Sunday, September 5, 2010

Co-sleeping isn't bedsharing

I never much considered the distinction, but apparently, scientifically speaking, you co-sleep just by having the baby in the room with you, in a crib or bassinet, etc. So we've been co-sleeping with the Fidg since birth.

Lately, however, there's been some bedsharing as  well.  Waking every two hours to feed her was a bit of a drag and moreover, felt unsafe as I couldn't stay awake once I had her on the nursing pillow in bed with me.  If she's on the bed surface to start, she's not going to roll there and land face down or, worse, roll off onto the floor.

I'd prefer to get her back in the crib, but so every so often, she ends up in bed, and routinely ends up there after her 5 or 6am waking since there's just some dozing to be done between then and work.

The above linked article is pretty interesting and worth a read.  I especially like this part which academically chuckles over the paradox created by our cultures relationship with its ethics rules
It remains a curiosity of western cultures that we are largely unable to study prolonged mother-infant separation in a laboratory setting, even though our culture in the US provides us the perfect “natural experiment,” with thousands of neonates and infants being left to sleep alone for long periods of time every night. However, it is reasonable to at least suggest that solitary infant sleep represents an evolutionarily anomalous setting for human babies. As a result, infants may experience a physiological stress response that puts them at risk of energy depletion and immunological depression, while placing undue strain on their developmentally immature respiratory, cardiac, and neurological systems.
 Here's more on the definitions:

Definitions are important here. The term cosleeping refers to any situation in which a committed adult caregiver, usually the mother, sleeps within close enough proximity to her infant so that each, the mother and infant, can respond to each other’s sensory signals and cues. Room sharing is a form of cosleeping, always considered safe and always considered protective. But it is not the room itself that it is protective. It is what goes on between the mother (or father) and the infant that is. Medical authorities seem to forget this fact. This form of cosleeping is not controversial and is recommended by all.


  1. We co-slept with our son until he was 8 weeks old, but I have to admit that I didn't fully get it. In the first couple of weeks I was grateful that he was close so that when I awoke every half hour to see if he was still alive, I could get an easy answer and roll back over in bed. But after that, I couldn't quite figure out why he was in our room except that we'd been told that was what we were supposed to do. At eight weeks we retired him to his own room and I'm quite grateful. I still wake up all night long, stirring from the slightest sound blasting over our baby monitor. The real difference of having our guy in his own room is that, honestly, I think he sleeps better there. He is not disturbed by us all night and is now sleeping much longer and, seemingly, more readily.

    I love the idea of co-sleeping and any other method of cementing parent-baby attachment. But, for myself, I didn't understand the benefits any of us were receiving from the arrangement. Do you know the party line on this?

  2. I think he received the most important benefits at the most important time - it's like kangaroo care stuff - regulated breathing, etc, taking his cues from mom, nearby. And you were able to quickly respond when he needed something.

    I think your schedule is probably pretty common.

    If ours had kept her nighttime routine from the 2-4.5 month range (sleeping from 8 or so until 3 or so, with one regular wake to feed) I probably would've transitioned her to her room by now as well. But she changed up that schedule for a far more labor intensive one that meant, most likely, I'd have been spending nights sleeping in the glider in her room instead of in bed.

    There's plenty of literature out there that lauds bedsharing or co-sleeping in the same terms as breastfeed if you want to look for it. I don't know that I really embrace all those reasons. For me, right now, it's more practical than anything else. But I take some comfort in the more granola-y reasons as well. May as well, if this is what I'm doing now.