I FIRMLY believe that when it comes to all things children, we as parents should do what feels right for our family. If that means co-sleeping, GREAT! If that means putting your baby in their own room/bed right when you get home from the hospital, GO FOR IT.
Over my three years as a sleep consultant, families have asked me if it’s possible to sleep train and continue to co-sleep when they want/need to.
The short answer is probably not. Here’s why.
1. Sleep training essentially means you’re teaching your child to have independent sleep skills. The same reason why a baby that is nursed to sleep may wake multiple times a night not because they are hungry, but because they need help falling back to sleep. You being in bed with babe is a ‘prop’.
2. When we sleep train, we create a schedule that is right for babe. This can make bedtime tricky because your child may need a 7:00 pm bedtime, but you don’t. So your child may fall asleep with you in bed with them at bedtime, but once they cycle into a light stage of sleep, wake up and realize you’re gone, you’re going to need to get back into bed with them.
3. The other area we address with sleep training is sleep environment. Dark, quiet and boring is what we strive for. You being in bed with your kiddo is far from boring. Don’t forget, you’re their favorite person. Also, they DON’T understand that jamming their thumb in someone’s eye at 3:00 am isn’t proper bed-sharing etiquette 🙂
4. A second point about creating a good sleep environment is other external factors. Do you fall asleep with the TV on? Do you or your partner snore or move around a lot in your sleep? You could in-fact be waking your baby up. What we strive to achieve with sleeping training is helping your child easily (and unknowingly) go from one sleep cycle to the next so they can get good, restful, restorative and consolidated sleep.
Think about it this way, do you feel better after getting 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, or 8 hours of broken sleep?
5. It can be hard to achieve consistency when bed-sharing. It can be tricky for babies/children to understand that they can sleep with their parents in the middle of the night, but not for naps, or not at bedtime etc. Children of all ages THRIVE on consistency and predictability. This is why co-sleeping often needs to be all or nothing.
Does that me you can’t ever share a bed? Nope of course not. My son sleeps on his own every night and every nap. BUT, A few weeks ago, he was super sick. He woke-up at 4:00 am very uncomfortable with a fever. I scooped him up and brought him into bed with me for a few hours. We both slept (not well or for long) but we slept and he got some extra Mom-snuggles.
The next day, he napped in his crib and slept in his crib all night. Keep in mind that Jordan has very established independent sleep skills, so he’s not thrown by co-sleeping on the rare occasion. But, it can be a slippery slope. If you want to talk more things co-sleeping and sleep training, click below!