Coming Out About Co-Sleeping
And other unpopular parenting decisions
When we brought our baby Olive home from the hospital after 24 hours we were in for a surprise. The adorable lully boo that we prepared as a bassinet was absolutely ineffective. Olive was still curled up and didn’t want to lie flat. So we lugged the infant swing that we were gifted into the bedroom and placed our new tiny into the panda bucket for her inaugural nighttime snooze at home. Only I woke up in the middle of the night terrified that the fuzzy ear was covering her face and pulled her into the bed with me, struggling to stay awake until finally, without realizing it, I fell asleep with her in my arms. Six months later we still sleep this way and although she can roll off me and rest on her own, we both wildly prefer to sleep together.
“Ugh, what are you going to do when she’s ready to go to school?” asked another parent as we walked with our babies in carriers around our neighborhood — indicating that I am setting my kid up to not be able to operate on her own. “You’re right,” I said, “we are probably en route to homeschooling .” Though it sounded like a quip, I was entirely serious; if I was taking a unconventional route now then how would I be able to conform to some arbitrary standards later on?
Many of the early choices we’ve made have already led us to either raise or unraise a very spirited a child. We stuck to the RIE philosophy and avoided putting Olive in positions she couldn’t get into herself; so no bumbos or bouncers or stationary play mats. This plus probably some biology means we had a crawling baby pulling up to stand in a matter of months after the very first roll. We didn’t use a pacifier and so she cries when she’s mad which is when she’s in anything that buckles. So unless you want to deal with a mad baby, that means strollers and high chairs are generally a no and car rides have to be so carefully planned that it’d be easier to move to a walking city than continue on this way for another year. And we are using a Montessori style room, with most things at baby level, so she has access to what she needs on her own — even if that only means grabbing a soft toy or silicon soap dish for now.
“Why the rush for her to grow up and act like an adult so fast?” another mom friend asked. And actually I agree with her. I hadn’t anticipated some of the decisions we made to mean earlier development. It was more that, like public school and homeschooling, I simply couldn’t unknow what I learned once I looked at the reality of your “garden variety parenting,” (as the facilitator of our weekly infant educators group likes to call it). I saw right away that if you don’t restrict their movement early on, they do learn what to do with their bodies real fast. If you don’t use a pacifier they do learn to express their emotions. If you do focus on freedom to explore, they do seem infinitely curious. And when I see babies happily snuggled in a stroller while the parents chat with friends over dinner or cuddled in a carrier while the adults share a cold one, I secretly wish that I, too, could be a regular tomato.
I still do some things that everyone else does and that Olive hates because I believe in participation. I dressed her up for Halloween because hey I’m crafty and I wanted to make a costume. We do take car rides because there is family to see and museums to explore and I don’t want to totally deprive myself of a life in exchange for the best for my baby. And I try to relax the rules when we are around people without the same philosophies because no one likes a constant comparison when it comes to their kids. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up unschooling once kindergarten comes, because the path to doing it different forks off fast.