Adventures in ending cosleeping

Small Town, Red State is very big into self-denial and pain when it comes to parenting.  If it isn’t difficult, you must be spoiling your kid with bad habits.  Especially when it comes to sleeping.  Of course, the bad habits for infants thing is just a myth from Western culture.  Our Babies Ourselves is an awesome book that explains these kinds of issues from an anthropological perspective and shows how sleep and other things happen in different cultures.  Modern western sleeping is very different than the rest of the world and the rest of time.

There’s also biochemical reasons new moms can’t bear to listen to their babies Cry It Out (CIO).  When the baby is is older the scream isn’t so painful, just annoying.  That’s kind of evolution’s way of letting you know that it’s ok to wait a bit.  (Sadly, moms who were CIO too young or neglected when they themselves were young infants can lose this biochemical connection with their own children.  PubMed can be depressing.  Note:  Experts recommend not doing CIO until the baby is at least 6 months old.)

At first I was terrified that my baby would die, so I would not allow cosleeping.  Hard surface with baby monitor (that had a lot of noisy false negatives) only.  Eventually baby fell asleep on dad’s tummy several times in a row and didn’t die, and I relented (also I read about SIDS and cosleeping from the Notre Dame sleep lab and found out we were ok).  We then coslept, which was awesome because I got to cuddle DC, and most importantly, I could nurse when ze got hungry without anybody waking up.  Ze would just grab for the breast and suck.  My sleep cycles matched hirs perfectly (except when routines changed like with growth spurts), and we all got nice amounts of sleep (absent growth spurts, tummy aches, teething etc.).  Eventually ze night weaned but we still coslept.

We transitioned from cosleeping to DC having hir own bed over the course of a week when DC was almost 3 (something like 2 years 9 months) and our bed got too small for the three of us.

It was super easy.  We used Super Nanny technique #2.  We explained to hir about hir own bed, did our bedtime routine (snack, bath, book, ze gets to stay in bed with book).  Night one, one of us laid next to hir.  Night two, one of us sat on the bed.  Night three, one of us sat in a chair next to the bed.  Night four, we moved the chair closer to the door.  Then each consecutive night we got closer to the door until the chair was out.  If ze got fussy, we moved a bit closer– always as far away as hir comfort level would let us.  And that was it.  No more cosleeping.

[Ed:  Update:  DH reminds me that he did one of the nights crouching over DC cuddling and that was moderately painful for him.  I did not have any contortionary problems during my night turns.]

Now ze is about to start kindergarten and does not want to sleep in our bed, does not want us to sleep in hir bed.  It’s funny how possessive ze is.  Occasionally ze comes in for cuddles on Saturday morning but that’s really it.  Even if one of us is traveling and the bed is free, ze just prefers hir own.

We do let hir fall asleep at night whenever ze wants to (sometimes with encouragement from us to turn the light out).  Ze can stay up and read in hir room as late as ze wants, so we don’t have the problem of bedtime delaying tactics.  Sometimes ze even turns hir own light out.

I think the folks with the 10 and 12 year old cosleepers (if they actually exist) are ones for whom cosleeping was always a forbidden treat.  We got lots of warnings about that in the delivery room.  DC is always welcome in our bed for cuddles, ze just prefers hir own.

So that’s the grumpy rumblings how-to on how to get your older cosleeper sleeping in hir own bed.  Totally stolen from Supernanny.   Just one more installment in the Grumpy Rumblings series, “We did everything they say you’re not supposed to do as a parent, mostly from laziness, and yet DC still turned out perfect.”  (See also:  baby food, guilt, potty training, daycare, etc.)

Were there any things you did as a parent that people told you would cause bad habits, but in the end didn’t?

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68 Responses to “Adventures in ending cosleeping”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    We didn’t start out with co sleeping and the kids slept in their cribs with no issue. We were congratulating ourselves a little too soon because but then when both the kids got out of the crib, they had the freedom to wander around at night and find us Eventually we did cosleep with both the kids. The oldest grew out of it naturally but he still has a habit of going to the bathroom at night and ended up in our bed. The weird thing is that he never slept in our bed when he coslept. He had a full sized bed, so one of us slept with him so the other didn’t get feet in their face.

    Mine are also thumbsuckers. That wasn’t a big issue either. Before pre-school started, my oldest wanted to quit but really needed a little help so we bought this nasty tasting nailpolish and he was off the thumb the first day we used it.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Back when we coslept, DC would never ever pee when asleep. Ze would always wait and pee as soon as ze woke up. We were so self-congratulatory– ze’s already night-trained! Apparently ze sleeps much deeper in hir own bed and is now much older and still mostly not night-trained.

      Pacifiers was another thing I didn’t really get… we have friends here who would freak out because their child wouldn’t take a pacifier and would force one on the kid until the child did… and then at that point it was time to get rid of the pacifier and they’d stress out about that too. I get using a paci if the child has a strong sucking impulse and doesn’t favor the thumb, but not just having a paci because kids are supposed to have pacis. (Our DC was so skinny, we always stuck a breast or bottle in hir mouth figuring ze could use the food.)

  2. Everyday Tips Says:

    I don’t know that the dislike of cosleeping is a ‘red state’ thing as much as generational. My inlaws almost had a heart attack when they found out my son had stayed the night in our bed.

