Today we are going to tackle one of those topics that has so much shame and stress associated with it. No, we are not talking about breast feeding. We are talking about co-sleeping and I’m not sure why it has such a negative stigma. Co-sleeping is something I am very passionate about because it has worked well for our family. It has created a lot of meaningful moments for us even though it wasn’t something we thought about or discussed prior to having Zelda. We set up a crib for her and that is where we initially intended to have her sleep. After all, everyone told us she should sleep there! However, when we brought Zelda home and figured out our routine with a new little baby, co-sleeping became a natural fit.
The first time Zelda ever took a nap in our room she was in a bassinet. I fell asleep next to her and when she awoke, it was easy for me to comfort her and lull her back to sleep. That was the moment having her close by became extremely important. As an entrepreneur, I didn’t get a traditional eight to ten weeks maternity leave. (I know a lot of women don’t even get that – it’s one of the things that is broken about our country, but that is a whole other blog post!) I had to return to work rather quickly and I felt an immense amount of guilt, but I didn’t have a ton of options. I realized I needed to get creative to spend more time with Zelda to manage my guilt.
Co-sleeping allowed me to do this. I will admit, she never once slept in her crib. Yes, you read that correctly – we used her crib ZERO times. We ended up taking it out of her room early on because it was taking up too much space. If you do choose to co-sleep, it’s important that you do it safely. There are a ton of products out there built for safe co-sleeping. I know many people love the DocATot but unfortunately, that didn’t exist when Zelda was born. If it had, we would have used it. Instead we found this simple co-sleeper at BuyBuyBaby.
If you are doing it safely, there is nothing wrong with co-sleeping. As parents we need to stop caring about what other people think! Are the people judging you getting into bed at night with you and your family? Of course not! Are they caring for your child in the middle of the night? No! So why should they have an opinion about how your family sleeps? The answer is they shouldn’t. These people don’t get an opinion because they do not deserve one.
A few days ago, my friend emailed me to inquire about if I did sleep training with Zelda. This is what I wrote back to her, “I’m not big on any kind of training because it’s not my style. (Except for potty training because I must.) We co-sleep because it works very well for us. In fact, it is an ongoing joke in our household that Zelda will be in our bed until she is thirteen years old. Co-sleeping is less stressful for us and Zelda continues to reach her milestones. Doing whatever works for you is what parenting is all about because kids are all so different.
For example, my pediatrician’s father invented the “Cry It Out” method (Dr. Weissbluth). I selected a pediatrician within the practice that has slightly different views and is a fan of co-sleeping. One day, I was speaking with Dr. Weissbluth and when he heard we didn’t use the CIO method, he was shocked. He asked me why we had chosen to co-sleep and after I explained my reasoning he said, “WOW! I would not have thought about it that way. You’re right – do what works for you.” And with that, my daughter sleeps with her legs wrapped around me every night.”
My friend replied, “WOW! That is so helpful. I always feel badly because people continuously ask me if my son is sleeping through the night and if he is sleeping in his crib. It always makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong. We have tried the cry it out method and we have tried to make him sleep in his crib. Each time, I’ve ended up in tears. One night my partner and I were yelling at each other and we realized this wasn’t a good fit for us. We are now co-sleeping and I’ve been asking my close friends about this topic because I want to make sure I’m not doing something wrong.”
If I’m being honest, her response broke my heart a little bit. As a new mom, you should never feel like you are doing something wrong. Unfortunately, this sub culture of judgmental moms has forced people to feel shameful about their parenting decisions. I have heard so many moms talk down to others who do not breast feed or who allow their children to co-sleep. But guess what? No one really knows what they are doing and if you are taking care of you child and they are safe and happy, that is all that matters. Don’t allow anyone else in your head and always do what works for you. As a working mother, co-sleeping has helped me so much, and my partner and my child are happy with the arrangement.
I know exactly what many of you are thinking, “How do you have sex?” I’ll let you in on a little secret – there are other rooms in your house outside of your bedroom. I have a very healthy sex life and we have been forced to get creative. This can help spice up your relationship and most of the time, it is needed. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.
I recently read an article called “Eight Ways Toddlers Benefit from Co-Sleeping” and you can see all the benefits. Co-sleeping promotes emotional growth, boosts the immune system and your child ends up getting more sleep because you are there to comfort them. They spend less time tossing and turning because you can easily settle them down. If you are co-sleeping, reassured it is okay and a ton of people are doing it. I can’t stress this enough, do whatever works for you! If you have any questions about our co-sleeping journey I’m happy to answer anything. We are a little over three years in and it still works for us.
Photos by Hallie Deusenberg
Shop Our Matching Pajamas