Our Unique Journey to Co-Sleeping

You know that co-sleeping was never the plan. It wasn’t something we decided until we were in the midst of sleepless, stressful, frustrating nights.

We tried everything. We developed a bedtime routine, used swaddles in the early days, experimented with crying it out and when we got really desperate we would walk him around the neighborhood in the baby carrier or stroller. We were almost superstitious about our process – the noise, the motions to rock him to sleep, the music we would play, the creeks in the floors. Everything was perfectly thought out and if one small thing would become disrupted the process would unravel and reset. Even on the nights where our meticulous process worked, David would often wake up in the middle of the night and we were faced with starting this process all over again or letting him get in bed with us.

For a long time we fought it. We would start that horrific and challenging process in the middle of the night and the majority of the time it would take hours to get him back to sleep. Needless to say we were exhausted. Eventually, middle of the night wake ups turned into the beginning of our co-sleeping journey. We learned that all he wanted was to be snuggled up next to us and he would almost immediately fall back to sleep. Of course it’s important to note that we were in a funky one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn at this time and were sharing a room, which did not make this process any easier when he could see us from his crib. James was working in a corporate position, I was working part-time while caring for David full time and sleep was essential if we were going to function daily.

Oddly enough it took almost a year of this before James and I looked at each other through our fog of exhaustion and said, let’s just let him sleep with us. He clearly just wanted to be close to us and that was it. Once we embraced co-sleeping David started sleeping through the night and James and I slowly came out of our fog of exhaustion.

Luckily, this was a decision we made before we left NYC to travel and I’m convinced that world traveling, for our family, wouldn’t have been possible without co-sleeping. By doing so David was comfortable regardless of where we landed so long as we were all sleeping together. I believe it has not only made him feel loved and secure, but it has given James and him a unique chance to bond that so many fathers and kids don’t get.

Now of course this isn’t a post to convince you that you should be co-sleeping with your children. We fought it for a really long time and ultimately had to listen to our guts as parents and the signs David was giving us. It has been one of the greatest decisions we’ve made for our family, but we recognize it’s not the right choice for everyone.

As David approaches his third birthday we wanted him to have the option to transition out of co-sleeping when he feels ready. Our first step was to set up his bedroom as a space to grow up in with Room & Board. It was important that this space felt welcoming to him today, yet had the longevity of making him feel right at home for years to come. We chose to go with a full size mattress for a number of reasons, but one that I don’t believe I mentioned in his bedroom reveal was that he’s never slept in a toddler bed or even a twin. A larger bed with mom and dad is where he’s had his best nights of sleep, so we wanted to set his room up now in a way that’s not super unfamiliar. In addition to the bed itself, we are easing our way into the process. The bed is there, but is not being forced on him. Since we lay down with him each night to put him to sleep our bedtime routine will remain the same, it’s just a matter of whether or not he wants to sleep in his room or ours and whether or not he will sleep through the night if he’s in his own room.

We’ve had a lot of family visiting which has made David’s room the perfect guest room, but as those visitors fade out throughout the summer we will begin to feel out our sleeping arrangements a bit more and let David take the lead. For those of you who have transitioned out of co-sleeping I would love to know what has worked for your family and what hasn’t. Share your experience in the comments below!