    We did not cosleep, but mainly because our babies all did good in the crib and it all worked out. Plus, we had 3 kids pretty much right in a row and we wouldn’t have had any space or sleep.

    I never understood the whole CIO theory. I couldn’t stand hearing my babies cry. We did it once, and it was when my oldest was 6 months old and was giving up the pacifier. He cried 10 minutes one night and that was it. I think I cried longer. I also wanted to slap those people that would tell me I was spoiling my baby if I picked them up when they cried. I don’t know of any 3 week old, intentional manipulative babies. If I am really upset and crying, I want comfort and I am 43 years old. If I couldn’t talk and communicate what I was upset about, I would probably cry really easy too.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Cosleeping probably not, since there is the worry of SIDS (it’s only recently that evidence has come out that cosleeping reduces SIDS) and also cosleeping has a real risk of smothering with obese parents (which is a growing concern) but the general philosophy that “if it doesn’t hurt you, you’re destroying your kids” is definitely a red state thing, or at least not a coastal thing. AP is much more prevalent on the coasts and the blue Midwestern state we grew up in (at least near the city… DH’s family is in the red part of the blue state and there’s a lot of that attitude. Luckily his family also has the, “we will not discuss parenting unless asked” attitude. DH’s brother’s in-laws are much more pushy.).

  3. Perpetua Says:

    Sometimes I feel like a parenting anomaly, because I’ve never had anyone in my business about our choices for our kids. I guess my aunt (a top-level administrator at a hospital and a nurse) freaked out when she found out I was planning a water birth at a birth center for #1. But otherwise, nobody – friend, relative, random person on the street – has said boo to me about my parenting choices. I’m sure there’s judgment out there, esp among my family, but they keep their mouths shut (this is the biggest plus of having really uptight WASPy relatives who believe any personal question is an imposition). I know people get drive-by criticism all the time because I read about on the internet, but I’m pretty relieved never to have to listen to it myself. (Especially since the AP-ish sites I tend to frequent are all “CIO is child abuse” and I CIO’d both my kids, and I think they are misguided.)

    @Everyday – the thing about CIO is that babies are different. Some babies – maybe most – like to be soothed to sleep in various ways and can get to sleep and stay asleep that way. Most love cosleeping and sleep well that way, too, though they usually wake up a couple of times at night. If those things work for a family, awesomesauce. But some babies are easily overstimulated, don’t like to co-sleep, and actually kind of just want to be left alone on their own. It violates every AP tenant, but all I can say is this is true, some babies are like this, and I know because both mine were. #1 was adamantly not a cuddly baby, from the time he was wee. He flinched when we kissed him, and always wanted to be on his own, moving and independent. So that’s – at least for me – behind CIO. My babies needed/wanted to be left, so they never cried for long, and when they cried, they never sobbed, they just sort of talked/fussy cried for 15-20 minutes. Sleep training took 3 nights, and by the 3rd night they fussed for 5 minutes and proceeded to sleep through the night. (We did this with both at around 7.5 months.) Afterwards, they were *much* happier babies because they were better rested, and they started napping better too. Babies have so many different kinds of cries, and only some of them indicate “upset”. I had lots of experiences when I was walking around with a crying baby (4-6 months) desperately trying to soothe them, only to put them down in desperation or to do something very quickly, only to have the baby stop crying the instant ze was put down, because ze actually just wanted me to leave him alone. And at nighttime, I think their fussy crying meant “I’m so tired and I can’t sleep, and every time I try to settle you come in here and stimulate me all over again and it makes it even harder.” (as opposed to “I’m traumatized because I’m alone and scared and I need comfort immediately.”) Now, I don’t think that’s why or how most people use CIO – there is still a strong cultural belief, as NicoleandMaggie say, that babies “should” sleep through the night at a specific age and that you are “spoiling” or “ruining” them if you don’t “discipline” them. Which is an attitude that makes me very sad.

    I have to say, NIcoleandMaggie, we gave our #1 a paci (when he stopped being willing to be soothed on the breast – see above comment on hir personality) and it was mostly not a big deal, and then spiraled into an ordeal of bad habit when ze got older. After #2 was born, #1 needed more comfort so we let him have hir paci at times other than sleeping, and then ze became obsessed with it and it took FORever for us to wean hir off of it. Ze still chews on anything ze can get hir hands on – sometimes we even give hir the baby’s teethers (#1 is 3) to chomp.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Doing what works for you and your kids IS AP. Anybody who has a list of things you must do if you are AP is not actually AP. Even Dr. Sears says that not all babies like to cosleep, and forcing cosleeping if it isn’t working is not AP (and indeed, he and his wife did not cosleep with all of their babies).

      As we cautioned in the article, the recommendation for CIO among experts is not to do it before 6 months (and definitely not to do it before 4 months). Also, the methods recommended by Ferber are often not the methods that one sees recommended by certain groups of parents. (Personally I think if your child is crying so hard it throws up, you need to stop. And, when done inappropriately with a newborn, it has led to Failure to Thrive, which is child abuse, and other long term attachment issues. It might be better if well-meaning parents who didn’t want to actually read Ferber didn’t know about CIO at all.)

