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Friday, March 30, 2012

Co-sleeping

The pic really has nothing to do with co-sleeping...
except perhaps that this is what she looks like when she is well rested!  Cute as a bug!
I won't show you what I look like these days.  It ain't pretty.  
At a time when most parents are trying to get their toddler out of their bed and into their own bed, I'm doing things bass-ackwards again.  Our new daughter is 24 months old, and I'm just now starting to learn how to co-sleep with her.
To be honest, I never thought much about co-sleeping with our bio kiddos.  Not that we had anything against it.  It was circa 1993 when Sunny was born, before "back to sleep is best" was ever even heard of, and these things just weren't on the radar.   And to be honest, I'm a sleep snob and have myself convinced that I need at least 7 solid hours each night to function like a reasonable human being, not to mention the required 300-thread count sheets, 2 extra-firm king-size pillows, the ceiling fan turned on low, and absolutely no digital clocks at all in the room.  I told you I was a sleep snob.  So even though I had somewhat subscribed to "attachment parenting" in part with all of our bio children, co-sleeping was never really a consideration.

Then Tess and Jude came home, and we were committed to do all we could to foster healthy attachments x2, so we tried sleeping with them in our bed.  In the throws of re-entry with 2 toddlers, and one with full leg casts that continually struck me in the middle of the night...
in the head
and body
and arms
and legs
and Tess's head
and Papa's head
co-sleeping lasted less than a week, and we gave up.
honestly in hind sight, I'm amazed it lasted that long.

Now Mimi is home, and we find ourselves giving co-sleeping another good ol' college try.  I've conceded that my sleep won't be as sound.  And I'm ok with that because honestly I'll do anything to help Mimi's attachment and mental security... especially in light of what happened last time.   Plus I am getting some sleep too, but it's just not great sleep, and I'm absolutely positive that there must be some tricks and tips to make co-sleeping more successful.

Here are the hang-ups.
----Mimi thrashes about a bit through out the night.  Right now I have a king pillow between us and this seems to help the  repeatitively-being-kicked-in-the-face problem.  But still she thrashes about in her sleep.  Any tips for training her to sleep vertically with her head at the top of the bed?  Or maybe that's asking too much?
----Currently, I sleep in the middle and Mimi is on the outside.  I have a barricade built up on her side of the bed made from the back of a couple chairs pushed up against the bed, and many pillows rolled up and shoved in the cracks.  Are there any bed rails out there that work with King beds?  Or should she be in the middle of us instead?
----She often hits her sweet head against the head board.  Although this doesn't even wake her, the sound of it does wake me often.   I tried putting another pillow up there, but it doesn't stay up there and the ridiculous number of pillows on the bed is only reducing the surface area.  Should I just not sorry about her hitting her head since it doesn't seem to bother her at all?

We have a toddler bed, right next to our bed, ready to go.  And eventually this is where she will be.  But I'd really like the timing of her transition to her own bed to be based on her attachment and security, rather than my own sleep snobbery.  At the rate we're going, she'll be in her toddler bed sooner rather than later.   But my gut says it's just not time yet.  That she could definitely benefit from co-sleeping for a while longer.

The overall issue, I'm not sleeping all that great because I'm waking up no less than 7,903 times per night.  Our king size bed seems incredibly small for the 3 of us.  She seems to be sleeping great on the other hand.

So if you dare admit that you're a proponent of the family bed, and risk outing your hippy status, would you consider passing on some tricks and tips to a co-sleeping novice?     Any advice would be very welcome.

30 comments:

  1. Maybe you could get a little bed like the one on this web page that would be for a toddler. Then she could be right next to you in arms reach but have a safe and comfortable space for her.

