Warning: this is pretty long!
I strongly believe that different things work for different parents, for different kids, and at different stages of the child’s life. For example, in our case, when Amor Chiquito was an infant, we bed-shared and it worked very well. Sometime during the first year, she slept on her car seat or on the swing for a while. She had reflux.
Around the time Amor Chiquito turned one, bed-sharing was no longer working for us. We transitioned her to her crib. That was hard, very hard. She cried a lot. The first few days, I sincerely believe she was very stressed out about it. She would poo. You might think “so what? She pooped.” She never ever went at that time, only during those first few days. Eventually, she began taking her sleeper and diaper off and throwing them. That was both frustrating and very funny! I never heard of a child completely stripping that early!
Amor Chiquito slept in her crib until about 23 months. At that point, she jumped out! Needless to say, it was time to transition to the toddler bed. That did not go over very well! I would close her door because I was afraid she may fall down the stairs. It is impossible to have a gate at the top of our stairs; we have tried it all. Anyways, she would get upset when she could not get out of her room. After a while, I stopped closing the door. Visiting at 4am began! It was easier for me to let her climb into bed with me than to bring her back. Years of sleep deprivation and a vitamin D deficiency were really catching up with me.
Now, here we are. We have been bed-sharing since February. I feel that there are pros and cons. It is easier for me to lie down next to her, as opposed to waiting until she falls asleep. One of us has always been around until she falls asleep. That is a whole other topic. Some people say an infant can be taught to self-soothe. Others say a child is not developmentally ready to self-soothe until sometime around age 2.5 to 3.
Back to pros and cons, one of the cons is that our 37” tall and 31 lb child takes up more room on our queen size bed than either of us does! I lost my husband. He started sleeping on a twin-size mattress in Amor Chiquito’s room. He got tired of getting kicked and of sleeping on the edge of the bed. To be honest, I was not sleeping comfortably either.
I felt torn, felt that, in a way, I had to choose my child or my husband, you know, the two people that I love most. I strongly believe that it was not healthy for our marriage to have my husband sleeping elsewhere. I will be blunt. It is not about sex. You can always get creative! It is about cuddling and reconnecting as a couple at the end of a long day.
That being said, I also love having Amor Chiquito nearby! I hereby admit it; I am addicted to having that warm leg on my tummy! It is priceless, indescribable!
As far as Amor Chiquito is concerned, here is my thought: if my husband and I like physical contact as we drift off to sleep, why is it wrong for my daughter to want it as well? If we sleep so much better with it, then why is it ok for us to get it and why is it not ok for her to have it? Why do we expect something of her that we do not do ourselves?
Something else to think about… I feel it is important for Amor Chiquito to be able to fall asleep with or without me. In the fall, she will begin attending a Montessori school and I will not be there when nap time comes around. Aside from that, it is simply a skill she should have. I might get sick some day; I might get some consulting work; I might want a break, etc. Most importantly, I know she can do it because she did it in the past.
Another thought… every day is unique. I am never getting today again. I want to enjoy today, to be with my family, to feel my family near me, to get something that I will not get forever: my little girl loving snuggling with me.
Here is my most recent idea: move from bed-sharing to co-sleeping, sharing our room with our child, that is. We put the twin-size mattress in our bedroom and have Amor Chiquito sleep there. She gets to be near me. I get to snuggle with my people. My husband is back on our bed and sleeping comfortably. Amor Chiquito is, on average, only waking me up once a night. Usually, she is not loud about it, so Geeky Entrepreneur can sleep through it.
We have only done this the past three nights, but, so far, so good! I know our current setup might not work in a month, but we will figure that out when we get there.