      Family has been good about not talking about our parenting choices. But there was about a year when I wanted to slug every single person I came in contact with whenever they asked the question, “So, is ze sleeping through the night yet?” Folks with babies always bring up sleeping habits first too. It’s like talking about the weather around here or something.

      • scantee Says:

        I disagree that “doing what works for your kids” is AP. AP has some core tenets (breastfeeding, co-sleeping, the importance to responding to your child needs, etc.) and while some individual APers accept that these practices won’t work for every child and every family at every time, they do still from the basis of the AP ideology.

        Like Perpetua, I’ve never experienced any judgment on my parenting practices in real life, I’ve only seen it in its internet form. The closest to judgment I’ve ever received was from my father who gave me a lecture about the importance of breastfeeding before my first was born. It was ridiculous though, getting schooled by a 60 year old man who formula fed his own children when I already planned to breastfeed, so it amused more than bothered me.

        The culture of our area and our peer group tilts strongly towards AP which sets a standard to push against much different from that of a red state. You’re likely to get more judgment for NOT co-sleeping or for using a pacifier than for doing the reverse. But, like I said, a combination of genuine friends and a mind your own business attitude in general means I’ve never received a single comment judging my parenting choices.

        Oh, and to the original topic, never really co-slept except for rare occasions. I was totally open to it but I turns out I hate it, it’s totally uncomfortable for me. Do all of you co-sleepers have king size beds? We have a queen and every time we co-slept I always ended up with a tiny sliver of bed halfway through the night. Maybe if we had more room I’d have found it less dreadfully uncomfortable and would have gotten more sleep that way.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Except that AP was coined and defined by one person, Dr. Sears. So he gets to define it. And he’s very specific in his books about how it is NOT a bucket list and cosleeping is not for everyone.

        Here’s the website definition from askdrsears: “Attachment parenting implies first opening your mind and heart to the individual needs of your baby, and eventually you will develop the wisdom on how to make on-the-spot decisions on what works best for both you and your baby.”

        Historically this version of AP was developed as a reaction to the more disciplinary self-denial parenting that is still prevalent where we live. Dr. Sears talks about that too in his book, and how he gradually changed his recommendations to allow mothers to be more inline with what their instincts tell them to do. It’s not meant to say, “you don’t cosleep, you’re bad” but “if you cosleep, that’s ok, there’s some advantages to that.”

        People who think it is some hardcore bucket list are not doing AP as defined by the person who coined it. They’re doing something else that is exactly at odds with the philosophy (and by doing so, distort the message and give folks a bad name). And yes, I used to tell them that on parenting forums. They’re just as bad as the red staters with their “spoil list.” And hardcore AP is not actually the weirdest most judgmental parenting philosophy out there on the blue-state front. Southern Californians come up with some crazy excrement.

        We did get a lot of comments in person about not using a paci. “She prefers her thumb, and you can’t lose a thumb,” I would lie, cheerfully.

        We have a queen-sized bed. DC tended to cuddle more with DH than me except when hungry, so it wasn’t cramped until ze got bigger.

      • Perpetua Says:

        Yeah, I agree with Scantee re: AP. I know you’ve said this about doing what works for you as the main AP tenant, but I see lots of hard core AP parents say the opposite, especially regarding CIO. I love me some Dr. Sears, but he says clearly in his sleep book that letting your baby cry is “traumatic” experience for the baby. I know these days people use the word “trauma” like it doesn’t mean anything, but many AP parents read things like this and think CIO=abuse. (Also, I don’t mean to quibble with you, but I think that failure to thrive *can be* a sign of child abuse, not de facto evidence of child abuse. I know babies who had medical problems, particularly relating to eating, that led to a diagnosis of failure to thrive when abuse wasn’t in the picture at all.)

        I totally agree with everything you say regarding ages and CIO. I just feel like people who don’t CIO often think of CIO as “just leave your baby alone in a room no matter how hard she cries for as long as it takes” which is not necessarily the case.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        ‘I just feel like people who don’t CIO often think of CIO as “just leave your baby alone in a room no matter how hard she cries for as long as it takes” which is not necessarily the case.’
        The problem is that it sometimes is the case, especially among folks who don’t actually read up on it before doing it. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. Even the definition of “sleeping through the night” has misinformation attached to it. (It doesn’t mean sleeping for 8 hour stretches like an adult.)

        Obviously failure to thrive can be caused by many things (like intestinal blockages) that have nothing to do with the parents, but it can also be caused by locking a newborn in a room for 12 hours at a time without responding to it. Which is not what CIO is supposed to be, but what some folks think it means. (See: early editions of Babywise.)

