.co-sleeping questions.

Hello, gentle readers:

R, Bram, and I have been happily co-sleeping for about a month now. Before that, Bram was sleeping side-car in a crib, but was still swaddled at night. After we swaddle weaned him, he began waking up CONSTANTLY, so we thought that bringing him into the bed might help to level out his sleep, which (for the most part) it has. He’s still not sleeping through the night (like he was in the swaddle), but we’re all getting pretty adequate zzzs most nights. And co-sleeping means no tears and only one mommy up in the night to do a diaper change (as opposed to getting out of bed to nurse, change, and rock each time he woke up).

Still, we have a few kinks to work out of this system, so I’m wondering if other family bed families might have some sage advice…

1) Has anyone found a way to encourage baby to stay asleep once both parents are out of the bed for the day? I’m up between 5-6am each morning to run and/or get ready for work. R is up between 6-7am. In the interest of a) having time to get ourselves around in the morning, and b) getting Bram at least 10 hours of sleep at night, it would be great if he would sleep until 7-8am. As it stands, though, he’s up once we’re both out of bed. This means that we’re having to trade-off turns with a sleepy baby for up to two hours before I leave for work in the morning. We can tell he’s still tired (yawning, rubbing eyes, et al), but we just can’t seem to get him to resettle once it’s light out and we’re both awake.

2) He wants to eat all.night.long.every.night. I’m starting to get used to it, so that I can actually sleep through the better part of his feedings. Still, I’m noticing that he’s eating less during the day and more at night now, and, in the hopes that he will begin sleeping longer stretches at night, I’d like to curb this new trend. Have any of you found gentle ways of encouraging co-sleeping babies back to sleep without nursing? Obviously, I want to feed the babe when he’s hungry, but my guess is that’s only about 50% of the time that he actually spends on my (now very sore) nipples…

3) We’re planning some family travel this summer and will be staying in hotels and with family and friends en route. How have you handled co-sleeping in strange (and potentially unsafe) beds? We’re thinking of obtaining a pack and play to travel with, but worry that he won’t sleep well if he’s not able to come into bed with us each night.

Any and all thoughts and advices would be greatly appreciated.

Here’s the little guy snoozing away in a sunbeam for inspiration ;-)

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11 thoughts on “.co-sleeping questions.

  1. I feel like we’re living mirrored lives right now! My daughter is 4 days younger than Bram and I could almost write the exact same post. Unfortunately, I don’t have any solutions as we’re navigating the same waters. Our amazing lactation consultant suggested to stop the all night feeding sessions the baby and my wife sleep separate from me (as in I sleep in another bed) for a few nights. We’ve yet to do this, so I don’t know if it works, but we don’t think the insane night wakings are because of hunger, so it’s something we could try. I do agree it seems she’s eating less in the day and more at night, so I’m doing all I can to offer as much as I can during the day in hopes it helps (so far it hasn’t). And, if it makes you feel any better, we can only get naps if she’s on one of us/in arms, too. (Though she goes to school on weekdays and will take 2 naps of 2+ hours each–in a crib, alone, so we’re really at a loss as to why she WILL NOT sleep during the day w/o being held at home.)

    Thanks for sharing pieces of your life with us. I appreciate following along.

    • Bram is similarly tempered. We have an in-home sitter two mornings a week, during which he will take short out-of-arms naps on a crib mattress on the floor. For us, though, he only wants to sleep in-arms. It’s sweet, though, and I know it won’t last long in the grand scheme of things…

  2. I don’t have much in the way of wisdom, but feel compelled to blather on in your comments anyway.
    1. We found this one came with age. Goldie typically wakes us up/gets up naturally when we do (around 6:30-7), but on days when we need to be up earlier or she’s just sleepy and wants to stay asleep, we can usually sneak away. But that’s a new trend. I feel like this whole co-sleeping (and sleeping in general) thing has been a lesson in patience and building trust. We finally got to the point where G trusts that we’re not going anywhere when we leave her in bed at night (not that she always stays asleep, but we can put her down in the evening which is huge). It took longer for the morning to work out, but it did. More practically, we put a blackout curtain behind our regular curtain and I think that’s what helps the most!

    2. G does this – poor Fern. We’re working with a sleep consultant and are about to start a gentle night weaning process while co-sleeping so I’ll let you know how it goes. it basically involves soothing the first night waking down with something other than breast feeding consistently enough that the first stretch of sleep grows into a respectable, uninterrupted 5 hours or so. We’ll see.

    3. I’m curious about this too! We have our first hotel stay in a couple weeks and I’m curious to see how it goes. We got advice from another co-sleeping family and they said to request a king and put the baby between us overnight. I think naps will be trickier.

    I’m so glad you all are sleeping a little better!

