Whether you and your partner planned to invite your premiere newborn darling into your conjugal bed, or the incessant crying and sleep deprivation tumbled all three of you together mindlessly under the covers, co-sleeping is a reality for many families. Some experts recommend it. Your mother no doubt has a tight-lipped opinion on it. And the love of your life has either embraced it or is scheming daily to get out of it. All the while you may be wondering how “doing it” (the other “it”) will ever happen again with junior alternately snuggling and squalling between the two of you. Or “doing it” has now receded in importance for you as you cuddle the new love of your life. You probably wish your partner would just “give it up.”
An entire industry has grown up around co-sleeping. Furniture makers design special cribs to open onto the parental sleep estate. Any number of pundits are explaining why it is the only way to parent. Others argue the family bed is instead a surefire way to ensure you will parent completely separately after the ink on divorce decree is dry. What is a new parent to do? And, if you have already fallen down this cozy rabbit hole, how does it play out as your babe in arms becomes a tough and tenacious blanket stealing toddler. How do you manage to add another sleepy head or two to the mix? Heavens knows how the birds and the bees explains those connubial victories ;-).
Is co-sleeping best for your family?
First and foremost, only you and your beloved can determine if the family bed is best for your familial constellation. If both parents are feeling comfortable with the littles sharing pillows, space, and precious time, by all means go for it. If you never really liked the idea of co-sleeping or the group snooze has gone on longer than you feel is working for you and the relationship, it may be time to reassess.
Before the tykes take over so completely that the relationship that conceived, carried, bore, and nurtured them is on life support, or even pronounced DOA by one or both of you, the adults need to have a serious discussion. Perhaps you will find that your partner is also stressed rather than soothed by the continuous sleepover. On the other hand you have a contentious possibility looming on the horizon if one parent is more married to the crowded bed than to the person who helped to populate it.
Some couples can work out an evolving set of compromises that keeps the whole family (reasonably) happy. Transitioning older kids to trundle beds or mattresses on the floor before an out and out eviction works for some families.Once nursing at night is waning many moms are happy to banish the babe to another room.
Other couples spice it up with private time for each other in another bedroom, on the living room sectional, or in the shower as the young pups snore together in their parents’ bed. Some kids outgrow the family bed even before their parents, and you might be wise to follow their lead. Savvy spouses and partners agree to disagree now, leaving the kids in the sheets for the moment, and promise to readdress the issue in a few months’ time. The relationship between parents is the bedrock the family bed rests upon, and both members of the couple need to respect that and their partner’s needs.
If you and your partner cannot agree now or in the future on co-sleeping consider seeking some counseling. A loving beginning need not devolve into a bitter end because of a misalignment of priorities. And any young lovers who come across this article before baby makes three need to take this subject seriously. Discuss co-sleeping with your partner. This will remove surprises or disappointment once that little angel flies into your arms, and maybe your bed.