      • scantee Says:

        So a parent who formula feeds, cribs sleeps and does CIO can be an attachment parent if she decides this is the best way to respond to her baby’s needs? If APing is that wishy washy then what is its value as a parenting style/ideology? It seems like Sears wants it both ways; he (and his devotees) want to advocate for certain parenting practices while also deflecting criticisms of that stance by including a caveat that parents should do what they think is best.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Plenty of AP parents formula feed– not everybody can physically and many people who can physically do not have the support structures in place to do it. Sears has a chapter talking about how you can get some of the benefits of breast-feeding without actually breast-feeding, such as different ways of holding the baby and the use of a sling and other kinds of closeness. Crib sleeping is totally consistent with AP if baby and parents sleep well that way. Some babies and parents need more space, others need more closeness. CIO, if it does not cause the parent and child distress is also consistent. If it does cause the parent and child distress, then CIO is not consistent with AP. AP also makes the point that different babies are different and what works for one mother-baby dyad will not work for another mother-baby dyad and that is ok. Again, Sears illustrates this with examples from how some of his children were very different. He and his wife did not use the same items from that list with all of their children. This is all in The Baby Book in Sears’ own words.

        In much of the country it is still a deep secret if you cosleep, breast-feeding is looked down upon, and CIO is heavily pressured if not mandatory. The AP movement started out as a reaction to that (in the entire country, not just places like where I’m living now) to say, no, it is OK to listen to your instincts. It is OK to do what works for you. You cannot spoil an infant. It may be hard to realize how powerful that freedom is if you’re not living in a place that is completely at odds with what seems and feels right, but I can assure you it is not wishy washy. It is incredibly freeing to be able to say, “I am going to do what works for me and for my child and not what you say. I am not destroying my baby by making my own choices, but instead doing what is right for my child. My instincts are good because evolution made them that way.” That’s why the hardcore folks with their lists are (depending on the list) just as bad as the folks with the other lists. Dr. Sears is not promoting guilt, but some of these groups are. That gives AP a bad name.

  4. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    Modern western sleeping is very different than the rest of the world and the rest of time.

    Well, how about telling us a little bit about it!?

    (All this “ze” “hir” shitte really drives me berserk. Do people really think that specifying someone’s gender has so much disambiguating power that is worth these linguistic gyrations?)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      In our case, it’s trying to obfuscate identity. As in, make it a little more difficult for folks to figure out who the adults are.

      CPP– Our Babies Ourselves has an excellent chapter on that very subject. I strongly recommend you check it out and read it!

      • Comrade PhysioProf Says:

        So you consider it a realistic scenario that someone who wouldn’t figure out who you are if you use that “ze” “hir” glurge–and thus can’t tell what gender your child is–*would* figure it out if you reported the true (or false) gender for your child? I thought you and you are statistical experts or something?

        F*cke, man! How about some highlights??

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        That’s very silly. No, we’re keeping many things obfuscated. There’s a combination of items that would probably do it.

      • Comrade PhysioProf Says:

        But no one knows if you’re telling the truth or not! Just randomly randomize all the specific details about people you talk about, and then no one knows anything, but you don’t have to butcher the fucken English language! Thatte’s what I do, and itte works f*cken great!!!!!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        but it wouldn’t annoy you so much and where’s the fun in that?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Let me tell you a bit about the cultural sleeping thing I have data on: modern Mayan families in Mexico. They co-sleep the whole family. Babies co-sleep with parents until another baby comes along; at that point they’ll move into a bed with a sibling or cousin or grandparent. Sometimes multiple siblings or cousins will end up in bed with the parents, until they run out of room. Adults believe that having a child alone in a room is child abuse– they will be so lonely and feel so unwanted! Everyone shares beds, nobody gets their own. They believe that fostering interdependence is important, and feel that co-sleeping helps children learn to obey their parents because they have a tight bond.

      Does that help?

    • bethh Says:

      +1 for the dislike of “ze” & “hir” – I was thinking it might be worth a post to explain why you do it. I find it almost impossible to read a sentence with the odd pronouns – it really breaks my absorption of the information. I figure it’s to protect the identity of your child and/or the other adults you write about but even with that understanding I find it grating. :-) I tend to skim/skip the posts using it, unfortunately.

      I have friends who do some level of co-sleeping and I think it’s utter lunacy, but at least I keep my opinion to myself!

    • MutantSupermodel Says:

      Says the man famous for his own linguistic gyrations… F*cke thatte Shitte!!!

  5. Cloud Says:

    Oh yes, the dire warnings about cosleeping. We do partial night cosleeping (baby goes down in her own crib/bed, joins us on first wake up), and it works great for us. The transition of our now 4 year old to her own bed was completely painless. We did it when she was about 2. She has slept through the night in her own bed ever since.

    The baby is still cosleeping. In fact, we may switch to full night cosleeping, because when we do that, she sometimes sleeps through the whole night. (Even though she is not officially “nightweaned”- if she wakes up and wants to nurse, we nurse).

    Also, the dire warnings about rocking my baby to sleep. That is the only thing that worked with my first kid. When she got to big to be rocked, I had to lie next to her in bed and let her play with my hair while she fell asleep. Finally, when she was 3, we were able to change that routine. Also fairly painless.

    I don’t get why our culture is so upset with the idea of being gentle to babies and toddlers on the sleep front. I always figured it was perfectly normal for them to wake up and freak out if there wasn’t an adult near- for most of evolution, that meant DANGER!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We got the don’t rock warnings too. Later changes have always been more painless for us than earlier changes would have been. I’m totally on board with taking the lazy way out.

      • Cloud Says:

        Yeah, I’ve gotten much lazier with baby #2, and it has worked out well for us.

