Let me just preface this by letting you know we are not co-sleepers. Sassafras slept in our room for a total of two weeks before we put her in the nursery. Before she was born, I had imagined she would be in our room for the first few months, but postpartum insomnia and subsequent anxiety and depression were unexpected parts of this adventure, and I knew early on co-sleeping was not going to work for us.
This is not an opinion piece on sleep training vs. co-sleeping. I am a fan of the “whatever works for you” approach to parenting. So yeah, whatever works for you, do that.
I’m merely here to share my experience and to ask the question, “How do you co-sleep with a kid who has never co-slept?” Based on our experience thus far, the answer would be, “You don’t sleep. Co-sleeping = no-sleeping.”
The only instances in which we have attempted to co-sleep are 1) when Aliya is sick and 2) on vacation. In the case of Number One, what usually happens is we will try to sleep her in our bed, but usually after an hour or two of play, it becomes apparent no sleeping is going to take place. So we do the shuffle back to her room, and in most cases one of us will end up sleeping on her floor. In the case of Number Two, well, this is a recent development. You see, in the earlier part of Aliya’s life (before she was able to climb or have an opinion), we could take our trusty travel crib just about anywhere and have her sleep peacefully there. Of course, there was always an adjustment period, but by the second night on vacation she would fall asleep much easier than the first.
Something happened when this child turned two, only we didn’t realize it until we were on vacation. We packed our travel crib like we always do when we travel, and she waited until I had set it up before looking me square in the eyes and saying, “No crib.” Of course I thought she was joking so I put her in anyway, and we watched in amazement as she swung her legs over the side, hopped out, and shouted this time, “NO CRIB!” So the days of crib imprisonment while traveling were over.
Co-sleeping it was! We all got ready for bed at 8:30 PM and turned out the lights by 9 PM. Only, I think a good two hours passed before anyone fell asleep. Bed mates meant play partners of course, so lights out meant dancing on and marching around the bed, singing loudly (sometimes coherent, other times incomprehensible), and sticking fingers up nostrils. Play partners transformed into scary things in the night, since Sassafras woke up every other hour crying any time one of us moved. As someone who has never co-slept, I can only imagine she was thinking, “Are there aliens in my bed?” Negotiations and threats at 11 PM turned into begging at 4 AM; “If you want to go to the zoo tomorrow, you better go to sleep!” became “PLEASE GO TO SLEEP. I’LL DO ANYTHING. Please, have mercy on us!”
We will all be traveling again next month, and I have no idea how we plan to tackle this issue. Perhaps we will all stay up all night until we are all so tired that we cannot keep our eyes open. Or perhaps I should just resign myself to the fact we may never sleep again on vacation.
Do you have sleep-trained babies who have successfully co-slept away from home? Do you have any tips to share?