I mentioned before that we've been "sort-of" co-sleeping with Elizabeth. This arrangement worked really, really well for us, but the more mobile Elizabeth becomes, the less well it worked.
There are many testimonials online and elsewhere about the benefits of extended planned co-sleeping, but strangely few people talk about co-sleeping with a baby that no longer stays where she was put! I broke my collarbone falling out of bed as a toddler and don't really want Elizabeth to risk the same, so I asked around to find out how other co-sleeping moms handled naps etc.
I heard about three main strategies:
- Stay with your child while they sleep. This works pretty well for preventing your child from falling off the bed, but has the drawback of not allowing mom to get anything done while said child is sleeping. I could live with that, but I wondered how it worked once child is mobile enough to climb over or around mom. My tendency would be to fall asleep myself. The child also never learns to fall asleep on his or her own, since the parent is always there.
- Put a mattress on the floor. We thought about this, but we have a lack of spare mattresses, and the mattress would have to be fairly thin to avoid pain when falling off. I can also see Elizabeth wandering around the room using this strategy, and she isn't quite old enough for me to be comfortable with her doing that unattended.
- Expect child to nap in car seat, stroller or baby sling. This doesn't work for going to bed really, and would result in a cranky Elizabeth. She definitely naps better and longer lying down in a quiet, motionless, dark-ish room. I don't blame her! I do too! I've been nervous about naps in car seats since I read about the dangers of positional asphyxiation, so although millions of kids have managed to survive napping in the car (including Brendan and myself), we definitely try to avoid extended car seat naps for Elizabeth.
We tried a modified version of option 1 for a while, substituting heavy laundry baskets as an Elizabeth trap to prevent her from being able to crawl out of bed. However, once Elizabeth started pulling herself up on the bars of the crib, we knew that it was time to lower the mattress so that she can't escape over the bars. There's a family history here too - Auntie Janice used to routinely somersault her way out of her crib as a baby (landing on my head!) We'd rather Elizabeth didn't try that since we think she'd find the floor a rather uncomfortable landing spot.
Our solution at this point has been to keep the crib strapped to our bed but to lower the mattress down so that she can't escape, creating a sort of trundle bed. The pictures demonstrate how the bed is attached. This continues to give us easy access to her while keeping her safe but even this won't work for too much longer...