    Here is the web page address:

    http://www.wayfair.com/Arms-Reach-Mini-Co-Sleeper-Bassinet-in-Euro-Mini-4111EN-ARM1221.html?refid=FR49-ARM1221

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  2. We took a side off the crib and sidecar it next to the bed...that way she's with me but has her space....she starts the night in her crib, by morning she's in my arms :)

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  3. The ones that sneak in during the night go in the middle of our bed. I wouldn't worry about the headboard issue. She will stop when it hurts too bad. I turn my back to them after they use my arm to fall asleep. Buy good side sleeper pillows for yourself. Then....let her fall asleep with you, have Papa put her in her toddler bed right near yours. Then....move her to her room when you think she is ready. YOU must rest to foster a good relationship with the entire family lol....After two weeks of Wen and Adaline flipping and flopping in their packnplays in my room, I decided they could do that in their room. Praying for all of you!

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  4. I was about to say the same exact thing as Elena. This will even prevent her little head from banging on something hard. You can even go a little further and maybe put a bed rail towards the feet of the co-sleeper to prevent her from kicking you and slipping into your bed, yet there's enough room for you to reach and touch each other.
    If it doesn't work with the co-sleeper, you can attach it to your bed.
    Here it is from the same website that Elena used:

    http://www.wayfair.com/Munchkin-Safety-Toddler-Bed-Rail-1440614416-MZC1086.html


    And, this is the bigger sized co-sleeper:

    http://www.wayfair.com/Arms-Reach-Original-Co-Sleeper-in-Black-and-Toffee-8112BS-BT-ARM1147.html

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  5. I'm not a co-sleeper, per se, but there are times I let the kids come on in... if your cat dies, you get to sleep with mom and dad... if you just had surgery, just got adopted, etc....

    I find that keeping a sleeping kid really close comforts them, while protecting me. They just can't get up enough force to really hurt me if they are snuggled closely.

    We have also used a guard rail to prevent falling off the bed... it has saved me more often than the children. We have a king, and the Safety First guard rail only covers about half the length of the bed, but none of my kids have worked their way down to the bottom of the bed....

    One useful thing that can be said for co-sleeping is that it can make traveling easier. I have one child who WOULD NOT co-sleep as a baby, so even if we were just going somewhere for one night, we had to haul a huge, space-hog of a playpen with us.

    Hope you get some good, injury free sleep!
    Maria

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  6. I never would have guessed 3 years ago that I'd be so PRO co-sleeping, but after 2 years with my daughter in our bed every night, and still a couple times a week, I swear by it, especially for adopted children. Google co-sleeping pillows and you'll get some good ideas. There's something called a humanity bed for about $200 that looks neat and we almost got that but, instead we just bough 4 cheap versions of the tres tria pillows, which you just slide under your fitted sheet on the edge and it's a gentle barrier, not perfect, but works most of the time. We use this when we travel. For Bea, we moved our queen bed against a wall and Bea slept between me and the wall(with a down comforter stuffed down to fill the couple inches of gap). Now she comes between us mostly, but what works many nights is to put her head down near the footboard (if you have one) and her body between our legs. We sometimes put one pillow down there. She often chooses that since it's less crowded in the lower 1/2 of the bed. Good luck. I think it's worth it in the end, although I did become a coffee drinker at age 43....

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  7. I'm a single so co-sleeping means sharing a queen bed but I'm still happy to share our 2+ years experience.

    - Hannah continually hit her head too. One thing that worked well for us was a rolled up towel at the top of the bed. She still hit it some but less than before. (One time we were sharing a hotel room with my parents and in the morning they asked if I was going to report the broken bed to the front desk. I was a little bewildered until I realized what they were asking and let them know that the bed was fine, it was their granddaughter's head bumping the headboard all-night-long. Thankfully that passed with time, shortly after 2yo.)

    - bed rail. I use this one: http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Infant-Plush-Single-Bedrail/dp/B001N44UXU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333128897&sr=8-1 It has straps that go under the mattress and secure to the opposite side of the bed. Unfortunately they are only long enough for a queen bed but hopefully someone with sewing skills could help you change straps to ones that fit a king bed.

    It could be that since Maizie isn't used to a lot of covers that she moves away from the pillows, etc in her sleep?

