Before I had kids, one of the few things I had decided I would never, ever be open to, was co-sleeping. Once my son was born, that resolve lasting a whopping 4 weeks before falling by the wayside with reckless abandon. Honestly, this particular slice of humble pie tasted too good to really get bent out of shape about. My pride wasn't wounded and I didn't mind being wrong because, well, co-sleeping is the absolute best. I'll proclaim this loudly from the highest spire of the highest tower in any city. I'll even gleefully preface it by saying, "I was so wrong about co-sleeping!"
As with pretty much anything remotely related to parenthood, there is a whole mess of fuss, fury, and spilled ink on the topic of bringing a baby into a shared bed. There's scoffing about how bed-sharing causes psychological issues (it doesn't) and how you'll never be able to get your child out of bed with you (could be a problem, but usually isn't past a certain point). There's hand-wringing about the safety of co-sleeping (not unreasonable, to be fair) and just as many sources claiming co-sleeping can be safe when certain (simple) precautions are made. Point is, co-sleeping is just another one of those parenting decisions you're going to have to make for yourself while a whole lot of loud, angry noises come at you a million miles per minute. Hooray! Welcome to parenthood.
But, for those of us who have decided to put the open sign on our bedroom door, co-sleeping can come with a veritable treasure trove of awesome mommy moments. Hear are just a few:
You Get All The Baby Cuddles
For starters, you love the tiny human you made more than you love pretty much anything else. (More than waffles, even! Nay! More than a whole brunch buffet accompanied with bottomless mimosas!) Getting to be close to your baby during life's quiet, sleepy moments is pretty awesome. I mean, have you even touched a baby lately? Even babies you don't personally love are a ton of fun to snuggle with because they're warm, squishy blobs with good-smelling heads. Baby cuddles are the bee's knees, people.
You Can Delay Getting Out Of Bed In The Mornings...
Some babies (at least my two) do not, as some people imagine, suddenly wake up and need to be up and about and concur the world. Like adult humans, baby humans can be fans of easing into their day with some casual luxuriating. They're awake, but they're not quite ready to get going yet. Co-sleeping gave me the opportunity to nurture not only experience those wonderfully lazy moments, but continually nurture that behavior in my kids. So, while they might wake up at, say, 6 a.m., they didn't feel the need to get out of bed until 6:30 or 6:45. Those extra minutes count. Trust me.
...So You Just Get So Much More Sleep
Everyone in my house slept better while co-sleeping. The little one barely had to wake up to nurse (more on that in a bit), which meant it didn't take forever to put them back to sleep after they'd finished eating. I didn't have to get up and out of bed and walk to wherever they were and then spend time and energy getting them back in their cribs, so I would get fall asleep quickly. So, for me, co-sleeping actually provided me with more sleep, instead of less.
Of course, everyone is different and sometimes a flung arm or a kicking leg from a co-sleeping baby can keep a parent up at all hours of the night. It honestly, like with everything else related to parenthood, depends.
You (Usually) Don't Have To Get Out Of Bed At Night
If you're breastfeeding (or past an age where your kid needs a bottle every couple hours) then you don't need to leave the warm, cozy bliss of your bed at night. Like, ever. Baby wakes up? You're right there to comfort them (with milk or soothing mama snuggles). No need to schlep around the house like a groggy spirit, wailing and moaning through the halls, pleading with the universe to let you get back to your much-needed rest.
Your Baby Serves As A Space Heater
I don't know if it's the joy radiating from inside of them or gas from their latest meal or whatever (honestly, it's probably both), but babies are just always so damn warm. After my son was born via c-section, my husband was the first one to hold him. I asked what it felt like and he responded, "Like warm laundry." I've never heard a more apt description of holding an child. And when you co-sleep, all that warm laundry goodness is right next to you: no electric blanket required.
You Can Easily Facilitate Breastfeeding
If you've chosen to (and are successful at) breastfeeding your child, the best advice (as a non-lactation consultant, non-pediatrician, but mother of 2 and breastfeeder of more than 3 collective years) I can give you, is to co-sleep. Co-sleeping makes breastfeeding at night easier (gotta love that breastfeeding in side-lying position).
You Need Fewer Pillows, Just As God And Nature Intended
In order to co-sleep safely, experts agree that big, fluffy suffocation risks (such as stuffed animals, heavy blankets, and pillows) should be minimized. And, in my opinion, this is a good thing. Just give me a minute here, because what's the deal with all these pillows? Do you know what I see when I see a bed with more than one pillow per person? Roman orgy levels of decadent insanity. Okay, maybe not really, but why do you people need so many damn pillows? It cranes your neck all funny and then you have to go to a chiropractor, which costs money that cuts into your precious pillow budget anyway! So yeah, losing some of those enormous pillows on your bed is going to be good for your soul (and neck and shoulders).
You Have Some Built In Equity With Your Partner
If you're parenting while partnered, co-sleeping keeps the whole, "which parent gets up to comfort the baby" from falling on one person (and, let's be honest here: when that happens the one person is usually the mom). When the baby is right next to both of you, crying, you're both going to be up*, at least at some point. This gives more opportunities for both partners to take a bash at trying to get the itty bitty back to sleep.
*in theory, anyway, but some people can sleep through friggin' anything
You Have So Many Photo-Ops
I'm not going to pretend this is natural, but damnit, we live in an Instagram world now and I'm not going to apologize for enjoying adorable "sleeping baby and parent" pictures. I'm not saying you even have to share them on social media, but some of my very favorite pictures of my husband and children are pictures where they're cuddled up together in the early morning light. Those pictures have kept my going on more than one occasion and especially when I wanted to crumble into a ball of dry heaving stress.
Let's Face It, Baby Snores Are Adorable
It's not the deep, sinus-y grossness of adult snoring, but the whistling, nostril-y, puppy-dog snoring of infants, toddlers, and children I'm talking about. It's so freakin' cute. You half-believe that, any minute, rainbows are going to come flowing out of their adorable little noses. The best is when they sort of wake themselves up snoring and then slump back to sleep. I seriously just can't, you guys.
When You Don't Do It Anymore Your Bed Feels Massive
Because all of a sudden you're not relegated to an 8-inch strip of mattress at the edge. (Oh yeah. That happens. That's one of the reasons co-sleeping is also the absolute worst, but that's another story for another article.)
There's Something Comfortable About Everyone Being In The Same Spot
By the time my second baby came around, my first was no longer bed-sharing with us. (We kicked him out at about 10 months old: the bad had started outweighing the good at that point. Again: another story for another day.) But every now and then, he would come into our room for a cuddle and the four of us would just lie there. Even our cat would curl up at the foot of the bed. The first time this happened, I remembered thinking, "All the heartbeats in the house are in the same spot." I don't know why but it was such a deeply satisfying feeling that I welcomed the mornings he would pop into our room to snuggle for a bit.
Co-sleeping isn't for everyone, based on my experience, but it might be for more people than the collective "we" think. For those of us who choose to go for it, the benefits are incomparably awesome.