I have literally been dreaming about sleep. There I am, sprangled out like a starfish in the middle of a fluffy white confection of a goose down bed, snoring away. My reality: Coraline’s the starfish, daddy’s snoring, and I’m clinging to the edge of the bed like Jack to Rose’s raft at the end of Titanic. Ah, the family bed.
Spatial logistics aside, I like co-sleeping. I believe in co-sleeping. Which is not to say that I haven’t had many, many mornings where I wake up sore and exhausted because Coraline was latched on all night and ask myself, “Why?” Then I watch my daughter talk delightedly to the ceiling with a big goofy smile on her face, and am quickly reminded that I do what I do because it ultimately feels right. Nighttime can be hard — it can seem long, lonely, and scary, even for a well-adjusted adult. So why would it be the best time for a new baby to spend hours in a room alone? I definitely buy into the idea that more than being “taught” to soothe themselves, babies need to be nurtured in that vulnerable time between sleep and awake, to learn that sleep is not scary.
This does not mean that co-sleeping is without its obstacles. While I get more sleep because I don’t have to get up to nurse, Coraline likely nurses more because she can. And though I believe bed-sharing contributes significantly to Coraline’s sense of security, it doesn’t always contribute to my sense of sanity. But I wouldn’t do it any other way. I’ve definitely found that people’s nighttime parenting style is as personal a choice as circumcision or vaccination, and is perhaps best left as such. But there’s a lot of middle ground between “crying it out” and bed-sharing. Here are some helpful Web resources on everything sleep, from addressing the obstacles of co-sleeping to gentle sleep training strategies. Sweet dreams…