I think most of us are guilty of uttering The phrase, “When I’m a mom I will never do (blank),” before you have kids. One of those resolutions for me was that I would never co-sleep with my kids. I vividly remember a woman at work telling me one morning while we were getting coffee that all her kids wake up in bed with her every day. My 21-year-old pre-child self was like, “What?! Put those kids in their own beds.”
Fast forward many years and two kids later, that former “crazy” coworker is now me.
I had a vision for sleep while I was pregnant with my first daughter: no crying it out but definitely sleeping in her crib (the perfect white Pottery Barn crib with matching bedding, of course). After she was born, the term we used for her was “sleeping challenged.” She loved to fall asleep nursing, sleep on us, and do pretty much all the “no-no’s” when it came to baby sleep. We tried the crib, we really did, but our Pottery Barn dream crib turned into a beautiful storage vessel for clean laundry before it was put away.
I am not a believer in crying it out. While I completely understand that every parent and every baby needs something different, I always go to my girls when they cry. I don’t think you can spoil a baby. For me, it’s from day one showing my girls that when they need me I will be there, day or night. But the nights started getting long and sleepless, so, out of desperation, one night, when she was around six months old, I brought her into bed with me. Well, to my surprise we both got more sleep, and after that co-sleeping became the norm.
Once I started co-sleeping and avoided the Cry It Out method, I can not tell you how many people thought I was crazy (including my pediatrician). At first, I hid the fact we were doing it and would brush off the subject of sleep when it came up. Then realized I didn’t need to hide the fact that this is what I believe in and what works for my child. Cry It Out is the more mainstream approach, which is totally fine, but for the mamas who co-sleep or don’t do cry it out, be proud of your choice and stand firm on what you think is best for you and your little one.
My second daughter may be an even bigger sleeper monster than my first. We have definitely had some rough nights that included yelling and tears from both of us, but when it’s all said and done I’m never going to look back and say I wish I had let my girls cry more.
My older daughter has turned into a great sleeper (who sometimes still wanders into my bed from hers in the middle of the night), so I have hope my younger daughter will get there, too. Until then, Mariah Carey said it best, “Just call my name and I’ll be there.”
Editor’s Note: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Infants should sleep in the same bedroom as their parents – but on a separate surface, such as a crib or bassinet, and never on a couch, armchair or soft surface – to decrease the risks of sleep-related deaths.” Please discuss safe co-sleeping practices with your pediatrician.