Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Notes On Cosleeping.

This post is to make me more efficient. I feel like I answer the same dozen questions over and over, and while I'm glad to answer them, I don't always have time. This way I can hand out a link! So, in no particular order:

Is it safe to cosleep?

Yes, assuming you aren't drunk, high, or into giant heavy fluffy comforters that your infant cannot kick off. The deaths attributed to cosleeping almost always involve a "parent" (quotes used intentionally) who is too drunk or stoned to know where he or she is located in time and space. Seriously. Don't take my word for it, don't take the word of the morons leading "separate sleep" campaigns, just look up the stats and decide for yourself. That's how I made my decision.

Why do you cosleep?

Because I like sleeping. Right now I have an exclusively breastfed infant, and I sleep from 11 to 2, and from 2:15 to 7. Occasionally it's 11-5, and then 5:15 to 7. That break in the middle is to get the baby his meal. I don't sit up, I don't wake up 100%, and I drift right back into slumber. I'm not sleep deprived, I'm fully functional, I work at a full-time job, and I have lots of energy to keep my house, if not CLEAN, then SANITARY.

What about... er... um...

Living room.



No, seriously, what does your husband think?

He wasn't sure at first, because he was worried about smushing the baby. And to be fair, when the baby was teeny tiny, not really strong enough to kick or otherwise alert us to problems, we had him sleep in one of these dealies. The sides are high enough that the little man was safe from his giant fumbling parents. By around five weeks, we stopped using it. We all had more room, and the little guy was perfectly capable of indicating his preferences.

These days, my husband looks at us, sighs blissfully, and says "it's so awesome seeing my family all safe and snug with me." Bear in mind that my husband is the kind of guy who hears noises in the night and jumps up hoping to kick an intruder's ass. He also checked the baby's breathing approximately one million times in the first week. Now he's down to half a million. If the baby was in another room, my husband would wear a path in the carpet going back and forth all night.

And although no one ever asks, let me say that I would not have made the decision to have the little man in bed with us (or ANY OTHER MAJOR KID DECISION) without my husband's full buy in. I respect the idea that people feel so strongly about something that they're willing to go against their mate, but I think that's a hell of a way to run a marriage... and the kid will eventually leave, whereas the spouse is in theory for a lifetime. Just my two cents.

Is a pillowtop mattress safe?

It depends. We have one. But it's not a very deep one, and we use a tight mattress cover and tight sheets, so the kid can't sink into it.

Did you remove all your pillows and blankets like you're supposed to?

No. HOWEVER - I rarely sleep with a pillow, never have, so mine are pretty much just wedged at the top for reading-in-bed. And as I said, for the first five weeks he was in a little nest, and we kept our big comforter tucked in too low to pull over him. Now that he's bigger, and the temperature calls for a light coverlet, we tuck him in right along with us... but only after he demonstrated he could kick it off. He can and does.

How do you keep from smushing him?

Do you fall off the bed? No? That's because you know where the edge is even when you're sleeping. I am an extremely deep sleeper, and yet somehow I wake up every morning at the exact edge of the bed, because in my sleep I have encountered my offspring and instinctively moved away from him.

Also, he kicks like a mule when you're in his space. We tested this once when he was deeply asleep and we were awake.

Are you into Attachment Parenting?

Well, after reading a whole lot of studies and books, and talking to parents I respected, I thought breastfeeding sounded like the best and most convenient food, a baby carrier sounded like the most efficient means of hauling the kid around, and sleeping in the same bed sounded like the best chance for us all to get our sleep. I didn't realize it was a philosophy until afterwards.

Where does he nap?

Depends. If he's sleepy but not cranky, I put him down in his pack and play. If I've missed his signals, and he's gone into overtired cranky mode, I take him to the big bed and nurse him down, but I try to get up while he's still awake. Only at nighttime do we all get into the big bed and stay there.

When will you move him to his own bed?

If he's anything like his parents, he will not be able to sleep smushed up against another person. My mate and I were thrilled to discover that we were both the "hug, snuggle, kiss goodnight, and then roll over into personal space" types. Nothing's worse than a personal space sleeper being married to an all night snuggle sleeper.

We are seeing signs of his being like us (in this respect, anyway) already. As a tiny infant he would cuddle to sleep, but he stopped doing that several months ago. He loves to snuggle, but only when he's awake. If he rolls into one of us at night, he either rolls away or protests until he's moved. He has started to occasionally miss the middle of the night feeding. So, when he starts consistently missing that feeding, we will start using the crib.

What would you suggest for people who would like to cosleep?

A king size bed.

Okay, seriously - I use a large flannel receiving blanket spread under me and the baby. In the event of baby hork, leaking breasts, copious drooling, or overloaded diapers, it's faster and easier to whisk off and replace the flannel than all the sheets. Protects the mattress, too. We've only had a few incidents, but better safe than sorry.

What would you say to people who think cosleeping is dangerous?

Do your own research instead of relying on advertising slogans and received wisdom.

What do you think about people who choose to use cribs from birth onwards?

I think that most people ultimately do what is best for their families, and if the best thing for a family - parents AND kids - is a crib, bring it on. There are plenty of perfectly good reasons to choose a crib - but cosleeping being dangerous is not one of them.


Lahdeedah said...

I never considered myself a co-sleeper. I just considered myself one of those moms who let the kid sleep in their bed for the first six months because it was just that much easier to sleep.

Saying that, it's ingrained that our bed is 'cuddle happy time' and we still often have visitors from time to time....

RainyPM said...

Lahdeedah and I think it's shocking you don't sleep with a pillow!