Thursday, December 15, 2011

Co-Sleeping with a Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler

Welcome to the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival
This post was written for inclusion in the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival hosted by Monkey Butt Junction. Our bloggers have written on so many different aspects of cosleeping. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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I stumbled upon co-sleeping out of desperation and exhaustion eight weeks after my oldest was born five years ago, and I have never looked back.

Aside from being passionate about breastfeeding, I am astonished at how grossly unprepared I was for motherhood in those early days and weeks with my first newborn. My ignorance led me to trust the advice of others rather than listen to my own inner maternal voice, the one that always knows what is best for my baby. If I had listened to that maternal voice, I would have enjoyed those savory early weeks of new motherhood, rather than remember them as fog-filled days of uncertainty, anxiety, fatigue, and frustration. I would have known that babies are designed to sleep peacefully next to their mothers, happily nursing all night long, both waking refreshed and ready to start a new day together.

When I abandoned the crib and brought my daughter to bed with me at eight weeks old, I wholeheartedly embraced Attachment Parenting and its focus on listening to our maternal wisdom and being responsive to our children's needs. Yet, even as I tried to trust the strong and time-tested mother-baby partnership, I was still filled with trepidation about how to safely co-sleep with both a baby and a toddler when I became pregnant for the second time. I remember asking other co-sleeping moms for advice and being told over and over that it would all come naturally.

It did. My newborn slept peacefully and safely on one side of me while my toddler slept peacefully and safely on the other side. My husband and I invested in a larger bed and put our mattress on the floor surrounded by pillows and blankets to protect our "nightcrawlers," and we purchased an additional mattress for extra comfort and space.  I continued to nurse our infant continuously, on-demand, throughout the night as he nestled in the crook of my arm, away from his big sister.

My third baby was born at home in our family bed. By then, I had finally, gratefully, learned to trust my maternal wisdom and let it naturally guide me in caring for my family's well-being. I know that co-sleeping is right for my children, for our family, and I know that the family bed is for now the safest, warmest, happiest spot for all of us.



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Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival

Thanks for reading a post in the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival. On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the #CosleepCar hashtag.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
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  • Emotive Co-Sleeping Campaign - Miriam at Diary of an Unconscious Mother talks about her feelings on Milwaukee’s anti-cosleeping crusade and its latest advertising campaign.
  • Why Cosleeping has Always been the Right Choice for My Family - Patti at Jazzy Mama shares how lucky she feels to have the privilege of sleeping with her four children.
  • Cosleeping is a safe, natural and healthy solution parents need to feel good about. - See how Tilly at Silly Blatherings set up a side-car crib configuration to meet her and her families' needs.
  • Black and White: Race and the Cosleeping Wars - Moorea at Mama Lady: Adventures in Queer Parenting points out the problem of race, class and health when addressing co-sleeping deaths and calls to action better sleep education and breastfeeding support in underprivileged communities.
  • Reflections on Cosleeping - Jenny at I’m a Full Time Mummy shares her thoughts on cosleeping and pictures of her cosleeping beauties.
  • Cosleeping and Transitioning to Own Bed - Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine shares her experiences in moving beyond the family bed.
  • What Works for One Family - Momma Jorje shares why cosleeping is for her and why she feels it is the natural way to go. She also discusses the actual dangers and explores why it may not be for everyone.
  • Really High Beds, Co-Sleeping Safely, and the Humanity Family Sleeper - Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama gives a quick view of Jennifer’s bed-sharing journey and highlights the Humanity Family Sleeper, something Jennifer could not imagine bed-sharing without.
  • Crying in Our Family Bed - With such a sweet newborn, why has adding Ailia to the family bed made Dionna at Code Name: Mama cry?
  • Dear Mama: - Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares a letter from the viewpoint of her youngest son about cosleeping.
  • Cuddle up, Buttercup! - Nada of The MiniMOMist and her husband Michael have enjoyed cosleeping with their daughter Naomi almost since birth. Nada shares why the phrase "Cuddle up, Buttercup!" has such special significance to her.
  • Co-Sleeping With A Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler - Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how co-sleeping calls us to trust our inner maternal wisdom and embrace the safety and comfort of the family bed.
  • Fear instead of Facts: An Opportunity Squandered in Milwaukee - Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction discusses Milwaukee’s missed opportunity to educate on safe cosleeping.
  • Cosleeping: A Mini-rant and a Lovely Picture - Siobhan at Res Ipsa Loquitor discusses her conversion to cosleeping and rants a little bit about the Milwaukee Health Department anti-cosleeping campaign.
  • Our Cosleeping Story - Adrienne at Mommying My Way shares her cosleeping story and the many bonus side effects of bedsharing.
  • Cosleeping can be safe and rewarding Christy at Mommy Outnumbered shares how her cosleeping experiences have been good for her family.
  • Adding one more to the family bed Lauren at Hobo Mama discusses the safety logistics of bed sharing with a new baby and a preschooler.
  • The Truth About Bedsharing - Dr. Sarah at Parenting Myths and Facts discusses the research into bedsharing and risk - and explains why it is so often misrepresented.
  • Cosleeping as a parenting survival tool - Melissa V. at Mothers of Change describes how she discovered cosleeping when her first baby was born. Melissa is the editor and a board member for the Canadian birth advocacy group, Mothers of Change.
  • Dear Delilah - Joella at Fine and Fair writes about her family bed and the process of finding the cosleeping arrangements that work best for her family.
  • CoSleeping ROCKS! - Melissa at White Noise talks about the evolution of cosleeping in her family.
  • Safe Sleep is a Choice - Tamara at Pea Wee Baby talks about safe sleep guidelines.
  • 3 Babies Later: The Evolution of our Family Bed - Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment talks about how her family’s cosleeping arrangements evolved as her family grew.
  • Tender Moments - The Accidental Natural Mama discusses tender cosleeping moments.
  • Cosleeping Experiences - Lindsey at An Unschooling Adventure describes how she ended up co-sleeping with her daughter through necessity, despite having no knowledge of the risks involved and how to minimise them, and wishes more information were made available to help parents co-sleep safely.
  • The early days of bedsharing - Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares her early memories of bedsharing with her then new born and gets excited as she plans including their new arrival into their sleeping arrangements.
  • The Joys of Cosleeping in Pictures - Charise of I Thought I Knew Mama shares pictures of some of her favorite cosleeping moments.
  • Symbiotic Sleep - Mandy at Living Peacefully With Children discusses how the symbiotic cosleeping relationship benefits not only children but also parents.
  • Co-sleeping Barriers: What’s Stopping You? - Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares how she was almost prevented from gaining the benefits of co-sleeping her family currently enjoys.
  • Co-Sleeping with the Family Humanity Sleeper - Erica at ChildOrganics shares a way to make co-sleeping safe, comfortable and more convenient. Check out her post featuring the Humanity Organic Family Sleeper.
  • Why We Cosleep - That Mama Gretchen’s husband chimes in on why cosleeping is a benefit to their family.
  • Adding to the Family Bed - Darah at A Girl Named Gus writes about her co-sleeping journey and what happens when a second child comes along.

