Friday, November 27, 2009

Thoughts on CoSleeping from a Fierce Mama of 3

The first days and weeks of parenting my first child, Nicholas, were a blur of fatigue and endless hours of breastfeeding. Day and night, I nursed that sleepy little baby and prayed that I'd get enough sleep to feel rested at some point.

After a few weeks, I discovered the beauty of side lying nursing which quickly turned me into a co-sleeper. Gone were the long dark hours in the middle of the night where I would perch on the side of my bed, trying not to doze off and fall over! Gone was the feeling of dread I'd feel when my sleeping baby woke up minutes after being placed in his crib! Instead, I basked in the beauty of snuggling in bed with this delicious little baby and feeling rested in the mornings.

During one of Nicholas' well-baby visits with his pediatrician, I mentioned that we'd begun co-sleeping. The pediatrician cautioned me with tales of “trying to break the habit later on” and told me I needed to get my baby sleeping in his crib again. Being a young single mom, I didn't feel confident enough to speak up with my protests so I did the next best thing: I ignored the advice and found a new pediatrician.

In the nine years since that moment I discarded the warning against co-sleeping, I have not regretted my choice. Co-sleeping with Nicholas, and eventually with his sisters Lily and Olivia, has been an immensely satisfying experience. From the ease of nighttime nursings with young babies to the important snugglings with older children who don't get enough physical touch during their days, co-sleeping has been an important part of my parenting.

We've various configurations of beds in different rooms as the years go by and people's needs change, but the one constant has been the message we've sent to our children: their needs are important no matter the time of day or night.

Tonight as he was dozing off, Nicholas curled around his sleeping baby sister and whispered to me “I love waking up next to her in the mornings when she's lying in bed cooing”. My heart went completely to mush as I thought “Me too, Nick. Me too.”.

By Kim Johnstone

*Editor's note: For research & information on safe co-sleeping practices, see Dr James McKenna's work at the Notre Dame University Mother-Baby Behavioural Sleep Laboratory


  1. Bed sharing is my #1 favorite thing about parenting. Not that there aren't nights that I wish I could splay my body out any which way on the bed and have space and my body to myself, but the incredible joy and closeness I feel from bed sharing more than make up for it! Our children will always be welcome in our bed.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  2. We started co-sleeping when my daughter was 6 mos. She is now 5 yo and still likes to be with us and her 11 mos baby brother. We love it.

  3. I've co-slept with all of my kids and we are all better off for it :)

  4. Wow, jealousy abounds for those of you who can cosleep. My kids cosleep with each other, but if I am present I am absolutely not sleeping, at all, all night. I do consider it a matter of survival with a small nursing baby though, and will be definitely cosleeping with baby when she arrives, until I'm not sleeping anyway, at which point I guess she can go join the kid pile in the other room.

  5. We cosleep and our kids cosleep. I think cosleeping is what has kept me sane. Thanks for posting this Kim!

  6. Oh my god, I got the exact same comment when I mentioned co-sleeping with my son from my CYH nurse - word for word! In fact, I got that very same comment numerous times from many different people, including being told I would kill my son by various means (rolling over on him, smothering him with blankets, smothering his face with bits of my body, him falling out of bed, etc, etc, etc) - he slept with me for the first few months of his life and I have to say it was precious. Eventually, I think he grew out of needing to be with me so much and was ready for his cot, but sometimes we will have a nap together, just for the closeness. Sometimes you have to do whatever you can to get the sleep you need.

    Thanks for sharing!