervous when we started. I know it’s not recommended in terms of safety guidelines, but I let intuition take over. I have a camera on her at all times. I’m vigilant about watching it. The second her eyes pop open, we run in. The way we parent, we’re very much coddling, we’re very hands on. Plus we also have a large bed. She has a lot of space between us.
Now that she’s been in our bed for a while, I don’t get nervous anymore. If my husband goes out and has a beer, I’ll say, are you sure you’re OK to sleep with her? In the beginning I was a lot more nervous. But now, we know her and she knows us, and we know her limits and boundaries. We know things will change once she can walk or crawl out of bed, but we’re just taking it day by day. I know when the time comes, we’ll have other options. We might place a mattress on the floor. We’re definitely not going the traditional route of a crib anymore. Though we’re not bringing our next child into bed like we did with her. It’s not sustainable with multiple kids. I’m not trying to have a massive family bed. For now, we’re just learning as we go.”
There’s a Nursery for a Reason….
“We always planned on sleeping Teddy in his own room. It was a two-fold decision – one was his benefit and one was for ours. Obviously the benefit for a new mom is a little more peace. I found the very first night in the hospital totally exhausting. I knew he would wake up frequently for feeds, and when he stayed in our room, I didn’t get one wink of sleep with every breath, gurgle and ahhhh. I literally didn’t close my eyes that first night, which cemented what I already thought of my decision of having to sleep independently.
As a new mom I was already sleep deprived. On the other side, we felt it was really important for my husband and I to raise an independent, self sufficient and self sustaining child, which sounds extreme at age zero and on day one, but I do think that created a foundation that guided our decision making along the way. When it was time to sleep-train, we let him cry it out a bit and we felt more comfortable that we knew he could self soothe. He was really self aware, which created a spirit of independence from day one.
We also live in a small apartment and his room was directly across the hallway from ours. So we got rid of our monitor at week three. We could hear both the monitor and him live, simultaneously. It definitely required a more hands-on approach. I would stand up and walk across the hall at various points in the night, but I was sleep-walking anyway, and it didn’t make a major difference.
I’ve always viewed my bedroom as an oasis. We don’t have a TV. It’s always been a place meant to be free of noise and distraction. It’s a very quiet private enclave in the middle of a busy, loud city. So we like to keep baby stuff out of our room. We would feed him there in the morning, but we wanted to maintain our space as a private oasis where we could create boundaries and remind us that we’re still adults and humans outside of being parents. We have other aspects of our lives, that didn’t 100% revolve around children, maybe just 99%. It kept that one percent semblance that we are grown up people.
Between 9-10 weeks Teddy started sleeping through the night on his own. I do genuinely believe he had a general sense of independence. He would wake up for a second and when he didn’t have mommy or daddy rushing over right away, he went back to bed. I really do believe it’s because he had his own room for so long that he had the ability to self soothe, which fostered great sleeping habits to get him to sleep through the night.”