        Also- rocking a snuggly baby is NICE. As is getting snuggled by a preschooler at night (one of the few times she’s snuggly anymore). As long as I don’t start stressing about other things I should be doing, the long bedtime routines are a nice way to bond.

        Once I had that realization, I brainstormed a bit about how to make it less likely that I’d stress about the other things I need to do at night… and now I don’t usually mind bedtimes.

        Except for last night, when the 21 month old just would not go to sleep. She finally went down more than 2 hours after her usual bedtime. Woke up this morning at the normal time, happy as could be. WTF? (Actually, I know WTF, because she does this approximately ever 6 months, for a week or two. But it is still weird.)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        ah, developmental changes… keeping us up at night and messing with our routines…

  6. hush Says:

    “I think the folks with the 10 and 12 year old cosleepers (if they actually exist) are ones for whom cosleeping was always a forbidden treat.”

    Yes they exist, and I was (and am) one. I co-slept with my parents from birth until I was about 11 years old. Then we got a dog, so I left my parents’ bed and co-slept with my dog. Now I co-sleep with my DH, DS, and dog (our DD prefers to sleep alone). In my family of origin, co-sleeping was never “forbidden,” nor was it required. The kids were able to choose for themselves. Turns out I just really like to sleep with other people and/or animals. Fortunately, my parents respected my choices about sleep arrangements from an early age – that’s one thing they definitely got right.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      ok, how about corrected, “with 10 and 12 year old cosleepers who don’t want their children to be sleeping with them”

    • Jacq Says:

      I’m with hush – I just like sleeping with other breathing things in the bed and I like cuddling – dogs, cats, kids… My nieces and nephews would argue about who got to sleep with me when they were little and I would come to visit. I think the boys stopped asking when they were around 9 or so. Maybe it’s from growing up sleeping with my 2 sisters in a double bed but even in my 20’s, I’d sleep with friends if we were traveling. We’d put a pillow in between us though because apparently I cuddle when I’m sleeping and that was kind of creepy for them.

  7. MutantSupermodel Says:

    I let them sleep in my bed as babies and then moved them over at around 6 months. Now as older kids, sleeping in my bed is a major treat. It’s awesome with the older two. The youngest it’s still nightmarish because he’s so physically active, I don’t sleep well with him in my bed. When we were going through the separation, Daughter was having a rough time. Therapist suggested co-sleeping a bit now and then. It worked wonders and she went back to regularly sleeping in her bed on her own. I’ve said it once and I’ll probably say it a billion times. You’ve got to do what you’re ok with. You’ve got to do what lets YOU sleep at night (in this sense, literally I guess).

  8. Zee Says:

    I have done all of the various methods with our baby girl. Co-slept when she was an infant, crib next to bed, the no-cry-sleep solution, etc, you name it and I have read or tried it. I was totally against CIO, couldn’t stand the thought of not responding to her cries, but after 7 months of sleeping (at best) in 1.5 hr increments, then almost crashing my car on the way to work because I fell asleep at the wheel, I decided CIO was worth a try. It worked like a charm, after three nights with max 30 min of crying, she started falling asleep easily and sleeping for 4-5 hr stretches. Her naps got better too. Two months later this is still the case. I LOVE CIO, I feel like it saved my life and my sanity. I added up the total amount of crying (because I kept a log like a good nerd) and it came to 4 hrs in 3 nights. Considering how much she cried at night from her frequent wake-ups and refusal to fall back asleep I think she actually cried less with CIO. Also I totally agree that sometime after month 4 her cries went from painfully desperate to a gradient of ‘I am annoyed’ to ‘I really don’t like this’ and very rarely ‘I am freaking out and super scared’. The CIO cries for her were more of the ‘I am annoyed’ variety and much easier to tolerate.

  9. Molly On Money Says:

    My daughter slept with me until she was 3. I didn’t have space for a crib! It made sense (rule #1 of parenting, ‘do what makes sense to you’).
    I had a childhood friend that came over for a visit . Her son was one month younger than my daughter. When she entered my 700 sq ft studio she asked, so where do you all sleep? ‘In the bed’ I answered. ‘Both of you?!’ she replied. That’s when I realized I was doing something not everyone approved of.
    The other consideration most parenting books don’t take into account is what to do when you don’t have a separate room to put the kid. She mostly nodded off while I read my book next to her. I have to admit it was hard as she got older and still wanted me to sit next to her (for hours) as she fell asleep.

  10. prodigal academic Says:

    Not about co-sleeping, but I let our kids sleep in an infant swing until they got large enough to burn out the motors. Neither one would sleep more than an hour at a time any other way. Going from 1 hour to 2 hours at a time was sheer bliss, and when that moved to 4-5 hours at a time, we were psyched beyond belief. We kept the swing in the same room as us, and I woke whenever the “woosh woosh” noise changed (usually due to low battery). And yet, our kids somehow learned how to sleep while not in motion, defying the warnings.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      It’s amazing how that happens. Somehow they end up going to college potty trained and sleeping in their own non-swinging beds.

      Hm… .that last sentence came out a bit differently than I’d meant…

  11. Rumpus Says:

    At first glance I thought you wrote, “Note: Experts recommend not *checking PubMed* until the baby is at least 6 months old.”

