Co-Sleep or No Sleep

By November 27, 2010Motherhood, Parenting

You may remember just a few weeks ago when I posted about how much I love those moments in the middle of the night with my babies.  I talked about how I don’t mind waking with Violet to nurse her and steal some peaceful time with my baby.  I mentioned how much I missed each of my babies as they moved into their own rooms.

I might be over it.  I am writing through a foggy haze of exhaustion as I try to figure out what to do about my dear, sweet baby Violet.   I need some advice.  I really need some sleep.

Just days after I got all mushy about our nightly cuddles Violet started waking up just 2 hours after she went to bed.  I thought she was just teething and I went with it.  I nursed her and cuddled her and put her back to sleep.  She would wake every few hours with a whimper and I would go to her, letting her know that Mommy loves her and that everything was okay.  At first she fell back asleep, leaving me with 3 hour sleep intervals.  That was enough…I thought it would pass.

That wimper turned into a wail in the past week and the baby who used to fall back asleep now wakes up at 10:30 p.m. and after nursing, she screams when she is put back in her crib.  And she won’t stop screaming if she is in that crib.  I got so tired that I began to fall asleep in a chair with her in my arms.  I would wake and find her in a dead sleep, but as soon as I placed her back in her crib the hysteria would begin again. 

I cannot bear to hear a baby cry like that.  Maybe it is a weakness but between my boobs leaking and my head pounding and my heart aching I must go to my crying baby.  We are so far from Ferberization it isn’t even funny.  Again, I thought it would pass.

I was wrong.  When we were at my in-laws house for Thanksgiving it just got worse, but because the crib is in the room where all the cousins sleep, I finally had to take her out and bring her into our bed.   She was waking everybody up and I felt terrible!

Guess who sleeps like a baby next to Mommy?  Yep.  Now guess which Mommy does not sleep at all while worried about crushing her child or having her husband’s pointy elbow knock her out or having her crawl right off the edge of the bed?  Right again.  It’s a no win here people.

And, it gets worse.  Violet started waking up – for good – at 5 a.m. this week.   Happy and bubbling with joy she sits up in bed and starts pulling my hair, crawling around and playing peek-a-boo like it is a decent hour in the morning.  To be clear, around here, it is not.

What are my options here?  I can’t co-sleep and I can’t no sleep and I can’t just let her cry.  What’s a girl to do?

Seriously, I know that I may have to either figure out how to co-sleep or I need to let her cry but if any of you lovely readers have any suggestions please share!  I can’t be alone in this, right?

Join the discussion 31 Comments

  • Cindy says:

    Co-sleep, darling. You won’t regret it. I wrote a post a while back:

    • Brittany says:

      I’m off to read that…and then consider a King Sized bed where my husbands elbow cannot reach the baby. But can I ask…does it affect intimacy?

      • Cindy says:

        No. Just make sure you get the baby used to being alone to fall asleep sometimes (I have an 8:00 bedtime for all my kids by 3 months), and move yourselves to a different room! I keep my lo’s in a cosleeper/bassinet half the time, so we have choices.

        Incidentally, what comment thread plug-in are you using? The one I tried didn’t work!

  • Katy says:

    Hi friend! We had a BAD sleep regression at 4 months. Baby boy would wake several times a night and had a hard time going back to sleep. The Ask Moxie website has a lot of good ideas about sleep regressions….search her site and be sure to read the comments I’ve gotten some good ideas. We also got the “No Cry Sleep Solution” book. Mostly it’s a bunch of ideas to help your baby sleep without doing CIO. We struggled for a couple of months, but I was also in denial that we had a problem. I hope you find your solution quickly!

  • Ashlee says:

    We Co-slept with our son for 13 months. I personally don’t find anything wrong with it. If that’s where she wants to sleep for a while, I am sure it will pass. Everyone says they “never” go back to their own bed, but they will. It’s just a phase she’ll grow out of. Good luck!
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  • Hi! I wasn’t sure how old baby was (did I miss that?), and I don’t know what the perfect answer is, but if it were me, I’d probably move her back into my bedroom. I was reading your article and visions of what I’d do were coming into my head. And those were, if you have to, to have the crib right next to your bed so you could stick your arm in, thats phase 1 for a few weeks. Then crib moves away, like a whole 5 -6 feet away, for a few weeks. I think I had all my babies in my room till they were 1 year old.
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    • Brittany says:

      Thanks. We may need to move the crib since she is 10 months old and too big for her co-sleeper. She moved out of our room at about 7 months and all was fine until this. Thanks for the advice!

