Co-sleeping – YAY OR NAY? A story by Andrew
Co-sleeping – YAY OR NAY?
A story by Andrew
When my wife first told me she wanted us to co-sleep when our babywas born, I thought it was a great idea.
“Sure, where do you want to put the cot? In the corner of the room or right next to our bed?” – said my wife.
“No, the baby would sleep in the bed with us.” Said Andrew.
“What, like when he wakes up and cries or something? Or do you mean
first thing in the morning, so we can get an hour more sleep?”
Oh, how ignorant I was…
She continued to explain co-sleeping; patiently and slowly, like she has for most of our relationship. And so, it began; our co-sleeping journey.
We’re now two years in and I would have to say it is one of the best parenting and family decisions we have made.
What is co-sleeping?
Broadly speaking co-sleeping is anything that involves parents (or parent) sleeping in the same room as their child. This includes, but is not limited to, having the baby in a crib or cot in the room, having a mattress on the floor next to the main bed, having a smaller mattress on the main bed or simply sharing the main bed with the child.
While it is a recent trend, the reality is, co-sleeping is the way it was in previous generations, and for people from various cultures. It’s only now, when everything needs a name and every person needs a label that co-sleeping has become a more relevant term.
While discussing co-sleeping it is also important to discuss what co-sleeping
Co-sleeping is not falling asleep on the couch with your baby while watching
TV or having an afternoon nap. This is a dangerous practice for tiny children
who do not have the capacity to readjust themselves, move their neck or to move heavy couch cushions off themselves.
It is better for you and for your co-sleeping child to have a space for sleeping. This is a place that you know is safe and comfortable where both you and your baby can get the rest you need. And rest is really what co-sleeping is about. Studies show that co-sleeping provides better opportunities for rest for all members of the family.
Co-sleeping paired with breast feeding is a simple way to add less disturbances
to the already disturbed sleep of families with newborns and infants.
A baby spends nine months attached to his mother. Co-sleeping is one way
to mirror this closeness, with familiar sounds and smells and a feeling of
‘oneness’ that babies crave. It deepens your connection. Sleeping next to baby’s mother (and or father) provides a deeper and more restful sleep with less stress upon waking, for both mother, father and child.
For our family, it simply meant sharing our bed with our son from the day we
brought him home from the hospital. And while we’re comfortable with it now, for the first few nights I don’t think I slept at all. I suppose this isn’t that different to other new baby experiences.
For the first week, I was constantly aware of arms and legs and heads; mine,
my wife’s and our little boy’s. But I needn’t have worried. For the first few months my wife slept with her arm around his body. It looked like those old west wagons did when they made camp. Our son slept nestled in against her, close to her breast, his favourite place to be and still the place he feels safest.
Now, I know what you are thinking…surely you don’t have him in your bed all
the time (sassy wink!). What about special adult time?
Well sometimes yes and sometimes no. Sometimes, once asleep, he is simply sectioned off and we make use of the space we are allocated. Sometimes, when things are going to get a little more acrobatic (oh yeah!) we move him onto a mattress on the floor. Initially it was a slow process and there were lots of discussions and questions between my better half and I. But this isn’t just the case with co-sleeping, this is the case for parenting in general!
Has he had enough to eat?
Is he tired? Or just in a bad mood?
Am I tired? Or am I just in a bad mood?
The questions seem endless, don’t they?
Until eventually when they do end, and we find our groove as a family, and we
settle down together and we go to sleep.
These days, two years on, it is vastly different. We’re a muddle of body parts and body temperatures. Blankets are kicked off or pulled on throughout the night. Family members are gently nudged to move over (some more gently that others!) or slept on top of.
We don’t even think of it as co-sleeping. It’s just…how we sleep.