  12. bogart Says:

    We did OK on the co-sleeping stuff, though I did have a (well-intentioned and basically lovely) co-worker advise me that we were dopes to let DS sleep (in his crib) in our room until he was 15 months old because when we moved him, we’d have trouble (he’d stop sleeping through the night). Actually, that turned out to be the point at which he gave up his last middle-of-the-night wakeup and started (truly) sleeping through the night, so there you go. And we didn’t co-sleep tons mostly b/c we were still in a double bed at that point and it was too small(ish) but we did some, and that was fine.

    I’ve been a tad perplexed at how quickly people seem to want/expect babies/children to “graduate” from things. My DS slept in his crib until he was 3.5 years old, for example, because he slept there fine and stayed in it (I do know many kids that age won’t). I am of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of parenting (and life), so we stuck with what was working until he really, truly was getting too big for the crib. He was thrilled to move to a big bed, but hadn’t been sad/mad about not being in one. Similarly he still starts many days (now at 4!) with a warm bottle of milk because, eh, why not? I don’t worry he’s going to go off to college with it (his bottle), as you say above. I do know many families move older children “off” stuff because newer arrivals need it, but we haven’t been blessed with a second, so why not let this one keep what he likes and is familiar with? I’ve done the same thing with sippy cups (though my mom, among others, insists that DS use a real cup in her house) because you know what? They’re darned hard to spill — what’s not to like? So I’ve here had the advantage that someone else (mostly) has taught DS how to use a real cup, while I just wait until the problem (spilling) is mostly outgrown.

    I will say I’ve got one of the more easy going kids on the planet, as far as I can tell (as long as he’s allowed to stay in motion 12-14 hours every day, that is), so I definitely don’t imagine this is “all me,” but mine does seem to move pretty readily into what we need him to do when it’s necessary, and to be content with things “as they are,” when we don’t. For which I am thankful every single day.

  13. icee Says:

    Cosleeping is NOT okay, from a SIDS standpoint. Bedsharing (what most people call “cosleeping”) is associated with increased SIDS risk. Sleeping in the same room as the baby (not sharing a sleeping surface) is associated with reduced SIDS risk. Pacifier use also reduces SIDS risk. The current recommendation from the AAP (based on the most current research) is to sleep in the same room as the baby, with the baby by itself on its back (not side) on a firm surface with no loose bedding or toys, using a pacifier.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I used to think that too. I suggest you read the work by James McKenna. The AAP is behind. There’s some very interesting findings on how the baby’s breathing and heartrate match the parent’s.

      Cosleeping is contra-indicated for some people. Obsese parents have a greater risk of child death with cosleeping, for example.

      • icee Says:

        I am very familiar with SIDS research, and the AAP is not “behind”. McKenna’s conclusions are simply NOT supported by the data.

        The current AAP policy statement was reaffirmed in 2009, and new data since then also support the risk of bedsharing.;116/5/1245

        Here’s some literature on bedsharing and SIDS you could read if you’re interested in knowing about the risk.

        Baddock, S. A., et al. (2006). Differences in infant and parent behaviors during routine bed sharing compared with cot sleeping in the home setting. Pediatrics, 117(5), 1599–1607.
        Blair, P. S., et al. (1999). Babies sleeping with parents: case- control study of factors influencing the risk of the sudden infant death syndrome. CESDI SUDI research group. BMJ, 319(7223), 1457–1462.
        Carpenter, R. G., et al. (2004). Sudden unexplained infant death in 20 regions in Europe: case control study. Lancet, 363, 185–191.
        Fu LY, Moon RY, Hauck FR. Bed sharing among black infants and sudden infant death syndrome: interactions with other known risk factors. Academic pediatrics. 2010 Oct.;10(6):376-382.
        Kattwinkel, J., et al. (2000). Changing concepts of sudden infant death syndrome: implications for infant sleeping environment and sleep position. American Academy of Pediatrics. Task Force on Infant Sleep Position and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Pediatrics, 105(3 Pt 1), 650–656.
        McGarvey, C., et al. (2006). An 8 year study of risk factors for SIDS: Bed-sharing vs. non bed-sharing. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 91(4), 318–323.
        McGarvey, C., et al. (2003). Factors relating to the infant’s last sleep environment in sudden infant death syndrome in the Republic of Ireland. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 88(12), 1058–1064.
        Ostfeld BM, Esposito L, Perl H, Hegyi T. Concurrent risks in sudden infant death syndrome. Pediatrics. 2010 Mar.;125(3):447-453.
        Ruys, J. H., et al. (2007). Bed-sharing in the first four months of life: a risk factor for sudden infant death. Acta Paediatrica, 96(10), 1399–1403.
        Tappin, D., et al. (2005). Bedsharing and sudden infant death syndrome in Scotland: a case control study. Journal of Pediatrics, 147(9413), 32–37.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        According to SIDS: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding and Preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, there are many studies showing that decreases SIDS as well, in addition to good mechanisms for the reduction. SIDS isn’t yet completely understood, but the current theories on how it happens support cosleeping as a mechanism for decreasing it.

        I have not read all the individual studies so I cannot comment on the quality of their research design but I have read meta-studies that I found to be convincing. The McKenna studies I have read and do agree with their methodology. There’s also correlational evidence between cultures that cosleep having much lower SIDs rates, though of course those cultures are different in other ways as well.

