What is co sleeping? Co-sleeping means sleeping within close proximity to your child. It can vary from being in the same bed or even just in the same room. Families take on different approaches to co-sleeping.
There is no one-size-fits-all model when it comes down to sleeping arrangements with a baby as I have discovered. Some like to sleep with babies, while others simply don’t. Some of us don’t have much choice surrounding sleep arrangements, I have discovered, as some babies need more night comforts than others. It is down to the parents and what they decide to do with their sleeping arrangements and bed time routine.
I have found that with a newborn, you have to go with what works in the moment and re-address situations daily. Right now, Eleanor will not sleep alone in her cot bed at night. She cries almost from the get go of being placed in there. I don’t know the reason for this, during the day she will sleep in her cot without issue but when night comes, she kicks up such a fuss and the crying is almost too much to bear. The only way to get some sleep is by allowing her to sleep next to me in bed or on top of my chest; A decision which I was against but had to quickly re-think.
Yes, we have tried several options while trying to get her into a healthy sleep pattern in her own cot;
Sleeping on her side rather than back and sleeping upright,
Introducing a night light,
It’s the same story ever night, nothing works and the crying is intense. The only way we could each catch solid sleep was to give in and make adjustments to our sleeping habits. I don’t intend for co-sleeping to last long and would like to gently ease Eleanor out of this habit as soon as I feel she will begin to cope. It may just take some time for her to adapt to being alone, I am sure as she grows older, she will become more independent and her current needs will change. This is a situation I must monitor for the time being and a habit I am keen to break. Hopefully sooner rather than later. The big issue that I hold over this is that I do worry regarding the risks that cover this subject.
There are definite issues and concerns with safety and risks surrounding co-sleeping. The big risk and issue for with allowing Eleanor to co-sleep is the increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, more dangerous when falling asleep on the couch due to the high risk of her overheating and suffocating which can occur through the day or night. For that reason, I never fall asleep on the couch with her and I am always very aware that she is with me. I feel as though my sleep is disrupted due to having to constantly check that she is okay.
It has been claimed that if breastfeeding and not under the influence of alcohol or any further substance or prescribed medication, co-sleeping with your baby shouldn’t increase the risk of SIDS. It is deemed safer to breastfeed in bed than to breastfeed and doze off with on the couch.
Our bedding is a light tog duvet and we don’t sleep with an excess of cushions or pillows, teddies etc. This is said to generally ensure better safety when co-sleeping due to the decreased suffocation and over heating risk.
Due to having to co-sleep, I decided to do some research on the issue for my own awareness and the safety of Eleanor. I wanted to know that so long as we are sleeping alongside one another she is as safe as can be and that the risks are reduced. Upon my readings I have found some helpful tips which I tend to follow rather strictly;
Sleep in the C position – Lie on your side, facing your baby, with your body curled around them in a C-shape with your lower arm above your baby’s head and knees up under the feet. This position helps prevent rolling and is also convenient for when I breastfeed through the night.
Don’t leave baby alone – Never leaving Eleanor in the bed alone,not even for five minutes, as there is a risk that she could fall off the bed or get into some difficulties.
There are obvious issues that come with this sleeping arrangement that add to the main safety concerns. The issue that I struggle with other than the safety risks is the fact that, I feel you lose the intimacy of sharing the bed with your partner. I favored bed time hugs and kisses. I enjoyed the closeness that I would share with my partner and felt safe sleeping at his side. Now, I sleep at the opposite side of the bed to Euan with little contact, and certainly no bed time kisses. I miss having cuddles on demand and being able to wake to even more cuddles from his embrace. I had a cosy spot next to him and that no longer exists.
With having concerns about Eleanor and fretting that she will overheat, I now sleep with pyjamas and a night gown, to ensure while at the edge of the bed, I don’t freeze. As a cold fish, I don’t take too well to being pushed to the more isolated and cold side of the bed.
In my experience with co sleeping so far, I can’t say it is for me. There are some positives as I must admit I love having Eleanor so close and snug next to me, hearing and feeling her breathe as she sleeps and feeling our bond flourish. I know that she is close and love her being so, it makes my heart feel full and I beam with pride as I lie next to my daughter, knowing that I am her Mother.
However, my sleep is disrupted by the worry that surrounds her being next to me. I know, with my instinctive that she is well but I can’t help to continually wake from sleep to check on her and take note of her breathing. The risks of co-sleeping definitely have alarms ringing in my head and selfishly, I miss the relationship that I previously shared with my partner before this began.
I know with a newborn it is trial and error to begin with and that nothing will work out the way I wish it to. Certainly, with my experience nothing turns out as you would have hoped and you cannot really plan how life will be with a new baby. It is all well to hold expectations but in honesty, they don’t take shape.
I had expected that my baby would sleep in her own cot from the day we brought her home and no issues would arise, we would maintain a lifestyle similar to what we previously had and our personal relationship would not face change. I realize now that this was foolish.
Becoming a new parent is a learning curve, we all learn and grow daily and learn more about our baby as the days go on. Within time, I am certain we will find the perfect method that works well for each of us, we will find some form of balance and I will once again be able to sleep without worry.