Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Carnival of Natural Parenting: Top 10 Reasons to Co-Sleep

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Co-sleeping at naptime with daddy
I was asked to make a top 10 list of anything about natural parenting, and co-sleeping was the topic that pulled on my heartstrings. It is the bread-and-butter of natural, attachment parenting (right after breastfeeding) if you ask me. As someone who did not make enough breastmilk to sustain my son (and then had my supply dwindle too early), I take solace in the fact that Rowan has co-slept since he came home with us. It has made him securely attached, in my opinion.

There are myriad benefits to co-sleeping: some practical, some reinforcing the bonds of parent and child, and others just plain selfish:

1. More sleep. When your baby wakes up in the middle of the night, wouldn't you rather roll over, tend to her/him, and after a few minutes of nursing or soothing, have them (and you) back asleep? Or would you rather not hear the baby til it has been crying for a minute or so, get out of bed in a dream-filled stupor, possibly trip over something, check on a baby in another bed or room (a baby that does not want to be alone in the first place so needs picking up and cuddling and reassurance of your presence), who has by now cried enough that they are full-blown awake. I am a sleep glutton, so I know what my answer is!

2. I see and smell my child as my first sensory experience of the day. I wake to the smell of his hair, which smells like a combination of cedar and strawberries for some reason. What a delicious way to wake up!

Rowan always slept better with one of us.
3. It's easier to nurse at night when your baby does not yet sleep through the night when they are right next to you. Wear a loose top (or no top at all) and voila!

4. My son is more adventurous, confident, and secure- because he knows I am there for him, even when he is unconscious. I attribute his gregariousness to getting his needs met when he "asks" (meaning cries, points and says "eh?", or snuggles up to me in the dark).

5. He curls into mama's spoon like a little cashew nut baby in the night. He is probably the best cuddler and snuggler I have ever known. (Bonus- during the day, he gives the most awesome hugs!)

6. My son wakes up cheerful and squealing, which is more than I can say for me. It's hard to be cranky when you see a beaming toddler, laughing and saying mama, ready to play with you.

7. I sleep better when I sleep with Rowan. I don't know what primal forces are at work, but when I am not sleeping with Rowan (My partner and I started taking turns- one night on, one night off to ensure both of us get a decent night's sleep and dreams. We assumed the person whose night off it was would get a better night's sleep, but both of us have found that is not exactly true. On a regular night when he is not sick or teething, the person in bed with Rowan seems to relax more fully and gets a better night's sleep. The person in the next room tends to toss and turn and have a restless sleep. We think it is nature's way of telling us where we should be!)

Rowan, age 3 months.
8. The bed is not a bad place. I have babysat for so many kids who think of their bed as a punishment, exile, or the last place that they want to be. "Go to your room!" should never be a punishment in my eyes. After showers, we have nakkie time on the bed. We dress him and change him there. It is a regular fixture- one that means family time, not exile from the family.

9. Less "stuff". Being a parent means lots more baby gear invading your space. If you are an urban apartment dweller like me, that can take its toll. But co-sleeping means less furniture crowding your space, along with all the other benefits!

10. That is what he told me he prefers. I listen to my son and try and meet his needs. He prefers to sleep with us- he has made that quite plain.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 8 with all the carnival links.)


  1. I'm so with you on this list, particularly #1! Maybe it's completely selfish and lazy, but cosleeping is soooo much easier than having my baby somewhere I have to groggily stumble to several times a night. Good thing for me my son loves it so much, too! :)

    I also really resonated with #7 when Mikko was a baby — I couldn't bear not to know how he was and be able to keep tabs on him, even just after he was born. Especially just after he was born!

  2. I love(d) co-sleeping too! But I'm afraid it may be in the past tense now. It was absolutely the only way I could've survived the first year, but now I think my kiddo may not be getting quality sleep. Oh, parenting! So dynamic and full of changes! Great post!

  3. Brilliant and beautiful. I especially love that you mention the smell of your child. I said that so many times to my husband and we all lay there and I marveled at the thought that so many parents miss out on all those things. Her breath in my face all night long has been a miracle that I'll treasure forever.
    Great list.
    And this is a gorgeous blog. I love it.

  4. Cosleeping just makes sense to me. If you think about it, what other mammal sleeps away from their young? Only humans, and only recently even in western cultures. I find sharing sleep cycles with my baby gives both of us continuity and a sense of night time peace, as well.

  5. My son smells like vanilla cookies and I don't know why either but I know that I love to breathe in his scent first thing in the morning. I laughed at the part about the cashew nut baby because that's what I call my son when he does his morning stretches because he looks just like one too and tops it off with a hilarious stretching grimace. Co-sleeping is definitely the way to go!

  6. I discovered co-sleeping quite accidentally, because my babies told me that was what they would prefer (ie they wouldn't have it any other way). Once I gave up trying to do things by the book (obviously, i had the wrong book at the time), I truly enjoyed it and I am grateful to have experienced it. Co=sleeping will be one of the most treasured memories I'll ever have.

  7. I couldn't agree more with every single one of your points!! I especially love waking up to the squeals of my little one and having his smile be the first thing I see when I open my eyes is just wonderful. Excellent post!

  8. I've told my hubby that I think one of the reasons my son and I are so close is because we cosleep - we are constantly snuggling! From cuddling all night long, to wearing him (not as much any more), to nursing, we enjoy so many hugging opportunities. It's wonderful :) Great list!

  9. Yes! Numbers 1 and 3 were the big ones for me. I need my sleep and sharing my bed with my baby (or me in her bed, as the case was in our house) was the perfect solution. And I think I slept topless for nearly a year, which makes me laugh to think about now. How was I never cold? Baby furnace heat!

  10. Beautiful post - and the pictures are so lovely!

    I really enjoy co-sleeping with our kids too. The snuggles and the connection that happen at night are in a league of their own.

  11. Yes, I totally agree on all of these! Though I also know it doesn't always work out as perfectly for everyone.

    My oldest coslept until 20 months or so, and from then on part-time until she was comfortable and happy in her own bed. It was pretty ideal. My twins closlept for 5-ish months and at first it was pretty great, but they would only sleep ON TOP of me, and that got bad, quick. It was SOOOOO hard to end the cosleeping for all the reasons you mention, and I can tell you that indeed, getting up a million times a night is downright PAINFUL (I often slept in the recliner in their room, I should have just gotten a mattress in there!). If there had not been two of them, I would have stuck with closeeping, but it ended up working well with them in their own room, too.

  12. Oh yes, YES! loving that first smell of hair in the mornings. I SO miss co-sleeping, but fortunately my lovely 10 year old likes to sneak in for the occasional 'girly night' and I feel so blessed... (and her hair still smells awesome ;) )

  13. Rock on. Co-sleeping is the best - I feel so strongly about it that I have to stop reading opinions to the contrary because the idea of small babies alone in cribs makes me so sad. Nothing better than waking to a cheerful, smiling baby - It definitely makes being forced awake before you are ready much easier to deal with.

  14. Co-sleeping is one of my favorite things about babies. When my oldest moved to his big boy bed, I missed him so much that I got pregnant again :) But seriously, I love how you point out that the bed isn't a place for punishment, but rather, a meeting place, a place for relaxation, and a place to get dressed. My oldest can't wait to get into his bed at night, and I really believe it's because it's been such a positive place in our house.


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