    - Vertical sleeping. It comes with time but a couple of things that worked for us were
    a) not too many covers. She would turn vertical to get out from under covers. A sleepsack helped with this
    b) could it be that she feels most secure touching you? My DD just turned 3 but within seconds of me getting in bed she will still wiggle and turn until her feet can touch me. Not sure if Mazie might not turn as much if she could easily touch?

    Oh the kicking in the face and head. I remember it well and it's so not fun! Hope you're able to find something that works for you.

    Are you familiar with a co-sleeper crib? A friend of mine used one of those and it worked well for her.

    Hope this is even a little helpful. You're doing the very best for your little love by co-sleeping. Hopefully some of the kinks can be worked out soon.

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  8. Oh my goodness THANK YOU for the tips! You guys are great! There are some things here I hadn't heard or thought of. Things that only those who have BTDT would know. All the advice I find is for newborns. I'm really looking forward to trying out some new ideas!
    Keep 'em coming!
    Nancy

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  9. Would never dare out myself as a fan of co-sleeping. Three biological children and NOT ONE of them ever spent one night in our bed. and then we adopted our daughter Grace. She has spent at least 1/2 of every night since she has been home (almost a year)safely between the two us night. I swear it has been the KEY to attachment. Best thing we have done. I don't have any advice...other than let you know there are others out there being hit, punched, kicked all night long for the love of our children. We have the headboard hitting problem too. I find that sleeping on my side (away from her) helps me sleep through the kicking and punching. I roll over and cuddle her if she wakes up and needs it. I haven't slept in a year... but it's still worth it!

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  10. Boy, is this a HUGE topic of debate in my circle. ;) I've been both judged and lauded. I was a a major sleep snob. The worst. Completely blacked-out room, fan for white noise, doors closed...you get the picture. My almost 4-yr old has been home with us for almost a year and a half. Since then, I can count on one hand the number of nights I have slept all night. And I used to be a 9-hour-a-night-in-order-to-function person! The thing is, I know he is not ready to sleep on his own. He still wakes up a few times (at least) every night, looks for me, sighs, and (usually) goes back to sleep. He, too, is an incredibly restless sleeper. AND, we have to have a dim light on. Ahhhh! How I reminisce about those quiet, painless nights. (I got a kidney kick at about 4:30 this a.m.) We have a queen bed and use a guard rail that fits well. I wish I had other advice to help you sleep through the night. Mostly I'm here to sympathize and offer moral support! :) All I can really say is, even though I'm losing sleep, I actually value you and cherish this time of bonding with my baby. Best of luck!

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  11. *that is value and cherish, not value you...although I do as this blog has been a great source of insight! hahaha!

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  12. I actually slept in my sons bed for a long time, with the crib/toddler bed tucked right up against it, which works great. Next time we will take that toddler bed and push it right up to our own bed though, and we will share that. The sleep sack for feet works really well, remember she is used to being bundled, so try that, and those pillows that they used for hernia patients, hard foam wedge shaped ones, they work great for headboard bumpers.
    Best of luck and keep at it, it takes time, but soon you will be used to her bumping and thrashing, and won't wake as often.

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  13. Great discussion. We only have a queen. Never co-slept until the youngest came and it turned him around from a very rough beginning. Now at 2 1/2 he comes in often and assumes the H position. I get the feet, Dad gets the head. No words of wisdom except that it doesn't last forever...If I had a king I would definitely try those under the sheets pillows.

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  14. I slept in my sons bed for a long time when he came home, with his crib/toddler bed tucked up against the side for him. Next time we will just put the toddler bed up against ur own bed and use it that way, it works great and they are still really close, but cannot fall out!!
    Try swaddling her legs, or making a sleep sack out of an old thirst, tied at the bottom snuggly against her legs, she is likely used to lots of wrapping, even in sleep.
    For our eldest, and second I would at times, and still do when younger (adopted) daughter have bad days/weeks, sleep in their beds, but to stave off the kicking I snug them tight up to my body, so they feel my heart beat and hear me breathing, it soothes them, and me!!,

