I have been challenged to write about the one baby product that I could no survive without. It took me less than 30-seconds to figure out that it was our Arm's Reach Co-sleeper. It makes having a happy family and well-rested momma possible.
I knew about half-way through my pregnancy that co-sleeping was the right fit for our family. Dr. Sears' research into the habit is pretty clear that it is best for the majority of families. The biggest reservation I had to co-sleeping was what if Charlotte rolled off the bed, or what if I needed some extra wiggle room and didn't want to wake a peaceful baby. The main reason I wanted it is because I knew going back to work would make getting enough sleep very important. The co-sleeper solved all of these problems for me.
When we first brought Charlotte home, she would go down each night in her co-sleeper and stay there until she was hungry. When she woke up hungry, I would sit up in bed and lay my pillow on my lap to nurse her. It took about 8 weeks for her to big big enough and good enough at latching to successful nurse while laying down, so our co-sleeping didn't really begin in earnest until she was about 2 months old.
She still goes down each night in the co-sleeper which means that the first 2 hours or so of my sleeping time are baby free. I really like those 2 hours and can get into a deep sleep which helps me in the waking hours. When she starts to fuss, I can roll over and pat her on the back if she needs it, or pick her up and bring her into bed with me. Once she is latched on to nurse, I can fall back asleep. I was just telling my mom today that I tend to be a pretty light sleeper and am fairly well tuned into her noises, especially now that she is 6 months old. Sometimes after she nurses I will put her back into the co-sleeper and be able to sleep on my back for a little while. Right now, Charlotte probably goes back in there 1-2 times a night.
Since we nurse on both sides each night to prevent engorgement, I don't want to worry about her potentially rolling out of bed, especially now that she is getting more mobile and wiggly. Having the co-sleeper right at bed height means that if she did, she'd drop less than 6 inches onto her own mattress. I know it would wake the both of us up, but she wouldn't be harmed by that drop. This gives me great peace of mind. For the record, she has never rolled off the bed, though sometimes her arms or legs hang off; that is kind of cute.
The amount of sleep I get each night varies, but I know that if I had to walk across the house to her crib 2-3 times a night to nurse her I would never be able to get back to sleep. Being a middle school teacher means I need to be alert and on my toes as much as possible. It's amazing what kids will try to pull on you these days!
My co-sleeper was a baby shower present from my mom. I only had a vague idea that something like this existed when I first started considering sleeping arrangements. She is the one who found the actual co-sleeper that we now use. Fortunately for us, Charlotte is small for her age, so at 6 months old, it is still a great fit. For anyone that is looking to increase both their sleep and their ability to respond to their baby this is a great choice.