Before having babies, I saw a television special about a couple who slept in the same room as all five of their children.
This might be normal for tribes in Africa, but this couple was from Minnesota and in every other way appeared to be standard-order Americans.
I thought they were nuts. I judged them for not giving their kids space … for not making time for themselves … for just being plain weird.
Funny then, that their story is now my story.
We never gave a second thought to co-sleeping, always picturing our baby would lie peaceably in a crib that sat in a room decorated with soft colors and gentle animals. Before Caden was born, that’s exactly the kind of room we prepared for him.
Then, I came across a scholarly article on the fact that African women who slept with their babies by their sides had a much lower rate of SIDS. The theory was that the mother’s sensed irregular breathing patterns in their babies—even while both slept—and instinctively intercepted trouble by shifting or moving their young ones enough to knock their rhythms back to normal.
So, we planned to sleep with Caden for the first six months. We bought a king-size bed and found a little baby sleeper unit with sides that fit between our pillows. We were too scared to actually put a baby on our mattress.
At three-months-old, Caden was too long for his sleeper unit. We pulled the crib up to the side of our bed and put him there.
At six-months-old, Caden was too heavy for me to put back in the crib while sitting on the bed. I kept dropping him, which woke him up. I started laying him down next to me after his 3 a.m. feed. We snuggled, and I loved it.
Hubby Cam was against this. “All the books say never to bring the baby into bed with you!”
“Try it once,” I answered. The next night, after feeding Caden, I placed him right up next to Cam. Cam woke up with his arms around our baby. From there on, we were goners. We thought we’d just do it till he was 1 year old, then we figured we’d move him out of our room when the new baby came.
Nope. Couldn’t do it. Chloe joined our family—and came straight into bed with me, sans sleeper—and Caden sleeps right next to our bed in a little toddler crib.
The thing is, we just can’t get enough of our sleeping babies. I can’t describe the joy of waking up with a little paw on your face, or the extra smiles all around that come from early-morning book reading. The cuddles, the kisses, the hugs … it’s our daily dose of joy.
It helps that new research has coming out saying something about kids who co-sleep being more confident, so at least we don’t feel like we’re messing our kids up too much.
I don’t know. I’m not up to speed on all the science of it, I just know I love it. The time will come soon enough when our kids won’t want anything to do with us, so why not savor our cuddle-time now?