        And cosleeping *is* contraindicated if the parents are obese, if the sleeping surface is not hard, if parents drink alcohol, smoke, or take drugs, and so on. With baby monitors widely available and a population growing in girth it may seem safer for them to recommend the mechanistic solution to Americans.

        The AAP is definitely behind the times on baby feeding recommendations. They’re not the end all and be all.

      • icee Says:

        I’m not arguing that the AAP recommendations are correct because they are from the AAP. I’m arguing that they’re correct because they are firmly founded in the SIDS literature, with which I am very familiar because of my line of work.
        The book to which you refer, “SIDS: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding and Preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome” was written by William Sears, so it is not surprising that he would speak only in support of AP, including bedsharing. He is not known for his openness to evidence that would lead to recommendations that interfere with AP. He is also not an expert on SIDS.
        I am also very familiar with the hypothesized mechanisms for SIDS and what we do and do not know about SIDS, down to the molecular level. The “current theories” do NOT support cosleeping as a mechanism for decreasing it, but perhaps you can direct me to some current studies that I may have missed.
        The McKenna studies are not very new and do not agree with the balance of the SIDS research. I am not necessarily saying they are flawed, I am just saying that there is a LOT of other research, and it simply doesn’t support McKenna’s conclusions.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        If you look at more recent research (a quick glance at publicized studies from 2009), it is heavily focused on the findings that babies are more likely to die of SIDs while cosleeping on couches, cosleeping when the parents smoke, and cosleeping when the parents drink. Those are all contraindicated. The SIDS book may be by Dr. Sears but it does point out that there is plenty of one-sided research the other direction as well.

        There is a lot of research on this subject (going both directions) but I would venture to say nothing conclusive other than that cosleeping while you are under the influence, obese, a smoker, or on a soft surface is a bad idea. That’s a bad idea for smothering reasons too. So is putting a baby in a crib with a soft mattress, a bumper, and blankets.

      • icee Says:

        Yes, those things you list are all ADDITIONAL risk factors. That has been known for a long time. If you bedshare and have one or more of those other risk factors, it’s even worse. But bedsharing is, in and of itself, a risk factor. Even for rich, thin, healthy, white, sober, non-smoking parents sleeping with their babies on a firm mattress.

        There IS a lot of research on this subject, the overwhelming majority of it going in one “direction”: that bedsharing is contraindicated for everyone.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        “Even for rich, thin, healthy, white, sober, non-smoking parents sleeping with their babies on a firm mattress.”
        Which study of the ones you’ve listed shows that? (Because the ones I’ve been looking at all find nothing once those factors are controlled for.)

  14. becky Says:

    I very much enjoy reading a post with a somewhat balanced approach to the practices that comprise AP, especially co-sleeping and sleep training. I wholeheartedly agree that letting a newborn cry is neglect, but it irks me when hardcore anti-CIO types argue that it is child abuse for older babies. There is an equal amount of published research that indicates that if done properly “controlled crying” does not have longterm adverse effects. But as you suggest the age of the baby is key. I highly recommend the book *Bedtiming* by Granic & Lewis, developmental psychologists workng here in Canada. They suggest that it is not so much the method you use, but the developmental window in which you apply it. They provide a highly accesible account of the reseach on infants’ emotional and cognitive developement and propose certain periods when you are more likely to have success with making sleep changes. For those who may be curious 5.5 – 7.5 months and 12-15 months are the most ideal times, and windows NOT recommended are 8 – 11 months and 17- 21 months. I can personally testify that these are pretty much spot on! The also provide a critique of the ways in which AP seems to be (wrongly) conflated with attachment theory in psychology (a la John Bowlby), when in fact there is no scientific relationship between the two.

    The only point I disagree with you on is the throwing up bit. I am not a sadist, but I am not so sure that throwing up is always a sign of severe distress. Infants and toddlers have a much stronger gag reflex and get sick so much more easily than we do. I am not suggesting that it is a pleasant expereince, but I think if it happens once it is not the worst thing in the world. When my child has a cold he will throw up from even a mild coughing fit, and it seems to freak me out much more so than it does him. On a funnier note his reaction to sleep training was to poop rather than to throw up. Once when he went to sleep after a small amount of crying I went in to check on him and of course knew instantly from the smell that I would have to then get him up and change him, only to start all over again…

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I know about the gag reflex thing…

      But I also know the act of throwing up itself is pretty traumatic. Not to mention messy.

      • doctorbecky Says:

        ah well, maybe it is just my little guy then. he literally just opens his mouth and out it comes -as if he were saying “hello”! the lack of warning has resulted in some pricey carpet cleaning bills chez nous, to date.

        and i forgot to add that we are now back to part-time/half-night co-sleeping at 21 months so i am bookmarking this post for when it is time to work on ending that…

    • hush Says:

      I loved “Bedtiming,” too, and found it spot-on. Dr. Isabela Granic used to keep a really great blog, too, but alas, she hasn’t posted in a long while:

    • Cloud Says:

      I love that book. I use it for more than just sleep. Turns out a lot of things are harder to mess with during certain developmental periods….

