Wednesday, 6 July 2011

All cooried in*

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 ;)


Laura McIntyre said...

Aww i think co-sleeping is lovely and love nothing more than snuggling up to my babies..
I find most people don't get it but my prority is always "how to maximise mummy's sleeping time" and will do that anyway i can :)

Muddling Along said...

Co-sleeping was the thing that kept me able to function when Littler was born - not only did it mean I coped with the hourly feeding BUT I am sure it helped Littler breathe better and she was certainly less uncomfortable when in with me

I wrote a long post with lots of references in a while back that might help if you need any resources to fall back on for the doubters

Hayley said...

Wonderful positive co-sleeping post! J even now sometimes climbs into my bed, not all the time but if he wants to he knows he is allowed. For this baby I have a bedside cot coming, however I have a feeling it won't get used all that much and he will be in my actual bed. I co-slept with J and the natural progression is to co-sleep with this one too. I can't imagine life any other way.

NR said...

My irrelevant thoughts on this in bed last night were that you couldn't do it in a 135 cm-wide bed like ours but also, and more importantly, why do you torture yourself? If reading and/or talking to other mums causes such worries or creates self-confidence issues for you, why don't you just take a step back and share less?

Mwa said...

I don't understand why people would judge that. But then so much judging goes on that I don't get. I personally can't sleep with a baby in the room, and my babies seem to have similar problems, so I have to move them out after a few months, but otherwise I would definitely consider it if it allowed us to sleep better.

northern mumblings said...

I didn't often co-sleep with my babies. It was just the way it happened, not through any planned ideas. But whenever they are poorly or off colour they come into bed with me. I feel happier and they sleep better. And if I had a baby that really needed that extra bit of comfort that co-sleeping gives I'd do it. At the end of the day it is what ever works for the individual and as for other people's comments, I just don't understand why they get so judgemental. It is an individual or family's choice.

cartside said...

@Laura, it is amazing how it transformed the amount of sleep I get. I co-slept with my first, but only when she was an older baby and toddler, and always tried to keep her in her own bed. I was very sleep deprived at times.
@Muddling Along: I linked to your fab post, it calmed my own inner demons and also meant I was much more confident about it this time around.
@Hayley: bedside cots are great storage places as I found :) and also, @NR, great bed guards. as to why I share when I'm lacking confidence - hm, it's in my nature. I like to share, and I'm not super confident - I'm fine with both. I may be a tad defensive in some respects which I'm working on.
@Mwa, it's always about what works best, I just find it strange that co-sleeping is often considered as a parenting fail, or doing things wrong because books and most health professionals tell you "don't bedshare it's dangerous" which just isn't true.
@northern mumblings, strangely, we planned not to co-sleep but changed our mind because it was just so much easier. Things don't always go as planned and I've come to actually really like our arrangements. We just went with the flow a bit.

BNM said...

Car (youngest daughter, now 3) slept in our room until she was 2.
Most nights, she started in her cot and then at about midnight I'd get called and we'd all sleep together.
I may have been soft on her but when sleep is needed and when I couldn't do the staying awake, then going to work or worst of all waking up Bel (eldest daughter) I decided to let her be. In the end she moved to her bed, her room and is a happy child. (who still comes for a snuggle after a bad dream!


Metropolitan Mum said...

I tried it with little L and it didn't work. I had loved to, but she was the one who couldn't find her sleep next to me :(
Still, as a 2-yo, she only wants to sleep in our bed when she is ill. I can completely relate to your wanting of being close to your daughter when she is ill - it's the same for me. I can't sleep not knowing how she is when she's not well.

KT said...

This is an awesome post and absolutely sums up how I feel. I never intended to co sleep - now Jamie is 3.5 and still sleeps in his own bed in our room and Beth is in with us for most of the night. And I bloody love it :D

PS I actually came over to thank you for the insane amount of traffic your Blogroll link seems to generate for me - thank you thank you thank you :D

cartside said...

@KT, traffic from my blogroll? Wow. That's great. I love your blog, brightens up any of my bleaker days ;) Glad people come over to visit from my blog!

Kat - Housewife Confidential said...

I co-sleep. My first child was in the bed with us for over a year, my second just didn't get on with it and my third has been in with us from the start. We have just bought a bigger bed as we finally realied after three children and a night in a friend's bed: we need some more space!

Kat - Housewife Confidential said...

I co-sleep. My first child was in the bed with us for over a year, my second just didn't get on with it and my third has been in with us from the start. We have just bought a bigger bed as we finally realied after three children and a night in a friend's bed: we need some more space!

BabyPledge said...

Lovely post. I co-sleep with my youngest who is 7 months after ending up co-sleeping with my eldest when nothing else would get her to sleep. Now he's a bit older we're just getting to the stage where he starts the night in his cot on the side of our bed and comes into bed when he wakes for a feed, and it is nice to get a bit of evening back.
The only issue with co-sleeping is having a small bed and getting a crick in my neck! I do enjoy the snuggles and to me it just feels right he's next to me in bed.

Dot said...

I absolutely agree that it makes no sense to pass judgement on this one. Co-sleeping works better for some families at some times, and sleeping apart works better at other times. We seem to be drifting back towards it with our younger son now we've got a 6ft wide bed...

Hope Snowflake gets well soon.



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