  • Cynthia says:

    Oh I feel you about sleep. With my 1st, he rarely slept in our bed. Now with the 2nd, he sleeps only in our bed. I’ve tried getting him to sleep in hi crib but he wakes up. The only way I get any sleep is if he’s in our bed. So I’ve just chosen to give into that. My husband wants me to get him to get him to sleep in his own bed. However, with my husband working nights, I enjoy that extra warm body in the bed. But when my husband does sleep in the bed with us, I’ve trained him to sleep a certain way where he wouldn’t roll over on our son. As my mom puts it, if it’s the only way you can sleep, then do it. It’s not going to hurt them. Am I worried about him eventually not sleeping in his own bed, of course. At the same time, I’m hoping his older brother will convince him its cool to sleep in his own bed and be in the same room as his big brother. I did though go through the cry it out method with my 1st, will I try it with my 2nd, ask me later. Good luck!

  • Emily C says:

    I come from a slightly different perspective. I don’t co-sleep. With both my boys, I have put them in a crib at just a few months old. They sleep really well on their own. There have been periods in which they would not be happy with me leaving them, including now with my 2.5 year old. He cries sometimes at bedtime. But we let him fuss, because he’s just trying to get his way. We cuddle him and read stories and have a good bedtime routine, but when mommy and daddy say night night, he is to stay in his bed and mommy and daddy leave. It has worked very well for him. He very quickly learned that we are nearby but not going to give in and spend all night trying to get him to sleep.
    As for our 9 month old, we let him fuss a bit in his crib and he has learned to self-soothe. He only fussed a couple of nights and now we lay him right down in his crib and he puts himself right to sleep. And he also can lay in his crib for a bit first this in the morning, cooing, without us getting him right away. He still nurses 1-2 times a night. When he wakes up to nurse, we get him from his room, change his diaper, and lay him down in bed with us while I nurse him. We cuddle. Then when he is all done nursing, we put him in the crib. He doesn;t cry… he is content getting his needs met and having some cuddle time.
    Anyway, I just wanted to share my perspective. I am not a co-sleeping parent, but I also dont let my children scream without comforting them. Your baby will know you love her even if she sleeps in a crib. Trust me. She will learn to know there is a time for cuddling and a time for sleeping. Not co-sleeping does not mean no cuddling, ignoring your kids, or neglecting them. (Not saying you suggested that, but some co-sleeping parents DO suggest that.)
    Much love!

    • Brittany says:

      Thanks Emily. I certainly do not think that not co-sleeping equates to any lack of love or caring. This is a very strange situation for me as all of my kids have been able to self-soothe and are put in bed awake. What I can’t do (and I know some parents can it’s just not for us) is Cry It Out. She does not wimper or cry for a couple minutes. She sounds like she is dying as she screams bloody murder. She starts coughing and sounds like she is choking wihtin moments. I just won’t leave her like that, and so in order for me to get sleep, I have let her sleep in my bed. This is not the norm…I am just sort of at my wits end!

      It is strange because our schedule sounds exactly like yours at 9 months. She nursed 2 -3 times a night but was happy after a little fuss at night and woke up gurgling and playing.

      That’s why I’m so lost 🙁

  • Yuliya says:

    I also recommend the No Cry Sleep Solution.

    I’ve co-slept from the beginning, and I can tell you that you are very, very aware of the baby’s presence in your bed so please don’t worry, follow safety tips and your mommy instinct will keep her out of harm’s way. Sounds like you need to do this temporarily for your sanity, and once this phase passes you guys can figure out a way to get her happily back in her crib. My only co-sleeping hitch is this, my husband has to take my daughter in the morning so I sleep alone for thirty minutes, for some reason I can’t seem to function without that…

    I’m at the stage where I am thinking about nursing mine down on her own mattress and having that mattress near our bed so that I can still pick her up to nurse if she needs it, but I am so lazy that I haven’t implemented it yet.
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  • I have to ditto what Emily C said at the end. Letting your baby sleep alone or fall asleep on the own doesn’t mean you love your baby less. My baby used to cry when she was in her carseat but now she knows it’s time to go someplace and we aren’t far away. I’m telling myself it’s the same thing at night. I was/am having THE SAME problem as you I can’t sleep with my baby. Sometimes Im SO tired I can but then that’s not safe cause I’m not real aware. When I am aware (90% of the time) I can’t sleep because she’s noisey and mivine all around.