A big thank you to all of the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival participants!

14 comments:

  1. I love the photos in this post. You make such a good point about listening to our own maternal instincts and wisdom - I'm definitely guilty of doubting myself. I think all new moms are. Great post - so glad to have you in the blog carnival.

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  2. In a similar vein: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201112/dangers-crying-it-out

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  3. Thanks, Jenn! I am so happy to be participating in this important carnival. Thank you for hosting it! -Kerry

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  4. @ Cantabrigimom - Great link! I also LOVE Peter Gray's blog on "Psychology Today" too. He is a great advocate for bedsharing and unschooling:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201110/why-young-children-protest-bedtime-story-evolutionary-mismatch

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  5. Those pictures are precious. Thanks for this post. I am passing it along. When we were co-sleeping, I always felt bad for parents who did not get to feel their child's breath on their faces through the night, or listen to them talk in their sleep, or see their faces first thing in the morning.

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  6. Thanks for your comment, LakeMom! I agree that cosleeping is such a special, and temporary, part of childhood that it's nice when we can savor it. -Kerry

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  7. Oh those pictures are adorable! I'm curious to know how our cosleeping experience will change as Ailia grows. Right now we're perfectly comfortable - but I also remember how mobile Kieran was during sleep as a new toddler. Will the toddler affect the preschooler's sleep? Time will tell I suppose!

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  8. @ Dionna, yes, time will tell and you will see the unfolding relationship of the two siblings sleeping together and THAT is heart-melting. -Kerry

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  9. Lovely! I'm glad to hear it's working for you with three kids. We have a king mattress plus an extra crib-size mattress, but I'd really like to figure out a way to get another full-size or maybe even twin extra long into our bedroom, just so we all have a little more room to spread out! It will mean no walking space at all, but that's a price I'm willing to pay for comfy, nurturing sleep for the whole family. :)

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  10. @ Lauren, yes we used the crib-sized mattress for a short while too and then relented to getting another full-size mattress for the floor. It's all about experimenting with what works best at any given time! -Kerry

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  11. I love how other families have their own journey through cosleeping with multiple children. I just want to say GOOD FOR YOU!

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  12. Love the pictures, so sweet! We were never able to master more than 2 in the bed with us at a time and even then once the littliest one became really mobile in bed (about 6 months old) we had to have the older one move to a toddler bed beside our bed. Still technially cosleeping as we had our matress on the floor too so they were right next to eachother. When baby #3 came we put another toddler mattress on the other side.
    When baby #4 came we were in a new house with more room so the older 3 share 1 room for sleeping while baby sleeps with us. It works and the older 3 have comfort from eachother. They have their own beds but almost always end up in the same bed together each night :)

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  13. Thanks, Patti! I love seeing your cosleeping arrangement with a bundle of kids too! -Kerry

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  14. Christy, thanks for your comment! Yes, I definitely foresee a time when the oldest ones will sleep together in a separate room, which is why I try as best I can to savor this short time in the family bed. -Kerry

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