I have decided to write you a short blog post explaining why I choose to co-sleep . I have co-slept with both my older children and am currently doing so with the baby. As I doctor I have been told that I “should know better”.
What is co-sleeping?
Sleeping in the same space as your baby, be that on the bed or on the sofa.
What the professionals say and why
NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) recommend against co-sleeping as there may be an increased risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) when you co-sleep but there is no actual evidence. Also there is no distinction between whether the co-sleeping happens in a bed on on a chair/sofa. Personally, I do not sleep with my child on the sofa or chair.
NICE also say that the association between co-sleeping and SIDS is increased when either one or both the parents smoke. The risk is also greater when there is consumption of alcohol and/or drugs (including prescription meds that may cause drowsiness). Also if the baby was born prematurely or had a low birth weight.
- Baby is more content as they aren’t being left
- Easier to feed in bed if breastfeeding
- Less sleep deprivation
- Easier to hear baby breathing so you know they are OK
- Feels natural
- Cuddles and lots of them
- Can hinder your sex life
- Baby might wake when you get out of bed to go to the loo
- My babies have always wriggled in their sleep so wake me up
- It gets a bit cramped as they grow bigger
If you decide to co-sleep there are some safety tips to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Make sure baby cannot fall out of bed or get trapped between the mattress and the wall
- Keep baby cool by using sheets and blankets rather than a duvet
- Ensure bedding does not cover babies face
- You shouldn’t co-sleep if you or your partner smokes (even if you don’t smoke in the bedroom)
- You shouldn’t co-sleep if either you or partner has drunk alcohol or taken drugs (including medications that make you drowsy)
- Always put baby to sleep on their back rather than their front or side
- Babies should be kept away from parents pillows, they don’t require one of their own until they are at least a year old.
- Never risk falling asleep with baby on a chair or sofa, if you feel tired then take baby off to the bed
Why I co-sleep
I believe that sharing a bed with my baby more natural. You don’t see any other animals in the world that leave their baby alone overnight. In may parts of the world co-sleeping is the norm, not the exception as it is here in the UK.
There is no evidence that SIDS has a direct causal link with co-sleeping.
Luckily my husband and I are light sleepers normally. I find that when I co-sleep I don’t really wake up fully when baby needs a feed. I can just hook her onto the boob and go back to sleep. This leads to better sleep for me and consequently less grumpiness. The act of breastfeeding releases hormones that induce tiredness and sleep in both baby and mum. So why not just go with the flow.
I co-slept with my older two children until they have were about 10 months. I needed to wean them from breast milk as I was planning to go back to work. Also as I may have to be away from home for a few days at a time with work, I need them to be able to sleep on their own. Luckily my older two both slept through the night from about the time I stopped co-sleeping.
I have friends who have co-slept with their children to a greater age. The child has decided when they are ready to move into a bed of their own.
With my third child I looked at buying a bedside crib with the fold down side, but these are so expensive I stuck with the tried and tested method of having her in our bed between us. You might find that a bedside crib is better for your situation if you sleep slightly more deeply.