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The Mommy Chronicles: The Art of Co-Sleeping

20 Sep 2016 Marlena Rice

When my three-year-old son was first born, my husband and I decided against buying a bassinet to place in our bedroom, in large part because we were gifted with a great crib from my mother-in-law. However, when it came down to his falling asleep, and me having to actually leave him alone in his crib – well, I struggled. His bedroom was located directly across the hall, in full view from my master bedroom, but it seemed extremely far away. What if he cried and my husband and I didn’t hear him? What if he rolled over and suffocated in his pillows?

These are just two of the thoughts that created the co-sleeping monster I’ve become over the past three years.

I think it’s safe to say that my son slept in his crib a total of less than five times – and four of those times were likely during daytime hours for brief naps. As soon as he cried, or whimpered for that matter, I was straight out of bed and just a few minutes later happily in mine, with the little nugget snug between by husband and myself. A couple of rolls off the bed and a screaming call to my OB-GYN later (I have no idea why she was the first person I called), I’ve learned that accidents happen, and while we want to do everything in our power as parents to prevent them, babies and small children are awesomely resilient. Thank. Goodness. 

Now, I have a child who grabs my hand when he’s tired, saying, “Mama, let’s go to bed in our room,” as he makes his way to the master bedroom, much to his Daddy’s dismay. I’ve vowed that if a little brother or sister is welcomed into the family down the line, it will be imperative for me to finally consider a bassinet option for some of the time – for Daddy’s sake, safety’s sake and the sake of my back. 

Or, maybe we will finally just talk Daddy into a California king-sized bed…

While I’m obviously an advocate of co-sleeping for nurturing and comfort of our babies, I honestly didn’t think it was generally widely accepted as a “good” thing. Some countries, like Japan for example, have parents who often sleep in close proximity to their children until they are teenagers! In the U.S., many of us report that our children sleep in the rooms we’ve prepared for them. But upon further questioning, many moms admit to sleeping with their babies most nights in very close proximity. According to my recent research on the benefits of co-sleeping with our children, I discovered that my hard-to-let-go mommy nature has had some good benefits for my little man. 

Infants and children who co-sleep generally tend to… 

 

  • Be startled less throughout the night, resulting in fever nighttime crying episodes;  
  • Have fewer long pauses in breathing during the night, more stable temperatures and regular heart rhythms; 
  • Grow up with higher self-esteem; 
  • Be more comfortable with affection; 
  • Have a lower risk for SIDS; 
  • Breastfeed without having to fully wake, resulting in more rest; 
  • Have time to re-establish important emotional, familial bonds with parents they don’t see as much during the day;  
  • Be in close enough proximity to a parent in case a crisis occurs.

In my case, co-sleeping started out as my wanting to feel closer to my little man, giving me easy access to kisses and cuddles after a long day at work, and his long day in childcare away from us. It’s good to know now that he’s received great benefit on his end of the deal, too.

Marlena Rice is a local mom and author. Her new book, “Pacifiers, Flatbeds and Barn Wood Thingamajigs, a ‘Come to Jesus’ Guide for the New, Southern Mom,” will be available on Amazon.com soon. Follow Marlena on Instagram at marlena_rice.

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