Co-sleeping can be a lovely experience for both parents and children. It is also something that, in order to work best, takes careful consideration and planning. Co-sleeping and bed sharing will transform your bedroom from an adults-only sanctuary into a shared family space. I'm not saying that this is in any way a bad thing, but it's just one of the many things to consider before co-sleeping.
I co-slept with my children. When my daughter was an infant, she slept in a bassinet next to my bed, and my son, who was then a toddler, slept in our bed. As my daughter grew, she and my son would take turns: one of them would sleep in a toddler bed next to us, and the other would sleep in the bed.
Eventually, they both transitioned out of our room without too much of a fuss. But, in all honestly this is was all sheer luck. My husband and I started co-sleeping mostly out of pure exhaustion, and not at all because we had done any research or given it any consideration. Had we been blessed with kids who fought against sleeping in their own rooms, we wouldn't have had any clue what to do.
I don't recommend that you fly by the seat of your pants when it comes to co-sleeping. Here are some things you should consider before bringing baby into the bed.
1. Are You OK With It?
Before you deciding to co-sleep, you should ask yourself whether this is something that you really want. If the idea of sharing your bed doesn't appeal to you, you should definitely take that into consideration, especially since transitioning a child out of your bed is often a difficult process.
2. Is Your Spouse OK With It?
Even if you're totally on board, Pregnancy and Baby noted that both parents should agree and feel comfortable with co-sleeping. Having one partner against the idea can cause problems down the line.
3. Is Your Bed Big Enough?
Before you bring your baby into your bed, you should consider the size of your mattress and who else is sleeping with you. Dr. Sears recommends a queen or king-size bed for co-sleeping, this way both parents and the baby will have room to roll over safely.
4. Is Your Bed Safe?
According to Kids Health From Nemours, waterbeds, blankets, pillows, comforters and quilts can all be potential hazards to a sleeping infant. The organization recommend not bed sharing with an infant under four months of age, and dressing the baby in a sleeper instead of using a blanket.
5. How Long Do You Plan To Co-Sleep?
Do you have a set point in which you expect your child to move to his or her own room? Because transitioning can be a difficult process, Dr. Craig Canapari of Yale Pediatric Sleep Center recommended being consistent, having a plan, and mindfully choosing a "quit date" that you will stick to.
6. What If You Have More Kids?
According to Kids Health From Nemours, babies should not share a bed with other children, particularly toddlers, because they aren't aware of the baby's presence while they sleep. If you are still sharing your bed with your older child, consider if you want to begin to transition them into their own bed, or keep the newborn in a separate crib or playpen.
7. Where Will You Have Sex?
It's one thing if your infant is sleeping in a crib or bassinet in your room, but if you are bed sharing or room sharing with an older child, your sex life could suffer according to What To Expect. Consider where else you can get freaky when the mood strikes.
8. Do You Already Co-Sleep With A Pet?
If you have a pet that is used to sleeping in your bed, bringing your baby into the bed, too, can be very dangerous. No matter how tame and loving your pet is, you cannot predict how it will react when the baby arrives, especially if the baby is encroaching into its space. Those who've slept with pets know that many of them will not hesitate to try to sleep on top of you in the middle of the night. You don't want it to try that on the baby.
9. What If You Change Your Mind?
It's a possibility that after a little while of co-sleeping, you or your spouse might feel that it is just not working out. Maybe your child moves too much, kicks, or makes noises that keep you up all night. Lack of sleep can negatively impact your parenting, your job, and even your marriage. The good news is that you will know relatively quickly if co-sleeping isn't for you, and your baby will still be young enough to easily adjust to a new sleeping situation.