Our first son slept with us for two and a half years. Those were beautiful years in our life.
And at the same time, very long years.
The beauty of co-sleeping
I just loved waking up to my baby. It was quite mysterious, the way I could respond to him without even thinking.
In fact, when he would wake up in the night to nurse, I would find myself coming out of sleep naturally, moments before he did. (Dr. Sears has pointed out that co-sleeping moms and babies often synchronize breathing and rhythms in a way that can heighten response, even reducing the chances of SIDS.)
Having your baby so close does wonders for breastfeeding, too.
The hard part about co-sleeping, at least for us
Many moms nurse at night without fully waking up.
I wasn’t so lucky. Our little boy would wake sometimes five times in the night to nurse, and I could never really get comfortable when I was feeding him. Sometimes it felt like he would go for an hour at a time, using me as his pacifier.
The lack of sleep was tough and it took its toll on my husband and I. But even worse, my son’s blood work at his two-year checkup showed he had low iron. He was still breastfeeding so much that he had a meager appetite for regular food during the day.
But how do you night wean a baby when you’re co-sleeping?!
I was finally ready wean him, but had no idea how to do it. On the suggestion of my acupuncturist, I got him on a feeding schedule. (I guess most moms by this point are just breastfeeding a couple times a day, but I was still going on demand, and he was getting milk whenever he felt like it.)
We started with the hardest first: dropping the nighttime feedings.
Thankfully, he was old enough to talk to about it. I told him when I put him to bed that it was his last milk from mommy until it was light outside again.
The first few nights when he woke up, I gave him some regular milk in a sippy cup. I wore a sports bra and high-coverage shirt to bed, so I couldn’t just whip one out by habit.
And then miraculously, for the first time in more than two years, he started to sleep through the night, right there in bed with us. He would wake in the morning and shout with such happiness: “It’s light out now!” And he could enjoy milk the way he liked best.
A year later…
And as soon as I stopped feeding him at night, his appetite for regular food during the day jumped. When checked six months later, his blood work showed he had wonderful iron levels.
Now he’s three and a half, and he sleeps in his own room.
I can’t say what impact co-sleeping and nursing on demand have had on him. (Who knows what their child would be like if they’d made different choices, right?)
I still miss him in bed with us sometimes. If I had it all to do over again, I would simply have night weaned much earlier.
I had been afraid to do it, imagining him crying all night long. In reality, it went very smoothly.
Do you have any tips on co-sleeping and night-weaning? Please share!