Whenever the conversation was brought up about us co-sleeping with Aiden, people immediately began to rattle off a list of why it was bad. At the time, I was always super offended and couldn’t understand what was SO wrong with it. Nothing made me happier than having her snuggled up next to me and I was convinced that it was the best way for everyone to get the most sleep at night.
Of course, as a first time parent, I had no idea what was the best thing to do and we’d never really discussed what the game plan would be for our sleeping situation once Aiden arrived. That being said, before Aiden was born, we did buy a basinet, Doc-A-Tot and crib. We wanted to be prepared for anything, so we bought/registered for just about any and every baby gadget someone suggested. We’d heard different opinions about each gadget and our hope was that (at least) one of them would do the trick.
When we first got home from the hospital, we “slept” on the couch (because I couldn’t get into our bed after my c-section) and Aiden slept in her Doc-A-Tot in between Matt and I. Those initial nights were such a blur and sleep was the farthest thing from our minds, as we sat there nervously watching our brand new baby.
After about a week, we finally moved upstairs and to Matt’s dismay, the Doc-A-Tot quickly became a thing of the past as Aiden had made her way into the middle of our bed. However, it was a hundred times more convenient for me, because I could just lay there and nurse her, rather than get up, pick her up, from the Doc-A-Tot or bassinet, feed her and then risk waking her up as I put her back down.
Of course, during the first few months, we had some rough nights, but overall, we seemed to be sleeping fairly well. Regardless, Matt was constantly pressuring me to move Aiden into the Doc-A-Tot and the stubbornness in me, refused to listen. I was content having her close to me and I wasn’t ready to try anything else, even if everyone continued to tell me how dangerous it was.
We continued to sleep great (well, as great as you can with a newborn), until around month four, when Aiden became mobile. It was like a flick of a switch and I went from sleeping 6-8 hours, to being woken up constantly, because she was squirming, kicking and rolling over. Basically over night, our bed had turned into a gymnastics arena.
And, despite all of the squirming and constant movement, I was still extremely hesitant to move her out of our bed. Until one night, I watched Aiden roll over onto her belly and not be able to get herself back up/roll back over. I immediately knew that regardless of how much I loved snuggling with her at night, the reality of how easily she could suffocate completely trumped everything. However, the idea of moving her to her crib, in her room, which is on the opposite side of our house, was completely terrifying to me - she was still so small!
Finally, we compromised and agreed that we would start her transition to sleeping independently, by putting her in the co-sleeper basinet, next to our bed. Matt warned me that because she was used to having someone next to her, she was going to have a hard time sleeping in the bassinet by herself and that if she fussed, I needed leave her be. Our pediatrician agreed with Matt and said that babies Aiden’s age are completely capable of going (roughly) 8 hours without eating and that Aiden was nursing because it was soothing, not because she was actually hungry.
When we finally moved Aiden into the bassinet, she had such a tough time staying asleep and was waking up/crying every 1-2 hours. I couldn’t get myself to leave her be and lay there as she cried, so I was constantly waking up to feed her/soothe her. After about a week of seriously trying to get her to sleep in the basinet, we were so miserable and I knew there was no way this sleeping situation was going to work.
At this point, Matt put his foot down and presented me with a lot of information on the benefits of independent sleeping. I finally agreed to give it a shot, and knew that it was going to an adjustment for all of us.
We had never tried the “self soothe” thing, prior to moving Aiden to her crib, so it was extremely hard to listen to her cry those first few nights. She cried, for what felt like forever (but turned out to be like 15 minutes) and would fall right back asleep. Those initial nights were extremely difficult and I spent most of them staring at the baby monitor. I honestly thought there was no way I was ever going to get used to having her so far away, at night and I definitely didn’t think I would ever be able to peel my eyes off that monitor. But, like all of our research said, after about a week, Aiden was sleeping 8-10 hours without waking up to eat.
As we all got used to this new sleeping arrangement, it was absolutely amazing to see how the atmosphere in our house completely changed. Not only, were we sleeping so much better, but my and Matt’s relationship got some normalcy back and we were actually able to hangout, watch a show together, talk or simply relax. I hadn’t realized how much of a back burner our relationship had taken until we were able to spend some time together.
I was blown away at how Aiden’s overall mood and sleep schedule improved, because she was sleeping through the night. When she was co-sleeping, I had such a hard time getting her to nap because she just wanted to be held, which meant if I made any sudden movement, I was going to wake her up. Once she started sleeping in her crib, I was able to put her in there for naptime and know that she was going to get a solid nap, with no interruptions.
I was also shocked to see how her feeding schedule changed. She went from grazing on a few ounces of a bottle here and there, throughout the day and eating a ton at night, to eating a substantial amount, during each feeding, throughout the day. Because she was eating more throughout the day, we were finally able to get her on eating/sleep schedule and create a daytime routine, which was something we didn’t have prior to moving her into her crib.
Although, I miss snuggling with her, I’m able to go to bed each night knowing that she’s asleep in the safest possible place. We all get a full night’s rest and have a solid daytime routine. Aiden’s overall mood changed drastically and she naps for longer periods of time. I am beyond thankful for the consistency and schedule that we’ve gained since moving Aiden into her crib.
So, if you’re struggling with a schedule or getting your baby to sleep for long periods of time, without nursing as a soothing method, I would highly recommend trying to move them to their own space, where you won’t tend to them every time they fuss. And even though it was rough in the beginning, I am extremely glad that we didn’t give up. Aiden adapted and is happier than ever. I know, if you give it a shot, your baby will adapt too. Of course, please take into consideration that I am no expert and this was just our experience.