Co-Sleeping Is It For You?

I never thought I would co-sleep. We spent months roaming baby shops weighing up the pros and cons of various cots in preparation for our new baby. In the end we spent a couple of hundred on a lovely wooden cot that did everything we needed it too. This is where he was going to sleep. That was what was safe. Never did it enter my mind that I would share my bed with my baby. But somewhere along the way this plan got screwed up. It all started when we decided to put our sons cot in the bedroom with us.

Then the next step to co-sleeping happened. It was 3 am, I had maybe a grand total of 2 hours sleep, and I was so tired. My son was not settling. I had changed his nappy, fed him, rocked him, swore silently under my breath, and pleaded with him to sleep. Nothing was working. I was exhausted so thought if we both had to be awake we may as well be in bed relaxing. Then I realise it was quiet. No more complaining, or crying, just silence. All I could hear was the soft breathing noises a sleeping baby makes. Suddenly one side of my brain was saying “I can just have a quick sleep, just 15 minutes, it will be fine. 15 minutes is ok”, the other side was saying “yup listen to that side it’s smart”. Next thing I knew it was 4 hours later and I was nice and rested (well as rested as you can be with a newborn).

Luckily I am a light sleeper. So any movement would wake me up. I mean any movement. I have nailed the cat to the bed a couple of times, and my partner too, as I woke in a blind panic thinking my son was crawling off the bed (which was ironic because at the time he couldn’t even crawl).

Now we usually do a combo of co-sleeping. My son usually spends 90% of the night in his cot then around 5am (usually because I am tired and lazy) he comes into the bed with us. To be honest I really enjoy it. I like having my son nice and close. For me it really comes in handy when he is sick so I can monitor him better (though I might revise this after my first vomit in the bed, so far this has been avoided).

Co-sleeping seems to be a really controversial issue with avid supporters on both sides. I personally find it strange that  experts say co-sleeping is dangerous when it should be the most natural thing in the world. Cot’s were not around when humans first emerged into the world (no matter what your belief) so I would suspect co-sleeping is what our ancestors would have done.

But figures don’t lie (unless your Christopher Skase then they lie a lot). Plenty of studies and statistics support the experts who say co-sleeping is dangerous. Suffocation is also a real, and undeniable risk for a baby sleeping in its parents bed. But just as many studies support co-sleeping as an effective way of bonding with your child and getting them to sleep more effectively. A few studies have shown that co-sleeping is rising in popularity, or is only now being talked about openly.

So which option is the right one? I don’t personally think either way is “wrong”. You need to do what best suits your lifestyle and personality; and like wise your baby’s personality. Plus it needs to be a joint decision between you and your partner. Be realistic, your bedroom/bed just may not be big enough to safely co-sleep.

If you want to co-sleep then have a good look at the options. You can have the cot in your room with you, have the cot “side-car” style with your bed, go the whole hog and have your baby in the bed with you, or have a spare bed in the baby’s room (preferably a mattress on the floor). Either way I personally would recommend if you are serious to discuss options with a health professional. There are “sleep” centres in some cities that could give you valuable information.

After choosing the “style” of co-sleeping you want, make sure you do everything possible to make the sleep environment safe.

Do not:

  • Use a mattress that is too soft, has a pillow top, or is a water-bed. While water beds are fun, it is not fun to watch your baby ride a wave ninja turtle style off the bed. Seriously though, these types of mattress’ pose a suffocation risk.
  • Leave any gaps between headboard, footboard, wall (if your bed is against a wall), bedside table, etc.
  • Use sheets that will become loose during the night
  • Use doona’s quilts, eider-down, or any heavy blankets.
  • Leave a baby unattended in the bed alone.
  • If you have long hair tie it up.
  • Use pillows if possible, if you need a pillow keep it to one.
  • Let pets sleep in the bed as well.
  • Let your baby sleep on a pillow.
  • Let your baby get hold of any cords or dangling items around the bed, such as light cords, jewllery, or ribbon from your nightie.

Do Not Under ANY circumstances sleep with your baby if:

  • You or your partner are intoxicated, inebriated, or incapacitated in any way.
  • You or your partner are taking strong medication
  • You or your partner smoke. No one knows why but when smokers sleep with their babies it increases the baby’s chance of cot death.
  • You or your partner are a deep sleeper.
  • Your baby is premature.
  • You or your partner is over weight or obese.

Do:

  • Keep bedding light and minimal
  • Dress your baby lightly for bed. Your body heat will raise your babies temperature.
  • Put your mattress on the floor. This will save you having a heart attack as your baby repels over the edge to escape.
  • Place your baby on it’s back to sleep.
  • Use appropriate bedding (satin out, cotton in. Satin is way too slippery).
  • Make sure you have a mattress protector on the bed.

As always consult a professional if you seriously wish to co-sleep.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rainbowg
    Jan 14, 2011 @ 21:37:37

    It’s interesting that you started off not intending to co-sleep, but ended up doing so. That in itself would indicate that it is a natural thing to do. I have nothing against co-sleeping and can see how it would strengthen the bond between parent and child, but I can’t imagine it working for me. Our bed is queen size and I can’t imagine there being enough room in it for another person! I am not one of those people who can sleep easily while being cuddled. As it is, I wake easily when I hear Jade making noises and she is in another room, I think having her in the same rooom would disturb my sleep a lot more. But this is just what works for us.

    Reply

    • caspette
      Jan 15, 2011 @ 20:24:29

      Rainbowg – in all honesty co-sleeping for us was rare until Js operation in October. That whole time he just refused to sleep anywhere other the snuggled next to me. After that he the went through an uber clingy stage, then sick again with a cold. Only now are we slowly getting back to a more consistant cot sleep. His cot is in our room though anyway. Even though I do love co-sleeping in the bed, I am plagued by worry that something will go wrong.

      Reply

  2. Literary Feline
    Jan 14, 2011 @ 23:59:11

    I admit I have very strong feelings about co-sleeping (having the baby in the same bed with the parent). I suppose it has a lot to do with what I do for a living since I hear about the child deaths that result from co-sleeping, whether by accident or under extenuating circumstances, on a regular basis. I know a lot of parents who have done it without any problems, but it is not something I will do, no matter how natural it may seem. I’m not willing to take that chance.

    I think if a parent is considering co-sleeping, he or she should first look into getting an actual co-sleeper, a cot or bassinet like bed that sits right next to the parent’s bed. The side attached to the bed is low to make moving the baby while in bed very easy.

    Reply

    • caspette
      Jan 15, 2011 @ 19:38:57

      Yes I agree. I am pretty paranoid about it when we do it, which is why I seriously limit the time. I believe though its a modern western problem as our sleeping habits are just not condusive for it. Which is such a shame I think.

      I am lead to believe over seas there are lots of new “safe” sleeping furniture that is like the “side car” option. But dont know how safe they really are.

      Reply

      • Literary Feline
        Jan 15, 2011 @ 20:28:38

        “I am lead to believe over seas there are lots of new “safe” sleeping furniture that is like the “side car” option. But dont know how safe they really are.”

        I agree. The co-sleeper bassinet’s are very popular right now, but I don’t believe they are as closely regulated as actual cribs are yet. The research is mixed as to their safety. I’m finding that to be true for a lot of baby equipment as I research products I may want to have for my child when she is born. It’s a shame really because you’d think there’d be more of a push to ensure baby items were very secure and safe.

      • caspette
        Jan 17, 2011 @ 23:01:59

        Maybe look into the Australian standards for some of the stuff. Not sure where it is on the net. Pretty much every baby product here is heavily regulated. Very few things aren’t.

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