    So we just started trying Ferber method. It’s going well after 4 days. But that’s us! Everyone is different just thought I’d share my thoughts since u asked.

    I didn’t think I could do it. I HATE hearing her cry but before I even went in to soothe her she was asleep. It just seems to be what works for my baby (so far!)
    Baby Making Mama recently posted… Ask Me Anything!My Profile

    • Brittany says:

      Thanks sweetie. I think I could try it except her screams sound like she is in extreme pain within minutes. I can handle crying but but this is something different. I think I might try what some others have suggested and move a mat in to my room for awhile so she doesn’t wake her sister up, is by me but is not in my bed! Thanks for your comment!

  • Hollywood Farm says:

    My oldest turns 21 in two days. Your blog made me relive my time w her. I coslept for 12 years as a single mother. When I had my last three ages 7,6&5, I knew co sleeping was not an option.
    I learned to put the babies to bed awake with a full belly! Mommy fill that babies belly and put her down in her crib. Sit close, sing a song, read a book, say a prayer. By the sound of your voice and w a full belly she’ll close her eyes and off she’ll go!

    That’s all I got and it worked for me x 3!
    Play soft music and she’ll drift away!

  • I co-slept with all three of my children. It doesn’t really bother me at all. The getting up to go to a crib in the middle of the night really bothered me. A couple of practicial suggestions. How about putting up a bed rail and you sleep in the middle, protecting Violet from your husband’s elbows. Or since she is getting older, though I am unsure about her size, moving her to a toddler bed in your room. At about 12 months we alway moved our children to a toddler bed in our room. None of my children ever slept a wink in the crib. By the third child my husband refused to put it together. Anyway put the toddler bed in your room in close proximity to your bed. This may give her the “bed” she craves (I really think that some babies just don’t like the crib) and also keep her close to you. I was also a daycare director for 8 years and I will tell we always transitioned those infants who were horrible sleepers to rest mats as soon as they were older (usually about 10 months) and in almost every situation they slept wonderfully after that.
    Love to know how this situation resolves itself.

  • Candice says:

    I don’t have any advice since I haven’t had to cross this bridge yet, but I wanted to just say that my heart goes out to you. As Nate is learning to crawl and now stand, he started waking up some nights after 6 months of almost always sleeping through. He goes back to sleep pretty quickly (thankfully) but the sleep interruption is still having an effect on me (and my husband when he gets up). I hope you find a good solution for you and your family.
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  • We went through this exact same ordeal with Miss A, she slept in our bed until she was 5 months and then out but didn’t want to fall asleep on her own. I think it’s very hard for some breastfed babies because they’re used to having mommy close by. Out of convenience most of us breastfeeders are stay-at-home’s too so that I think encourages the cycle.

    I’m also not a cry-it-out momma, I just can’t be, something within me won’t allow it, although I don’t look down on those who can, some days in fits of crying, both hers and mine I would wish that I could let her cry-it-out, plus hubby wasn’t on board with CIO either so we just did what worked for our family. Unfortunately it wasn’t until 13 months that Miss A started sleeping on her own with no rocking, no mommy rubbing her back, no parents in her room.

    We also read several sleep training books and what I gathered was to slowly do more things to get towards your goal of sleeping baby in crib. I remember being in A’s room with my back to her and slowly creeping out, so not fun, but we didn’t think there were better options. There were several points I wanted to just let her CIO but then I’d think she was teething or just think she was too old and would be traumatized by the experience, but really I think I was making excuses for us.

    I learned from A to let Baby C fall asleep on her own, (mostly) although she loves to be nursed and snuggled to sleep, more than 3/4 of the time she’s awake when I put her down. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve changed a few of my habits with her or that she’s innately a better sleeper (since she was born she’s been my sleepy child), or a combination of both.

    So I guess I don’t really have any advice, but am able to sympathize. If I had any advice it would be to do what feels right for your family, and know that this too shall pass. PS No matter the size of the bed, for me it always felt too small *LOL* We had a King and I ALWAYS found myself on the edge of the bed.
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  • Jenn says:

    We started out using an Arms-reach co-sleeper – a bassinet that attatches directly to the side of your bed so baby is right there next to you for night nursing but safe in her own space. When she started falling asleep before we went to bed, we moved her to her crib and she had some difficulty staying asleep. We found great success with The Baby Whisperer method by Tracy Hogg – which is not a cry-it-out method, rather it helps teach baby to settle themselves to sleep and works to understand your baby’s temperament to best meet their needs. I SOOO wished I had this book when my daughter was a newborn and now I give it as a shower gift to every expectant mother.

