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10 Steps I Take to Avoid Co-Sleeping With My Baby

As a foster parent, co-sleeping (more recently called bed sharing), is not an option.  Each month case workers come to my home to routinely ask where my foster and [almost] adopted daughters sleep.  There’s only one right answer: in empty cribs, on their backs.

I don’t have a problem with this. I can sleep anywhere and anytime.  The thought that I could possibly roll over on a baby and it probably wouldn’t wake me is horrifying.  Even before I began fostering, I thought about sleep all the time and sought to nap several times a day.  Power naps I like to say.  For example, if I’m at a conference, the first thing I do is scan the building for a nap space.  Once I found another conference attender in my previously designated sleep nook and we bonded over our love of naps.  We’ve been close friends ever since.

Also, I’ve seen numerous Public Service Announcements (PSAs) on the dangers of co-sleeping and increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  I’m a sucker for PSAs.  I’d like to not accidentally kill a baby.  So no co-sleeping for me.

Everyone has different sleep needs, for me, the lack of sleep that comes with a newborn has made it incredibly hard for me to avoid co-sleeping.  I’ve fostered four newborns (a different times) and an eighteen month-old and they’ve all spent a lot of time in my bed.  Largely, this was due to my urge to lay horizontally whenever possible.  My couch is okay, but my bed is so so comfortable.  The sheets are as I like them to be, my blanket and my perfect fluffy pillows. Oh glorious sleep, but back to the babies.

Here’s what I do to avoid co-sleeping with my babies:

  • 1. I keep a "no babies in my bed" policy 1 of 11
    Safe_Sleep_ad__horz_1209-1024x472

    I have a personal policy of no babies in my bed unless I am confident that I am WIDE awake and am going to stay that way.  I haven't been wide awake since Sandy was born seven months ago so there's only been a few times I've had the girls in my bed.

    Photo Credit: City of Milwaukee Health Department

  • 2. Followed-up with a “no sleeping on the floor with my baby” policy 2 of 11
    co-sleeping

    I also have to have a personal policy of not sleeping on the floor with my babies.  This one's hard for me.  It's not my bed I rationalize- I just want to lie down here for one short second while I hold the pacifier in her mouth....zzzzz.....

    Photo Credit: morguefile.com

  • 3. Designated feeding chair 3 of 11
    chair

    In order to keep me out of the comfort of my bed, I've designated a chair to sit in when I feed the babies.  Even if I fall asleep in the chair, it's uncomfortable enough that I wake-up soon afterward and put the baby in the crib.

    Photo Credit: morguefile.com

  • 4. Sometimes it helps to pull the crib up to my bed 4 of 11
    Sleep-Safe-Transit-Poster-large

    Depending on the baby, I sometimes pull the crib right up to my bed and weave my hands through the bars to pat him or her on the back. 

    Photo Credit: Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals

  • 5. I ask a friend to spend the night if I take new medication 5 of 11
    pills

    If I drink at all on a given night, or take a new medication that I'm worried may make me drowsy, I ask a friend tospend the night as the designated alert adult.

    Photo Credit: morguefile.com

  • 6. Double check whose needs I’m filling 6 of 11
    Babies+-+Sleep+task+force+poster+with+dad

    I acknowledge my working mom guilty and the effect it has on wanting to co-sleep and stay snuggled up.  Once I realize that my urge to keep a baby in my bed is about me and not so much about the needs of my baby, it reminds me to put the baby in the crib.

    Photo Credit: Albany County Department for Children, Youth and Families

  • 7. Power nap to alleviate some sleep deprivation 7 of 11
    nap

    I can power nap like none other and I keep a keen eye open for every opportunity I can get.  My lunch break at work, when the girls sleep, for 20 minutes before the babysitter goes home, etc.  Even if you don't have narcoleptic skills like myself, at least find time to lay down and rest your eyes every chance you get.

    Photo Credit: morguefiles.com

  • 8. I search the internet for additional PSAs on co-sleeping and SIDS 8 of 11
    ad-207x300

    If I start to inch toward cosleeping, I do an internet search for PSAs like this one.  They serve to sufficiently scare the crap out of me and remind me not to do it.

    Photo Credit: City of Milwaukee Health Department

  • 9. Set an alarm (on vibrate) 9 of 11
    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    In reality, I'm going to fall asleep while feeding a baby.  With the sleep deprivation, the dimmed lights and stillness, it's inevitable.  I frequently set my phone alarm, on vibrate mind you, to ensure that I get up and put the baby in the crib.

    Photo Credit: morguefiles.com

  • 10. Worse case scenerio, I don’t hold the baby to feed her 10 of 11
    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    I think that the time spent feeding a baby is important bonding time.  Prior to fostering, I probably would have judged anyone who wasn't holding their baby while feeding them.  I obviously didn't know what true exhaustion was.  If I ever think that it's impossible to stay awake, I'll put a baby in their bouncy seat.  This way, their head is properly elevated, but if either of us falls asleep, we're still safe.

    Photo Credit: morguefiles.com

  • How do you avoid co-sleeping? 11 of 11
    cosleeping

    How do YOU avoid co-sleeping?  I'd love some more tips! 

    Photo Credit: New York City Administration of Children's Services

Also by Rebecca this month: 10 Ways  Foster Kids Are Different Than 1

Read more of Rebecca’s writing at her Blog Here.

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