I have a confession to make. I co-sleep with my baby, every night. No, she's not in her cot beside my bed, she's properly in my bed, next to me, skin to skin all night long.
There have been suggestions that it's dangerous.
I've presented facts that proof that if practised safely, it's not. That it may even protect baby.
It is, like so many parenting choices, treated as an ideological battleground.
Sod it, I'm not out to fight any battles, other than getting some sleep maybe and avoiding to drop baby during a feed because of overtiredness. In fact, I set out determined not to bedshare because I'm rather precious about my own space. I don't co-sleep because you have to if you want to call yourself an attachment parent. I co-slept before I knew there was such a thing as Attachment Parenting. It just happened, it was easy, it felt right, I did my research to make sure I wasn't putting my child under any risks.
Mention it to any other parent, and the reaction is either one of horror (what???? you STILL have her in your room, no, even in your BED????) or one of quiet nod and agreement, where not many words are wasted on the topic.
So this week my little Snowflake is poorly and all she wants is to be cooried in even more. I write this with her sleeping on my lap/chest. And more than that, I want to be cooried into her too. While her temperature is raging and her whole little body is fighting an infection, I can't bear to be apart from her and maybe miss a turn for the worse. There is sense in her complaints when put down, because, close to me, touching me, I monitor her breathing, her heart rate, her temperature, her appetite. Give her security that I'll be there when she feels rotten.
While I'm full of worry, I worry less when she's cooried into me. Maybe I'm just marked by experience, but to me it feels the right place for her to be, right next to me.
I've heard of many a parent who say they can't sleep with their baby in bed. I understand this, just that for me, I can't sleep when she's not. Well, I can, but I wake more often, it takes longer to drift off to sleep, I worry more, I keep checking she's ok and all that. It's all so much more intuitive when she's next to me.
I wish there was less judging going on when I mention that we co-sleep. A bit more open mindedness amongst parents who don't practice the same sleeping arrangements. I wish the first sentence when I mention our co-sleeping wouldn't be "oh I couldn't do it for fear of rolling on top of my baby", implying, even if unintentionally, that I put my baby at risk. I won't apologise that I react to this sentence with mentioning that if it hadn't been for co-sleeping, I may not have spotted my baby's serious illness so early, I may in fact have slept on and she may no longer be with us (and by so doing, implying that not co-sleeping is putting babies at risk - the truth is of course that it's not proven that either sleep arrangements are inherently safer or riskier). It just annoys me when people criticise without having weighed up the actual risks/benefits before passing judgement. Because, as with many things in life, there's no easy answer, no perfect truth, and there are choices to be made, choices based on knowledge and intuition - and on what works for you.
So, my name is Cartside and I never left my baby to sleep in a different room or out of sight, and only rarely out of touch until she was 6 months old. From then on, she started out the night mostly in a different room and joined me in bed when I went to bed. I'm very happy with this arrangement and I've only had a handful of sleep deprived nights. Yes, I've not been sleep deprived with this baby to any serious extent. I hear people discuss how often their babies wake at night, at what times. I listen, I haven't got much to contribute to them, because, truth be told, I don't know. I have faint traces of memory that she may wake once between midnight and 8am, but when or for how long, I can't tell, it's handled so quickly that there's no time wasted on clock-watching or being awake for any length of time.
Co-sleeping as such, if done safely, doesn't put your baby at risk. If that keeps you from co-sleeping with your baby, there is plenty of literature on how to do it safely. I personally thank Muddling Along Mummy and her comprehensive blog post on how co-sleeping is safe when practised properly and the Sears for putting me on track of finding out more, feeling less guilty and much more confident about co-sleeping. It works for us.
*coorie in is a Scottish word for snuggle up, cuddle up, swaddle; used particularly for babies. It implies comfort and feeling safe. And it took me a while to find out how it is spelled ;)