    • Thanks, Olive! You have been such a go-to person for us since the beginning! Last night was the best night’s sleep that any of us have had in a month. We nursed B down into the bed from the start (usually he starts the night out in his crib and then comes to bed once we’re there). His first stretch was 3.5 hours, which we enjoyed 2.5 of with him!

  3. 1. When my babes (of which I have four) were little I had moderate success with pressing a pillow, lengthwise, along either side of them (below armpit level for safety) to “trick” them into thinking I was still there. When I really got desperate I took off the shirt I’d just slept in and put it next to them too, haha.

    2. Babies tend to “reverse cycle” like this when the breastfeeding mama works. As I’m sure you know, nursing is about a lot more than just meeting hunger needs, so he could be trying to get in as much nursing as possible before you’re off at work :) I don’t think I’d recommend night weaning a babe so young… He still needs those midnight snacks. I guess all I can suggest is patience and to keep honing those sleeping-through-feeding skills :) believe me, it goes quick, and soon you will long for these days!

    • Great idea about leaving our scent behind. He does seem to sleep alone better in our bed than in his crib. Perhaps because it still smells like us?

  4. EJ is still in her bassinet next to us, so I can’t really speak to co-sleeping, but I was wondering if it would work to get him up with you when you get up in the morning, nurse and change him, give him a little awake time, and then set him down for a nap? EJ happily sleeps for a couple hours every morning once she’s gotten in a little morning playtime, and doesn’t seem to care where we put her for the nap. Maybe it would work with Bram?

    • The goal is to get him back to sleep in the mornings, but since he’s still taking all of his daytime naps in arms, it’s not working well yet. If he perceives that he’s still “sleeping” from the nighttime, then perhaps. But once he’s up and playing, it’s all in-arms from there ;-)

  5. 1. i’ve done the pillow trick with success. i also like to have some sort of white noise (fan blowing, soothing instrumental music, etc.). putting a blanket (or extra blankets) is also a good way to imitate the body heat he gets from the two of you (temperature differential could be enough to wake him).
    2. i agree that the mid-night feedings are indicative of a working out of the home nursing mom. i got to a place where i barely woke up when he nursed. right now we’re weaning him into his own bed and it’s tough to have to get up to go nurse him in the middlee of the night. makes me miss co-sleeping. :)
    3. we get a king bed whenever we go to a hotel and he sleeps in between us. during naps, you just pile up pillows on each side of him. though i, more often than not, still like to “sleep when the baby sleeps” during naptimes when i’m home. :)

    p.s. this morning g wanted me to carry him down the stairs. part of me was tired and wanted him to walk himself. the other part of melted when he reached for me. i smelled his hair and smiled and reminded myself that he won’t be this small for long. :)

    • Awww…sweet lil’ G. He’s such a cutie in pictures; I can’t wait to meet him this summer! Thanks for your input, this is all great advice.

  6. Oooh, oh, I have so much to say. We co-slept until J. was about 15 months, at which point we gently eased him into sleeping a) in his own bed and then b) without nursing. Until then we were avid co-sleepers and loved it, but there were some issues as he got bigger and with the all-night eating. I’ll admit that I had mixed feelings about co-sleeping after about six months but my partner loved it and I was won over; I do miss things about it now, too, and am grateful we had all that closeness. J. has always had trouble with sleep and self-soothing, so it was a practical solution for us early on, too.

    1. Yeah, that was always tough for us, too. He would sometimes stay asleep if we snuck out at the right moment and tucked pillows and such around him. Nowadays, when he wakes up after 5:30 or so, we take him into our bed, he nurses a while, and then he’ll stay asleep with that full belly even if we get up. That came as he got older and more independent about sleep, and after night weaning (he’s 22 months now, btw).

    2. This is hard! All-night nursing was my biggest beef with co-sleeping. And I’m not even the nursing mom! We read all the books on it. We tried having him sleep next to me, rather than my partner, which helped occasionally, and we tried just patting/soothing without nursing, which sometimes worked. My partner did find that staying awake and detaching him when he’d stopped really drinking and was just suckling helped. (That was a trick from the Pantley books – the “No Cry” solutions). For us, the intense night nursing only stopped when we decided at 15 months to night wean. We know of couples who were able to continue co-sleeping even after night-weaning, but our little guy is very demanding and feisty and it was just too hard for us, so we are now doing our early morning family bed, but the rest of the night he’s in his room. Okay … and he still doesn’t always sleep through the night … but that is another story.

    3. We did lots of travel during our co-sleeping days! As above, we always got a king-size bed and stacked pillows on the edges for a barrier. When staying with family, with only a full-size bed available, I would often sleep on the couch. After night weaning we used the pack-n-play on trips and that worked well, to our surprise and relief.

    I have loved reading about your adventures in attachment-style parenting because it mirrors so much of our experiences and philosophy. Snuggle that sweet boy and good luck!

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