|Photo courtesy of Cascadian Farm on Flickr|
I don't know why but I feel a little embarrassed or ashamed about this. I never really judged anyone else for doing it, we just never planned on co-sleeping with our baby. I imagined ourselves as the parents that would have no trouble with sleep training, that we would have our baby in her crib at an early age, and that we could easily teach our baby to "self-soothe"....
But as it turned out, co-sleeping has been a life saver for us (or should I say sleep saver?).
Every baby is different, and every parenting situation and style may be different. So what works for us may not work for you and vice versa. And that's okay! Honestly, I hope we don't co-sleep for a long time because I do still want Aria to learn how to sleep by herself in her own room. But now is just not the time for her and that's okay.
Around 7-8 months we started to transition Aria to her crib from the bassinet in our room. She had not been co-sleeping with us before that, although I would usually rock her to sleep and sometimes I would pull her into bed with us in the mornings. But overall she would sleep the whole night by herself in the bassinet next to our bed with one night waking for a bottle. Then, she started to outgrow her bassinet, and we figured it was a good time to move her to the nursery.
We tried the Ferber Method, or the gentle cry-it-out (there are so many names for this!). So basically we would lay her down in her crib when she was drowsy and fed, and then leave the room. If she started to cry, we would check on her in 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, then at 20 minutes, and so forth.
The problem was that she would not stop crying....for hours. And it seemed that the longer we tried this method, the worse it got. She would start screaming the second we went to lay her down in the crib. She would cry and scream at the top of her lungs, and it would take 2-3 hours before she would become so exhausted that she finally went to sleep. But then, she would wake up an hour or maybe a few hours later, and start screaming again, unable to put herself back to sleep.
So, out of frustration and sleep-deprivation, we pulled her into bed with us one night. And it was such a stark contrast!
She fell asleep within minutes. If she woke up in the middle of the night, she wouldn't cry, she would drift back to sleep without us holding or cuddling her.
And she started sleeping for 11-12 hours straight.
That's when we made the decision to continue co-sleeping with her. Every baby is unique and this situation works very well for her. And honestly it works out so much better for us too. She is asleep by 7:30 without any tears. So that gives us time to do whatever we want to do, read, watch tv, or spend time together. It just works for us.
This isn't a permanent situation of course, and we will continue co-sleeping for as long as Aria needs us to or as long as she's unable to self-soothe.
At first I really felt like we were doing something wrong because we gave up on sleep training, but the more I researched on the issue and read other parent's testimonies, I realized that it's okay to do whatever we need to do so that our child can get deep, restorative sleep that they need to grow and be healthy. That's the most important thing for us.
One of the resources that I read that was very insightful and made me feel a lot better about this decision was The Gentle Sleep Book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith. You can also read her blog about this topic here.
What are your thoughts on co-sleeping?