9 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Co-Sleeping
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Should you avoid co-sleeping or bed-sharing with your child? (Co-sleeping means in your room. Bed sharing means in your bed.) I tried co-sleeping and bed-sharing for a little while and, yeah, I must admit, it was pretty awesome not getting up in the middle of the night to nurse.
Also, I loved the extra loving and snuggling with my little one. It was great! But after a few weeks of co-sleeping, I got a good glimpse of my future.
It was going to be the three of us sharing a bed. That didn’t sound so good.
I liked my sleep. And so did my husband.
More importantly, if I waited much longer, there was going to be a larger more attached child who would not want to leave me or my bed. And I would be tempted to give in to the crying because of my “mommy heart.”
From my days as a teacher, I knew one thing for sure-repetition created habits. You start the way you want to end up.
That is when I decided to avoid co-sleeping and change my habit pronto. It was hard moving our little baby boy into his crib when he was so young, but I am so glad I did it.
Over the next couple of years, I listened to many of my friends’ nighttime soap operas that included the “family bed” while I got a good night of sleep almost every night. He slept through at 6 weeks thanks to Babywise.
In this post, I am going to not only talk about why you should avoid co-sleeping, but also teach you how to foster independent sleep habits.
This is the goal for your child: to sleep soundly in his/her own bed every night. It is possible for you to have this happen in your home.
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Why You Should Avoid Co-Sleeping with Your Child
It is hard to get a good night sleep with a baby/toddler in bed. Many times the father will end up sleeping in another bedroom so he will not be disturbed.
If the sleep cycle continues, there could be 2-3 kids in the bed after a few years. Eventually, the husband/father permanently moves out of the bedroom.
He is usurped by the children.
I saw this first-hand with some of my friends. This is one of the main reasons to avoid co-sleeping with your child.
Regular beds are not safe for an infant or toddler. Your baby can get wedged between the headboard and mattress, fall off the bed, or suffocate under the comforter or fluffy pillows.
There is also the risk of rolling over on your child. It is especially dangerous if a parent smokes, uses alcohol, drugs, or sleep-aids.
3. Marriage issues
It is very difficult to be intimate with your spouse when there is a child in the bed. (Some women keep their baby in bed so they don’t have to be intimate.)
The marriage needs to take priority over a child. Ask your husband if he prefers to have you in bed with him alone or with a child. I bet you will get a quick answer.
4. Leaving the bed
When your child does go to his/her bed, it can be difficult for everyone. Moms can get so attached that they don’t ever want their child to leave their bed. This is not healthy.
There could also be detachment issues with your child. It is easier to move a 3-week old baby than a one or two-year-old child. Did I mention tantrums and lots of drama?
Your child needs to learn how to self-soothe early so he/she can fall back asleep alone. This cannot happen if mommy is always there.
FYI: baby gear and sleep tactics are not sustainable either. This includes a baby swing, rocking, driving around in a car, the dryer, hairdryer, bottle, pacifier, etc.
Since you did not sleep train your child at birth, you now have to break a habit and reinforce a new one. It is much harder to do this when a child is older. (This is true with any habit your child has.)
If you choose to prolong sleep training, then you will create more work for yourself later.
US News reports that children who are on a routine have less of a chance of becoming obese. If your child is co-sleeping, it is hard to create a routine or structure. I know many of you have commented down in the comment section that it is possible. Just know that you have to work hard to make it happen every night.
According to the article in US News, “The risk of obesity was greatest for those with the least amount of consistency in their bedtimes, compared to those who “always” had a regular bedtime.” Something to think about when sleep training.
8. Disobedience issues
This happens when parents don’t feel like putting the child back in his/her bed at nap or at night. What you have really said is, “We don’t really mean what we say. You don’t have to obey us.”
Your child has been taught to do what he/she wants because you are not going to enforce the nap and bedtime sleep rules. Follow through with what you say. Do what you say even if you don’t feel like it.
9. Power Struggle
Many parents get into a power struggle with their child about when and where he/she is going to sleep. And the parents lose!
My question to you is, “Who is in charge at your house?” I have seen men and women who are powerful and intelligent collapse under the pressure of a five-year-old. It’s funny until you have been “had” by one of them.
This is not God’s design for your home. It is not biblical for your child to be in control of your family.
The father is the head of the home, and, weirdly enough, he gets usurped by the pre-schooler. Go figure.
There is nothing wrong with hearing out your child, but in the end, you need to be the adult and do what is best for your own health, marriage, and family.
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How to Have Good Sleep Habits
I heard Keriann MacElroy, a certified pediatric sleep consultant, speak this week to our MOPS group. Here are some of her tips to get your baby to sleep through the night…alone.
By the way, she says to avoid co-sleeping or bed-sharing, too. And she’s a sleep specialist!
1. Create a routine
Start day one on a routine. Yep, a habit. This will help your baby regulate his circadian rhythm. Did you know we all make melatonin? It goes from about 7 pm – 7 am. Work with it!
Eat, play, nap, and have a bedtime routine about the same time every day. Make the days you are off your routine an exception. Not the rule.
Us News says, “Researchers also found that one of the three family routines for preschoolers – a regular bedtime schedule – might be the most important of all.”
