I don't have a problem with co-sleeping, it's just not my jam and it doesn't work for me, my baby, or my family. That would be the end of it, if not for people who feel the need to judge every damn decision a mother makes. In the social media age, we're under the microscope. I own my choices, so if someone takes issue with my parenting, I'm ready with responses, especially about sleep. In fact, I have a list of things I can say to people who question my decision to keep my kid out of my bedroom.
When my daughter was a newborn, she slept in a bassinet next to my side of the bed. We knew that the safest place for her in those early months was near me, but not in bed with us. Room sharing can decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by 50 percent. We transferred her into a crib in her own room when she grew out of the bassinet (when she was around 5 months old). That's where we sleep trained her, and she's napped and slept through the night in her own room ever since. Her crib is her safe place.
Maybe being an older mom has helped me feel more secure about how I parent, or perhaps it's just my personality to strongly defend my positions. Either way, if you find yourself needing to fend off kid-free bedroom critics, here are some ways to respond.
"It's None Of Your Business"
That's right. Most of the choices I make for my child and family have nothing to do with you. My decision to sleep train doesn't affect you. My choice to supplement with formula doesn't affect you. The fact that I let my 1-year-old daughter suck her thumb doesn't affect you. I won't judge your parenting preferences*, and I'll thank you to do the same.
*There is one exception for me, and that is vaccination. If you choose not to vaccinate your child, it is my business, because that poor choice has the ability to negatively affect my child.
"I'm Teaching My Child Important Skills"
Sleep training is generally a necessary evil if you want your child to sleep in their own bedroom. One of the main benefits, I think, is setting your kid up for a lifetime of good sleeping habits. When your child goes to bed in their own room and stays there, they learn to self-soothe, fall asleep on their own, and deal with night wakings.
"Mama Needs Her Alone Time"
The bedroom is my sanctuary. After a long day with my wonderful/infuriating toddler, I cherish the time I spend in my bedroom by myself. My husband will often stay up watching TV in the living room, so I get some private reading time. I wouldn't trade it for the world.
"There Are Risks Associated With Bed-Sharing"
To begin with, bed-sharing can put your baby at risk for SIDS. About half of all SIDS deaths occur when a baby is sleeping in a bed or on a couch with someone else. There is also a danger of the baby falling off the bed, being suffocated by pillows or blankets, getting trapped in the frame, or having someone roll on top of them.
Note: There are differing opinions on the safety of bed-sharing. There are many safeguards you can employ if you do choose to co-sleep that will make the practice safe.
"We Both Sleep Better On Our Own"
As a younger baby, my daughter channeled her inner octopus any time she was in our bed. It took her forever to settle down. As a toddler, she has to be connected to me, preferably wrapped around my body koala-style. If I dare roll over, she sits on my head to express her displeasure.
When I put her in her crib, she simply rolls over, sticks her butt in the air and her thumb in her mouth, and drifts off to dreamland. She's more likely to sleep in, and I sleep more soundly when I'm not worrying about her safety (or being scratched by nails I forgot to trim).
"I Prioritize My Own Sleep, And I'm OK With That"
I need more sleep than the average bear, and I do mean bear. I freaking hibernate. My husband thinks scientists should study me. I've always been that way. After eight to 10 hours of sleep (for real), I am a wildly productive individual. Honestly, I don't have a problem putting my needs first in this case because know that I'm a better mom when I'm well-rested.
"My Bedroom Is For Sex And Sleep"
I think it's important that we don't develop associations with the bed beyond sex and sleep. I don't even allow a television in our room. Dr. Laura Berman recommends embracing separate beds as a way of preserving your sex life post-baby, and I'm inclined to agree. I'm a big proponent of boundaries.
"My Child Has A Very Healthy Attachment To Me"
Attachment parenting is a method that focuses on the emotional wellbeing of the child and the bond between parents and baby. Breastfeeding, baby wearing, and co-sleeping are common attachment parenting strategies. I respect these choices (and even use some myself), but I resent the insinuation that I'm somehow less connected to my child because she sleeps in her own room. She is a happy, funny, delightful, well-adjusted little girl, thank you very much.
"It's Not A Hard And Fast Rule"
We have definitely made exceptions to our bedroom rule for our baby as she has needed them. When we're on vacation, she sometimes has trouble sleeping in her pack and play because her parents are in the same room. Occasionally, she'll have a nightmare from which she can't calm down, so I'll bring her into bed with me.
"We Still Snuggle"
Our favorite family tradition on weekends is for my husband to retrieve our daughter when she wakes up and bring her into our bed for morning cuddles (and jumping on the bed, naturally). During the day, my little one sits on my lap for story time, gets carried around on my hip, and snuggles up next to me to watch the evening news (we have a mutual love for Scott Pelley). She gets plenty of lovies.
As much as I love hugs and kisses, it can be hard to maintain a sense of bodily autonomy when someone is literally touching me all day. I love crawling into my own bed, knowing I'll have the opportunity to fully recharge.