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  15. Coming out here as a full on hippie...We have co-slept with our 4 year old daughter since she was born- not sure how we're going to fit our new preschooler from china into the bed- but we'll find a way as I think it's such a wonderful experience.
    It's obviously a little different since we have co-slept from day one- but here are my thoughts.
    We have a king sized temper-pedic mattress on the floor- I know people don't like to always remove their beautiful bedroom furniture, but when we co-sleep in regular beds in hotels I am always stressed about the headboard, her falling off, etc. It's just so much easier this way. So if that is an option for you that might be something to try. You could put a twin mattress right next to the king mattress on the floor for extra room and not then have to buy any fancy co-sleeper, etc. I would then put your husband on that twin mattress so that she is right there next to you. Our daughter sleeps between us. She kicks sometimes- but I have to say that I have noticed a direct correlation with the kicks and excessive restlessness when she is over-tired or when she is going through some emotional changes. So as Mazie gets more and more comfortable with you all I think there is a chance that some of the restlessness will cease. Also, when my daughter gets restless and twists around in bed, I pick her up and turn her straight, head on the pillow, and gently but firmly settle her body there (assuming this wouldn't wake Mazie)- sort of pushing gently down on her legs to keep them in position. Not sure that it prevents the twisting- but it does seem to help train her to lie straight. If you think how some indigenous peoples sleep in hammocks all night- they must somehow teach their children to lie straight and not twist out of them!
    She's a precious babe- I hope you get some more sleep soon. Glad she is sleeping so well.

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  16. Kick your hubby out of the bed for the time being ;-) Worked for us (me and my daughter, that is!) ha ha

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  17. I will echo that the towel at the headboard helps with the head bumping.

    Less covers...as they usually want to touch and feel you at all times. Consider yourself lucky, when my little one came home from China she HAD to sleep on my chest at all times. If I moved a hair she woke up bloody screaming. I have a bad back so it killed me after a hour. I had to sleep this way or should I say lay this way in order to keep her sleeping the entire night. Plus I was single mom- who was working. Yes...longest two years of my life. She still comes in my room at age 6.5 yr but does not have to sleep ON me but needs a body part touching me.

    Does she have a lovey yet? For my little one she had such a hard time sleeping until I figured out she had a favorite blanket while in China. BINGO...She actually discovered a blanket in her room that a friend gave me and it was love at first sight. She still sleeps with it. Keep trying with different blankets (for her it was a jersey knit from Gymboree with red ladybugs). After time I found out via a translated message from her nanny in China that her favorite blanket was indeed pink with a red trim and polka dots (looks a lot like the lady bugs). I was giving her a fuzzy soft blanket to sleep with and it just was not cutting it for her. So keep trying to get her to attach to a special lovey (blanket or teddy) so she can hug it while sleeping. This will usually help settle her while sleeping.

    For the side invest in twin side rails and just put both on the one side where she is.

    BIG tip from my experience is buy a Chinese lullabye CD and play it for her .... worked wonder for my little one. Turned out that she was home sick and needed to hear Chinese. After awhile I was able to change it to American lullabye music. But do play Chinese music even during the day. This will bring the familair back into her life. I did with with my oldest who was born in Vietnam and came home at 3.5 months. We watched and danced to Vietnames children's music videos. Way cool. You can get them from the internet easily. Also iTunes has them (songs).

    Remember to do something for you.... laugh everyday and sleep when she does-- if she naps...try to.

    Best wishes and many blessings.
    Diane
    Mommy to the M&M Girls

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  18. Oh my goodness, her sweet picture!!! She looks content and peaceful!!!

