"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" – John 3:16
As I have mentioned in my previous post, we opted out for co-sleeping in the end. I have done some research into the benefits and potential issues of this sleeping arrangements. After considering the pros and cons, it seems to work well for us.
Solving the sleep problems
Co-sleeping started because Anna kept waking up every hour. This is the only way to keep my sanity without using controlled crying. As I don’t need to wake up completely to feed her, I feel much more rested in the morning. Fortunately, night feeding doesn’t affect Simon’s sleep either.
Co-sleeping is encouraged by Dr Sears in his book “The baby book: everything you need to know about your baby from birth to age two” as it is one of many ways to form a strong attachment between a child and parent. Some benefits of attachment parenting are a more trusting child who feels more competent and grows better. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with letting a child sleep in a different room. It would have been our first choice if it had worked out. You could also find more details on Dr Sears’ website http://www.askdrsears.com
In fact the sleeping arrangement where a baby sleeps in their own room is more of a Western culture. Co-sleeping is nothing new for me, who was born and brought up in Asia. I always shared my bed with my family members until I came to the UK at 16. I slept with my parents until I was two and then my grandma and my sister until I was 12 or 13. When we grew too big for three people on one bed, my grandma moved to a different bed leaving me and my sister sharing one bed. I did enjoy their companies at bedtime.
Since day 1, we have been told repeatedly by health visitors, midwives and doctors that babies should not sleep in parents’ bed due to the increased risk of infant death. That is probably why I got a bit paranoid about it even though it was how I was brought up. In fact, co-sleeping is highly advised against for babies younger than 6 months. As Anna is now older than 6 months, I feel more comfortable about having her in our bed. She can move her head and body very well. After each feeding, she often pulls her head away to the other side. Having said that, we are still very careful and following the safety advice for co-sleeping, e.g. not having too many pillows around and using a sleeping bag for her. We even got rid of our bed and only have the mattress on the floor so that we don’t have to worry about her falling off the bed. We bought an extra single mattress to make a massive bed giving more room to each of us.
Would co-sleeping make the child less independent? I don’t think so. Actually I’m all for teaching Anna to be independent from the young age. But independence to me means the ability of looking after herself and helping us with housework, not where she sleeps. In fact, the attachment parenting theory suggests that a securely attached child would be more independent when they grow up, and as mentioned above co-sleeping is one of the ways to help secure attachment.
Do we lose our privacy by having her in our room? Strangely, no! We are doing well so far. She always slept before us, hence giving us sometime to cuddle and talk to each other before bed. I don’t think it would be any different from having her sleep in the nursery next door.
Even though co-sleeping helps me feel more rested, it doesn’t solve the sleep problem completely as controlled crying does. But for me, the night waking is definitely more manageable and bearable than the stress from hearing her cry.
Co-sleeping would not be our first choice of sleeping arrangement. But it works really well for us. I love sleeping with her and cuddling her. I definitely treasure this time as I don’t know how long I will be able to keep her this close to me.