As I write this, I’m feeling pretty smug. Because my eight week old baby slept a whole load last night – I only had to wake up once to feed her. The thing is though, that smugness is tinged with a very real feeling of foreboding because tonight could be completely different.
And, in fact, it probably will be completely different. It might be better (she slept through the night really early on) or it might be worse (on Monday night she woke up every hour to feed until 3am!) so there’s absolutely no point in second guessing it.
Really early on I decided I wanted to co-sleep. What’s co-sleeping? In it’s purest sense it’s simply sharing the bed with your baby at night. If that sounds horrifying to you (what if I roll over and crush my baby?!) you’re not alone. There are plenty of people who think it’s a bad idea.
But for whatever reason, I knew — in the same way I knew I wanted a home birth — that I would co-sleep. It was just instinctual I guess. But similarly to my home birth plan, I did my research afterwards — mostly to feel armed with facts if and when I was asked to justify my choice.
I did my research after reading Holly Willoughby’s Truly Happy Baby book (no link, because I think it’s crap) and being left feeling upset, ashamed and scared. She regularly rejects co-sleeping for being too risky and says she’s never do it with her babies….which, I know, I shouldn’t worry about. After all, as my lovely friend Milou pointed out: why was I taking parenting advice from a former model and TV presenter?! Yep. Good point.
So why was I heeding Holly’s advice? Well, I mean…I didn’t heed it as such. Not for long anyway. I just felt judged. And frightened. SIDS (or cot death) is a real possibility, albeit a rare one. Rare or not, I felt I couldn’t roll the dice on my precious little baby.
But I loved co-sleeping with Anaïs so much. I loved snuggling up with her at night, being woken to feed in the gentlest of ways (and getting to lie down while doing it) and waking up to a cute, smiling baby is THE BEST.
So I asked my tribe on Instagram, and started doing some serious research. In that research I found it was totally safe as long as you followed some basic principles. Don’t go to bed drunk (obviously), don’t smush your baby with pillows and blankets and make sure your mattress isn’t too soft: tick, tick, tick.
I also found out co-sleeping regulates your baby’s breathing as they match yours — helping to reduce SIDS (my doula and awesome friend Emily shared this with me). Babies also regulate their temperature better when in bed with you (another risk factor in SIDS is baby being too warm).
But there are cons. I sleep pretty lightly when she’s next to me because I don’t want to roll over and smush her (VERY unlikely…but it’s a fear nonetheless). Oli and I can’t really snuggle…..so it’s definitely got a time-limit. Anaïs loves a good fart in the morning, so…yeah. That’s not the nicest.
We have a really cool Snüz Snuzpod cot that attaches to the side of our bed with it’s side down, like a little extension. We really love it and would massively recommend it to anyone keen to co-sleep but a bit wary of having their baby in bed. It’s a three in one situation, so you can use it as a standalone cot as well as lifting the base off to use as a bassinet – great for daytime napping.
So for me the benefits totally outweigh the cons. So I’m gonna carry on regardless.
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Also published on Medium.