Sleeping with your baby

Have been chatting with friends about sleeping in bed with your baby and thought I might write about our experiences here.

First things first, safety. There is a good article here so I won’t repeat it. But suffice to say I think sleeping with your baby is safe so long as you take care.

With my first child Bub I hadn’t intended to co-sleep. We had a Moses basket and thought that he would sleep next to our bed. And most of the time he did. But Bub had a really strong Moro reflex and in the early days he’d wake himself frequently if not held. Swaddling was ultimately what resolved this but for a few weeks I found lying next to him and holding him when he stirred helped him stay asleep. So in the early weeks when I was desperately exhausted he came in bed with us. And then during growth spurts or any time he was waking a lot to feed I brought him into bed too. But actually most nights he slept entirely in his own bed. And I think he slept better like this too – after the first few weeks my presence seemed quite distracting for him and made it harder for him to fall and stay asleep.

I’m very strict now though and never have Bub sleep in our bed. His sleep is generally good but only because of a predictable routine and clear boundaries. I don’t want to open up the option of coming into our bed as I fear he’d want to do it a lot. That’s not to say we don’t occasionally sleep in with him though. If he’s ill or in need of companionship then we put a mattress on the floor of his bedroom and sleep next to him. And sometimes he’ll come down and sleep on it too. And then I get NO sleep! He’s just as distracted and distractable a co-sleeper as when he was a baby so it’s not a very restful experience. Hence my reluctance to have him come into our bed on a regular basis.

With Baby things are a little different. He’s a MUCH better sleeper than his brother (so far anyway.) Once asleep he tends to sleep well and not wake himself up. At nights he usually does 6 to 8 hours at a stretch. And then after a feed he’ll go down for another three hours. All highly satisfactory! ;-) But I’m more relaxed about co-sleeping this time around and have embraced it a little more. So Baby does his ‘big sleep’ in his own bed which is in our bedroom. Then at 6am (or whenever he wakes for his feed) I bring him into my bed. After feeding I’ll lay him next to me to sleep until he wakes properly. This is mainly to help him sleep as easily and as long as possible. It’s usually light by then and I want to move/disrupt him as little as possible. Also I can hold and respond to him quickly if necessary and avoid him waking fully should he stir prematurely. And it also reduces the chance he’ll make a noise that might wake up Bub.

I sleep much more easily with Baby in my bed than with Bub. I’ve temporarily turfed his daddy into the spare room so we have the whole kingsize to ourselves. And I’ve put a toddler bed guard on the edge of the bed. So I can rest easy knowing he’s safe. And he’s nearby without being squeezed in right next to me.

So that’s our co-sleeping experience so far. Not sure how it’ll continue with Baby but for now this arrangement seems to suit us both fine.

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