Co-sleeping can be really helpful when your baby is young, but extended co-sleeping can lead to many familial problems.
When my son was born we had him in a Moses basket pulled up right to the side of our bed. But after having had him so close for 9 months, that Moses basket now seemed like miles away. Was he breathing? Was he okay? HOW DID THAT BLANKET GET ON HIS FACE?!
It was stressful to say the least. Not to mention how awkward it was having to reach over and bringing him closer for feeding – with a c-section wound. So he ended up co-sleeping with us. Not only did I sleep better having him close, but feeding was so much easier.
Read more: When co-sleeping happens by accident
But 3 years later, this arrangement is no longer convenient, especially for me. Being 7.5 months pregnant is already no fun and uncomfortable, so having a toddler kick you in the back or smack you in the face while he sleeps is really pushing me to my limit.
The night he physically kicked me out of my own bed was the night I decided that Mister was moving to his own bed because no more!
My husband, however, is still okay with this sleeping arrangement and why shouldn’t he be? He’s not the one who my son wants in the middle of the night (but bless his cotton socks he does try to help, our son just wants no part in it).
There's research to prove my madness
And there seems to be research to back me up. Penn State researcher, Doug Teti (who coincidently also co-slept with all 3 of his kids), led a study in which they set up cameras in the bedrooms of 139 Pennsylvania couples. He was surprised to learn that parents who co-slept beyond 6 months showed signs of stress, especially the mothers.
The study found that these moms had “experienced more fragmented sleep” (yes), “reported less satisfaction in their marriages” (not really), and “in how well they and their partners were working together as parents” (thank God, no).
The study also reported that “notably, co-sleeping did not seem to disrupt the fathers’ sleep” (very true).
Co-sleeping hasn’t affected our lives too negatively though. My husband and I are in a pretty good place both relationship- and parentingwise. And communication is crucial there, I think. While I am sleeping pretty poorly, at least one of us is sleeping well enough to be logical. But we check in with each other often and make time for each other too. We were friends before we were parents.
Dr Teti agrees. He says, “For co-sleeping to work well for a family, communication is the key." When deciding where the baby should sleep, he continues, couples should ensure that “both members are on board, and they’re doing what they can to promote their own relationship in other ways.”
How has co-sleeping affected your family life? Send us your thoughts to email@example.com.