Mama in the City

A blog about raising my family in downtown Vancouver

Where Does Your Baby Sleep?

As I get closer and closer to meeting my second baby I'm reminded of the things that are important to me as a mother. I'm finding that the second time around there are certain things that really resonate with me even stronger. I guess I have a bit of the 'been there done that' attitude of second time mothering. Not to say I know all the answers because I truly don't, but I have the experience of a first child to help me solidify some of my mothering beliefs around babies.

There are a few baby raising topics that I'm super passionate about, and there are lots of parenting topics that I believe have more than one right answer. I also think that each baby has specific needs that require different parenting, and so I don't ever want to have one firm way of raising each baby.

I actually had no plans of co-sleeping with Ben for as long as I did, but it was what he truly needed and in the end I loved it. I have a midwife friend who really wanted to co-sleep with her son for as long as possible, but once he was past a year old he would not sleep with other people around. She was heart broken to have to move him into his own crib in another room, mostly because it was not part of her original parenting philosophy. This is a great example of adapting to what your baby needs as they grow. Some need to be right next to mama as they get older and some don't.

One of my early parenting passion is, where the baby sleeps from newborn to at least 6 months old. Even before I had Ben I knew he would be sleeping in our room in a bassinet for at least his first 6 months. Why the magic number of 6 months? Because I planned to exclusively breastfeed him until 6 months and breastfeeding is much easier when baby is close to their food supply.

The decision to share a room may have come from my own personal feelings, but it was also based around the standard of care from the Canadian Pediatric Society around room sharing for the first 6 months of life.

Sharing a room with Ben felt very natural to me, whereas it felt very unnatural to separate him into another room. It is a very North American practice to place an infant into a nursery alone. If you look at cultures all over the world, the baby sleeps close to the mother. This makes breastfeeding one hundred times easier and also has many direct benefits for the baby.

Through research we know that sharing a room with your baby helps to further reduce the risk of SIDS. For me, the biggest advantage was the ease of night time parenting and nursing.

There was no cold shuffle out the bedroom to pick up my baby and no falling asleep sitting up in a rocking chair as I nursed. We did all of that in the warm coziness of my bedroom. Eventually, as Ben grew we safely co-slept together in my bed. I became educated about safe co-sleeping and made the decision that worked best for us. I would be in my bed for 9 hours straight laying down the entire time. Dr. Sears provides some great education about what it means to safely co-sleep. Don't be confused about safe co-sleeping versus having your baby getting lost among all of your bedsheets.

Some great resources to help you make your own decision about where your baby safely sleeps:

Kelly Mom: The Family Bed
Safely Co-Sleeping by Dr. Sears
Popular blogger Phd in Parenting on Benefits of Co-Sleeping
La Leche Leauge


Sarah_M in the Texas said...

I come from a very north american place...the heart of Texas and it is pretty much that you set up your baby's nursery before the baby comes. Complete with their own crib and perfect baby linens. However, most of my girlfriends keep the baby in a small crib next to their bedside until about 4 or so months old. Sometimes the baby naps in the crib in the nursery but that is as they get older. The first 6 weeks it seems the baby always sleeps where the mom sleeps.

December 7, 2011 at 9:45 PM  
Lisa S. said...

With my first, we ended up co-sleeping from about 3 months until 6 months.  I needed sleep so badly and she needed to be close to us.  So when I was pregnant with my second, from the get go I wanted to co-sleep.  I liked the co-sleeping, but my hubby would wake in the night and find Jack burying his whole head into my body.  It made him comfortable for good reason.  So then we switched to a bassinet beside our bed for the first few months.
I like how you stress flexibility.  I know before I had kids I swore I would never co-sleep, but in the end I liked it and my kids needed it.

December 8, 2011 at 6:42 AM  
huntersprize said...

I keep Jacob in a bassinet in our room for the first 6 months and he frequently slept with us. As he got bigger, it was better for him to sleep alone, as he wanted to nurse constantly. Even now, he comes to bed with us at some point in the night, although we will have to stop that when the next one comes, as our bed is only so big!

December 8, 2011 at 12:57 PM  
Jessica said...

