Some families choose to co-sleep with their baby, some choose to room-share, and some choose to use the nursery on night one. Which sleep situation will you choose for your baby? In the world of parenting, we know this question can lead to contentious, heated, and emotional debate. But it doesn’t matter because you’ve got to make this decision on where your baby will sleep, regardless of the political hype! For us, the answer is to place your baby in her own nursery, in her own crib, for every nap, every sleep, every time…and starting on night one.
Why the Nursery Right Away?
As a practical parent, we believe you should begin as you want to end up…so, if you eventually intend for your baby to sleep in her own crib, in her own nursery, every night — then why wouldn’t you begin that way? We think this will be the single best decision you will make to ensure your baby learns to fall asleep and stay asleep on her own, asap.** Remember…during the first year, it’s your job to teach her how to sleep because odds are she won’t learn to do it well on her own for at least a year, and many times, two years! (See Why Use Our PPB Schedules? post)
Why We Don’t Co-Sleep
According to years of research, co-sleeping is considered dangerous for your newborn (birth-3 months) because it can increase the occurrence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by five-fold, even if the parents don’t smoke, use alcohol, or use drugs. There are many, many families though that find a way to make co-sleeping work for them, but we feel it’s just too risky – and when you know the risks, it’s nearly impossible to have the peace of mind you’d need to get a good night’s sleep!
Another danger of co-sleeping with your baby is that we think it can be hazardous to your marriage. Keeping the “marriage bed” from becoming the “family bed” is common sense-smart for your relationship and for your baby’s sleep quality. Everyone sleeps better when the baby’s not in your room! And the bottom line: better family sleep = happier spouses + happier baby + happier family. Protecting and strengthening your marriage should be one of your most important goals during this time and nothing kills romance more than a wee-one in the bed! And studies do show that families sleep best when both partners agree on the sleeping situation–regardless of which one they choose — so it’s important for you two to make the decision together, as a new family.
Note: some feel that attachment parenting (co-sleeping, “baby-wearing,” and extended breastfeeding) as a practice can contribute to divorce rates. Read: “Time” Article for more.
Why We Don’t Room-Share
A lot of new parents find the idea of using a co sleeper or bassinet in their room very appealing because they’re afraid they won’t be able to hear baby’s every whimper and cry. But with modern monitor systems and video cameras (see our monitor post), you can ensure you will hear every single sound your baby makes and in the beginning you’ll really want to anyway. When a few weeks go by, you’ll learn to trust the system you’ve put in place and you can turn the sound down a bit, but there’s no real reason for your baby to be in your room for you to be able to hear her. You’ll be using our Schedules: Birth – 3 Weeks, so you’ll be setting your alarm and going in to the nursery for feedings every 2 ½ – 3 hours (or every 2 hours if you’re breastfeeding exclusively) for the first 3 weeks anyway! And we think you should walk into the nursery for every feeding for at least the first three weeks. It might be a little less convenient for you if you’re breastfeeding, but it’s so much more consistent and beneficial for your baby’s sleep-training AND one partner should really be allowed to sleep when the other one feeds. So, if you’re breastfeeding, having pumped breast milk available for your partner to give to your baby during at least one of the middle of the night feeds is a very good idea. It gives you a much-needed, longer sleep-stretch + it gives your partner baby bonding time. Of course, if you’re combination method feeding or formula feeding, having a bottle ready for your partner is easy to prepare and we totally encourage it. Bottom line: odds are your baby won’t sleep well in your room and neither will you.
How to Prepare the Nursery for Night One:
Buy or find a crib that meets today’s safety standards.
Buy or find a comfortable rocker, ottoman, and lumbar pillow for feedings.
Read our Crib Essentials post and feather the nest!
Read our Nursery Organization Must-Haves post and get the nursery in tip-top shape!
Buy black-out curtains and install.
Read (and have your partner read!) our 15-Minute Rule and get psyched to use it!
Tip #1 – Use your cell phone’s alarm (charging bedside, if possible) for feeding time wake-ups.
Tip #2 – Read our Crib Soothers post and make sure you’ve got one on the crib and ready to play.
Tip #3– A Night-light is a great aide for the first few weeks – get one for sure!
Tip #4 – Breathe in, breathe out, kiss your partner, hug each other, high-five (snort, snort!), bond with each other over these first few crazy-beautiful weeks, be a team, and above all else, ENJOY!
**We understand that not all families can afford a separate nursery for their baby — space-wise. If this is your situation, we encourage you to find some quiet space for your baby somewhere safe in your home for naps and night-time sleep, that’s not in your bedroom, if you can.