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30 Aug

why I refuse to feel bad about co-sleeping

first off, before I say anything, let me say this: DO YOU. whatever works for you, mama. please don’t let any book, online article, other mother, parent, mother-in-law, or Instagrammer influence you. do what works best for YOU and your family, always. we’re all mamas just trying to survive through this motherhood journey. I’m simply sharing my thoughts and my experiences with my baby. that’s it. take it for what it’s worth. hopefully, some can relate. 

when I became a mother, I became a mother at a time when I was ready to accept that my life would never be the same. in fact, I didn’t want it to be this same. I wanted to start a family, I wanted a baby to enter our lives.  I was ready for my life to change. I was ready for my life to get better. I didn’t expect to have my same life, just with a baby in the room. I was prepared for my life to change dramatically.

throughout the motherhood process, you receive a LOT of advice. a crazy amount of advice, in fact. of course, because I share my life with the world, I receive more advice than the average person. without a doubt, the most common piece of advice I’m given is about sleep training.

whenever I post something on Instagram about Luca not sleeping well, my direct message Inbox is FLOODED with sleep training suggestions. everyone wants to share their advice on how to get Luca to sleep alone in his crib for 12 hours. one of the most common questions I’m asked is, “did you ever sleep train Luca?” or, more specifically, “did you ever let Luca cry it out?”

I share these moments, because I want to show every aspect of motherhood – the precious, adorable moments and the trying moments (like your infant refusing sleep.)

when asked about sleep training, people are offended when I say, “no, I’ll never let him cry it out.” I don’t know if people are projecting their own insecurity on me, BUT it’s a very sensitive topic. well, there are a lot of sensitive topics regarding motherhood, from feeding your baby to sleep to nursing.

after receiving many unsavory messages about my reluctance to sleep train, I knew I had to write this post.

so, let me back up. let me share Luca’s sleep journey. at about 5 weeks, he started sleeping in his crib. my mother was staying with us and she put the baby in his crib in the middle of the night and he slept so well. when she left, we never took him out of the crib (why?!) then, around 9 weeks, he started sleeping from 7/8pm to 8am. it was MAGICAL. we felt like we were the most blessed parents in the world. so, we never needed “sleep training.”

at about 6 months, he started teething and that ALL changed. he started waking up 2-3 times per night for a couple months. it was BAD. I would nurse him in the middle of the night just to pacify him. we were exhausted. by 8.5-9 months, he was done with teething but he was waking up in the middle of the night (around 1am) and just refused to go back to sleep unless he was literally lying with me. I couldn’t even cradle him to sleep – he’d fall asleep and immediately wake up when I put him down.

so what’s a mom to do that’s trying to survive and get some sleep? I brought him to our bed and he slept next to us. the second I brought him into the bed, he fell asleep instantly and slept another 6 hours straight. I woke up so well rested and next to my beautiful baby boy. I was in heaven.

and it continued. we’re still doing that today. around 1am, he wakes up, we take him into bed, I spoon him, and he falls asleep within 1-2 minutes. and we sleep until 6:30/7am. so he ends up sleeping 11-12 hours.

there is literally nothing better than waking up to your little baby cuddled up to you. the way he smells. the precious, serene look on his face, knowing he’s safe next to you. it’s literally intoxicating. sometimes, I wake up and just stare at him for 15 minutes. just feeling so blessed and grateful.

but then, when I tell someone about this, I’m told, “you’re starting such a bad habit!” or my least favorite, “babies need to be sleep trained, it’s better for them and you!”

better for the baby and me? the baby is thriving. he feels comforted by his mommy. he doesn’t need to cry out anxiously. mommy and daddy are well rested. and we’re so in love – we feel closer than ever to our baby boy. we may need to wake up at 1am, but we’re awake for a total of 5 minutes – the equivalent of a quick pee break! so, to say the LEAST, this is better for them and us.

ALSO, sharing your sleep space with the baby apparently helps his or her senses develop. babies need to learn to respond to the sensory signals of others, including smells, movements, sounds, touches and heat. so, co-sleeping helps there! putting a baby in a quiet, dark room doesn’t help that.

