Changing Parenting Techniques: Help Me Escape the Family Bed
While preparing for my son's birth, I carefully researched sleeping arrangements for newborns. I knew that I was having a C-section and that I'd be nursing, so I needed him fairly close. I thought that co-sleeping might be the best option, but I was concerned about the softness of my bed and looked into options that keep him close but in his own "bed." I didn't care for the in-bed sleepers -- that might have been an option with a king-sized bed, but my bed was too small for that. In a parenting magazine I found a co-sleeper that enabled me to have my son bed-side, and I could simply roll over to have access to him.
I loved having my son right by my side, facilitating easy late-night feedings and my ability to watch over him during the night. Despite my best intentions, he ended up sleeping in the bed with my husband and me most nights. He'd start the evening in his co-sleeper, but when I fed him in the middle of the night, I'd simply keep him in the bed either lying on my chest or cradled in my arms.
My son stayed in the room with me until he was four months old. It was difficult for me to transition him to the crib -- I found myself listening diligently to the baby monitor to ensure that he was breathing every night. Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep those first few weeks, and after his night feeding I'd frequently bring him to bed with me. Sometime around six months, I was finally comfortable letting him sleep alone most nights, and I would get a couple hours of sleep too. By the time he was a year old, the nights he spent sleeping in the bed with us drastically diminished, and when we he stopped nursing, he stayed in his room every night unless he was sick.
He is two and a half now, and after nearly a year of sleeping in his own bed, somehow he has returned to sleeping with me. When my husband traveled, I'd keep him in my bed -- both for his comfort and mine -- with no problems returning him to his own room. Right before the Christmas holidays, we converted his crib into a toddler bed, but he only slept in it one night before we traveled for a holiday visit to my mother's home. He is really too big for the convertible crib that I kept at my mother's, so during our stay, he slept with me. Of course, when we returned home he wanted to sleep with me, (and I must admit I enjoyed having him close too), and I obliged. Sharing a bed with one person is much easier to manage then sharing with two people, especially when one is a two year old who wants to sprawl all over the place. I frequently find myself on the edge of the bed, with a hand (or foot) in my face.
When I traveled earlier this month, I truly enjoyed having an entire king-sized bed to myself. I love my family, but the joy of sleeping alone, uninterrupted by a slap in the face, was priceless. My husband and I have both decided that it is time for our son to sleep in his bed, but it has only happened twice that I can recall. We usually put him to sleep in our bed and move him to his bed in the middle of the night. Initially he would stay in the bed and cry because he was accustomed to having us come and get him from his crib. He quickly learned that he could just get up without repercussions and now will creep into our bedroom in the middle of the night if he wakes up.
The space in my bed is still at a premium, and the other night I moved to another bedroom to get some rest. This didn't work; both my son and my husband came looking for me shortly after I moved and my son joined me when my husband went to work. Today, I find myself falling asleep on my couch ostensibly because I am "working" but really because I know I can get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep before enduring the four inches of my queen-sized bed that have been designated for me in the "family bed." I know we cannot go on this way, and I am open to any suggestions about how to remedy this situation. Otherwise, I fear that I will be in for many sleepless nights.
If my son is anything like me, he will stay in my bedroom until he is nine. When my parents locked me out of their bedroom, I set up a pallet on the floor outside of their bedroom. I don't want that to happen with my son. Any and all suggestions are welcomed. Please help this first-time mom get some much needed sleep!
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Renee is a BlogHer Mommy and Family Contributing Editor. She also writes a personal blog,Cutie Booty Cakes