When I had my first I was the first one in my family and amongst all my friends, so I did what I thought was proper and made a nursery with a crib. Once I got home from the hospital I stuck my baby girl in her crib and it felt weird. She was so tiny and I just couldn't imagine leaving her there. So, I sent my husband out to buy a moses basket and she slept in that in our room until she literally out grew it. By that time she was sleeping quite well and at about 5 months she went into her own room. It was a mutually happy experience for all of us.

December 8, 2011 at 5:19 PM  
Hillary said...

I was adamantly against co-sleeping before I had my baby. I love that you emphasize flexibility. If I wasn't flexible, my family would still be miserable and sleep-deprived. Grady is 4 months now and I don't plan to stop co-sleeping any time soon.

December 8, 2011 at 5:29 PM  
Hillary said...

I was adamantly against co-sleeping before I had my baby. I love that you emphasize flexibility. If I wasn't flexible, my family would still be miserable and sleep-deprived. Grady is 4 months now and I don't plan to stop co-sleeping any time soon. 

December 8, 2011 at 5:55 PM  
Tarable said...

I was so oblivious when I was pregnant the first time.  I didn't know any different than the baby sleeping in it's own room in the crib.  It was during a prenatal class when the teacher - a doula - talked about babies sleeping in the parents room.  And it was like ding!ding!ding! of course!  It felt like that was the obvious and right thing for me to do.  I kep my first born in my room for her first three months in a bassinet.  My second however, he was in the bassinet for a bit but we ended up co-sleeping for much longer.  Oddly enough, my first born who is now almost 3 - sleeps with us frequently.  

December 8, 2011 at 6:21 PM  
Erin said...

In the UK, where I had Elliot, all the literature and the midwives all recommend having the baby in a moses basket in your room for the first six months. We did that, but Elliot has never been a great sleeper, so he would spend the first few hours in bed by himself in his cot in our room. The first time we really properly co-slept was on a sleeper train from London to Edinburgh! 

After about 8 months, he would start in his room on his own - but by 11pm or so he would be in our bed. Now he's 2 years 4 months and I share a single bed with him with a bed rail, and my husband sleeps in our bed - this starts usually around midnight or 1am on a good night. Everyone sleeps well this way, so we haven't worked to change it. We're pretty much decided on only having one child, so we don't need to rush this process. He's gradually sleeping longer on his own and doing better at self-soothing, so we're letting it happen at his speed. I don't see any reason to rush, and to be honest, I love sleeping with his little arms around my neck. I know the reality is different for people with more than one child. 

December 8, 2011 at 6:53 PM  
Seraphina said...

I haven't had a baby yet but I'm sort of leery about having them sleep in our room. I guess I don't really know how it feels until I actually have that baby. I sort of see myself puttering from one room to the next with the dream baby who doesn't wake up very often ;)

December 8, 2011 at 10:07 PM  
Sarah M. said...

It seems totally wrong to put a newborn in it's own room.  Just seems like a no brainer to have them sleep with you.  Both boys slept with us in bed, John never liked it, but it was so much easier for me.  This time round I am thinking of a co sleeper bed.  I like the arms reach one, but not the price for this being our last baby. what are your thoughts on the First Years co sleeper that goes in the bed Andrea?

December 12, 2011 at 12:41 PM  

We were looking into the Arms Reach with Ben and then we just got lazy and ended up doing some fancy maneuvers with our crib attached to our bed like a side car. Worked fabulously. I have friends who use the Arms Reach and they all have good things to say about it. I bet you could find it second hand too. This time around I'll use the bassinet for as long as possible and then see what happens!

December 13, 2011 at 9:53 AM  
Beck said...

When I was pregnant I did the whole north american ritual of setting up the nursery, lovingly putting up the crib and getting things all ready. Then I had my son and I didn't want to be parted from him. I bought a little bed that went right in my bed so he could sleep there without fear of being covered up, or being rolled on. When I was brave enough to try nursing him laying down then we did away with the little bed and he's been sleeping with me ever since. I've had lots of advice/warnings from others that he will never sleep on his own, but I know he will eventually. And really what is a few early years of shared warmth, love, and cuddles, to a life time when he will be out on his own, and I won't have him needing me like he does now. I'm sure it would be different for me if I had to work full time out of my home, but I don't. And since he needs Mom right there with him. I'm okay to be there with him. 

December 17, 2011 at 9:32 PM  

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