My darling babe and I share a bed.
Originally she was in the “Chicco Crib” attached to the side of my bed, but it soon became clear, once she could sit up, that she would be safer in my bed…where I could prevent her toppling to her doom.
There is a lot of negativity surrounding co-sleeping, but I would just like to say – where on earth do you all think babies slept, back in the days before we had “bedrooms” or even “beds”? Because no ancestral human being is leaving their baby asleep for any old predator to come along and snatch them. Drastic, but true…when you really think about it.
Babies sleep best when they are close to their caregiver, when they know they are safe and protected, and that their needs are going to be met instantaneously. They feel comfort, security and warmth, just be being in the vicinity of that special person(s).
Infact, there’s lots of real scientific evidence that shows Co-Sleeping isn’t the “dangerous” or “irresponsible” arrangement that it’s been branded…
In Japan where co-sleeping and breastfeeding (in the absence of maternal smoking) is the cultural norm, rates of the sudden infant death syndrome are the lowest in the world. For breastfeeding mothers, bedsharing makes breastfeeding much easier to manage and practically doubles the amount of breastfeeding sessions while permitting both mothers and infants to spend more time asleep.
Research has demonstrated that the Eastern interconnectedness model fosters independence and well-being to a much greater degree than simply forcing children to try and be independent. One such example is the case of the Sami and Norwegian children. Sami individuals are more likely to co-sleep with their children and their children were found to be more independent and demand less attention from their parents than Norwegian children who typically sleep alone
While many Western countries see postnatal depression rates near 16%, some other vountries see very few incidences. In these cultures babies needs are tended to day and night, yet there isn’t a higher rate of postnatal depression. How and why is this the case? One of the answers is that in many of these cultures, co-sleeping is the norm.
Now I’m not insisting that every mother should be sleeping right next to their child. Because clearly there are factors that can make bed-sharing dangerous, such as drinking & smoking, and of course if your baby is completely happy sleeping in their cot then why fix something thats not broken!
B U T if your baby and you sleep best when together, whether thats in the same bed, or just the same room (yes if your baby’s cot resides in your bedroom that is indeed a form of co-sleeping) you shouldnt be demonised for having the same arrangements that generations before you have used. Particularly when it was the norm im the western world until the 1700’s & is still the norm in many other cultures.
Therefore you could conclude that the human infant has quite literally survived and evolved through sleeping with their mother and/or father; infact studies have shown that mothers will instinctively take a protective position surrounding the baby to ensure no harm comes to him/her. *Don’t you just love science?*
Co-sleeping doesn’t even have to be an exclusive, fixed arrangement; There is nothing wrong with putting your baby in the cot for the evening and then moving them to join you in bed after they first wake up in the night. It’s about finding what works best for you.
The most recent studies have shown that most bed-sharing deaths incidents happen when an adult sleeping with a baby has been smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs (illegal or over-the-counter medicines) that make them sleep deeply.
– Infant Sleep Information Source Website
Then why is it demonised?
Essentially there are risks, which have developed from our modern lifestyles, not just from the smoking and drinking, but also our choice of sleeping space, our erm slightly larger-than-average bodies and how depleted we allow our energy levels to become all affect the harmonious sleeping arrangements nature intended.
For instance you should never intentionally co-sleep on a sofa. Never. Squidgy sofas and tired mamas mean a very highly possibility of a tragic outcome. *chairs are also a no go…Firstly they’ll hurt your back! Secondly you could drop baby!*
Urm, unfortunately if you & your partner are on the larger side *I’m talking obese here not an extra couple of lovable inches* than you should at the very least avoid both being in the bed with baby – it’s a very unbalanced sandwich.
Lastly energy levels are crucial; If you are so exhausted that your eyes are dropping as you stand then you are way too zonked to be sharing a bed with a tiny little baby who can’t move away from you if you roll into them!
That last one might seem like it prevents anyone from bed sharing – after all we are all exhausted from parenting – but I’m not talking about the pass the coffee type of tired, I’m talking about falling asleep at the wheel exhausted, the type where you wouldn’t stir even if your baby were to scream.
& on that note, if you’re that tired you should be napping with baby! You deserve the rest, you can allow the house work to pile up if it means you can restore some sanity to your weary brain. If you have anyone near, even just a neighbour that’s been dying to nosey at the baby; Get them round and cleaning those dishes for you!
…anyway back to the topic of co-sleeping, as with anything it’s about being careful and taking the necessary precautions, but don’t cross it off the list just because the media has frenzied over one quote taken out of context.
Just like any other parenting choices – it is your choice and only yours, don’t be pushed into make a decision you feel uncomfortable about, and if you choose to co-sleep in any way, even if it’s just the odd night, then just do it safely!
For more information on co-sleeping visit NaturalChild.Org
For ideas on how to safely co-sleep visit NCT.Org
For the most amazing rant on what is wrong about the anti-bed-sharing campaign visit BirthWithoutFearBlog.Com