Accidentally Co-Sleeping

 Through this “Getting Baby to Sleep” series, we hope to show how there is no “right” way to get a baby to sleep – instead whatever works for the child and parent.  Read on for JoAnn’s story.  Bloggers:  Link us at the end of this post!

Joann300headby JoAnn, Co-editor of Whimsicle

My baby doesn’t sleep through the night and I don’t care.

Actually, I do care… just a little bit.  Dude just turned one year old and I feel that, somehow, him not sleeping through the night is my fault.  Yes, I know.  He’s a baby, but I feel like the fault is mine. These feelings are part of the reason why I wanted to do a baby sleep series.  If I have guilt about my baby’s sleep situation, there must be other parents who feel the same way, too.

My daughter has slept through the night since she was 6 months old.  Meanwhile, my son wakes up every 2-3 hours and screams like a banshee if I’m not there to nurse him back to sleep.  I’ve read the barrage of internet articles about sleep training and cry-it-out strategies. The pediatrician tells me it just gets harder to train him to sleep through the night as he gets older.  There are numerous articles online that tell me that nursing to sleep is a bad “sleep association” and that kids need to learn to fall asleep on their own.

And yet, for not following any of this well-meaning advice, I am pretty well rested. I look relatively awake (most days).  My son is a pretty happy little dude.  How?  I do what most baby sleep sites say not to do.  I co-sleep with him and I nurse back to sleep when he wakes up at night.  I never thought I would be doing either still 1 year after birth.  However, I’m done with the guilt I put on myself.

When my daughter (first born) was about three months old, she started sleeping in her own crib.  I would sit in the cushy glider in her room, feed her a bottle and then rock her to sleep while singing lullabies.  When she fell asleep, I gently transferred her to her crib and there she would stay for eight hours.  I knew I had it good.sleeping-baby

Dude, on the other hand, was an incredibly fussy baby.  Every day at 5PM, he would start screaming.  I bounced him, shushed him and nursed him into little catnaps.  At 7:30PM each night, I changed his diaper, tucked him into his Woombie swaddler, nursed him to sleep, and set him down in his bassinet.  He slept for about 3-4 hours and would awaken with a little cry. Dude-woombie

I picked him up and nursed him lying down.  One night, I fell asleep while nursing.  An hour later, I jolted awake, panicked that I might have smothered him.  I looked down and there we would be, tucked safely at my side, mouth and nose sleepily breathing in lots of oxygen.

This happened again and again. Eventually, sleeping in bed beside me became the new normal.  I put him between me and my husband.  I stretched out my right arm so that I touched my husband’s back – performing a protective barrier for Dude and awaking me if my hubby ever rolled over.   When Dude outgrew his Woombie, his sleeping pattern changed.  Now, he only slept for two hours before waking up the first time.  I nursed him back to sleep on our bed and then gently transfered him to his crib.  He would spend 2-3 hours there before waking up.  Since I was tired, I took him back to our bed, nursed him and let him fall asleep between us.  When next to me, Dude sleeps five hours straight.  Five hours! He may wake up once or twice, but I nurse him lying down and he falls back to sleep.  I never have to wake up entirely.

We still follow this basic routine of sleeping for part of the night in his bed and part in ours.  However, now he is too big to transfer to the crib without waking up.  So, we moved his crib mattress to the floor so that we can lay down with him and then leave, undetected.  My husband has taken over bedtime duty as I miss having alone time with my daughter.  This also gives Dude some Daddy time as well.  My hubby lies beside Dude and Dude crawls up on his chest to fall asleep.  Dude then sleeps for 3-4 hours and then I wake up and bring him to our bed.

Did I ever want to co-sleep with my child?  No, not really.  But once I did it, I realized it was easier than waking up and rocking him back to sleep every 3 hours.  Even though this sleeping situation isn’t the traditional American ideal, I’m a happy mama and Dude is a happy baby.  I love having him so close when he is this little.  Plus, he won’t be sleeping in our bed forever….

crying-babyWill he?

Bloggers: Link up with your baby sleep stories below!

