Voulez-vous Couchez Avec Moi : Our Co-Sleeping Story

That’s “Will you sleep with me” for those who don’t know French/ have never been curious enough to google the lyrics to “Lady Marmalade”

In my last post, I hinted at getting better nights of sleep. Well, my dear mamas, it’s true. Partly becuse baby boy is sleeping better in general. We get 1 wake up during the night at about 3am and then usually not another one until the morning when I have to change his diaper, and then we doze for another hour or so until he’s up and ready to play. What used to be a morning nap at 9am, has now shifted to be at 7 or 8am. I think RJ got the hint that we aren’t early morning people. But, by 9am, 10, at the latest, he’s up exploring every corner of his new sleeping arrangement, while I sit with 1 eye open watching him curiously, and cautiously stand at the edge of his crib, grabbing at shoes and diapers.

He's really getting this standing thing down!

He’s really getting this standing thing down!

Ok, so back to what the heck this post is supposed to be about…our new and improved family bed! I guess before considering it, I hadn’t really put much though into the idea of a family bed. I heard people talk about it, but it didn’t stick because it’s not something I grew up with knowing. But, when RJ started to stand up in his pack n’ play we lowered the mat and then felt that it was just too hard for him to sleep on comfortably. So…we had to think of something fast. His “someday” bedroom is upstairs and I didn’t like the idea of leaving him up there alone (I would’ve slept in our loft indefinitely if that was the case), or going upstairs half asleep to nurse. Not to mention, it gets pretty hot upstairs in our place so it’s just not something I’d even consider at this point. Well, the man suggested bringing his crib down to our room, which surprised me at first, but each day as I see the happiness and joy RJ brings to him, I understand why he doesn’t want this little munchkin out of our sight.

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One day while he was at work, I decided to surprise him with my handiwork. He;s the builder in our home and i’m mostly just the assistant, so I wanted to show him what I could do. I disassembled it all by myself and created the new contraption in which we sleep now (aka I turned our Delta Canon 4-in-1 crib into a sidecar co-sleeper).

And, the benefits are plenty. According to Dr. Sears:

More peaceful sleep for all (Yay!)
• Stable physiology for baby – your body’s natural cues help regulate baby’s breathing, heartbeat and temperature.
Decreased risk of SIDS
• Long term emotional health – studies show co-sleeping leads to higher self-esteem, less anxiety, earlier independence, and better behavior.
Overall, it’s safer than crib sleeping – we personally considered accidents that could happen with baby sleeping solo in crib upstairs, and it makes sense (we have an eye on him at all times through the night)

Some personal benefits I’ve noticed since we started this arrangement:

•When RJ awakes to nurse at night, there are no tears. He is starting to realize that he can just roll over and I am there. I hear him stir and wake up with him and just reposition myself so we are both comfortable. Long gone are the uncomfortable nights when I held him as he nursed and we slept sitting up.

•I no longer have a fear of him rolling off the bed. With his crib connected to our Queen size, we now have something like a California King (at least for him). He has so much more territory to explore before falling off is instantaneous.

•All 3 of us seem to wake up so much more refreshed and energized. I am no longer super cranky when waking up, or resenting the man for being able to sleep through everything.

 

For even more benefits, check out this article on the Natural Parents Network . I found it to be both informative and encouraging.

I think there still exists a taboo in our culture about family beds, especially among black families. As I mentioned, this was not something I even explored much or even heard of before needing a solution to our problem. (In all of my searching, I don’t think I found one other black mom posting about co-sleeping! If you’re out there, raise your hand). Now that we’re doing it, I think it’s one of the best parenting decisions we’ve made so far. We sometimes even switch sides and I let the man sleep near RJ at the beginning of the night and then when baby boy awakes, we do a quick little ninja roll to change places. We got this thang down.

Ok, so how did I do it you ask? It’s simple, read the steps below and find out how you can turn your crib into a sidecar sleeper yourself.

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The final result

[NOTE: I’m sure other types of cribs would work, but we have a convertible crib that I think works really well. ]

Delta Canton 4-in-1

**There are other ways to achieve this, but this is my method.

STEP 1 : Dissassemble your crib (if you had it set up in another room) and reassemble it as a toddler bed. On our, that just required me to lose the front gate portion and install the balancing bar at the bottom to keep the new frame sturdy.

STEP 2: Position the crib’s frame between your bed and the wall. (I left room at the top of ours for a nightstand). You will want to make sure the crib is snug against the wall and whatever other hard surface is between it.

STEP 3: Push your bed up against the crib until it can’t go any further. You will want to make sure your mattress tops are line up perfectly to create a level mattress surface. If the crib mattress is lower, try raising it by putting something between the springs and matress or raise the cribs legs (if you’re handy). Ours is a perfect match.

STEP 4: Again, make sure your bed is holding the crib frame tightly against the wall. Now, with our frame, the legs are a bit curved, so though the bed holds the frame against the wall, the mattress is a little short horizontally. If there is a gap between the crib mattress and the back of the crib frame, you can fill in the gap with foam core (from a craft store), or used tightly rolled beach towels. We are currently using the tightly rolled beach towels to help create a snug fit between the crib mattress and our bed mattress.

STEP 5: Make both beds and be mindful of pillow and blanket placement to avoid creating unsafe situations for baby when you aren’t in the bed.

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The Black Mama

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