Co-sleeping with baby
Credit: GaborfromHungary on with Attribution

The bond between mother and child is everlasting

I chose co-sleeping with both my children. As a mother I wanted the best for my baby as does any mother or parent. We want our children to thrive and to develop into healthy, happy children and in turn adults. In order to foster this development we seek out methods, techniques, coping mechanisms and so forth to assist us.

Not only do we want what is best for our children but we also want to provide whilst maintaining some of our own sanity. As any parent would know, parenting is a tough job, an extremely rewarding one but non-the-less it is challenging.

I am naturally an anxious person, as well as a people-pleaser, so becoming a mother for the first time was of course anxiety provoking. When you have or are going to have your first child you read all the books, you Google everything and are given all kinds of advice from friends and family but nothing can prepare you for the real deal!

When my first child was born I worried about whether I was doing things right or wrong. We had created a beautiful baby boy and wonderful room kitted out for him. My husband and I naturally expected he would sleep in his cot on his own in his own room. Nothing could be further from our reality.

As many new parents I hardly slept! I worried about this tiny little human of mine all alone in the other room which felt so far away. Would I hear him cry (even though we had a baby monitor)? Would he feel unloved? Would he choke on his winds? Would he pull his blankets over his head and suffocate? The worry was endless. The questions of what was right and what was best for him were also running through my mind. Was it right to bring his cot into our room? Was it right for him to sleep with us in our bed? Was it right to breast feed him lying down?

After weeks of sleepless nights I finally decided enough was enough and I was going to listen to my heart and my maternal instincts. I didn’t feel it was right for this defenceless little human of ours, after spending so much time safely in my womb, to be separated from us in another room on his own. I brought his cot into our room and also decided I would try co-sleeping with baby.

How Co-Sleeping Changed Our Life

From that moment there was a huge change in our nights. My son loved being held and being close to me and my husband. He slept so peacefully next to me and I slept far more peacefully with him next to me. My son was a ‘snacker’ as some people say which meant he fed small amounts of breast milk frequently. This obviously had a negative impact on my sleep. Bringing him into our room and having him sleep next to me allowed me to breast feed him lying down warm in bed and we could literally just fall asleep together.

I am very tuned in to my children’s needs, as any parent is and becomes, so when my son woke up I would instantly wake too. I would just place him on the breast to feed and both of us could return to peaceful sleep in a matter of minutes. I would simply alternate sides on which he lay to allow him to feed from both breasts throughout the night.

Co-sleeping assisted me to provide the warmth and care I felt my son needed, as well as allowing me to get much needed rest.

Sleep deprivation for anyone is awful, as for myself I become very grumpy and so does my husband. Naturally you take your frustrations out on the one you love. Co-sleeping brought peace and love to our home.

Creating Positive Attachments and Fostering Healthy Development

I truly believe co-sleeping fosters a strong attachment between parent and child. The child as an infant grows and develops with a sense of feeling secure, loved and nurtured. Their needs are met, showing them they can trust the world as the world protects them, cares for them and nurtures them. The world to the infant is a small bubble enveloping parent and child. