When I was pregnant with my first child, Pickles, I decided she’d sleep in her own crib in her own room from day one. Night one my husband and I awoke to a choking noise and ran in to see her slightly bluish and not breathing. I picked her up quickly and she caught her breath. Must have been the mucus, the midwife said. Must have been my heart plummeting to the hard Scottish earth below me, I said, and quickly decided she could sleep in her crib with me in the room. There are many ways to skin a cat, but here are some thoughts on having the baby sleep in your room, for those of you still wondering how you’ll do it.
I knew I wouldn’t co-sleep because research has inarguably proven that co-sleepers (both babies and parents) sleep less, plus I wouldn’t be able to sleep well because I’d imagine rolling over them. People say “oh no you wouldn’t” but really, oh yes I would, because even just feeding the baby in the bed and dozing off, I wake up frantically thinking I’m laying on the baby. I know myself, people.
How we do it is this. From birth until the time they sleep through the night, 12 hours, they sleep in a playpen (or is it supposed to be called a pack-n-play now?) in our room. That is usually around 4 months. Here’s why and here are some things to think about. It wouldn’t be for everyone.
(1) Facilitates ease of breastfeeding.
I don’t need to mix anything or have light to feed the baby at night, so having the baby close by just means I can start and finish the night feedings quickly and without fuss. I’ve never liked to breastfeed in a rocking chair so that doesn’t appeal to me. If the baby’s room is fairly nearby then you can easily feed him and get back to bed. If your room is on a different floor than the baby then having the baby sleep in your room is far more convenient.
(2) Prevents night crying that wakes up the whole house before I can get there.
When the baby wakes to cry, if you are nearby you can feed the baby and put him back to sleep before the whole house has woken up. Truthfully, my children don’t wake up much for night crying. However, I’ve found that when I feed the baby in the evening before the cry has reached full-fledged high volume, the baby sort of feeds while sleeping and it means there is no issue with the baby going back to sleep. My babies all basically fed throughout the night while asleep. However, this has a negative side if you are a light sleeper. Babies do make all manner of noises even when they are not awake or wanting to feed. If they are near you then this will be a factor you need to keep in mind.
(3) Helps me to not awake too fully so I can easily get back to sleep.
Feeding in the night, though it lasts only a short while, is exhausting. If the baby is in the same room as me, I feed him quickly laying down, doze off, put him back when the feed is over and then we’re both back to sleep very quickly. If I’ve had to go to another room, sit straight up in a chair for 15 minutes and then walk back across the house. By that time I’m awake enough to start surfing the web for something and then lose more sleep. This helps me to stay in “sleep” mode.
(4) Means I don’t have to walk through the house every hour to make sure the baby is breathing.
I am a habitual “is my baby breathing” checker. When they are very young, until about 6 months or so, I need to be sure they are breathing and I need to be sure a lot. With the baby in my room I hear the little noises so, when I roll over and the thought crosses my mind, I feel at ease. Even if I do get up to check it’s close, I feel the tummy then go back to bed without drama. After my son Jiggy was born and I was experiencing postnatal anxiety, I checked every hour or so. That obsession has lessened significantly, but it still brings comfort that the baby is near.
(5) It feels as though the baby is in hiding and protection during his first few months.
During the first few months my newborns have slept all the time. Like at least 1.5 hour naps after reach feed and 12 hours at night. Everyone jokes they never see the light of day and they are more or less right. And that’s okay with me. Sleep begets sleep and by the time they are 3 or 4 months and very alert, they are still sleeping 3 naps a day and 12 hours at night. They have plenty of time and life to be awake and play. Plus, I’m less paranoid that they’ll be hurt with their siblings “love pats” when they are a bit older. Keeping them in my room feels like they are being protected in a refuge and special place of privilege. It lasts such a short while, I love having them there.
Whatever works best for your family and your baby is the way to go! I’ve tried to put the babies immediately into their rooms and hated it. When the baby becomes alert to your movements, it’s time to move them on. I think whatever method benefits the baby’s sleep habits and your survival habits must be considered. Happy sleeping all.
I’ve created a free email series just for you! There are truly only a few reasons why babies and toddlers have struggles sleeping… really, I mean it. I am going to teach you the main 3 reasons and how to start making small changes to help your baby go from:
- fighting sleep to embracing it
- night wakings to sleeping through
- needing you to jump through hoops to going to sleep on their own
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