Recently I saw a pregnancy announcement where the new mama said,
“Now it’s time to plan our nursery!”
It's what everybody does, right? You can't have a baby without a nursery, right? The crib with the matching changing table, the glider in the corner, the cute letters on the wall. Oh, and the monitor so that you can see what’s going on in there at all times.
Well we don’t have any of that and I wouldn’t even purchase it if I had a lot of money and extra rooms to spare. Here are my reasons why, with links to great articles on this topic.
Babies don't need things, they need connection.
Pregnant mothers are bombarded with advertisements and images of baby items that will supposedly make their lives easier. The baby models are always happy as can be, but I'm confident that real life babies would trade in all of this junk just to be held a little longer (preferably with a boob in their mouth).
All they want and need is to be close to you.
And when they're close to you -- not in a bouncer or crib -- you're more in-tune with them and can better respond to their needs. No object will make your life more easy than it is when you're connected. When I was creating my list of "must-have" items, I used this question to guide me:
"What will foster connection?"
The entire nursery concept didn't make the cut.
Nurseries are not biologically ideal.
"Irrepressible (ancient) neurologically-based infant responses to maternal smells, movements and touch altogether reduce infant crying while positively regulating infant breathing, body temperature, absorption of calories, stress hormone levels, immune status, and oxygenation." - James Mckenna
Has anyone ever stopped to think about this one for a second? Babies and small children are vulnerable little beings who depend on us for their safety. Can you imagine our ancestral mothers out in the wild, sleeping anywhere but right next to us? Generations and generations of human beings depended on that closeness. We may be in big houses with locks on our doors, but the biological imperatives remain the same:
Babies need to be with their caregivers at all times
. Here are some other reasons why co-sleeping is healthy for babies.
- The highest rates of bedsharing worldwide occur alongside the lowest rates of infant mortality.
- It reduces the chances of an infant dying from SIDS or from an accident by one half.
- Fires, sexual predators, animal attacks, suffocation after vomiting and other injuries can all be better prevented if a parent is nearby to help.
- The increased exposure to mother’s antibodies which comes with more frequent nighttime breastfeeding can reduce infant illness.
- The low calorie composition of human breast milk (adjusted for the infants’ undeveloped gut) requires frequent night feeds.
- Frequent night feeds helps to maintain the mother's milk supply, which enables her to continue breastfeeding long-term. This is especially important for mothers who have to go back to work early.
There's also the psychological component.
"Cribs force babies to face the long night alone years before they are psychologically equipped to do so. Isolation teaches harmful lessons of mistrust, powerlessness, and despair, creating a deep sense of loneliness that no teddy bear can fulfill. Judging from the reports of adults in hypnotherapy, art therapy, and psychoanalysis, experiences of forced separation from parents in infancy and childhood are traumatic, with long-term effects on the adult personality." - Jan Hunt
A soft mattress and a stuffed animal cannot replace the warmth, smell and comfort of a human body.
I value my sleep.
"Research has shown that breastfeeding mothers who co-sleep get more sleep than both bottle-feeding mothers and mothers who breastfeed, but do not co-sleep." - Evolutionary Parenting
My son can just roll over and nurse, and usually I sleep right through it. Both of our needs are fulfilled and we usually wake up feeling rested. There are some nights that are harder than others (growth spurts!) but I know it would be significantly worse if I had to get out of bed repeatedly to comfort my child. And if you know me, you know I'm not okay with "cry-it-out" and that will never be an option. Never.
I simply cannot imagine sleeping separately from my baby.
I spent almost ten months sharing a body with my son, and we've been strengthening our bond every day since his birth. He has also bonded with his father and wakes up every morning ready to see him. "Dadu!" is the first word out of his mouth. We are a family and we belong together -- Not Mom and Dad in a room and baby in another room all alone. No. The three of us together, keeping each other safe and warm and loved. Starting and ending each day together.