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Should I co sleep with my baby?

posted on 21 February 2009 | posted in Post Natal information

Many parents chose to co sleep with their new babies at some point during early parenthood, for many different reasons and for different lengths of time. I chose to sleep with mine, and from experience and hands on evidence I can offer the following tips on the why and why not’s!

• Every family and parent is different from the next, and what works for the goose may not work for the gander!

• Take advice and information for what it is worth to you and do not compare or judge yourself for not fitting in or struggling with a situation when others may not be – things are not always what they seem!

Ok – that aside, let’s look at this amazing subject!

Most breastfeeding mothers chose to co sleep with their babies as it is so much easier to feed the baby at night as they are right there! This saves having to get up in the night and move to another room when you are exhausted, and milk flows much better when you and baby are relaxed!

So, co sleeping and breastfeeding do seem to match, and feeding lying down and snuggling really is divine and such an excuse to rest!

Is co sleeping safe?
Of course, it is totally unlikely that a new mother, with the most incredible baby radar, would ever roll onto her child. Of course you would never co sleep if you or your partner are ill, under any kind of sedation, under the influence of alcohol or on any drugs. Most parents who co sleep would be 100% aware of themselves and their babies.

One of the main reasons why couples chose this option is for the ease of feeding. The second main reason is to get some sleep! Young babies adore the smell and comfort from their parents and like it or not will wake up at night.

Getting your baby back to sleep can be much easier when you are just there! This saves the baby waking further by standing, screaming and having to make a fuss to get attention!

Babies tend to settle and sleep easier, and often for longer with their parents in the same bed. Of course, the baby will only know this if it’s been used to it! What a baby doesn’t know has no impact upon them!

The baby loves and needs constant attention, and this does not stop at night. A small baby needs you, and sleeping with them secures that need long into their future lives.
When do you stop co sleeping?
The natural attachment way to stop co sleeping is when the next child comes into the bed, or when the child stops breastfeeding, or when the child asks to leave the bed to go to its own!

A point to add in here is that most breastfeeding babies/toddlers do not sleep through the night! They will wake at some point for a snuggle or some milk! This is normal for them and not something that is wrong or needs to change. It only needs to change if you are personally struggling with the waking and need to change the situation.

If you are unhappy, my advice is to then introduce some change.

How do you stop co sleeping?
This again is different for each family, but one point that needs to be realised is that the baby will need time to adjust if the choice is not theirs. If or when they chose, the transition will be smooth! The older the baby/toddler is, the more time may be needed if it is not voluntary.

My toddler is 22 months and she still ends up in our bed. I am still breastfeeding her occasionally, and she wants a cuddle and some milk at some point between 2am and 7am!

She has her own bed in her own room, we have made it beautiful and now we just wait til she is ready and keep trying. She falls asleep with one of us in her own bed and room, and she stays there until she wakes, then she is snuggled, fed if necessary (usually a cuddle will do in daddy’s arms while mummy enjoys more sleep), and then put back into her cot. If she gets distressed we bring her to us!

Why do we bring her into us?
Because my instinct tells me passionately that this is what she needs. I do not have the capability to listen to her cry nor does her daddy and we never will have.

I believe that when she is ready, she will not cry or wake and hopefully ask to stay in her own bed.

I know in my heart that the way we have already raised her, leaving her to cry would be damaging to her progress. The times I ever have (very few!) she has been clingy and very sad the next day.

This is where every family will be different. I am not right or wrong, good or bad, I am just feeding my own soul and heart with what feels right for my family and child. Yes I am tired and would love to sleep and sleep but this will not last forever and we have chosen this route.

Some parents can deal with their child crying and leave them to get over it, we can’t?

I do believe that a child, as I mentioned earlier, only knows what we teach them! So if they are put into their bed early on (4 months + maybe) they know no different and will adapt easily to sleeping in their own bed and room. If you leave it later, it may be a very different transition!

Be patient, be kind to yourself and your progress and take small steps…
Shutting down emotional cries can lead to shutting down expression and openness – be your truth and your baby will be happy!

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