3 Reasons Why You Should Sleep in Baby’s Room
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated its stance on infant sleep, stating that babies should sleep in the same room as their parents for the first 6 months-1 year. Most people I know do this anyway, keeping baby in a bassinet, co-sleeper, or Pack and Play in the parents' bedroom. Austin and I tried that and it lasted one night. Neither of us slept AT ALL. Obviously, being new parents, we were hyperaware of every little sound and movement Lillian made, but when she woke up to feed, it woke both of us, and everyone was exhausted the next day. We formulated a new plan. Instead of Lillian sleeping in our bedroom, she'd sleep in her crib, and we would take turns sleeping in her nursery.
For some reason, our first method was to sleep on an army cot. I have no idea where it came from. Everything is kind of a blur from those first few days, but I guess it did symbolize us being in “survival mode.” We also came up with an intricate schedule of “shifts” which continued to leave everyone exhausted. At some point we emerged from the haze and devised a plan that we stuck with for about the first 6 months of Lillian’s life.
We slept on an air mattress in her room and alternated nights.
(The air mattress went into the closet or up against the wall during the day, so we didn’t have to blow it up every night.)
If you are exclusively breastfeeding, this may not work for your family. But if you can get baby to take a bottle (of expressed milk or formula) from Dad, this a beautiful system for several reasons:
1. Every other night, you get a full night of uninterrupted sleep. Do you even need the other two reasons?
2. Baby gets used to sleeping in her crib, so there's no transition period of moving her from the bassinet/Rock and Play/etc.
3. You are still following the room sharing guidelines set forth by the AAP, greatly reducing the risk of SIDS.
Austin and I loved this system and we plan to do it with future children, but it’s not without compromise. Obviously, we didn’t sleep in the same bed for 6 months.
We usually put Lillian to bed around 7 pm. During the first month or two, I was eager to crash that early, but once she began waking less frequently and everyone was getting more sleep, we eased into a nice routine. After Lillian went to bed, I’d grab the video monitor and Austin and I would have time to ourselves for a few hours where we could Netflix and chill, or whatever. When it was time to sleep, one of us stayed in our bedroom, and one of us headed to the air mattress in the nursery. I’m not a big cuddler anyway, so the separate sleeping quarters didn’t bother me at all, and didn't have any negative impact on our relationship. If anything, we were more pleasant with one another because we were both well-rested.
While I found the air mattress to be relatively comfortable, it’s not as ideal as sleeping in your own bed. However, it was temporary, and the trade off of uninterrupted sleep in my own bed every other night made it well worth it.
After about 6 months we decided it was time to deflate the air mattress one last time and move out of Lillian's room. I worried myself sick for about a week, going in to check on her several times a night. I kept the video monitor on all night so I could see what she was doing with every little sound she made. It took a few weeks for me to adjust. Lillian didn't even seem to notice we were gone. Now she's a toddler and she LOVES going to bed. When I put her in her crib at night she squeals and snuggles up with her stuffed bunny and talks to him until she falls asleep. I like to think that having her in her crib since we brought her home has helped her develop a good relationship with sleep and with her room.
Deciding to sleep in baby's room was right for our family, and I urge you to consider it as an alternative to keeping baby in your bedroom. A good night's sleep is the ultimate luxury for a new parent.