My Toddler Takes A Bottle And Co-Sleeps, And I Don't Care What You Think

by Kristen Thiele
Originally Published: 
A blonde toddler with blue eyes in a navy shirt with white stripes is reaching for a milk bottle han...
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My toddler sleeps in our room and your thoughts on that don’t mean shit to me.

I’ve heard it all since she was born: let them cry it out, put on headphones if you need to, or even leave the house for some quiet and let your husband tackle the inconsolable infant.

I couldn’t do it and maybe I’m a weak parent for that. She was my first baby after all, and it just felt unnatural to hear her in distress and not run right to her. (It still does).

This, of course, led to what all doctors tell you is a huge mistake for parents: co-sleeping. No, we never had our infant tucked into bed with us, but she did (and still does) prefer the firm floor of her pack-n-play in our room to the plush Serta mattress in hers.

A forever bed that’s still in crib mode but will be converted to a full size during our move, my child has yet to make any use of the wooden frame.

RELATED: The Best Portable Cribs For Taking Your Little One Anywhere— From Down The Hall To Across The World

She had her 3-year “well visit” a few weeks back, and the pediatrician (not one we usually see) berated me for our family’s sleeping habits. I went into that visit worried we’d both be in tears from the anticipated vaccines (that weren’t needed until the next visit), and left fuming mad to the point where I called the office manager to complain.

My daughter is smart and thriving. She knows her colors, sings the alphabet along with many other songs, can count to 10, and she’s learning more and more shapes. She has an extensive vocabulary and my sarcastic sense of humor.

She has the most brilliant imagination (literally, she goes by a different Disney princess’s name every day and those around her are expected to follow suit). “Who you be for ‘Punzy’ today?” she’ll ask her older sister. (That’s how she says Rapunzel). Then without letting her sister respond, she answers her own question, “I think you be Pascal.” She’s a trip.

So my point is, how is my 3-year-old any different from those who sleep in their own beds?

She’s not.

A persistent cough landed us back at our pediatric practice this week, and I was happy to see a much different, more personable and kind physician.

As he gave us samples of allergy medicine to counteract the nasty cough, and asks my daughter to try the medicine (at least sniff it, he urged, smiling gently at her), she blurts out: “I think maybe I like taking it with my bottle.”

My face must have turned the most flaming shade of crimson known to man. Sure, this guy was nice (he even listened to one of my daughter’s lengthy stories where most adults are equal parts impressed by her vocabulary and only able to understand every fifth word), but if I was laid out by the last guy for co-sleeping, surely this one would be appalled to hear my newly 3-year-old falls asleep with a bottle each night.

Nope. That exam room was a completely judgment-free zone. He did suggest weaning her from milk to water in the bottles as we steer away from using them, but he did so with the bedside manner (in my opinion) all pediatricians need to have.

They’re on the frontlines every day with tiny humans and the people who (hopefully) love them most! It’s hard enough being a parent without being judged.

As we transition into our new home (on week 3 now!), we’re working to get our little one in her “big girl” room.

It’s something we are determined to work on (at our own pace!), but that’s going to happen at a speed which works for our family, not public opinion.

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