real life

"I support co-sleeping. This is why."

I got judged so much when I told people I co-slept. Here’s my side of the story.

My children were (and sometimes still are) horrible sleepers. Horrible.

If you are a parent who claims your child slept through from 6 weeks we can no longer be friends.

It was only on the days I brought my babies in our room that they actually slept better.

Before I go on I need to make something clear. At first I co-slept, it wasn’t until later on with my first, and with my second, that my fiancé and I bed-shared with our kids.

Yes, there is a difference.

Co-sleeping is NOT sleeping with your baby in your bed. That is bed-sharing. Co-sleeping is when you sleep with your baby in sensory distance (i.e. most of the time in the same room but a different bed or cot).

This is co-sleeping. Same room, different sleeping spaces.Via - Pinterest

The thing was, as soon as I started co-sleeping (not even sharing a bed at this point we just had the cot in our room) I got judged. Boy did I get judged.

“You’ll sleep better if he’s in another room.” No I won’t.

“The baby will sleep better in his own space.” No he didn’t.

“Aren’t you scared you’ll roll on them?” Umm, no, see above.

In recent weeks there have been tragic stories about suffocation deaths in infants that were linked to a form of co-sleeping or bed-sharing. This is horrible and distressing and unimaginably sad for all of those involved but it continues to give co-sleeping and bed-sharing a bad name.

You see, when a baby co-sleeps or bed-shares successfully it doesn’t make the news.

Why would a happy sleeping baby with happy sleeping parents make news?

Because let me tell you. Co-sleeping and bed-sharing is common. WAY more common than you think.

Over my years of research on the topic (because, yes,  I too was scared of the dangers so I continue to research it) one quote still sticks in my mind:

“The practice of co-sleeping does not necessarily vary a great deal from culture to culture, but rather that the social acceptance of co-sleeping is what varies.”

At 16, on exchange, I witnessed evidence of this first hand. It was normal in Japan to have a sleeping space in the parent’s room up until the child was around 7 or 8.

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It wasn’t until I had my own kids and started to ask around that I realised many of my friends also co-slept but were fearful of being judged and often didn't admit it.

Done correctly, because yes there are dangers, co-sleeping and bed-sharing can be a positive experience for all involved. It is reported that those who co-sleep actually get more sleep than those parents who don’t, particularly in the early days.

Co-sleeping and bed-sharing parents get more sleep than those that don't.Via - Pinterest

If you are considering co-sleeping but not quite ready to bed share consider a cot by the bed arrangement where you take off one side of the cot and put it next to the bed, with the other side on a wall and the bed firmly against the cot so there is no gap between the two.

Over all co-sleeping (remember same room, different bed) can be beneficial to all parents.

Bed sharing, while it works for many – including my family – does come with more risks than co-sleeping and is less safe in these circumstances:

-       if you are not breastfeeding;

-       if you, or your partner, are heavy sleepers;

-       if you are under any influence of alcohol, drugs or;

-       if you smoke.

I think the important thing is that a lack of education on the subject contributes both to society judging parents and to tragic accidents.

Co-sleeping, worldwide, is the most common way to sleep with a child. Western society (and, arguably, baby goods companies) have pushed this idea of an independent sleeping space for an infant, which, until recent times, was never even considered by parents.

If you are considering co-sleeping or bed-sharing, do your research, follow the guidelines and, hopefully, everyone will enjoy some much-needed rest.

Do you co-sleep or bed share with your children? How do you feel about it?

Like this? Try these:

Don’t judge me, but… I can’t stop co-sleeping with my baby.

Finally, they’re all sleeping. So why am I still awake?

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