Recently I put together a blog for A Fine Parent magazine, who rejected it about 12 hours after I submitted it leading me to believe they probably read the title and flunked it out. Or maybe just my name. (Who’s that? She sucks!)
There’s a lot of controversy around co-sleeping, I get it. What I don’t get is why people won’t even talk about it!
Too afraid of the backlash I suppose? Well, I am not afraid! Mostly because no one reads this but my mom and dad, but also because I know for me at least, it’s the right thing to do, no matter what anyone else tries to lay on me.
So I’m a little bitter about losing out on that hot $50 paycheck I could have gotten if they’d published it..I’ll survive. And for your perusal and enjoyment, here is the abbreviated version of the rejected article. Don’t feel bad for him, he’ll find something better I’m sure…
Top Three Reasons Why I’m a Co-Sleep Advocate:
1) It reduces the risk of SIDS.
Co-sleeping reduces SIDS by as much as 50%. (*AAP). Let’s define co-sleeping shall we? It can mean on the same sleeping surface (bed-sharing) or beside you in a bassinet or crib, basically it means sharing a room.
2) It’s Biological.
It’s the way we evolved. Do you think Caveman Mom had tiny tike in ‘her own cave-hole?’ Um, no. They all slept together in the big lice-infested hay bed because there were tigers outside. And wolves. And they only had the one bear-skin blanket. It’s how we evolved. Together.
Ah, happier, simpler times. Times when moms didn’t shame other moms for co-sleeping. I’m sure they shamed them for other things. “You don’t put baby on back ALL day while gathering? Bad cave-man Mom…”
3) He was A PART OF MY BODY just days ago.
And now not only am I supposed to cleave him away from my warm, loving skin and touch but I’m supposed to banish him to a darkened room and shut the door?
We evolved to be in constant contact with our babies. Primates are geared to give birth to completely dependent offspring with extended childhoods and the pay off is….ba ba baaaaaaa….our BIG BRAINS. Score one for mother-nature.
OUR MILK SAYS SO:
Even our milk is geared to keep them close – low fat, low protein, high carbohydrate. Feed and leave species are the opposite – high fat, high protein, low carbohydrate so they can feed…and leave for extended periods. Ah to feed and leave for extended periods…wait, where was I?
Oh, yeah. Safety.
HOW TO KEEP EVERYONE SAFE WHILE CO-SLEEPING OR BED-SHARING:
1) Lay baby on his back (wherever he is)
2) Don’t drink and sleep with an infant. (Duh)
3) Don’t take pain killers or medication that makes you drowsy and unresponsive and sleep with an infant. (Double Duh)
4) Be a non-smoker. (Especially important to have been a non-smoker during pregnancy and gestation.)
5) Be a breast-feeding mom (Really. Formula feeding makes them sleep longer and deeper because formula takes longer for their tummies to digest). Otherwise a crib or bassinet or side-bassinet is best.
6) Tie your hair back. (Yes this has unfortunately happened).
7) Sleep on a firm surface (Of course)
8) Get rid of the comfy but puffy duvet (A small price to pay)
9) Dress baby lightly – body heat will keep him warm (Got it)
10) Get rid of extra pillows (Do we need seven!?)
11) Don’t ever co-sleep in a reclining chair on a couch where infant could fall between the crevice. (Ok!)
12) Keep the bed a VIP space – Mom and dad and baby only until around nine months.
I co-slept with my now three year old until she was 3 months. Co-sleeping meaning she was in her crib in our room. She was a premie (4 pounds at birth!) so I felt safer with her beside me and not on the same sleeping surface. At three months, bowing to pressure from my husband (And EVERYONE ELSE around me) we moved her to her own room.
Against my better judgment and against my instincts and to this day if I had the chance I would have stuck to my guns and kept her crib in our room. (Well not my LITERAL guns. You know what I mean).
Breastfeeding, co-sleeping, these two just seem to go together. It feels beautiful and natural and exactly the way it should be. I’m not going to let some judgy Mcjudges a lot make me ignore my MILLIONS OF YEARS OF MOM-INSTINCTS. Well, not again, anyway.
Am I worried he’s going to be spoiled? In a word….no. Under no circumstances do I believe a child can be ‘spoiled’ by closeness. Spoiled by affection and attention and care? By touch and responsiveness? No. If we had more moms listening to their inner cave-mom we’d have a safer, happier, and a more emotionally resilient population.
Lastly, am I worried my husband and I will lose the sparkle in our sex life? No. Do we need to get more creative about when and where? Sure. What’s more fun than that?
Besides, anyone with a new born can agree that at least for a little while, SLEEP is the new sex, the new chocolate, the new EVERYTHING.
In short, following the guidelines above, I am (safely) and happily meeting the needs both of baby AND my own biological imperatives. Ie, SLEEP.
I can’t say what’s right for everyone. I suppose that’s why we don’t legislate these kinds of things.
I want to raise healthy, empathetic, confident, loving children who will enrich the world around them no matter what they grow up to be. To be honest, co-sleeping or not, nursing or formula, as long as that’s the end goal I think we can all get there no matter what path we take.
Maybe we’d all feel better about our choices, our hard and very personal choices, if we all just stepped away from the judging spirit and embraced each other – supported each other as if this was the hardest job on earth. Because it is.
*Kellymom.com (Co-sleeping and Bed-sharing) http://kellymom.com/parenting/nighttime/cosleeping/