Nighttime Mothering

nighttime motheringWhen I first became a new mom, I couldn’t believe the exhaustion that came along with having a little person depend on you for their every need. One parenting tool that allowed me to get more rest, and be slightly more functional than a walking zombie, was cuddling right next to my son during the nighttime hours.

Although well meaning relatives and friends may tell you that your child needs to sleep in their own crib, this just isn’t true. Babies are meant to sleep next to their mothers. Let me repeat that, babies are meant to sleep next to their mothers.
Throughout history, and throughout most of the world, babies sleep on their backs or side cuddled right up next to mom. Co-sleeping makes nighttime breastfeeding easier, and helps to keep up a new moms milk supply. When sleeping with your baby, you will find that your sleep cycles often sync with your child’s. This allows everyone to get more rest.

Usually when I talk to a new mother about sharing sleep with their baby, a few questions always seem to come up:

But what if I roll on the baby? Very unlikely. Just as you don’t fall out of bed during the night or kick your partner as you sleep, it is not likely that you would roll on top of your baby. Most mothers are very in-tune with their child and are aware of exactly where they are, even when asleep. Fathers do not always have this same sensitivity and awareness, so place baby between mom and the wall(or a bed-rail).

How will my baby learn to be independent? Doesn’t this question seem a little silly if you think about it? Babies are dependent by nature. So the question is probably better stated, “how will my baby develop into an independent child?”. Rest assured that this will happen. Children who form a strong attachment to their parents(and learn that their needs will be met), develop into independent, secure, and confident children.

What about intimacy? Where there is a will, there’s a way. Couples who share sleep with their baby often just take the romance into other rooms of the house. When baby is really little, you can simply move to the other side of the bed after baby is fast asleep.

If sleeping with your baby still makes you slightly nervous, try an arms reach co-sleeper. You might feel more comfortable placing baby directly in bed as they get a little bit older.

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