This blog loves co-sleeping and breastfeeding. We love nursing to sleep. We love wearing our babies to sleep. We love cuddling our babies to sleep.
Jamie wrote here about co-sleeping. Co-sleeping is safe. Just like in a crib, there are certain steps that need to be taken to make a baby’s sleep environment safe. In a crib, there should be no bumpers or blankets – only a flat sheet. The same goes for co-sleeping!
I think our support for co-sleeping has been clear. Nevertheless, the questions we get emailed the most are regarding sleep. Sleep is so important – for mommy’s mental health and baby’s development, so we understand.
No two families are alike, but we’d like to address here some of the questions we’ve been asked by many families, multiple times.
1. How can I transition to not having to nurse my baby to sleep for every nap?
We get a variation of this a lot. Moms are at wits end because their babies are getting older and they fall asleep at the breast but wake up as soon as they are laid down. First of all, don’t feel guilty because you need time on your own, to take a breath, or maybe a shower. The best example you can give your kids is a confident, happy, and appropriate interest in improving yourself.
We suggest that you consider combining techniques from a few sources. I like “The 90 Minute Sleep Program”, “Health Sleep Habits, Happy Child” and “The No-Cry Sleep Solution”. Those, at the very least, could give you some more ideas to try, and are not cry-it-out programs, but programs that understand the importance of sleep. My husband and I combined aspects of these programs to ensure that our baby was getting the amount of sleep he needed. The “no-cry sleep solution” in particular could have some ways to gently help your baby fall asleep without the breast.
I would first encourage you to wait to try changing your baby’s methods of falling asleep until you’re sure that she is getting all the sleep she needs in a day. It will be far easier for her to fall asleep without the breast if she is not over-tired and frustrated. If rocking doesn’t work, you might want to try holding her, sitting, and bouncing up and down on one of those large exercise balls. Our son actually hated rocking, but as soon as we bounced on that ball, he was out. Worst case scenario, at least she’s not nursing – it’s one more way to get her to sleep (and daddy can do it, too.) Plus, it’s a great way to lose baby weight.
2. How do we do naps if we are co-sleeping at night?
This typically goes along with the ‘nursing to sleep’ question. Parents are doing fine at night – they go to sleep with baby and they are all happy with their nighttime sleep arrangements. Nap time has become an issue, though. Mom is concerned about nursing the baby to sleep and then leaving her in their bed alone, but the baby won’t go to sleep without nursing to sleep, but wakes up when laid in a crib. Another option in these cases is to put a mattress on the floor and baby proof the sleep room with a monitor (with wires also baby-proofed!). This way, you can nurse baby to sleep on the bed and sneak away without risk of her falling from the bed.
3. None of us are getting sleep at night. How can we transition to nursing only during the day?
You may want to consider reading Dr. Jay Gordon’s suggestions, although they are for an older baby. This may give you some encouragement that even the strongest proponents of the family bed would encourage you to make some small changes if something isn’t working for your family. The most important thing is to make sure that your sleep arrangements are working for your family.
Kendall Hoover is a web content and non-fiction editor who helps bloggers make money on their blogs, and improve their pagerank. She is also Secretary of Fayye Foundation and is passionate about pre- and postpartum care for mothers. She is a military spouse and mother to one toddler son, so when she’s not reading or writing, she’s the project assistant on elaborate Lego projects.