I’ll never let him cry it out, because, based on the research I’ve done, I don’t feel comfortable with it. and, there’s no reason to, for us. to my first point, I never expected my life to be the same. I never expected to be able to sleep next to husband uninterrupted for the first few years. I didn’t want to. I wanted a little sweet baby to be in our bed. I yearned for it. gosh, he smells so innocent and sweet and full of love. nothing makes me happier than waking up next to him.

so, no, I won’t feel bad for co-sleeping, because guess what – it’s better for Mommy and baby. we’re well rested and more in love than ever, thanks to Luca. and no, I don’t want to let my baby cry it out – there’s no reason to. he can find a happy, loving, safe space right in between Mommy and Daddy whenever he wants it, because we’ll welcome him there, always. I feel even more bonded with Luca now.

what makes me sad is that this won’t last forever. he’ll reach an age when he doesn’t want to even give us a hug (#teenagers!) so for now, I’m going to embrace EVERY 1am wakeup, because it means I get to hold my baby boy, kiss him, breath in his sweet scent, and make him feel loved and safe. I would hate to look back on the first couple years of his life and think, “I wish I had held him more.” I couldn’t possibly hold him more, haha!

long story short, don’t feel bad about co-sleeping, if you’re getting pressure about it from the outside world. the outside world doesn’t know what it feels like to wake up with your little baby nestled next to you. you and I do, though.

35 Comments
  • Christen Boggs

    The exhaustion is so real! I’m such a light sleeper already that I fought long and hard for my kids to be independent crib sleepers early on. But that was the best choice for ME! When I had newborns, we coslept every night! They would start out on the bassinet but ultimately end up next to me (and my boobs ????). You do you, mama!

    Thu August 30 at 2:49 am Reply
  • Elaine De Freitas

    You are totally right!!! Every family knows what works best for them! Before I became a mother, back in April, I always thought that I would never let baby sleep with me. I was really worried because everyone just kept telling me it was such a bad habit and dangerous… I was terrified about it, so I put her crib next to my bed. We had some terrible couple of nights with no sleeping at all, I was recovering from an emergency c-section, my milk wouldn’t come, I had terrible pain breastfeeding. Later, working with several LC, doctors, speech therapist and La Leche League, I finally could breastfeed with no pain after 6 weeks. By then, I was so sleep deprived and Victoria was always anxious, waking up the minute I’d lay her down. I would never stand to hear her crying, so I picked her up every time, several times at night. The first time I could nurse her without pain, I tried nursing her laying down, she slept right away and we were all well rested and so very happy! We never stopped co-sleeping. My husband loves it too, we get to see our little one the moment she wakes up, always with a smile, it is heaven, indeed, and she almost never cries, even during the day. I also made an extensive research and I am positive this will provide her with confidence and she will move to her own room by herself when she is ready. Until then, we will take every minute with our baby girl snuggling in bed. That is what worked for us. Every family is a world, and we should support and help each other to achieve our gouls without shaming other parents for their elections. Thank you for sharing your experience in such sensitive way!

    Thu August 30 at 3:57 am Reply
  • SommerFox

    I love this! So many people have opinions and advice, you’re his mom and no one knows better than you. Enjoy every night you get, before you know it you’re sending him off to college and it really is as fast as everyone says! ????

    Thu August 30 at 5:12 am Reply
  • Elisabeth Vanderpool

    As a public health professional, I feel it’s important to recognize that throughout your post you don’t mention the potential dangers of co-sleeping, and the recommended guidelines for safe sleep by the American Association of Pediactrics. It is true, every parent makes their own choices, and it is also important for those choices to be informed by facts when possible. You have many followers who take what you say to heart, so I feel it is important to not only provide them with the information you did about the positives of co-sleeping from a bonding perspective, but also share the potential dangers and recommendations from those in the scientific community.

    Here is the published guideline report:
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20162938

    Thu August 30 at 11:32 am Reply
    • Christine

      This!