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  19. We have been home 3 months and you just summed our situation perfectly! Did not co-sleep with my boys (bio and domestic) but we are in the midst of co-sleeping with our daughter. I knew we would attempt it but it looks like we are in for the long haul, though I hope there is a toddler bed in the not-so-distant future!
    We have foam bed rails that go under the sheets for the boys that we love and don't take up much space. But you can also use a couple of pool noodles under the sheets.
    And let me know what you find out about the vertical sleeping, we have major issues in that department!
    Julie

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  20. We're co-sleeping. I was absolutely positively not going to co-sleep with our oldest. (It takes very little to spoil sleep for me for the night and I am basically evil when I don't sleep.) But after about 3 months of not sleeping because my little darling woke up and screamed bloody murder every single time she touched the crib mattress (she was fine-- then we moved when she was 3 months old and that killed the crib for her). We tried everything (cry it out led to screaming till she vomited and we had to bathe her and completely change out the crib and she was still awake). So one night I was waiting for the hubby to get out of the shower and take his turn walking the baby. I was bleary eyed and exhausted and decided she could cry, but I was lying down. She rolled off my shoulder, curled up in the middle of our bed and went right to sleep. That was it. She slept with us after that (moved to her own room around the time she turned two-- crib mattress on the floor in our room for a while, then in her room with me lying down with her till she fell asleep-- she never did sleep in the actual crib).

    So, armed with experience and adoption books, baby #2 was absolutely going to co-sleep. Except she would have none of it. From the first night out of the hospital (two days old) she would. not. sleep. with. me. She had to be swaddled (in fact I had to make light weight blankets in large sizes because she would not sleep unless swaddled until she was nearly three) and she wanted her own space. She attached quickly and thoroughly, and she will to this day come and snuggle in bed but she wants to sleep in her own space.

    So here we are with #3. The idea of sleeping in the crib-- child abuse, clearly (if you ask her-- note we haven't tried it, but the mention of it gets a clear response). She sleeps in the middle (my fear of her falling). She's a big fan of putting her head into me and her feet into her father. She pulled the covers up tonight for the first time ever-- usually covers wake her and make her very angry. We have a queen, so I'm sleeping on the very edge of the bed. No, it's not restful (don't ask #1 or #2 how I'm handling the lack of sleep-- I think I'm doing well but I suspect they'd say something a tad different). Sometimes putting my hand on her will calm the thrashing around. Sometimes whispering "mama's here" does it. Sometimes nothing helps.

    Oddly, she sleeps sucking on the edge of a cloth (burp cloth). She came with one tied around her neck like a kerchief and it was noted in the papers we got from the SWI. Trying to get her to sleep without it is near impossible. It's quite a sight, but it works. Her version of a pacifier I guess.

    If rolled towels don't work on the headboard, try a crib bumper. Or get some foam at a fabric store and stand it up along the headboard (will help with impact more than a towel but one or two inch thick foam takes up a lot less space than pillows).

    Now to go look up some of these handy dandy products people mentioned-- I had no idea!

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  21. I guess co-sleeping isn't that big of an issue over here (Norway). Still I think there are different opinions here as well. We had bio kids who never slept whole nights, so to survive of course we co-slept ;-) When we brought our adoptive son home, he was 13 months. We put his bed next our small(!) bed (140 cm) and he fell asleep in it and came over during the night. He sleeps in the middle (that is on my pillow and mostly on my side...) Now the bed is placed next to the wall in the same room and either he calls for us or just climbs out of his and into ours.

    We didn't sleep well for five years the last time, we can manage less sleep this time as well ;-) They are kids that feel safe and loved :-)

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  22. I'm just beginning the adoption process and anticipating adopting internationally. I plan to co-sleep for all the attachment reasons.. but my big question is this - do all you parents who are co-sleeping go to bed with your children? Does this mean I will have the same bedtime as my child for the next few years? (Single parent)

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  23. Anonymous-
    I do go to bed/nap with her and lay down. But once she's asleep, I get back up. About 15-20 min later. I wondered about that too. I wonder what others do. That's just what works for us.
    Nancy

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  24. We also took the side off the crib and put her right next to our bed where she could reach over and feel us. It didn't last long but it worked well.

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  25. About bed time -

    I think it depends on your child's needs. With my first, she was 3 months old and she did not co-sleep. She did not "need it" I guess. I was matched when she was 18 days old met her when she was 5 weeks. I spent one week in VN with her and then came home (two trips required at time) then returned for about a month and was in a hotel and she slept with me out of necessity. I loved it as a new mommy. When we came home she went into her nursey with no issues.

