Want to start a heated parenting debate? Talk about co-sleeping. Everyone, even people who aren’t parents, have an opinion on this one. But here’s the thing. I don’t want your opinion. You probably have one. And that’s great. Feel free to use it in your own home. But we will make our rules thank you very much.
Just like almost every parenting topic – you can go out and find evidence to support whatever it is you want to believe. There are potential negatives to co-sleeping and there are potential benefits. It’s pretty easy to find “evidence” to back up either side. I’m going to be totally straight with you here – we never intended to co-sleep. We had a pretty little nursery with a pretty little crib all set up for our bundle of joy. Well, it didn’t work out that way. From day one it was clear that she was not going to sleep on her own, even in the cozy bassinet beside our bed. Just wasn’t going to happen. The only way she was going to sleep was on her side or propped up on mommy or daddy’s chest. In fact, our little stinker insisted on being held at all times, sleeping or awake. Before you jump on the – oh that’s how you spoil a baby bandwagon, let me tell you a couple of things. First, you cannot spoil a baby. If it’s less controversial let me narrow that down a bit and say you cannot spoil a newborn. Second, at two months we had our little one diagnosed with some pretty bad reflux – so her insistence to not sleep alone was not her playing baby mind games with us, and our decision to “give in” to her was, well, unquestionably the right decision.
Sure, we had an “excuse” to co-sleep. So maybe we got off easy with the sometimes well meaning, often not, how to put your baby to sleep in their own bed advice. Whenever I see the anti co-sleepers throw around their “expert” advice I don’t instantly reach for our fall back rational. I don’t need to. My family, my choice. I don’t know how things would have played out had our baby not had reflux. Maybe we would have ended up co-sleeping anyways. She’s pretty cute. And warm. It made nursing easier. We had few risk factors – I didn’t drink at all when I was nursing, I don’t do drugs and I’m not obese. She’s four now so I think she’s out of the woods.
Sure co-sleeping is not for everyone, but neither is sleep training. We tried it, when she was older and the reflux has passed. I just couldn’t do it. It never felt right – for us. And that is the key isn’t it? The biggest and most important thing I have learned as a parent is to always, always, always trust my instincts. Always. Did I say that already? It is the single most important piece of wisdom (not advice because people don’t want advice) that I would give a new parent.
It’s funny I have yet to come across a co-sleeping parent that thinks their way is the only way. Most of the time any hostility you find from a co-sleeping parent is born out of a need (or perceived need) to defend themselves. Of course not every parent who didn’t or doesn’t co-sleep is pushing it down your throat either. Sometimes they have simply done what works for them as well. Every baby is different. Every family is different.
So, unless you ask I probably won’t give you any advice. And I’d prefer it if you did the same. Does that sound harsh? It looks a little harsh. But the fact is it’s not as if I have never asked for advice. I have! There is no parenting manual. Well ok, there are book shelves full of them but save your money there. I’m not against going to someone who has more experience, or a similar experience to get an opinion. It takes a village right? And I’m pretty sure that village has babies in beds and babies in cribs.