I get looks. I see 'em.
When I tell people that our 2.5 year old still sleeps in our bed (especially with no end in sight), people think it's really strange. I don't know if the impitus for writing this article is because I always feel like I need to justify my choices as a parent to people (even to complete strangers), or if it's 100% for the reason I want it to be for: to show an "alternative" style to parenting and sleeping for parents considering this option.
Either way, I'm writing an article about why we continue sleeping in the same bed with our toddler. But before I start, I must admit that it wasn't always easy. Now that our son 1. sleeps better, 2. has stopped breastfeeding, and 3. we now have a bigger bed, it has changed our lives and it's all rainbows and butterflies. Leading up to now, there were difficult times and sleep-deprived nights. But even with the negatives, the positives far out-weighed it for me and my family.
I'm not here to try to convince anyone to do something, or judge those that don't. This works for us but I know it wouldn't work for everyone. I am a big proponent of instinctual parenting and doing what feels right for you. Searching co-sleeping, however, brings up more negative articles than positive, so those parents who are looking into co-sleeping with their toddler will hopefully have another positive resource to validate their desire.
So, with that all out of the way, why do we co-sleep?
Makes traveling easier
I find that one of the biggest concerns among parents who are wary to travel with their children is how their sleep will be effected. Early on, I would give into societal pressure (what a softy) and sleep train my son to soothe himself and stay in his crib. Then we'd travel, he'd sleep in our bed because we never wanted to bring a travel crib (Born a Backpacker style), and then all that "training" would go out the window and we'd be back at square one. Eventually, it was just easier to keep our son in our bed and not spend night after night sleep training him.
I also hear many stories of parents having a hard time with their child getting to sleep while on the road because they can't adjust to sleeping in a bed with their parents. This keeps a lot of parents from traveling with their little ones, which for some is fine, but I would have a hard time with.
Co-sleeping solves these obstacles for us. We get a good nights sleep no matter where we are because, with the exception of mattress sizes (thank you to the inventor of the king mattress), nothing really changes. Our son's "security blanket" and comfort is us, so there is no adjusting and adapting needed.
My 2.5 year old is big enough now that I have no concern about smothering him. My biggest safety concern is getting knocked in the teeth with his heel at 3am, which is something I can handle.
So, why do I say it's safer? I don't know if it's me being a neurotic person, or the worry gene becomes prominent after you become a mother, but if there is ever a fire, intruder, or any sort of middle of the night emergency, my son will be right there next to me so I can protect him. If he was down the hall, that wouldn't be so easy, and that alone would keep me up at night.
Maximize on cuddle time
My favorite times of day are at night when we're snuggled in our bed reading a big stack of books. After, we talk about our day until we fall asleep. It's the most precious moments we have together with no interruptions or distractions. These times when my child is young go by fast, so I'm going to cherish it and get all the cuddles in that I possibly can.
Fufu studies say it's good
If you search it, you can find all the studies on why co-sleeping is the best and only option from sites like "allnaturalgranolamama.net" I'm a bigger fan of scientific studies, and the one's featured on sites like these seem, well, very unscientific. But some of their findings just make sense, like when they conclude co-sleeping increases the bond between parent and child. That one's easy to get on board with.
Ok ok. I admit it. Even with a solid, full night sleep, it takes me some time to get out of bed. I like slowly waking up, millimeter by millimeter taking off my eye mask, and enjoying the quietness and warmth of our comforter before the day starts. I try to prolong that time as long as humanly possible. So my day starts with my son waking up, coming into my arms to cuddle, and we talk about his dreams. He might grab a book and read it to himself before he realizes he can't read then asks me to. We cuddle some more. He grabs a few more books, then we eventually get out of bed to make breakfast.
All this to say that our mornings start off slow and calm, just how I like it. Waking up to a crying toddler and walking down the hall to get them out of their crib just isn't my jam. I'll choose our lazy mornings any day.
Just tired as a mother
This one is debatable, but for me, it's true (though it wasn't always like this). Now my son sleeps through the night, but it was a bit of a struggle before (especially when we had a queen sized bed for the 3 of us).
But why do I sleep better? I know I'm that mom who would wake up multiple times a night to go check on my son in the other room (I know I'm crazy, but at least I can admit it). I am comforted knowing my family is all next to me and I know they're safe.
It seems more natural
Fufu studies aside, it feels unnatural for me to be so far away from my child while he sleeps. If you look at any other mammal with offspring (to my knowledge), while their young is still dependent on them for food, safety, and their all-together livelihood, they sleep with their parents.
We ain't nothin' but mammals #bloodhoundgang.
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I hate sleeping alone
It's to the point where I can't sleep if I'm alone. Jamie works late and sometimes overnight, so alone I would be a lot if Zay didn't sleep in our bed. So call me selfish, but it's nice having a warm body next to me.
We're just citizens of the world
We've traveled a lot (mostly in the developing world) and try to stay in homestays when possible. What we've found in the majority of homes of people with children are that they all sleep together. Is it out of necessity? Sometimes. But it's part of so many cultures that I just don't understand how it can be can be such a terrible thing.
So, co-sleeping we will continue to do. It works for us.
Are you considering co-sleeping with your child? If you have any questions or need any advice, shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.