      Fri September 7 at 3:43 pm Reply
    • Holly

      THANK YOU

      Fri September 7 at 6:43 pm Reply
  • Janice Lown

    I had to write to commend you on listening to your motherly instincts. I’m a grandma now and looking back on raising my two boys, I’m so glad I went with what was right for me – and them.

    I breastfed – for a long time. I waited to introduce solids until they were nearing age one due to food allergies in the family. Guess what! They are food allergy free! They slept with us. Eventually, they moved into their own beds by their choice. They potty trained as they were ready for it. They were raised vegetarian, and they are now 41 and 39, healthy, great cooks, and raising their families the way they find works best for them. The last two littles are still sharing mom and dad’s bed – ages 2 and 4. Will they always sleep there? No, they will grow and move into another phase on their own. Listen to your heart and that of your child’s. A lot less stress, and definitely, a better night’s sleep. “GramJam”

    Thu August 30 at 3:33 pm Reply
  • Janice Lown

    One more thing, cry it out? Self sooth? Isn’t that what a mother is for? Or a father? Watch the animal kingdom when a puppy whimpers. Mama is on alert – looking, sniffing, nuzzling, nursing, and licking that small bundle of fluff. It’s our job to meet this small person’s needs at this point in life. A cry is the only way they can vocalize a need. There is plenty of time down the road to teach independence. By meeting their needs now, our children grow up secure in our love for them.

    Thu August 30 at 3:53 pm Reply
  • Steph

    Your baby, your life, your choice!
    We sleep trained (cry it out) our baby and I feel like it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made as a mom. I completely agree that cosleeping is beautiful but it isn’t what worked for us.
    We have a happy, healthy baby because we’re doing what worked for us, just like you and Lu are doing what works for you and Luca. And we are both great mamas because of that!

    Thu August 30 at 5:10 pm Reply
  • Francesca C

    I LOVE everything about this article! My husband and I chose to co-sleep with our kids and I get so many judge mental comments. Like you, I was never comfortable with the cry it out method even tho I have friends who swore by it because it worked for them. I don’t judge them for doing cry it out because that was what was best for them and their babies. Sometime moms can be so tough on other moms! I’m going to miss it when the day comes where my kids want to sleep in their own beds.

    Thu August 30 at 5:20 pm Reply
  • C Wilson

    This was refreshing to read! I’m raising 4 kids. All have slept in my bed. Eventually my boys stopped around kindergarten (their choice). My daughter’s 6 and still likes to fall asleep with me. Not every night but I never say no. You’re right they grow so quickly. I’ll take all the cuddling I can get!

    Thu August 30 at 7:00 pm Reply
  • Annie Cas

    Just when I thought I couldn’t love you anymore!!! We’re at 8 weeks here and my son only sleeps well when he’s with me, so that’s what I’m going with! I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to fully love and nurture another human being in this way and comforted by knowing I’m helping him to grow and develop. I’ve been repeatedly saddened reading other mom’s posts looking for advice on making their child stop walking up or how to CIO. If adults typically wake a few times a night, why wouldn’t a newborn?! And clearly we have the ability to quickly get back to sleep, but they require love and attention in the form of feeding and snuggles to feel safe and ease back into sleep. Am I tired?! Of course! Is it worth it? One hundred percent!! Let’s not let some crazy expectations laid out by so-called sleep specialists dictate the way we parent. This phase doesn’t last forever and will fly by before we know it. Give your children the love they naturally seek and be humbled by the gratification it brings! Thanks for a great post, Ali!

    Thu August 30 at 7:06 pm Reply
  • Anna

    I have a 7 week old baby girl and we started bedsharing for the second half of the night around 6 weeks because she wouldn’t fall asleep after her 2nd feeding of the night. The first couple of times were accidental (fell asleep while nursing) but now I love it. We both sleep better and I love waking up to her snuggled up to me too! I do hope she will start falling asleep in her crib again but, like you said, I don’t feel any need to rush it. Just make sure you have a safe bedsharing environment, especially for newborns! You may want to link this in your post: https://cosleeping.nd.edu/safe-co-sleeping-guidelines/