    With my second child she was nearly 1 year old when she came home from China and she needed to sleep on my chest and she needed to touch me at all times (see my post above). So I did have to sleep at the same time she did. It was a killer. I did it for two year. I was exhausted... but she needed it. As a working mom her needed to work from home once home from work...it was hard. But, it all worked out.

    Now my girls are 9.5 and 6.5 and both will take turns "sneaking" into my bed to sleep with me. I love it....they are young once. And, if they still need to be with me then they are welcomed. When they come to sleep with me they still need to touch me. They do not sleep with me all the time now. It is sweet when they do and we do not go to bed at the same time.

    I think you will know what you child needs. You experiment and see how your child responds.
    Best wishes.
    Diane
    Mommy to M&M Girls

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  26. Nancy,
    We just got back with our babe on February 26, and I did everything you're doing. Finally, we decided that it will be just me and Audrey in bed for awhile because there just is not enough room for all of us and all the pillows. I'm sleeping better with an extra six inches of bed and so is she. Plus, she does not want any covers on her. Once I stopped putting blankets on her, she slept better, too.

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  27. We often have, much to my dismay, 5 of us sleeping in a queen size bed by morning. The only way it works is for us all to kind of spoon... On our sides and cuddled up. That way no one has enough room to squirm. Not ideal...but our kids are only 10 months apart and nobody wants to be left out :-)

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  28. We bought an inflatable bed rail for China and it worked great!!!! You place it under the fitted sheet for it to stay in place. If you had two you could put on between you and her as well. I did that with my daughter so she wouldn't continuely roll into me and kick or hit me during the night.

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  29. Responding to the question about going to bed when child/baby does. My daughter came home at 8 months old and for the first 14 months when she went to bed, I went to bed. It was a challenge yet a decision I regret for a moment. 'Going to bed' though meant sitting on our bed with a table lamp on (she could sleep with a light on) and I would blog, surf the web, etc. I would also read and eventually started watching TV quietly. The odd time that I attempted to leave the room while she slept if she woke and didn't see me she would LOSE IT and we lost ground for a few days. I quickly learned that she needed to see me at all times. I must also say that she was in a SWI where the nanny slept in her room with 3 other babies so she always had this and never knew what it was to wake up alone.

    After 14 months of going to bed with her I began to transition to leaving once she was asleep. I explained that I was gong to do this so that it wasn't a surprise if she woke up. I use a monitor and go to her immediately if she wakes up.

    For the past 6 months or so we have our cuddle, prayer time and bottle (I'm in no rush to end her bedtime bottle as it's a real time of bonding) and then I tell her goodnight and go downstairs.

    The interesting thing I found was when I was staying with her until she fell asleep it normally took her 20-90 minutes. Now she's asleep within 5-10. I think she was concerned with me leaving so would make herself stay awake.

    Anyway, hope this is helpful.

    Catherine, a co-sleeping single mom

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  30. I shudder just thinking about bedtime! lol. L has been here for almost 5 years and we still have nighttime issues. They seriously didn't improve until the whole "Charlie puppy" thing came about. I would love to have cuddled with her each and every night and slept with her peacefully in my arms. It just wasn't and isn't so. Instead she nearly beat me to death for years! I tried so many things in the beginning just for my own personal safety (lol)... we did the co-sleeper thing, took off one side of her crib and pushed it up against my side of the bed, me sleeping in her room, heck I had actually climbed into her crib with her at one point for a while. We did a blowup mattress. One year for Xmas my mom bought Mike a huge body pillow to protect himself from her. Didn't work! He would put of the "wall of jeans" between her and him. He would gather up ALL of the pants he owned and make a wall. I hope sleep improves for you. I wouldn't want you to age 10 years in one year's time like me! Sleep deprivation is NASTY! And what was I thinking with this whole puppy thing because now I have L in her bed finally and a puppy waking me up all night now?! Mike was away last week for business and I had L sleep with me. It's been a while but I got a quick reminder of what it was like.

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