For our Babies:
What I liked about Co-sleeping was:
- I could nurse them easily without having to get up and be wide awake. Mainly- I didn't lose as much sleep. With sleep being a precious commodity for a young mother this worked very well for me.
- Being near my babies and being able to be sure they were okay.
- I have read that is reduces the risk of SIDS because the baby follows the parents sleeping pattern and heart beat.
- We had more bonding time.
I know some parents have many concerns about this method such as:
~"They might fall out!" I'll be honest, this did happen a couple of times but it was when they were bigger (and rolling), it was on carpet and they didn't get hurt- we just both got scared.
~"They'll never want to leave your bed." We chose to "kick" them out at around 1 year and never had much difficulty with that, none of our kids sleep with us now.
~"We won't be able to have physical intimacy as a couple." This doesn't need to be unless you choose it to be, and if that is so you need to get creative and fix that problem.
~"We'll crush them." As long as you haven't been drinking alcohol or are on drugs (which Ken and I never did and I hope you are doing that either!) this is very unlikely to happen. I did prefer to keep the babies over on the other side of me (I slept in the middle) since I would bring them to bed in the middle of the night and with Ken being a pretty sound sleeper he wasn't necessarily aware of it.
I never had a baby who slept through the night but with co-sleeping I was able to survive even with middle of the night feedings. It worked quite well for me. When our babies were still under a year they were pretty much on the same schedule as us, going to bed when we did and then getting up a little after us but then they would take many naps.
For our toddlers:
At this point in time we started putting them to bed a little earlier and they started napping a little less.
We don't have an early bedtime for our kids compared to many families that I know. Our kids go to bed around 9:15-9:30pm. This works for us as generally they don't have to be up super early either as we eat breakfast as a family at around 8 am. Since Ken doesn't have to be to work super early and we home school we can be a bit more flexible. Going to bed a bit later works well when we are out in the evening for church or any other event.
Ken is in charge of bedtime with the kids. This started when Jonathan was a baby and Mara was 2. At this point I was getting both kids ready for bed and then I would take my shower and by the time I got that all done it would take quite a while and Ken would be waiting for me to finally be ready for bed. So he ended up taking over making sure Mara was ready for bed (though I would do the bathing when necessary) and then read her a bedtime story. Each time a baby was added Ken would have another kid to be responsible for though then they could take care of themselves fairly well.
Our routine now is that the kids dress themselves for bed and brush their teeth (at this point they are all fairly self-sufficient) and then Ken reads a bedtime story to them. After they are in bed I sing a song and pray with them. We both kiss and hug them all and tell them goodnight.
One thing we have been fairly firm on in our training is that once they are put in bed, they stay in bed. Otherwise bedtime can turn into a very long drawn out process with children popping out with a new need every few minutes. Sometimes our kids do forget to go the bathroom or get a drink and we aren't inflexible but they know better then to get up and mess around.
Now that Mara and Jonathan are reading a lot we do allow them most nights (they request it each night from Ken and he gives them a limit) to read with a lamp on for a bit. Usually he allows around 2 chapters.
Over all bedtime has gone pretty smoothly for us. We have had to do some training but it has worked well and bedtime is pretty stress free. I do really like the traditions that have developed with reading, singing and praying to help them get ready for sleep.
What works for you all when putting your kids to be? Do you like Co-sleeping or not? I would love to hear your opinions too.