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Co-sleeping: Am I Encouraging a Habit to Form?
~ A Message Board Archive

 From tjfun ~ I have been laying in bed, awake, after dh and dd fall asleep thinking about this issue for weeks now. Am i forming a habit of sleeping together? My daughter is a almost 4 1/2 months old now. She will NOT fall asleep unless she has my breast in her mouth or dh or I breathe in her face, then you cannot move her to her crib; she wakes right away or within 5 minutes and cries (i've tried all the tricks posted here, like hot water bottle in crib before, wrap her tight...).

I want our bed back eventually; we do want other children! Will it get harder to move her to her own bed as she gets older or are there some windows of opportunity that I could take advantage of (stages in growth that it would be easier to try at)?

 From Elaine ~ Here is my opinion, but keep in mind it's ONLY my opinion, and it's only based on what I've experienced or 'heard' from others; I can't speak for you or your individual situation. My response would be YES . . . you are forming a habit . . . BUT!!!!! . . . here is the important part . . . do you automatically assume that all habits are bad or negative? As they grow, we help our children establish lots of habits such as brushing their teeth, saying thank you and please, and many others, so in my personal opinion, even if we are forming a 'habit' by letting our nurslings sleep with us, so what?!?!?! Just because grandma, or our sister-in-law or someone down the street thinks it's 'bad' to let our children sleep with us, is it? We are meeting their needs, we are providing comfort, security, easy access to their food source, closeness, etc. SOME babies do fine in a crib, sleep well, etc. My son slept wonderfully in his but my daughter was the complete opposite. So I say do what works for you and your child.

I'm honestly not sure WHEN the windows of opportunity are for moving the child to their own bed. Some people set a goal for it just as they do for weaning. Others let the child decide, just as in child lead weaning. Some have mentioned moving the child to a toddler bed (at about a year old) in the parents room as a means of transition and then eventually to a bed in the child's own room. Others go straight to putting the child to bed in their own room. I suppose like so much else, it's a matter of trial and error and finding out what works best for your individual child.

Either way, I'd say at 4 1/2 months what you are doing sounds fine to me. A lot of babies go through a period at some point of not wanting to sleep AT ALL if they aren't being held or cuddled, and it's been a long time back, but I *think* Skye was around 4 months when this happened for us. Perhaps wait for this 'phase' to pass and then reevaluate your situation.

 From BeccaD ~ We struggled with this too. I agree that though this may be a habit, it is not a bad one. That said, we practice a combo of co-sleeping and crib sleeping. Our bed is 150 years old, tall and tiny, so I'm not too comfortable with all of us in there, so we shift her back and forth.

What we found was that dh could put her down much more easily than I did, no boobs to distract. We established a bedtime routine, where she got a bath, then nursed, and once she fell asleep he would move her to the crib. It took a while for this to work. If she woke up on the way to the crib, dh would try sing her back to sleep. If that didn't work, we'd nurse again. We don't do "cry it out". Just my opinion, but I'm not comfortable with that, she knows if she needs something, and crying is how she lets us know. Sometimes she does need to crank a few minutes to get to sleep, but never more then 3-4 minutes.

The first time she wakes up at night to feed BDS (boob delivery system, as dh is now known at our house) brings her to the bed. Generally she spends the rest of the night with us. Now that she's sleeping longer this means she is on her own until about 6:30 most days, which is great. At four months it was around 1:30. Even though it was only a few hours it was so nice to have time for just dh and me.

This took a week or so to establish, and some nights we just gave up and let her spend the whole night with us, but it has made a big difference (I sleep now). This all flies out the window during growth spurts, teething, colds, etc. Then she needs to be with us for comfort, so we accommodate. Like everything else, it goes in phases.

Basically, go with what works for you! If you are comfortable with the way things are go with it.

 From Ursula ~ My sisters and I each slept with our parents and my nephews each slept with my sister and BIL and eventually we all moved quite naturally into our own beds. Some parents put children in strollers, but eventually they walk and leave the stroller behind.

Some parents give their children sippy cups, but eventually they move on to regular glasses.

I think it's the same with co-sleeping.

 From emmabsmom ~ Emma co-slept for the first 10 weeks until she was sleeping through the night. Then at around 6 months, when she got her first cold, she came back into our bed. I didn't mind for a while but then it came to a point where she could not be laid down for a nap or the night unless I was with her. This became very difficult for me because I could not get any studying done while holding a 20 pound infant. At around 10 months, she was no longer sleeping peacefully. It was almost as if she couldn't get comfortable. I tried everything to get her back into her crib, as my life was falling apart because I could not keep up with my tasks. I even spent two nights sleeping with her in her crib-very uncomfortable but rumored to do the trick, it didn't. Then one night, out of the blue, she let me lay her in her crib and she slept for almost 11 hours! It seemed like she figured out that it was more comfortable to sleep alone, not having to listen to daddy snore all night. She has been back in her bed for 3 months now. However, she, too, only falls asleep at the breast. So, on rare occasion, I take her to bed with me so that I can get a few hours of sleep rather than stay up and nurse her to sleep. Our whole co-sleeping history has been more for my benefit. I get more sleep if I just give in and let her in my bed rather than stay up all night fighting to get her into her crib. The point to all of this is that I truly believe that my dd made the decision herself to stop co-sleeping. I don't think that any of my efforts impacted her decision at all. I think that all babies will transition in their own time. Have patience, your dd will eventually realize that she wants to be a big girl and sleep in her big girl bed. Good Luck!!

