Note: Fargo Mom understands that all moms make different choices based on what works best for their family. Our writers have a variety of experiences we plan to share in the coming months, including the positive experience of co-sleeping.
The other night, I laid in bed next to my husband who was reading a book by lamplight while I was streaming a documentary on my phone. And I was just so stinkin’ happy. It was so normal (some would say lame) and blissfully uneventful. I thought at that moment, “I am so glad our toddler isn’t co-sleeping with us right now.”
I have many friends who happily share their bed with their children; some who swear co-sleeping is the only way they survived various stages of early parenthood. Of course, I won’t criticize anyone’s choice to co-sleep and the successes and joy they have experienced. Every parent makes choices for what is best for their family.
But what I can do is share why I have no regrets for keeping our bed a kid-free zone.
Everyone is getting a good night’s rest.
Sleep is important for everyone’s overall well-being. My husband and I are more comfortable in our queen-size bed without our son in it. When we are more comfortable we get better sleep, which allows us to be better spouses and better parents for our son.
Our son gets better sleep, too. As a newborn, he started co-sleeping in the same room with us in a bassinet near our bed. We felt this was the right choice for us and our pediatrician advised that having him close by would be beneficial for successful breastfeeding and for safety. He was a pretty big baby, though, and when he was approaching the weight limit of his bassinet, we decided to move him to a crib in his own room. Luckily, it was a smooth transition. He had already been napping in his crib during the day, so sleeping in there at night didn’t seem to phase him.
My husband and I are freer to connect with one another as a couple.
Yes, obviously that includes sex. But neither our bed nor the bedroom is required for intimacy. It is more about the time we can spend in bed together as we go through our routine, settle in for the night, discuss our day, and relax alongside one another. We come and go in the bedroom, talking and turning on lights whenever we want. We aren’t tiptoeing around a sleeping kid now sprawled out in the bed.
Our son is more independent.
I believe establishing a sleep routine and a space for him to call his own has helped our son be more independent. Converting his crib to the toddler bed when the time came helped, too. I think a transition to a whole other bed could have been a more disruptive change. When he was two years old he experienced some restlessness and would randomly wake up at the wee hours of the morning ready for the day. We got him a nightlight that has different colors and sounds set to a timer to help him learn when to sleep and when to wake up. It has really helped create a stable routine for sleep. That makes us all happier.
Better yet, he has never really suffered from significant separation anxiety and is able to confidently adapt if we aren’t there when he goes to bed. When my husband and I go out on a date in the evening, our son is able to fall asleep when the babysitter puts him down for the night. Or if my husband and I go on a weekend getaway and the grandparents are in charge, he still has his routine and is able to sleep in his own bed.
We can make exceptions.
Because our son can independently sleep, it also creates flexibility for exceptions. There have been times we co-sleep with him when it was safe. The exceptions occur most frequently when we travel, and primarily after he outgrew his travel crib. When we visit family there isn’t always another bedroom or bed for him to sleep in, so we sleep together. Last summer, visited family over the 4th of July and it got chilly in the camper we were sleeping in. So, naturally, we snuggled to stay warm.
I am a member of the “you-do-you” club. There are so many decisions we have to make every day as parents and I want everyone to find what works for them. It just so happens that deciding not to co-sleep was the best choice for us, and I have no regrets.