Co-sleeping Or Independent Sleeping With kids.
I suppose this is that one option that every new parent tries to figure out. But I will tell you a secret, it is OK to choose either.
Google will list the pros and cons for each method. Here’s my experience. Being a mother of two, I got the opportunity to try both co-sleeping as well as independent sleeping.
When my first baby was born, the paediatrician came to our room once I had recovered from labour enough to stay awake. He talked at length about how to care for our newest member in the family. Finally, he warned us against co-sleeping with my baby at all cost. He advised to let my baby sleep in a baby-cot in a separate room and to allow my baby to cry out a bit before picking him up.
The doctor’s reasons were sound
- Co-sleeping can be dangerous and fatal for the baby. An exhausted mother (as all new mothers often are) can be a dangerous mother. She may not realise but in deep sleep she may harm her own baby.
- Letting the baby cry-out a bit before picking them, allows them the time to learn self soothing.
Later that night, at the hospital, my baby decided to keep the entire ward awake. No matter how we swaddled our barely few hours old boy, or how much I fed him, he just refused to settle in the hospital crib. Finally, the on call paediatrician was called and she simply asked me to lay my baby next to me and let him sleep with me. She asked to set an alarm for every 2 hours to mark the feed time and make sure that my son had a clean diaper at all times. She asked me to follow my instinct more than anything else.
Since that day my son, has not slept anywhere but near me all snuggled up. He never cried at night, he slept through the night and our bond is stronger than I ever hoped it would be.
Now, lets fast forward to the birth of my beautiful baby girl. She like her brother came to me through normal delivery. And just like her brother’s paediatrician, her doctor repeated the very same set of advices about baby care and sleep habits.
On the first night of her life, my baby girl slept in her crib only to come to me for feeds. Since, I was too exhausted from all the pain and blood loss, I didn’t complain. On the second night, she slept next to me just like her brother and that’s when the realisation dawned on me that I had become a mom again. This was the moment, I truly bonded with this tiny miracle and surprise. On the third day we returned home and as night fell our dilemma rose. Who would sleep with me, my new born or my two-year-old toddler who had been waiting for me since last three days? That night and for many more nights thereafter, I slept like a sandwich.
Needless to say, this sleeping arrangement was not working out for me. I used sleep straight sandwiched between both my kids. I woke up every 2-3 hours to feed my daughter and every time I woke up, my son tightened his grip on me. Finally, my husband set his foot down and forced me to start using the cot we had bought for our baby. For the next 7 or so days, my husband and my son slept in a separate bedroom while my daughter slept in her cot and I slept on our family bed alone and finally free.
So, what was my learning from this? Well, the answer is simple. Every child is different and it’s up to the parent to choose their course of action based on their circumstances. If I had to list them, it would be as
- Each child is different and they will guide you to what suits their personality the best. Observe which method allows you and you baby to deep sleep most peacefully.
- There are a lot of differences between the personalities of my son and my daughter.My son, who is a co-sleeper, is an emotional and sensitive child. He achieved all his milestones on time and shows high emotional quotient even at his young age. His IQ is also above average for his age. He shows a clear preference for numbers and logic.My daughter who sleeps in her cot is more independent and resilient. She achieved most of her milestones ahead of her time. When she walked at seven months, the doctor asked us to prepare to raise a high IQ child. We have had to be really careful of her diet ever since.
- As per existing research there is no major impact on personality or development of a child because of the sleeping arrangement. As long as the baby gets enough hours of sleep recommended in a day, they will be fine.
- Emotionally, I see no difference in either of my kids. They adjust in new environment well. They make friends fast. They enjoy each other’s company too. They love to spend time with me and their dad/Entire Family when we are available. They both don’t mind sharing. They both show empathy where the situation demands it. For their age, they are both developing exactly as required by the standards set by science.
New moms please know this and believe it when I say ‘Your kid loves you no matter how you choose to raise them’.choose any sleep cycle or bedtime routine, Co-sleeping or Independent sleeping will not change the amount of love your kid feels when they look at you. Give them loads of cuddles, hug them during day and they will be just fine.
A few precautions to keep in mind
- Make sure that you are not a heavy sleeper. Meaning, you are not someone who goes into deep sleep very quick. If you are a deep sleeper, I suggest let your child sleep independently.
- Avoid keeping the baby in between two adults. Rather add the cot with one side bar down, as an extension to your bed and let your baby sleep there. If you don’t have a cot, then move the bed so that its touching the wall from one side or invest in bed railing to avoid baby from falling from the bed.
- Make sure that blankets are not bulky and at any given time, your child is not completely under blanket. This is especially important during the winters when new mothers have the urge to keep the kid under blanket. Instead, let them wear full rompers with hand covers made from thick fabric. If the weather is chilly, use a room heater just to keep the room temperature bearable.
- Do not swaddle your baby if you are co-sleeping. Swaddle limits baby’s movement and just in case god forbid, if by chance your arm is on the baby while she is swaddled, it may lead to disaster. While co-sleeping, you want your child to learn self preservation as soon as possible. If the baby can wiggle and move, it would help you to stay careful too.
- Do not place pillows under baby’s neck and avoid using pillows for yourself too.
- Make sure that the baby is sleeping on the back rather than side ways.
- Keep the cot clutter free. No snugly soft toys that can fall on babies face during sleep and suffocate.
- No blankets and definitely no loose covers. Always use fitted cot sheets for the baby cot. For chilly weather, the advice remains the same as that for co-sleeping. Full warm rompers/swaddles with a room heater away from the baby cot.
- If you are using a pillow, then make sure it’s a rice/mustard filled one and not the regular ones we use for adults. Rice pillow helps with baby’s head formation and since its heavy, it doesn’t move a lot. Hence is safer.
- Always return the baby to their cot even after late night feeds. To inculcate the habit of independent sleeping, it is absolutely essential to follow this rule.
- From personal experience, I suggest keep the baby cot in the same room as yours. Though you may choose to let your baby sleep in a separate room right from the start. In later case, I suggest, invest in a good baby monitor with night video option to ensure baby’s safety at all times.
So go ahead and enjoy your motherhood the way you feel most comfortable and natural. This is your journey and only you and your partner can decide how to make the best of it.
In the long run, it won’t matter if you co-slept with your baby or not. The thing that matters the most is weather you were present for your child when they needed you. Trust me, there is no dearth of those moments. Be safe, be present and most of all, enjoy every moment of their childhood because time is a thief and before you realise, this moment will be a memory.
Richa is a professional photographer at Fingly-Family Moments by Richarts Photography by day and a blogger by night. She is a doting mother to two beautiful children. She loves to travel, read and sometimes binge watch series on Netflix.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mom Store.