2. Early bedtime
Your child naturally starts making melatonin at about 6-8 pm depending on age. If you don’t put your child to bed during this time, he/she will get a second wind a little later.
Staying up late actually prohibits a body from making melatonin.
I’m sure you have witnessed your child late at night bouncing off the walls when he/she is overtired. Cortisol kicked in. EEK.
And you triggered it by keeping him/her up. Wow.
3. Dark room
We all sleep better in the dark. Make your child’s space as dark as possible during nap time and bedtime. Get blackout curtains or heavy shades to help block out the light.
Don’t use a night light. If you have to get one, use only one. And make sure it is yellow or amber light. Blue and green lights inhibit melatonin more than any other shade of light.
Watch out for alarm clocks, phones, and iPads. They are all stimulants and can inhibit sleep.
4. Boring bed
Your child is there to sleep. Nothing else. Don’t put toys, animals or books in bed if it is sleep time.
5. White noise
Keriann said a noise machine is okay. Her test is that if your child can take it to college, then he/she can have it now. Great way to decide if it is okay. Start where you want to end up.
6. Cool temperature
Keriann said to have the house between 68 degrees to 72 degrees. It needs to be comfortable.
7. Set clear boundaries
Your child needs to understand that he/she is not allowed to get out of bed. Make sure there is a meaningful consequence in place if the child decides to test you. ENFORCE it. You will not get a decent night sleep if you don’t do this. Sickness and loud storms are an exception.
What Worked for Me?
I did all of the things Keriann suggested when I had babies, and it worked because I did avoid co-sleeping. I used Babywise. It was the BEST thing I ever did.
I had both of my babies sleeping through the night at six weeks. It was the feeding and sleep schedule that did it. Not me.
You don’t have to do this program, but a schedule is magical! Teachers all use a schedule to educate their kids. It is the best teaching method possible. It offers stability, rhythm, and boundaries.
Kids thrive on boundaries. They feel safe. Our bodies thrive on a schedule, too.
That is why I wrote my first book, Creating Family Memories: How to Make Time for Family with a Crazy Schedule. It teaches parents how to thrive as a family with a schedule or routine. I did it with my kids. It works! (You can get it free in exchange for your email.)
The Real Reason it is Hard to Avoid Co-Sleeping
I’m going to be really honest. And maybe I am alone on this one. The real reason I wanted to continue co-sleeping with my baby was because of these two things:
It was my first child, and I didn’t want to leave him. EVER. I thought if I kept him in my bed with me I could protect him from everything, including SIDS. It just seemed logical.
What I didn’t realize at the time is that I would never have enough power to protect my child from everything. And my logic wasn’t even correct. Since then, I have read many articles about SIDS. New studies say co-sleeping can actually be worse for SIDS.
Fear is a tricky thing. Now that my kids are grown, I realize how much I could not control and protect them from everyday life. Yes, I did protect them from a lot, but God allowed pain in their lives.
Our lives are like the wind. We can not fully harness it.
That is why we need faith. Without it, I would have crumpled to the ground in sheer terror. I still fight fear even though my kids are grown, but then I turn it into prayer.
My point is to really pray about co-sleeping. Don’t base your decisions on fear. If it is to protect your child from any and everything, you will be sadly disappointed. You do not have that kind of power. Believe me, I have tried.
2. The need for love
This is a little hard to admit, but there was something inside of me that absolutely loved the fact that my baby wanted and needed me.
It was better to release my baby into his own room earlier rather than later. I could already see how dramatic it was going to be if I had to push him into his own room at age one or two.
It would have ripped out my heart. I saved myself and him a lot of needless heartaches and detachment issues for both of us.
Little did I realize that all-consuming love was tiring. I was glad to plop in my own bed and get a break from the neediness. It can devour you if you let it.
Maybe I am the only one that had these issues. And that’s okay. But I think there are a few moms who can identify with these feelings. Maybe not…
What Will You Do?
What will you do? I know many other cultures and even people in America co-sleep/bed share. They say things are fine. But are you on the way to developing a child-centered family?
Does your child dictate when and where he/she is going to sleep or eat? How is this going to go when your child does move? Will he/she obey without a power struggle?
These are things to think through when you decide whether to co-sleep or bed share.
If co-sleeping or bed-sharing works for you, great! But if you are exhausted and want to try something different, I suggest getting the book Babywise and move your child into his own room.
Do you co-sleep or bed-share? Why? And by the way, you are not a bad mom if you do!
Book on Family Estrangement from a Biblical Point of View
Are you experiencing family problems? Perhaps you and a loved one are no longer speaking to each other. Don’t go another day without reading this book. It addresses family problems and estrangement from a biblical point of view. Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart is on Amazon or at your favorite digital store.
Get Creating Family Memories for FREE in exchange for your email. If you get this book, it will help you build a good relationship with your kids so that when the hard times come (teen years), you will be able to weather the storm.
Scroll down or look to the side to sign up. You can also get it at your favorite bookstore.
Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Parenting and Family. This is a place for moms with preschool age kids or older to talk about their struggles with parenting, family life, education, or marriage. You will find biblically based advise from other moms who want to raise godly kids.
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