  • Michelle says:

    Oh what yucky place to be. My first baby was a co-sleeper until 8 months and my husband was kicked out of the bed. I would NOT do it again. Baby #2 left us with sleep deprivation for waking up all night but we never co-slept. I was completely the same as you with Baby #1 but my sleep became VERY important. I say what works for us may not work for your baby, your head, or your heart.

    BUT, I got my 8 mo old Baby #1 to start sleeping on her own by putting her in bed after a good bedtime routine (bath, book, bed) by WALKING OUT OF THE HOUSE! It took 25 minutes the first night and dwindled down after that. Now at 3, she will hardly sleep anywhere but her bed. I’ve tried to nap with her and she always wants to go to her bed. (My son will fall asleep ANYWHERE though. He fell asleep standing up yesterday leaning against a bed. LOL)

    Good luck, and I say, with 3 little ones, YOUR sleep is a non-negotiable!
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  • Nisselokeo says:

    First off, I want to say you are not alone in this! I remember those crazy days with my first so scared to even let her out of my sight. I bought an expensive bassinet only to have her sleeping next to me every night until she fell asleep for 6 hours or more. It was hard and every baby is different. It sounds like your options are slim. Your baby likes to be held. Don’t worry soon she will be in a better routine and those sleepless nights will be a horrible memory in the past! I would recommend seriously looking into co-sleeping maybe even in a separate bed. It won’t be for long! And the intimacy thing between your husband, that will only strengthen!Take this time to enjoy your baby’s first year! These is a time that will be gone oh too quickly!

  • Stephanie F. says:

    We’ve gone through the same exact thing with our two boys-especially our second, who’s now 6 months. I’ve learned two things, one he’s either using the fact that he know I won’t let him cry against me, or his constant waking is a sign that he’s hungry and I need to up his food. I nurse, and saw a lactation consultant when this first started (around 4 months) and sure enough my supply had dropped and he was only getting a couple ounces at a time and so he was hungry. I tried everything to up the supply (fenugreek, mother’s milk, Guinness, pumping, more nursing during the day, etc) but haven’t been able to, so started supplementing with bottles and then added solids. Since then, he’s gone back to sleeping either through the night or waking once, about 7-8 hours after he goes down. Now when we’re traveling, we go through the same thing, and I give up, pull him into bed and he nurses ALL night, so he won’t wake the others, and I sacrifice my sleep. I figure it’s only a couple days until we get home and I’ll try to get him back on track. If it’s not the food issue, my guess is she’s “playing” to your heart because she knows you won’t let her cry and it’s up to you if you want to do cry-it-out or not. That’s a very personal issue. Two books I have read that help SOME people but not all, “The No-Cry Sleep Solution” (but they tell you this method could take months or more, and personally, it didn’t work for us) and “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”. The one thing I will tell you is that if you decide to co-sleep, make sure you still put her to bed in her crib first (and then just bring her to your bed when she wakes the first time), so she still gets used to going to sleep there, and it’s not hard to transition her there when you decide to do so permanently. Good luck and hopefully you can get some rest soon!

  • World Spinner says:

    Co-Sleep or No Sleep | Mommy Words…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

  • Jess says:

    Good Night, Sleep Tight. The Sleep Lady. She is awesome and amazing. it takes more time than some of the other methods, but it works. her book as a whole is a great resource on sleeping (Nap and night) from birth through 5 or so. I love the concept of cosleeping, but I need a solid nights sleep for the few hours that I get and I never get that when cosleeping. God luck and many many hugs.

  • Amy says:

    Nola NEVER liked her crib. She had to be nursed completely to sleep to be put down in the crib and then she would wake up screaming to get out. I gave up. She liked sleeping in her play yard better so that is where I put her down for a very long time and when she would wake up I’d bring her in bed with me. She likes her toddler bed much better and will sleep in it for longer stretches but still regularly wakes and comes into our bed. It isn’t exactly perfect but I decided sleep in itself was more important to me that the perfect sleep arrangement and since this means less crying, we all get more sleep.

  • […] at Mommy Words, is having a little trouble getting enough sleep lately. Last night, while conversing with her and Baby Makin(g) Machine on Twitter about ways of […]

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