Roundtable Discussion – Bed Sharing with Your Infant

18 Oct

When my kids were infants, I never slept with either of them.  Not once.  When they needed to nurse in the middle of the night, I would get them out of their crib, sit straight up, and turn on the TV (thank goodness for tivo!) to make sure I was wide awake.

At that time, I had never read any statistics on bed sharing or cosleeping that turned me off to the idea – I just felt like I couldn’t “trust” myself with caring for my babies if I was asleep.  Would I roll over on them?  Would I accidentally toss a blanket over their face?  I was basically so paranoid, I couldn’t have slept with them if I tried.

My husband and I also worried that if our kids slept with us as infants, they would never be able to sleep in their own beds.  We had panicked visions of never being alone together for the next 18 years – at least, not without a fight that would torment everyone in the household.

But I know that bed sharing is not uncommon among moms of infants.  Most who do it say that babies sleep much better with mom or dad next to them, and nursing is a breeze – you could sleep right through it!  For sleep-deprived parents, allowing your baby to fall asleep with you may be the answer to your prayers.

While some doctors advocate the “family bed,” many organizations, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, have sounded the alarm against the practice of bed sharing.  I know I’ve heard several news stories about babies being suffocated while sleeping in the same bed with their mothers (though most of those cases involved the adult being intoxicated).

Now that my kids are both preschool age, they have started crawling into bed with my husband and me in the middle of the night.  And we love it, because we’re no longer worried about their safety during the night.

What are your thoughts about bed sharing?  Have you done it yourself?  We’d love to hear about your experiences.

And please, let’s keep our comments informative and not judgmental!

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6 Responses to “Roundtable Discussion – Bed Sharing with Your Infant”

  1. Lori October 18, 2010 at 5:25 pm #

    I have co-slept with all three of my children, but have not actually shared a bed, until the third. Co-sleeping is generally defined as sharing a room with a baby, but not necessarily a bed. I knew it was important to be in close proximity, however not unlike you, Jen, I was paranoid about rolling over on the baby. Of course over time, I have become better educated and now understand that there are risk factors for bed sharing; one or more parent is obese, pillows and blankets everywhere, the baby is being fed formula, or one or both parents are intoxicated in any way. Because I am not in a high risk category, I have opted to bed share with my third baby and I am SO glad that I am! It is SO much easier to nurse all night long when he’s going through a growth spurt. With my first baby, I too, physically got up, watched TV or read a book, and was completely alert for at least an hour after the baby fell asleep! I didn’t “master” side-lying nursing until my third baby, and it was out of sheer necessity/exhaustion! Now, I can practically sleep through nursing. I feel so much more rested when I wake up, and I have three children to care for during the day!

    My husband has been anxious to have “our” bed back, so we are in the midst of a transition now. Our baby has started rolling over, and short of putting up a side rail, I was not really sure what to do. (How have other mothers handled that? I’d be very curious to know!) I ended up getting a nasty stomach virus about a week ago, and to try and avoid getting my husband sick, we set up a twin mattress on the floor in the baby’s room. Now, the baby and I share the mattress. I don’t worry about him rolling off, because it’s so low to the ground. One of the other challenges we have had is that the baby frequently wakes up when I try and leave the bed. As soon as he feels me start to move, he jolts awake and I have to start completely over again. This has become quite time consuming. A good friend of mine suggested I put a blanket between myself and the baby, and that worked like a charm. Now, he falls asleep nursing, and I just roll away. I usually start out the night in my own bed, and then when the baby wakes, I join him in his room on the mattress. This is working out beautifully for us right now! For me, flexibility has been an important theme that continues to resurface throughout my life as a mother. As long as I can continue to be flexible, I know that everything will flow how it should!

    • Tanya October 18, 2010 at 10:06 pm #

      I loved co-sleeping and bedsharing. But, when daddy was ready to have “his” bed back and my daughter started moving around more, we used great directions to rig a normal crib into a sidecar from this site: http://www.freewebs.com/sidecarcrib/index.htm

      Used that system until we moved and she got her own toddler bed at 22 months. (that’s another long transitional story!!)

      • Lori October 19, 2010 at 1:05 am #

        Thanks, Tanya. This would certainly solve my “rolling” issue! And I could actually be in my own bed, which is more comfortable!

  2. Rita MIller October 18, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

    I am a bed sharing momma of two little ones. My first was very high needs, and slept well at night only because we bed shared. Her naps were very short during the day when I would not nap with her and I figured out pretty quick that my presence was the main reason that she slept well. My husband was nervous at first, but now he really enjoys spending time with the youngest in the bed.

    The transition of our first to her own bed was pretty tough. We started moving her to her own sleep space after her last tooth came in (teething always increased the nursing, so it was best for our family to wait till the teething was over). We would start her on her crib mattress in our room, and in the wee hours she would climb back into our bed. As my second pregnancy progressed and I got bigger, I kept transitioning her back to her own mattress so that we all could get some sleep. She on her own transitioned to a big girl bed in her own room about a week after the baby was born. She didn’t like that the new sister cried at night. Add a tot clock to keep her in bed at night (it changes from blue to yellow when it is time to wake up) and we have had pretty complete transition.

    The second has always been in our bed, with naps mostly in her side car crib. A sidecar is a great way to provide easy access while giving baby their own sleep space. Basically I took a crib that could be put together as a daybed, leveled the infant mattress to our bed, bungeed the frame to our bed, Used foam to push the infant mattress flush and laid a blanket across the transition from our bed to hers. I don’t know how we will move her to her own sleep space, but the end goal is that she will share her room with her big sister and be on the bottom bunk.

    I hope this can give you some ideas on how to make nigh time parenting work for you.

  3. Diedra October 18, 2010 at 6:40 pm #

    For the first couple of nights after having my daughter, she didn’t sleep with us. One night I woke up and just started nursing her and fall back to sleep with her in our bed. After that she pretty much slept in our bed. I didn’t know at the time it was called “bed sharing”. I just knew I was getting a little more sleep. When my son was born, I did what I knew to work for my daughter for my son.

    Now I don’t know all the statistics on bed sharing but my husband is consider obese. He is also a crazy all over the bed type person. I can honestly say the only time he isn’t a crazy sleeper is when we have a child in the bed.

    Bed sharing worked for my family. I don’t know about anyone elses. I just know it worked for us. I loved every minute of it. My children also know that on Saturday mornings when they wake up, they get to climb in mommy and daddy’s bed and go to sleep.

  4. Lisa Martin October 20, 2010 at 11:31 am #

    I co-slept with both of my kids–out of self defense. i was so exhausted and they were so active at night. I am a light sleeper, though. Also, I was nursing and not taking any medications. I never felt like by co-sleeping I was threatening the well-being of either child. Quite the opposite: when my son had a seizure the night of his first birthday, the fact he was right next to me alerted me to the problem. (He was fine; it was a febrile seizure but within minutes we had eight paramedics/fire fighters in our bathroom AND we took an ambulence ride to the hospital.

    So my experience has been positive.

    I feel like the co-sleeping debate has echoes of the “sleeping on their tummies/sleeping on their backs” controversy. As a mom, someone’s going to tell you you’re getting it wrong!!

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