We get it. We really do. After all, we are mothers ourselves. In fact, we have 13 kids between us.
The impulse to stay close to your baby is so deeply rooted in our DNA that it is frightening sometimes, or all the time. We are sure that primal instincts (+ evolutionary defense) are the root behind what causes this biological response, but it feels like straight up, 100% love.
We love our tiny humans so much that we want to be in contact with them 365 days and nights a year. Every minute, and every second. In the heat, in the cold. Through the ups, through the downs. Heck, we remember the first time we took them for a car ride and missed them when we were in the front seat and they were in the back. We are attached.
And hey, our babes don’t seem to mind the minute after minute cuddles, either. Plus, there’s just something so maternal and so special, about snuggling up with your babe, that it almost seems crazy not to.
Co-sleep aka co-get kicked in the face
Or at least that’s how some of us felt up until we attempted co-sleeping. Then it was more like, “Listen up, little person, I love you a ton, you love me equally as much, that’s been more than established. But I can’t sleep next to someone who doesn’t have any control over their movement, sounds, smells or flat out flailing. Not to mention you jamming your tiny little foot into my eye at the butt-crack-of-dawn is just simply not going to work for me.”
We have plenty of friends who still co-sleep and they swear by it. Some of them even have more than one kid sleeping in bed with them. Others choose to co-sleep with their kiddos and have kicked their partner to the curb (errr couch).
Power to people, power to them, and power to you if you are one of them. After all, you do you, mama. If you enjoy it and you’re doing it safely, we say co-sleep your heart out.
But we’ve spoken to HUNDREDS of parents who used to be big team co-sleep, but now they are over it (understandably so), and reaching out to us to find out if sleep training while bed-sharing will get their little ones to stop wiggling all over the bed, hogging the covers, or waking up twelve-ish times a night for a little snooze and suckle. (And in case you were wondering, your sixteen month old does definitely not need feeds every hour or so. WE PROMISE).
We really wish we had a more “what you want to hear” answer for the parents that we chat with having that request. We wish we could tell you that teaching your baby to sleep well was possible in your bed (and with their limbs in your face). We wish we could help you sync up these two best-case-scenarios to live in well-rested harmony. We wish we could confidently say that you can co-sleep cuddled right up to your little one but not have them disrupting your own sleep over and over again through the night. Because that would be FLAT OUT AWESOME, no question about that.
Can you co-sleep and sleep train?
Unfortunately, this “best of both worlds” magical solution is not really possible for two major reasons:
1 — Babes (from newborn through toddler and sometimes even childhood) are very restless sleepers. They are animated. They wiggle and wrestle, they squeak and squeal. They are constantly rearranging themselves to get comfy, and they twist as good as you did when playing Twister in the frat house basement back in college. (Yup, TOTALLY went there)!
2 — Your offspring think you are the world’s greatest human and though this is awesome, it makes sleeping together pretty tough. Since they think you are the coolest, they are super stoked to wake up in the night and see you right there. They want to play with you, climb on you, braid your hair, use you as a pacifier… #allthethings. Because this is what they do with you ALL. DAY. LONG. and they don’t understand why they shouldn’t do the same things ALL. NIGHT. LONG.
Sleep teaching to transition from co-sleeping
If you are still wondering why teaching your little one to “independently” sleep in your bed is going to be a BIG challenge, let us help you out in a more direct way. Sleep training, or “sleep teaching” as we here at the Sleeper Teachers prefer to call it, is all about teaching your little one the SKILLS they need to fall back to sleep on their own when they wake up in the night between sleep cycles. And it is way too hard for them to understand how to do this if you are right next to them. The independence can’t be achieved if they are sucker-fish suctioned to you all night.
We like to hope that it is possible for you to see a little bit of progress in your current sleep setbacks if you change some habits (like removing feeding to sleep) but still keep them in your bed. But, if you are looking for long-lasting, lifetime skills that they will have through adulthood, we will encourage you to make the transition to get baby into their own sleeping space.
If you are ready to get the sleep you deserve and wake up each morning to a happy and well-rested little one, but you are still a bit leery (or even sad) about giving up those magical cuddles in your bed, we get that. In fact, we get it so much that we have a suggestion JUST FOR YOU…
You can still cuddle!
Set aside a few minutes every morning or mid-afternoon, after your little people are out of their rooms, after they’ve had a little somethin’ somethin’ to break their fast, after they are dressed and ready for their dance class, and bring them into your bed. Cuddle the heck out of them, build a bed fort with them, sing the silly songs, throw the pillows and jump to their hearts’ content.
We know from experience that you can STILL enjoy the cuddles and snuggles and quality time without creating any sleep props, or unnecessary “I need this to fall asleep” associations that might cause confusion or send a mixed-message.
And, if you are a veteran on team co-sleep who is ready to make a transition to own crib/bed to get better sleep for the whole family, we are rooting for you! If you want to make the swap as quickly and low stress as possible, let’s chat.
We’ve helped hundreds of families make this change, and we LOVE to hear how much happier everyone is when no one is waking up with bedtime battle wounds from flailing bodies!