 From Gayesy ~ I agree that you are probably encouraging a habit, but it is certainly not a bad one in my opinion. Personally I think it is the most lovely when you allow the child to decide when to "move out", which could be anywhere from around two years up. Our child is four and still sleeps with us. We are all very happy with this arrangement.

It IS possible to have "private time" with your DH BTW. When baby is very young, many people are able to have intimacy in the same room and even same bed where baby is sleeping. Once they get older, many people find it works well to wait until baby is soundly asleep and then slip away quietly to some other room of the house. Where there's a will (and a bit of imagination and planning) there's a way.

If you aren't keen on long-term co-sleeping, then I have heard that the six month mark is a good time to try and get baby used to sleeping solo. If it is done very gradually and lovingly (not leaving baby to CIO), then it can be fine. You will probably find though that your baby is still nursing during the night until well over the age of one, so it might be easiest for you to get the rest you need if you have her right next to you.

 From AmyL ~ At 11 months my son started napping in the spare bedroom. By 13 months he was out of our bed and in his own full size mattress (directly laying on the floor) for half the night until he woke. At nearly 2 years the routine is still Jonathan falls asleep, Dad carries him up to his bed, half way through the night my DH gladly leaves me to sleep with our toddler (partly for the toddler and partly to get away from my snoring). We are plotting on about the same routine with our newborn, although he might just replace Daddy in my son's bed.

 From tjfun ~ I knew that posting here was just what I needed to do! Thank you all so much for your encouraging words. I do feel much better about the whole situation. I guess I was just apprehensive about actually sticking with co-sleeping because I never thought I would ever do it. Never say never. Emilíana is just one of those babies who doesn't sleep well unless surrounded by all who love her. I will talk to dh about making this a sort of long term arrangement and not one that we keep talking about ending soon. I am curious how he will truly feel about it. He always said he would never do this right along with me!

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 From Lenore ~ This is just another variant . . . we co-slept for the first 4-5 months, then around 5-6 months began a gradual, gentle transition. My ds still falls asleep in my arms, then we put him in his crib for the first part of the night. As soon as he wakes, we get him and bring him to our bed, where he spends the rest of the night. I keep the monitor turned way up, so I usually hear his little wake-up noises and am by his bed before he cries even once. At first, he woke up pretty early, but as he's gotten older that first stretch has gotten longer and longer. I feel that he'll eventually sleep most of the night in his own bed, but he will always be welcome into ours.

To me, this is the best of both worlds... I can snuggle with dh or just sprawl the first part of the night, then cuddle with my little fellow the rest. And I (or dh) only get up once, so I feel pretty rested.

Best of luck in your choice. As you can see from the variety of responses, every child and every family are unique, so you just have to figure what works for you.

 From abuddi ~ I sometimes wondered the same thing. But sometimes when dd is asleep in her crib and I'm just getting ready to go, I hope that she wakes up so I can bring her to bed with me. My family are CIO, and sleeping all night and all that so I really don't say anything around them. My mom told my SIL that she couldn't believe that my niece doesn't sleep through the night yet and she is almost two. I also had to inform my mom that breastfed babies do not sleep through the night like regular formula fed babies because the breastmilk digests easier than having formula lay in your stomach. She, of course, didn't know that. My dd is 15 months and still sleeps with me and I "plan" to wean her to a regular bed once she no longer wants to nurse during the night. We just have to see how it goes.

 From Marianne ~ Sam's 4 weeks, and he sleeps in the bed most nights. It's early days I know, but I'm not bothered. After 9 months of being all nice and warm and secure in the womb before they're born, I guess it's too much to expect them to immediately be happy to sleep in a crib all on their own! And it makes it much easier to breastfeed in the middle of the night! Which in turn makes for a better nights sleep for me!!

 From Raven ~ Ds still sleeps with Dh and I in our bed. It is a habit maybe, possibly but also as it's been said I don't think that it's a bad one. He is a year old and has started to fall asleep on his own every once in a blue moon. But he still has the hardest time staying asleep through the night. I play every night by ear and have been thinking about starting to move him to a bed of his own in our room but I'm going to try and wait until he's a little bit older and after the new baby is born and through the worst part of the early days. Having a nursing toddler and a newborn I'm going to need my sleep so Ds is going to stay in bed with me. I do leave him in the bed alone until either he needs me or I decide to go to bed.

 From BethAnne ~ At 6.5 months my granddaughter is just now allowing her parents to put her in her crib to sleep. Until now she's slept with them every night and would not allow them to put her down at nap time, either. I think she's slept in her crib for part of 3 nights now. She ends up back in their bed before morning. They are not in a rush to kick her out of their bed, but they think they will all sleep better if she has her own bed.

 From Cynmom ~ My family loves the closeness of the family bed. I can't imagine it any other way. It makes bedtime easier and waking time more fun for all of us. Many cultures do it and all the other mammals do it.

 From djk42 ~ We have two toddlers in our bed and I'm expecting again. Does that ease your fears? Someone at church last night said we should get a nanny after this one was born so that we could have time alone - oops, too late! At least it was a friend joking and not someone being rude. With a baby you can always move them after they have been sleeping 20 minutes or so and have the bed to yourself.

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