Why I Changed My Mind About Co-Sleeping with My Baby
When I had our first baby back in 2014, I would never have co-slept with her. She was sleeping in her cot and that was it — I was scared of rolling over her and of her staying in our bed forever.
She was a bad sleeper and woke up loads every night for a long time and wanted many, small night feeds so I would wake up as she did, breastfeed her sat up in bed reading on my Kindle App or play Blendoku just to make sure I didn’t accidentally fall back asleep with my baby on me. Then I would try to transfer her back to her cot without waking her.
Often, I would get up at some point during the night and head downstairs and settle her on the sofa because I just couldn’t keep myself awake by reading anymore. I would watch Mad Men on the TV while feeding her and soothing her and when she fell asleep, I would put her down in her carrycot and I would try to get some sleep on the sofa.
This whole thing lasted quite some time and I was exhausted of course! When it’s your first baby you can take it a bit easy in the daytime though and even sleep when your baby sleeps which is what everybody tells you to do. That’s how I managed. I napped with her and I had lots of coffee. She still woke up lots during the night and when she was older she started coming into our bed anyway halfway through the night (from about 9 months) and we’re still working on her sleep now at the age of 3 years old!
Why I changed my mind
When I had our second baby in 2016, I had changed my mind completely about co-sleeping and these are the reasons why:
- Co-Sleeping Means More Sleep
By co-sleeping, the whole family gets more sleep. My baby never wakes up fully and cries, just shuffles and grunts a bit and then I can settle her with a hand or a breastfeed without having to get up which means it’s easier for me to get back to sleep straight away too. My husband doesn’t really wake up either as there’s no crying. This is an important point for me as with a three-year-old as well, there’s no napping with Baby No. 2!
- It Makes Breastfeeding So Easy
With a little practice, you can quickly learn to breastfeed laid down side by side. This way of feeding is great as it means you can go back to sleep as your baby feeds and you don’t have to move your baby. Once she is done feeding, she’ll unlatch and continue sleeping.
Because of my baby’s reflux problems in the first few months of her life, she could not sleep on her back and had to sleep on her side. She could roll over from the start so I was not comfortable putting her to bed on her side as a newborn in case she rolled onto her front. By sleeping next to her, I could ensure that she stayed on her side and also listen out for her being sick. This gave me peace of mind. The few times she slept in her co-sleeping crib, I slept awfully because I couldn’t relax not being as close to her to make sure she was okay.
- We Can All Get Up Together
My baby’s main feeds during the night were the late night one and the early morning one, now it’s usually just the morning one. By doing this whilst co-sleeping, we can all continue to sleep until my husband’s alarm goes off at around 7.15 which is quite a lie-in in the parent world!
There’s no denying the fact that baby cuddles are lovely and sleeping close to your baby is so nice. They only stay small for a short period and they will not stay in your bed forever just because you choose to co-sleep for a while. While your baby is still little is the best time to sleep next to each other too as later on, they start kicking and pushing you out of the bed.
When co-sleeping, you have to ensure you’re doing it safely and a few things to remember are:
- Make sure your baby can’t fall out of the bed or get trapped between the bed and the wall. Our baby sleeps on my side of the bed and at first we had a co-sleeping crib there, now we have put up a bed-rail.
- Don’t use a duvet on your baby. Use sheets, a cellular blanket or a baby sleeping bag which is the safest option.
- Ensure your baby is wearing the right amount of clothes in bed to be warm but never hot.
- Make sure your duvet and pillows and any other bedding can’t cover your baby’s face or head.
- Use a fitted bed sheet, not a loose one.
- Use a firm mattress.
- Still put your baby to sleep on their back if possible.
- Don’t use a baby pillow until they’re at least 12 months old.
- Don’t fall asleep with your baby in other places like the sofa or an armchair.
- Never leave your baby alone on the bed.
- Don’t let other children sleep next to your baby.
For more information, check out the Lullaby Trust’s guide on how to reduce the risk of SIDS.