Since I woke up to this precious yet crowded bed a few mornings ago, I have been thinking a lot about co sleeping and how it changes as baby grows.
First is the newborn phase. This is marked by a neat separate area for baby to sleep. Carefully arranged, reduced, or eliminated pillows and blankets. Mom nurses baby and then makes sure everything is neatly rearranged before returning herself to sleep.
Then comes the comfy co sleeper phase. This phase is marked by a larger, yet mostly non mobile baby. Care is still taken with pillows and blankets, but the fear of actually losing baby has almost gone away since baby has grown. Mom still has ultimate authority over breastfeeding positioning and timing. In many ways this is the ultimate period of co sleeping.
Comfortable co sleeping has its end, however, when baby figures out how to move. This next phase can be broken down into several revolving stages. First is the perpendicular sleeper. The lucky parent is the recipient of merely a head in the armpit. The not-so-lucky parent in subjected to continual feet in the rib cage throughout the night.
In addition to the perpendicular sleeper, the newly mobile baby and toddler discovers that mom makes a really good pillow. Or at least a sleeping ledge. Mom finds she often wakes to being in contact with at least 75% of baby's body. When an older sibling is also involved, this contact phase runs parallel to the sandwich phase. This is when mom wakes up as the peanut butter in between two slices of bread.
Good luck with your attempts to continue sleeping after a mobile baby has decided that it is time to wake up for the day.
The only significant counter measure to this phase is a VERY long nightgown.
Possibly tied shut at the bottom.
The above three phases to co sleeping can continue for quite some time, waxing and waning as the child may or may not adjust to sleeping in their own spot in Mom and Dad's bed or elsewhere. Eventually, however, children move into the negotiation phase of co sleeping. Parents hear themselves saying, "You can sleep here, but no nursing until the sun comes up" or "Otherside of Daddy, please," or "Get off of your sister already!" This is the stage at our house when we start to encourage the floor next to our bed. There are glimmers of hope when the toddler or preschooler involved occasionally stays in their own bed all night.
The final phase of co sleeping is the sneaky co sleeper. This is the co sleeper who doesn't want to admit he might need Mom or Dad in the middle of the night. He is sure he is too old for that and he knows its *against* the rules. This final phase of co sleeper sneaks into the bed late in the night and stands next to the bed for a few moments figuring out the best place to squeeze himself in. Head towards the bottom, feet towards baby sister seemed to be a popular conclusion to this thought process.
In this case, Mom and Dad may wake up to have no idea when or where all of these children came from.
I've been enjoying digging through my first few years of blogging to find gems like this one and I hope to share more in the future. If you have a favorite post of the past be sure to let me know and I'll see if it might be due for an update!
Disclaimer: If you are new to co-sleeping you should know that pretty much none of these pictures currently represents "safe" definitions of co sleeping. I'll save my soapbox on what I think about that, but be sure to do your own research before deciding what is best for your family. While I take safe sleep seriously, the news and media is really only showing you the set of research that backs up the AAP narrative. They want you to be very confused about the differences between SIDS/SUIDS (not preventable and by definition has no known direct causes, only risk factors) and suffocation (which can be avoided/prevented...just maybe not in a couple of these pictures). Look up Dr. James McKenna for real anthropologically relevant information on how babies have slept throughout time.