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Struggling with the co-sleeping decision

There has been a lot of blog and Twitter chatter lately about co-sleeping with a baby since the Milwaukee Wisconsin Health Department came out with this controversial ad. The co-sleeping debate is not new – there has always been those in support of co-sleeping, those against it, and those (like me) who are frankly confused and baffled about the whole thing.

Many would think that I fall naturally into the “pro” co-sleeping camp. I had a drug-free delivery, I own more than one sling, I breastfeed even though it’s the hardest thing in the world for me.  And I do – sort of. I support any mom and dad’s decision when it comes to their child and this issue of co-sleeping.

But I’m scared to death of SIDS. I mean really paranoid about it. And I know there is a difference between SIDS and smothering a baby but, in my mind, it is too closely related. So when Owen came home with us a month ago and would only sleep on or next to me I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have this issue with my daughter who always insisted upon her own sleep space.

So I made the decision to allow Owen to sleep next to me after his middle of the night feeding when he was having a hard time settling back down. I took all of the precautions co-sleeping supporters recommend. About this same time the ad came out along with news coverage of a handful of infant deaths resulting from co-sleeping. I admit – I let it scare me even though my rational side knew that these isolated incidents were only part of the story. I had to go to Twitter to hear the hundreds of stories of successful co-sleeping.

I honestly did not know what to do.

Then we lost power during Snowtober and I ended up sleeping on an air mattress (a co-sleeping no-no) for a week at my sister’s house. Owen slept in a bassinet that week. When we returned home, my husband pulled out the down comforter for our bed and I knew my days of co-sleeping at night were over. And it was a bit of a relief for me. Especially because my daily lack of sleep was making me sleep more soundly than before. And I was actually enjoying my own sleep space without constantly being on the “rolling over” alert.

Owen continues to sleep in a bassinet next to our bed snuggled up in his swaddle. My husband and I snuggle under our down comforter. We all get a sound sleep (save for my 2-3 nightly “breath” checks) and that’s what works for our family.

And, by the way, I think the ad is overboard but am glad that the debate is out in the public again because, as a new mom again, I like that there were best practices on co-sleeping (even for the week we did it). I would love to hear how you approach(ed) the co-sleeping dilemma.



  1. Brenda November 29, 2011 at 12:06 am

    I am in the exact same boat with you. Scared to death of co-sleeping. We had a lot of TV public service announcements in my state that made it even more scary, including one where the Dad comes in with the camcorder to record his wife and new baby on the couch, sleeping. . . the mom wakes up, but the baby does not. I just couldn’t co-sleep and we also placed the bassinet next to our bed.

  2. Mary November 29, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I’m a big believer in “do whatever works”. Yes, there is a potential for danger when you co-sleep with your baby. However, a parent who hasn’t slept in days because the baby won’t let them also presents a host of dangers as well due to inattention.
    With our first, we ended up co-sleeping on and off with him since it was the only way for anyone in our house to get ANY sleep. We’d reached the point we were too stupid to remember to put a diaper back on after a change or understand why we were so wet. Something needed to change before we got any worse. He now is four, survived co-sleeping, and happily sleeps in his own bed without issue. I don’t regret it. We did what we had to to survive.
    Our second son doesn’t have the issues our first did. And we don’t find ourselves as worried either (I don’t do breath checks. I sleep like a log). He sleeps in his bed or swing and there is no need to co-sleep.

  3. Saima November 29, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I think campaigns like this take a low road and rely on fear where they could be educating families about an issue that is 1) incredibly common and 2) a personal and cultural value. Most families outside the United States cosleep and don’t kill their children. It is possible to cosleep in a way that is safe, and , when done safely, cosleeping is correlated to lower rates of SIDS and higher breastfeeding success. There is a wealth of good information available through the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at Notre Dame.
    Safety guidelines
    And information for medical professionals
    My husband and I coslept with our son from the day he came home until he was about 9 months old (standing), and would not trade it for anything.

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    Cooking Mom December 1, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Thanks for the personal insights on this topic everyone and the links Saima. Education is key when it comes to parenting decisions. I entirely agree that it is a personal decision and families need to do what works best for their situation. We’ve already switched up our “routine” at 6 weeks and I’m sure it will change again as Owen continues to grow and we discover what works best for our and his needs.

  5. grace December 2, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    We decided not to co-sleep because I just could relax with my baby next to me (too anxious about turning around and sleeping on him), so bought a Chicco play yard and the MamaDoo Kids mattress topper and had our son sleep in our room next to our bed and it was wonderful. Everyone slept great!

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