Co-sleeping. Like with most parenting issues it’s a topic that everyone has some form of opinion about. “It’s dangerous”, “it helps prevent SIDS”, “It’s the best for the baby”, “you’ll never get your child out of your bed again”, “you’re creating a bad habit”.
Researchers from Murdoch University have shown that bedsharing is far less dangerous than most people think. Says Associate Professor Catherine Fetherston; “Often when researchers look at bedsharing, they include sofa-sharing or armchair-sharing, which have been shown to be very dangerous, with a number of associated deaths”.
“In fact, when you remove deaths associated with sofa-sharing from the analysis, the rate of bedsharing deaths is lower than the rate found in babies sleeping by themselves in cots.”
This is given that the sleep environment is safe and that parents are not intoxicated or smokers, of course.
Co-sleeping was one of those things that scared me when I first became a mum. Not because I was afraid to sleep with my son, but because people was so in my face about it, one way or the other, and I was afraid of doing anything wrong.
Our version of co-sleeping was to have Anakin in his cot in our room for the first 5 months. Having him in our bed wasn’t an option because our bed was simply too small and my partner is a heavy, restless sleeper and I’m too much of a worrier. For the first two months or so I didn’t even dare turn the nightlight off because I was always sleeping with one eye open, my head filled with all sorts of horror scenarios, mostly supplied by people who desperately wanted to relay their fears/bad experiences.
At 5 months it became clear that Anakin’s sleep was deteriorating because we kept waking him up throughout the night. We moved him to his own room and nights improved. But there were many nights during whatever thing he was going through where I laid on his floor or sat holding him on the sofa in his room, hot or cold, trying to comfort him, sometimes for a couple of hours, wishing I could just pick him up and put him in bed with me.
Then when my partner recently went to LA for a week and both Anakin and I got sick, I took one of the mattresses off our bed the first night and we slept next to each other for the first time, and continued to do so for most of that week. And I liked it.
Once my partner came back we had a long talk about what to do. It was clear that we couldn’t leave the bedroom the way it was, the bed was becoming a storage space which Anakin would climb up on and could easily fall off. Did we stop or did we go all the way? We decided after much deliberation that our bed wasn’t important to us, that we both enjoyed waking up with him and that it was better that he slept with us when it was necessary so that I too could get some sleep, or at least some more or less comfortable rest. So we threw out our bed altogether and made one gigantic family bed on the floor. And we love it. I love waking up to little hands touching my face and a tiny voice asking for “puppen” (boobie) in the dark. (He’s very much still a boobie boy.)
Our bedtime routine has stayed the same. It’s a quiet, peaceful affair. Anakin goes to sleep in his room after breastfeeding. I lie there in the dark with him, out of sight, until he falls asleep. If he wakes up after we go to bed I bring him in to us and he sleeps next to me for the rest of the night. Some nights he doesn’t, most nights he does.
I’m sure once you get to Anakin’s age the risks are minimal as long as we’re sober when sharing our bed with him. And it probably is becoming somewhat of a habit, but so what? He’s only little for a very short time, and I doubt he’ll be climbing into our bed forever. And to us it feels very natural to want to share our sleeping space with our son. For our next baby I’m sure bedsharing will be an option from a lot earlier on.
Co-sleeping is a very personal choice and it’s definitely not for everyone for a variety of reasons. Do you, or have you co-slept with your kids? How did you find it? What was the best and the worst thing about it?
Ps. Adventures in Jedi is now on Facebook. You can follow us there if you want to!
Last Sunday we turned the clock back an hour. I’m sure everyone who doesn’t have kids thought “Oh wonderful, another hour of sleep” just like I used to. And I’m sure most people with kids though “Oh great, now they’ll just wake up even earlier”. I know I did.
Que Mister 4.30. For a week now.
I’ve been bringing him into bed (which is now relocated permanently to the floor for the safety of His Highness) and a couple of mornings he would fall back asleep after a bit of fidgeting with my face. Maintaining body contact at all times it of utter importance. Those were the few, lucky ones, but most mornings it goes something like this:
Put Anakin in bed with us. I get back up to turn off the night light and he screams because I dare leave his side for a second. Lie back down, resume body contact. Fidget with mamma’s face. Poke her in the eye. Roll onto mamma’s face, roll off her face. Roll onto mamma’s head, roll off her head. Poke her in the eye, poke her in the nose. Pull mamma’s hair, hit her in the head, scratch her face, poke her in the mouth. Roll onto her face, roll off her face. Roll onto her face, roll of her face. Hit her in the head. Kick her in the head. Kick her in the face. Kick pappa in the face. Poke mamma in the eye, find the other eye and poke that too. Pull mamma’s lips, poke her in the nose. Start whingeing. Roll, squirm, roll, kick, find a face to kick, find a face to roll onto. Lie sideways on mamma while pulling her hair. Roll off, turn around and kick her in the face. Turn around again and kick pappa in the face. Repeat for up to 40 minutes. Cry. Cry some more. Cry, hit and kick until mamma gives up and turns the light on. Get excited about “pippin” (boob), crawl towards pippin while mamma tries to put her robe on. Cry because pippin is taking too long. Finally pippin. Fidget and cuddle mamma while eating. Roll onto pappa for a cuddle, back to pippin. Roll around in bed, touch all the no-no’s, roll around some more before more pippin. See cat, chase cat, back to bed, see pippin, more pippin. Roll onto pappa, roll onto mamma, some more pippin and we’re finally up.
Do your kids react to time changes or do they sleep as normal if the changes are small? Have you ever had a kid with jet lag? If so, I’d love to hear how you dealt with it. We’re flying to Norway in a couple of months and I’m dreading the flight and the jet lag already. Any tips?
At midday of day two of single parenting I can hardly feel where I end and where I begin. I can definitely feel my throat which feels as if it is full of barbed wire. What better timing to get sick than when you’re doing it solo for a week.
We had one of those nights.
A sick, crying baby with a snotty nose, sore throat and a mild temperature. A night that went from hot to cold, from needing the air con on to needing a blanket. I tried the co-sleeping thing. With very little success. I wish we were co-sleepers. But the most important thing for us both was to be close. Anakin needed his mamma and I needed to make sure he was alright. None of us slept much. I don’t think anyone has ever held me that tight through a night.
Today is no better, but one can always hold out for a better night tonight.
I miss my other half already.