    Fri August 31 at 1:01 am Reply
  • mary young

    Oh yeah I am old fashioned……. What is important for the baby/child is to learn how to put themselves back to sleep for a lifetime. I know more adults who do not sleep well because they were rocked to sleep and put down either in a crib or with them. You are putting them to sleep and they are not learning those coping skills. Then there is Matthew……..almost 40. I had two sets of children. Second husband wouldn’t let me let them cry it out. At age seven he was still in bed with us all arms and legs. We moved. Too far to get to our bed. lol Daughter to this day has problems sleeping well. I also have a friend who accidentally smothered her 6 week old son in bed because she fell asleep breast feeding. I am not saying that we never had any of the five in bed with us but for a life long habit of sleeping well let them learn how to put themselves to sleep and self sooth. I can get off my soap box now! Luca is beautiful and so loved. Enough said.

    Fri August 31 at 2:48 am Reply
  • Nicole

    This really spoke to me and my own experience. Except that my now 18 month old still wakes up several times a night in our bed (and gets fed back to sleep). Luckily, I don’t actually wake up most of the time and wake up pretty rested. Waking up to her is so wonderful that I don’t mind the occasional night with less-good sleep.

    I always wonder if sleep training works for some babies, but not for others. It wasn’t right for us as parents, but I also don’t think it would have worked on my baby.

    I’ve really loved reading your blog posts, please continue!

    Fri August 31 at 2:02 pm Reply
  • Tracey

    I agree that every family is different and everyone should absolutely do what works best for them but you throw some shade at cry it out as well. If you believe you do you, then try not to criticize other methods that work well for other families. We all can take it easy on each other. We all love our babies very much.

    Fri August 31 at 4:06 pm Reply
    • Kay Marie

      I was feeling the same thing – I felt shamed as a mom for doing sleep training when reading this. The disclaimer at the top didn’t really cancel out everything else said here. I’m 100% team “do you” – we co slept for a while until our son was waking up multiple times a night in bed with us and not able to go back to sleep. I WISH he would have snuggled up next to me and slept. Deciding to sleep train was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make but our little guy was SO overtired from lack of sleep we felt it was best. Hands down it’s been the best decision for us, he’s so much happier and well rested, but it was still tough to make that decision. This article kicked me back to feeling mom guilt for doing it.

      Sat September 1 at 2:48 am Reply
  • Kasey

    YESSSSSSS SAY IT AGAIN! Our cosleeping journey started because of teething too and I LOVE IT.

    I really wish people would mind their business though and let you live life the way you see fit. Ah well, we can dream.

    Fri August 31 at 4:16 pm Reply
  • Melissa Cardarelli

    Thank you so much for this post. You can’t imagine how impactful this was. You are an amazing Mama.

    Fri August 31 at 8:56 pm Reply
  • Leah LaPrade

    As a new mom, I can totally relate to this. I can’t ever let my daughter cry it out. She is very attached to me and even when I have to leave her for a few moments to do something (go to the bathroom/get a cup of coffee) it’s hard because as soon as I put her down she cries. I actually love that she feels safe and comfortable in my arms and with me. To me, that’s how we’re going to establish a wonderful bond which will enable her to grow and thrive as she gets older and matures. Keep doing you, Mama Bear!

    Fri August 31 at 9:03 pm Reply
  • Lizz R

    Preach!! Early on I stole Fed is Best and changed it to Rest is Best! Sleep however you can, and don’t let ANYBODY shame you. I actually wanted to co-sleep, but my son won’t sleep peacefully next to me, because we are both incredibly light sleepers.

