Early on, one of my greatest attractions to Attachment Parenting was the way that it focused on meeting the child’s needs – even when it went against the grain. I loved the concept of honoring the child and working to meet the needs of everyone in the family, instead of forcing the child to comply with the desires of the parents while sacrificing his or her own wants or needs. I was especially drawn to the concepts of feeding with love and compassion, keeping baby close and in arms or a carrier, responding to baby’s cues, finding a balance within our home and family, and keeping baby close at night.
So when I had babies, it was natural that I followed the general guidelines of Attachment Parenting. We breastfed, I wore or held Sofi almost all of the time (or at least it seemed that way!), I learned her cues for all things, and I kept her close to sleep.
Starting out, she had a cradle by the bed. My husband, Micah, likes to joke that she slept there for only 10 minutes before I snuggled her in the big bed next to me and that was where she stayed!
For the first year, we enjoyed a co-sleeping relationship. And by we, I mean Sofi and I – Sofi and Micah.. not so much. Sofi would wake to nurse and her little wiggles, snorts, and grunts would wake Micah – generally just as Sofi was drifting off to sleep. Micah would grumble, reposition a few times, finally get resettled, and drift back off. About this time, Sofi would be bothered enough by his wakefulness that she would wake again and need to nurse to settle. We did this all night, every night. It wasn’t working for any of us. While Sofi and I were comfortable with each other, I wasn’t getting enough sleep, and Sofi and Micah were both not getting enough quality sleep for any of us to be neither happy nor healthy.
And so, when Sofi was a year old, we decided to attempt to transition her to her own bed in her own room. We started with nap time and finally put her in her crib for the night one night. For the first time ever, she slept through the night – and so did I! I awoke to sunlight streaming in the windows and a sense of absolute panic and dread – most parents who have had a child sleep through an entire night know this exact feeling.
Sofi was hooked, as was Micah. Sofi, young as she was, understood that she felt better and was happier sleeping away from Daddy. So, we honored that and allowed her to sleep well. For the next year, she moved back and forth, as she desired. She hadn’t been in her room long before we transitioned to a toddler bed, and she could get in and out of bed all on her own. A gate across the hallway gave her access to her room and ours, without having access to the rest of the apartment. She would come and get in bed with us or sleep in her own room as she wanted. Her bed was also light enough that it could easily be moved from room to room.
When Sofi was just over 2 years old, Walter joined our family. Sofi had decided within just a few weeks that it was no fun to sleep in the same room with a baby who woke several times in the night, and so she moved into her own room – permanently. Walter slept in our bed, but we didn’t have the “family bed” that so many people think of when they think of Attachment Parenting.
This is when I began to hear the derision from people. Up until this point, striking balance and meeting everyone’s needs had looked like the standard AP model. But now, meeting all of our needs and honoring Sofi’s desires went against the AP grain! I began to hear things like, “But you don’t even co-sleep!” But, I held firm in my belief that it was better to honor everyone’s need for healthy sleep than it was to try to fit a rigid guideline of someone else’s definition of Attachment Parenting.
Walter slept in our bed until he was about 9 months old, when I just could not take not sleeping anymore – and I do mean not sleeping. He and I never slept well together. Elliott slept in our bed until about 20 months old. All of us slept well with him there, and we were all happy with the arrangement. When we began to be low on space with my expanding belly and my body pillow, we gently transitioned him to his own bed. He loves his little bed and is now happy to sleep there!
Now, William is due in about 6 weeks. We have plans to put the crib in the sidecar position and have him right next to us! He’ll stay as long as we are all comfortable. When he is ready to move out, we will transition him to his own bed as gently and lovingly as possible. After all, my greatest attraction to Attachment Parenting is honoring the child’s needs, while balancing the needs of the entire family!
In sharing how they do things in their families, authors are not trying to suggest the same choices are right for you. Please consider the safety issues, and take all precautions when considering where your children will sleep. There might be increased risk for babies under six months regardless of how bed sharing is done. In such cases, a separate safe sleeping surface might be a better choice. Statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products and/or information are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Readers are advised to do their own research and make decisions in partnership with their healthcare provider. If you are pregnant, are nursing, have a medical condition, or are taking any medication, please consult your physician. Nothing you read here should be relied upon to determine dietary changes, a medical diagnosis, or courses of treatment.