      On the safety of cosleeping/bedsharing… our compromise was to use a separate cosleeper until the baby was 6 months old. Then she went in her crib for a while, until we got sick of going down the hall to get her several times/night. At about 8 months, we started partial night cosleeping. Or bedsharing, I guess. By that time, she was big enough that the chances of one of us accidentally squashing her seemed vanishingly small. Now, at 21 months, she moves me around in bed quite effectively.

      And someone up there asked about the size of the bed. We have a queen. No room for a king. (Or a crib in our bedroom, before anyone suggests that as a better solution than bedsharing).

  15. becky Says:

    Hi again – Don’t want to be annoying, but I had to chime in again on the recent safety of co-sleeping points. The Canadian Pediatric Society takes what they call a “harm reduction” approach in their official guidlines. In addition to the points about not being a smoker, being under the influence of alcohol, breastfeeding is another one of those key protective factors that can grealty reduce any potential risk of SIDS associated of co-sleeping (especially for newborns). Another point that is sometimes missed is that co-sleeping is much safer when it is with Mom – a partner who is not the birthing parent may not have that same alertness to baby’s movements and wakings.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Sounds like the Canadian Pediatric Society agrees with James McKenna’s theories. ;)

      • icee Says:

        From the Canadian Pediatric Society Position Statement: “Recommendations for safe sleeping environments for infants and children” (reaffirmed Feb 2011):

        “No sleep environment is completely risk-free, but much can be done to educate parents on the provision of safer sleeping environments for their infants. The advice given must be guided by the available evidence-based data, which indicate that when infants sleep in their own crib, they are significantly safer than when they bedshare. Based on the available scientific evidence, the Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that for the first year of life, the safest place for babies to sleep is in their own crib, and in the parent’s room for the first six months. However, the Canadian Paediatric Society also acknowledges that some parents will, nonetheless, choose to share a bed with their child… Infants should sleep on their back, in cribs meeting the Canadian Government’s safety standards. This is the recommended sleeping arrangement for the first year of life, under all circumstances… Parents should also be aware that room-sharing is protective against SIDS and that this type of sleeping arrangement is a safer alternative to bedsharing. This may be particularly appealing to mothers who breastfeed and want their baby to be near them without sharing the same bed surface… The recommended practice of independent sleeping will likely continue to be the preferred sleeping arrangement for infants in Canada, but a significant proportion of families will still elect to sleep together.”

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        And it’s interesting on how the US AAP report is actually pretty measured…

        “Bed sharing between an infant and adult(s) is a
        highly controversial topic. .. [discussion of benefits]…epidemiologic studies of bed sharing have shown that it can be hazardous under certain conditions… [discussion of suffocation risks].. Some of these studies
        have found the correlation between death and bed
        sharing to reach statistical significance only among
        mothers who smoked … [discussion of studies finding risks among non-smokers] …The risk of SIDS
        seems to be particularly high when there are multiple
        bed sharers and also may be increased when
        the bed sharer has consumed alcohol or is overtired… It is extremely hazardous when adults sleep with an infant
        on a couch…[discussion of findings on age and duration]… [discussion of benefits of room sharing]” ending with an overall recommendation to keep your infant in your room but not bed.

        It’s actually a pretty measured discussion, and really does not come down as completely condemning bed-sharing under certain conditions, just recommends against it. Given that folks can buy arms-reach cosleepers for infants, which is what is recommended by everybody as it has the benefits of bedsharing without the risks… perhaps that would be a better recommendation than “if you cosleep you’re putting your child at risk.” Though, of course, it is true that crib injuries and deaths are a major hazard as well, with many of the same contraindications as for bedsharing. (Yet companies are still allowed to sell crib products that could suffocate or strangle a baby.) Whatever you do you’re putting your infant at risk.

  16. Sandy H Says:

    Cosleeping is such a crazy topic. We coslept with our first- now 5.5 yr old and she still comes to our bed almost every single night.
    Our son slept in his very own crib- making vacations without the pack n play difficult because he couldn’t sleep unless it was totally dark and quiet in his own room, no sleeping with anyone there… Until we moved. Now we can’t get him out of our bed either. It’s been a year! I just want to sleep without waking up because someone has wedged themselves under me while I was slumbering- or kicked off all MY covers in the process of kicking off their covers.

  17. Lindy Mint Says:

    I just have to say, I love Supernanny. She provided many useful tips for this clueless new mom.

    We shared a room with both of our babies for most of their 1st years. With our first, it was because we were in a one bedroom apartment. With our second, because he was to share a room with his brother who was a light sleeper. I loved having them in our room, it took away a lot of the worry of SIDS too, since I could wake up and see them breathing and all. I couldn’t really do co-sleeping, just because I could never fall asleep with them in our bed. I’m a picky sleeper.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Supernanny is awesome! It’s funny how here she’s considered too liberal (there’s nothing a good thrashing/thumping/etc won’t fix), but in So-Cal she’s considered harsh and terrible because time-outs are cruel and unusual punishment.

  18. You don’t have to sleep train « Grumpy rumblings of the half-tenured Says:

    […] found on the internet that could get the child protective services called in on them).  [Note:  ending co-sleeping with an older […]

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