    Fri August 31 at 10:52 pm Reply
  • Elisse

    Thanks for sharing this! When my daughter was an infant I tried to do CIO sleep training but I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t stand to hear her cry! Our journey was very similar to yours. My daughter was an excellent sleeper in the beginning with no sleep training needed. Then at about 4 months the teething started and so did the middle of the night waking. I’ve always worked full time outside the home so those night wakings were KILLING me! I literally couldn’t focus on my job because I was SO tired. Since my hubby worked (and still works) nights I began to bring her into bed with me. She’d fall asleep in seconds and I got the sleep I needed to function. It was a win win! So we continued to do it. And I’ve loved every second of it. I absolutely loved cuddling with her and waking up to her sweet face lying next to me. But here’s the thing where I feel like I should’ve done things differently: I never transitioned her to get used to sleeping in her own bed and I wish I had. She’s 7 years old now and she still sleeps with me most nights. While I’ll always love cuddling with her the fact is that at this point I WANT to sleep alone sometimes. Besides what I want I also feel that I haven’t done her any favors by not encouraging her to sleep in her own bed. I feel like I’ve prevented her from gaining that absolutely necessary independence because I feel like she is completely co-dependent on me to be able to sleep. Any way you look at it it’s just not good. I feel like I was selfish by only focusing on my need to have her close and never encouraged her to develop a sense of independence. Since I don’t have any other children and hubby still works nights it hasn’t been that intrusive but I couldn’t imagine doing this with other kids or if hubby and I shared a bed every night. And, like I said, after 7 years, as much as I adore my daughter, I don’t always want to share a bed with her lol. Especially because now she’s bigger, takes up more space and kicks a LOT harder while she sleeps haha! So, yes, enjoy the co-sleeping now because it is literally the best thing ever. But I suppose my experience could be taken as a cautionary tale that eventually it IS important to transition them to their own beds and encourage them to sleep in their own beds (even when they cry a little and pout and feel a little scared) because their sense of independence ultimately matters more than our need to snuggle. I definitely waited too long and now it’s become one of our biggest struggles.

    Fri August 31 at 11:58 pm Reply
  • M

    You rock! Loved this post

    Sat September 1 at 5:28 am Reply
  • Tatiana

    Sleep training does not = crying it out. I have sleep trained all my children, and none were left to cry it out. That is not what sleep training is about.

    Mon September 3 at 10:29 pm Reply
  • Natalie Gandhi

    I never thought I would co sleep with my daughter because the culture/family I grew up in basically pushed sleep training. My mom told me she was scared she would roll over and kill me. So I didn’t want to do it. Then I had my daughter and everything changed. I couldn’t handle how much she screamed and how long it took to put her to sleep. Although I apparently could for 2.5 months. Then I brought her in bed and everyone slept better. She’s over 2 years old and still sleeps with someone. I don’t regret it. I’m pregnant with her sibling and I’ll be sleeping with this one from the start!

    Tue September 4 at 3:40 am Reply
  • Pamela Jay

    Such a good post Ali, Co sleeping was the only thing that worked for us as well,as my mom told me “they need you at night too” you are teaching your son that he can ALWAYS count on you and you will always be there for him. For any moms still struggling with a 6 or 7 year old still wanting to co sleep,when my son was 5 we put a double bed in his room and I would go to his room if he woke in the night instead of him coming into our room I think that helped him adjust.He is 15 now and believe me he has been sleeping alone and thru the night for years and years,they really are little for such a short time though it does not feel like it when you are in the middle of it.

    Sat September 8 at 5:12 pm Reply
  • Shan M

    This is wonderful to read. It’s like reading a replay of my own life as a mom of a 6th month old girl. We do the exact same thing. Thanks for sharing and ignore anyone’s bs!

    Sat September 15 at 4:08 am Reply
  • Like

    Like!! I blog frequently and I really thank you for your content. The article has truly peaked my interest.

    Sun September 23 at 6:23 pm Reply
  • เพิ่มไลค์เพจ

    I went over this site and I think you have a lot of good information, saved to fav 🙂

    Mon September 24 at 6:24 pm Reply
  • Betty Stones

    I used Susan’s method too. I had her breastfeeding guide (also recommended) so I decided to follow the author. It was a great call. Sleep training went smoothly as I could have only imagined!

    Sat September 29 at 8:47 pm Reply
    • Lizzy Cobb

      I’ve had Susan’s breastfeeding guide so naturally I got the next one. She is amazing! Everything is so simple to understand and even more simple to follow. I love that!

      Thu October 25 at 1:29 pm Reply

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