When Audrey was born, I wanted to be a breastfeeding Mama. I wanted to be a cloth diapering Mama. I wanted to be a baby-wearing Mama. I had no desire to be a co-sleeping Mama. I didn't have any negative feelings about it or people who chose to do it, but I just didn't think it was for us. And in the beginning, we weren't a co-sleeping family.
I don't remember exactly when it started, but it was somewhere around when Audrey was 4 or 5 months old I think. Audrey was mostly sleeping through the night, but she would wake up once to nurse. When we decided to stop nursing during the night, it was impossible to get her back to sleep when she woke up. We tried the "cry it out" method, but she never calmed down, and only made herself more and more upset. I tried rocking, singing, and even tried climbing right in the crib to lay down next to her.
It didn't work. We were beyond exhausted. I would be up for hours in her room trying to get her to go back to sleep. And then one night, out of pure exhaustion, I took her in bed with us. I know, I know. The beginning of the end. But she went right back to sleep. We all slept. We were all more rested in the morning. It worked for us.
Audrey has always, and still does, go down perfectly in her crib for her nap and at bedtime. It is the middle of the night when we co-sleep; hence, the "part-time." More recently, she has started sleeping through the night in her crib until 4:30 or 5:30 am. But if she wakes up in the middle of the night, we are past the point of no return now. She will only go back to sleep in our bed. If she makes it until the early morning, I can get another hour and a half to two hours sleep out of her in our bed. Sometimes it's crowded. Sometimes I sleep with her foot in my side. But it works for us.
So there you have it. We are a part-time co-sleeping family, not by deliberate choice, but by exhaustion, desperation, just trying to figure out what works best for us, and now, habit.
I know we need to start taking her in bed with us less since she's almost two. But I think she is also starting to do it on her own, too. If we have another baby, I'm not sure we'll co-sleep again, unless, of course, that happens to be what works for us then. I can see the benefits and but I also see the difficulties. I am not entirely "for it" like I am cloth diapering, or breastfeeding. But I am not against it either.
What's most important to me is that my daughter feels safe and loved. She is healthy. We are all well rested. As mothers, I think it is important that we share what works for us, but that we support other mothers and encourage them to figure out what works best for them. There are pros and cons to just about everything in life. Every baby and family situation is different, so parenting practices are going to be as well. For us, that means we are a part-time co-sleeping family.
Do you co-sleep? Any suggestions on making a smooth transition to being a "big girl" and not sleeping in Mama and Dada's bed anymore?