When it comes to parenting, everyone has an opinion on basically every aspect. How you should discipline your kids and what you should feed them, how you should educate them and if you should have them vaccinated; there isn't a single thing that isn't grist for the mom-guilt mill, and sleeping arrangements are at the top of the list. Some people swear by co-sleeping and some people think it's a dangerous practice. Since it's a controversial topic, there are things no one will tell you about co-sleeping. That's where I come in.
When we first brought my son home from the hospital, he slept in a Moses basket beside my bed. I thought that was a perfect solution to the "getting up five times a night to nurse a baby while I'm healing from a c-section" conundrum I was initially facing. As time past though, I kept noticing how cold he was when I would pick him up to nurse him. He was freezing and I'm not exaggerating. Regardless of what he slept in — sleep sack, footie pajamas, gown with socks — he was always super cold which, of course, freaked me out.
As a paranoid new mom, convinced that if she took her eyes off her baby for even a second he would die of SIDS, I was terrified and I was exhausted and I needed to remedy both situations as quickly as possible. So, one night I bit the bullet and I put my son in bed next to me. I slept. In fact, I slept better than I had in weeks. I was relaxed but aware of him in a very real way. I knew he was beside me, and I either unconsciously or instinctively positioned my body to his body so that he was safe.
In other words, co-sleeping was a game-changer. There hasn't been a night since that first bed-sharing experience (aside from when I was in the hospital delivering his brother) that I have not co-slept. However, for all it's life-changing amazingness, co-sleeping isn't always unicorns and rainbows and warm, fuzzy feelings. Here are a few of the pitfalls of co-sleeping that people might not want to share:
It's Not Always Comfortable
Kids sleep in the craziest positions. We've all seen pictures of little ones sleeping perpendicular to the bed, or with legs spread-eagle from one edge to the other. Yeah, that doesn't change just because you're in the bed with them. In fact, their contortions might even get a little more intense as they try to snuggle up to you and work you into their crazy positioning. It seems like they're all pointy elbows and bony knees digging into your softest spots. It's not always cozy and it's not always comfortable.
Sometimes You Get Peed On
There is nothing quite like waking up in a puddle of someone else's urine. I'm not gonna lie, this happens more often than I care to admit. After all, diapers leak and even when your kid is potty trained, they still have accidents (especially at night). Turns out, the bigger the kid, the bigger the accident.
You know when you lay a towel down on the wet sheet and put your kid back to bed without changing the sheets (don't lie, I know you do)? Yeah, well, co-sleepers sleep on towels, too.
Sometimes You Get Puked On
In the last week, I've been puked on at least five times, all at night. My nursling has a cold and a ton of mucus, so he gags while nursing at night and, well, up comes all the milk. It's suboptimal, sure, but that's what towels are for, amirite?
The Space Your Child Takes Up Is Inversely Proportional To Their Size
I co-sleep with two kids, a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old. I am by far the largest person in the bed, but I'm relegated to the smallest stretch of bed real estate. The baby can seem four times his size when he's asleep, arms and legs akimbo, and the 4-year-old might as well be the size of a professional basketball player.
You Can Still Have Sex
Obviously. Otherwise, you know, I would only have one kid — instead of two — stealing my covers at night. You just get creative with sexy time locations after the kids are asleep in the family bed.
Some Nights Will Leave You Wishing You Never Started Co-Sleeping...
When your hot-blooded children insist on kicking the covers off, leaving your cold feet uncovered and icy, you'll wonder what ever possessed you to give up your nightly cover-autonomy and you'll Google the easiest way to transition them to their own beds.
...But You'll Be Sad When Your Kid Moves To Their Own Bed
When it's time to actually transition them to their own bed, you will feel all the feelings. Guilt over abandoning them (you aren't), sadness that they are big enough to sleep alone, happiness that you can finally roll over or keep your feet covered, and worry that they'll wake up sad or scared and you won't be there are all — for better or worse — pretty normal.
Stretching Out Feels Like A Guilty Pleasure
I sleep between my two boys and when I actually have enough room to stretch out, I feel like I'm doing something wrong. It's so sumptuous, it must be against the rules.
Your Partner May Opt To Sleep Elsewhere
When my son was 2-years-old, my husband opted out of the family bed. The baby had gotten too big and was taking up too much space and my husband wasn't sleeping well. I was still nursing, so transitioning out of co-sleeping wasn't an option. So, my partner moved into the little bed, while my son and I stayed in the master. When my second son was born, my husband was already sleeping down the hall, so it was no big deal.
It's Totally Worth It
I love sharing a bed with my kids. I love seeing them sleep and hearing their dream talk. I love watching them wake up in the morning. I love being there for them as soon as they need me. I love feeling their warm little bodies next to mine.
Sure, co-sleeping isn't always easy or comfortable, but it's perfect for my family and I wouldn't change a thing.