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JoAnn Crohn

CEO/Founder at No Guilt Mom
JoAnn Crohn, M. Ed is a parenting educator and life coach who helps moms feel confident in raising empowered, self-sufficient kid while pursuing their own goals & passions.

She’s an accomplished writer, author, podcast host of the No Guilt Mom podcast, and speaker who appears in national media. Work with her personally in Balance VIP

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  1. Your kiddos are so cute! How and when our kids sleep is such a fraught issue, when all that really matters is that they get some sleep and feel loved as they dream! I’ve really enjoyed this series!
    And take it from someone who co-slept with both my boys until they were toddlers, they ABSOLUTELY move to their own beds! My 3 year old and 7 year old sleep in bunk beds in their room all night long! (And they both started sleeping in their own beds-ASKING to sleep in their own beds- for 7 or 8 hours at a stretch around 1 and half or 2 years old, I’m convinced its because they always knew right where I was just in case. )

  2. One day he will be ready to leave. We co slept with all of our kiddos. We now have an empyt bed and our youngest is 6. For us, we set boundries on that first night with our first. Since sleep was so important to me we decided they could stay in our room until they developed the ability to differentiate between a dream and reality upon waking. It worked kut well with all of them. They happily moved into their own room when the time came. We still get a visitor upon occasion but for the most.part our bed is ours again. It was too short of a time.

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  5. I’m glad that you did what works for you and your baby! I co-slept with all of my 4 kids and I loved it. Grant it there are times when they still try to crawl in the bed, but I don’t mind only sometimes though! I’ve learned over the years that advice is always great and welcomed, but at the end of the day we should do what’s right for us. I’m no good to myself or my family when I don’t get any sleep! Thanks for sharing JoAnn! Stopping by from SITS.

  6. I am a co-sleeper. My little girl sleeps longer when she is next to me. Ever since the day she was born she will only sleep for up to an hour in her crib. As parents we have to do what we feel is best for our families.

    ps: I found you via the Sits Girls

  7. I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who felt guilty for accidental co-sleeping! Before my son was born, I would go on and on at how I was going to make sure he slept in his crib the correct way and yatta, yatta, yatta. Couple months after he was born, feeding just became too much of a workout at 3 AM to go from bed to rocker and vice versa. He’s 13 months now, and sleeps in his crib, but still has to fall asleep with mom or dad before going to the crib. I’ve learned that whatever works for you and your baby is the right thing to do; NOT whatever everyone else has to say about it. Thanks for sharing and letting us know we’re not alone in the epic baby sleeping battle!

    1. Thank you for sharing your story with me! Sometimes I feel quite alone in my parenting decisions since popular media doesn’t publish stories of successful co-sleeping. Nice to know there are others in the same situation 🙂

  8. We will drive ourselves insane with all the things we are supposed to do and not supposed to do! My little guy is just over two and he has always had a hard time sleeping and staying asleep. I sleep trained him and he would (and still does) go down by himself, but for the last few months we find that he wants to sleep in our bed for a few hours in the morning. Not full on co-sleeping, I know, but still something I never set out to do…but man, if I didn’t let this happen, he wouldn’t go back to sleep and I’d be constantly exhausted (not that I really LET this happen…he usually just appears in our bed and we realize it when he’s way too comfy and sleepy to do anything about it).
    Anyway, point being, I totally agree that all that really matters at this point is that everyone is happy! He does love his bed, and I think it’s totally better to give him the comfort and nurturing he feels he needs than to make him stay in his room when he’s upset or afraid!

  9. We still co- sleep and my son is two. I am also still breastfeeding him throughout the night and that is hard (see my latest post). But thanks for this post because it really helps me feel like I am not alone.

  10. I had one baby that slept and one that didn’t sleep till she was FOUR! I tried EVERYTHING…she is still not a great sleeper, but at least she doesn’t come wake us up every night. You have to do what works for you. I could never co sleep because I like my personal space and it has to be perfectly quiet (the grunting…couldn’t handle it!) He’ll get there eventually. Luckily he’s your second so you’re a little more relaxed. I worried too much with my first and I think that was harmful to both of us. Number 3 is on the way and I’m hoping it will give me a break. Good luck!!!

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