Before Sully was born, I never really thought too much about bedtime and bedtime routine. I (naively) assumed that he would sleep in his moses basket beside our bed for the first few weeks and then in his crib after that. I had visions of myself spending hours during the night, in the expensive glider chair we purchased for his nursery, nursing my son and catching up on the reading I missed out on during the day.
Well. For the record, Sully hasn't spent one night in either his bassinet or his crib, and the only time I've rocked him in the glider chair is during daytime nursing sessions when I feel like changing up the scenery from the downstairs couch.
So where does he sleep? There's only one place left: our bed. Co-sleeping or bed-sharing, is not for everyone, but right now it's what is working for us, and really, I have learned that having a newborn in the house is all about doing what works for you. I never imagined that we would become a co-sleeping family, but co-sleeping has allowed me to get decent sleep at night and not be tired during the day or feel the need for naps. I get mixed reactions when I tell people we bed-share with Sully. Some see it as a negative thing, a "problem" we'll be "sorry" we started. Others totally get it. I say, don't knock it till you've tried it!
No one knows what kind of baby they are going to have…a good sleeper, a not so good sleeper, a good napper, a fussy baby, etc. From day one in the hospital, Sully hated the cold, plastic bassinets the hospitals provide for your baby. I think the most he ever slept in one was for 4 hours, and that was after the nurse kindly woke him up at 6am to give him his first bath. Otherwise, he wanted to be held. And how could I deny my perfect, little son that demand? So I started holding him while he slept. And then one night (I spent 6 nights in the hospital - birth story coming soon!), I kept him in bed with me all night. It was just easier that way. I couldn't, after my c-section, get out of bed to pick up my baby and then get back into bed and reposition myself while holding my baby without the nurses help. When I was done nursing, I would call the nurse to put Sully back in the bassinet, and within 20 minutes I would be calling her again to have her hand him back to me as he was already fussing. So I decided to stop bothering the nurses and just hold him.
Did I start something there? Maybe. Did I have any other choice at the time? Maybe. But I didn't see it that way. I did what I needed to do and it worked for me. The first few nights at home we tried the moses basket beside the bed and he would wake up after only being in it for 20 minutes, sometimes even less. We even tried putting him in the mamaroo swing right beside our bed and even that didn't work. Unsure what else we could do, we brought him into bed with us. We all slept that night, and I realized that bed-sharing just felt right. Not to mention that nursing in bed at night is effortless, quick, and makes for falling back asleep a breeze.
I have a lot of friends that have all had babies in the last year and each and every one of them have their own stories to tell about their baby's sleep habits. Some have amazing little sleepers, baby's who will sleep most of the night away in their cribs, and some who need a little bit more attention to get through the night. Some co-sleep, some do not. Some started a bedtime routine early on, while others waited. As a first time parent, it's hard to know what to do: do I establish a (rigid) bedtime routine? At what age? 3 months, 6 months? Or do I listen to my baby's cues? What time is bedtime for a 3 month old? I worried at one point that I would have to hold Sully while he slept forever! But my mom wisely told me that one day he would not want to be held as it would no longer be comfortable for him. And as I type this, he is sound asleep in bed beside me.
So where do we go from here? I'm not sure. Part of me thinks why fix something that isn't broken? I'm not sleep deprived, tired during the day, or desperate for a nap when afternoon rolls around. We'll probably leave Sully in our bed for a little while longer, although I do think about trying him in his crib just to see if and how his sleep pattern at night changes. But for now, I'm keeping him here right beside me, right where I want him.
Friends, I'd love to hear what the sleeping situation is like with your little ones. How and when did you establish a bedtime routine? Do you recommend any books on the matter?