Committing to co-sleeping is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there are tons of benefits. You’ll be better able to monitor your baby closely as they sleep, reducing the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS); you don’t have to get up if you’re breastfeeding and using a family bed; rolling over next to them is easy and convenient and everybody gets a better night’s rest (at first). But before quickly jumping to the conclusion that it’s the best thing ever, there are some things all new parents should know about surviving co-sleeping.
First, co-sleeping isn’t for everyone. While the benefits are obvious, that doesn’t mean you should automatically do it or that it will be automatically beneficial for you and your baby. Just like every other parenting decision, weigh the pros and cons, do some research and ask around to be sure, and then make your own choice based on your own unique wants and needs. Co-sleeping doesn’t indubitably make you a wonderful parent, either; just like it doesn’t make you an overbearing one. Also, you can just go ahead and forget about privacy (as if you had much of that to begin with, being a parent and all).
Perhaps most importantly, understand that it will be challenging on some days, and frustrating on others, and beautiful on the days in between. If you’re pretty sure you want to go ahead and bunk up with your newborn, here are just a few things you can do to ensure you'll "survive" it, because every little bit of information helps, right?
You’ll Want To Make Sure You’re A Light Sleeper
If you are somehow actually getting sleep as a new parent, congratulations! You are an anomaly. However, if you’re co-sleeping (and especially if you're bed sharing) with your child, you’ll want to be sure that you can hear them if they cry or need you. That means no sleeping pills or other drowsy medications, and definitely no heavy drinking or drug use.
You’ll Have To Get Creative When It Comes To Sex And Masturbation
Some would argue that you can kind of get away with having sexy time in the same room as your baby for the first 6 months or so. Others say longer. Regardless, if you really want to get down and dirty, you’ll have to figure out how to do it outside the room or away from prying eyes (and ears).
You’ll Want To Change Their Diaper In The Middle Of The Night
My son still fills his diaper while he sleeps, and I change him during one of my (many) midnight wake up sessions. I do this because I know if he pees again, it might leak. This is doubly important when your little one sleeps beside you, because no one wants to wake up in a puddle of pee.
Once You Let Them Sleep In Your Bed, It’ll Be Near Impossible To Get Them Out (Right Away)
Folks told me that it would be "tough" to get my bed back and I didn’t listen, but it’s so true you guys. The moment your kid knows they have the chance to sleep on that giant mattress, they rarely want to return to their cribs or toddler beds or some other lesser form of sleeping apparatus. Even if you swear it’s only because they’re sick that week, you’ll have a hell of a time convincing them to go back to their own beds. Don’t worry, eventually they get sick of not having any room or privacy either.
Don’t Get Attached To One Spot On The Bed
I used to sleep up against the wall on the left side of my mattress. These days I’m lucky if I get any spot on that bed. With a 6 foot tall husband and a pint-sized toddler in the bed, I have to make due with the remaining space.
Prepare To Get Beaten Up On A Nightly Basis
I often wake up feeling like I’ve been trampled by a pack of bulls. Of course this isn’t the case, but thanks to my son’s after hours acrobatics, I often feel like I’ve gone a few round with some champion boxer. I'd love to say you get used to it but not in the business of lying.
Sometimes It Helps To Sleep Head To Feet
Because toddlers are, well, short, it’s not too bad if you sleep with your head where your feet normally go. I often find space here and my kid hasn’t complained of sleeping that close to my feet (so far), so all is well. Sometimes it’s the only way to co-sleep without losing my patience.
Add A Waterproof Mattress Protector
I think this is a good idea all around, but more so if you share your bed with your kid. So many things can go wrong: spit-up, vomit, drool, urine, tears. They can all seep through and mess up your mattress for good. Invest in a good protector, or have your significant other do it.
You Might Need To Change The Sheets More Often Than Usual
Of course, it’s good to change your sheets at least once a week regardless, but it’s hard when you’re a new parent. Still, the minute your little one decides to puke on your bed or spill their milk (or your milk) during night feedings, you’ll know it’s time to do a load of laundry. Again.
Know That You May Find Random Toys In Your Bed And On Your Floor
What proud parent doesn’t know the magic of stepping on a lego while barefoot in the middle of the night? Or accidentally kicking (and turning on) a talking Elmo doll just as the baby fell asleep? You may not have planned to co-sleep, but often you just do, and then these things happen in your bedroom, too.
Enjoy It! It’s Not Forever.
Seriously. Babies grow so fast. Toddlers, too. Someday they will decide on their own that they are done and that sharing a sleeping space with you is just "gross." They much prefer their new race car bed or whatever, and will leave you without so much as a kiss goodbye. There’s no deadline for when to stop co-sleeping, so really, don’t rush it.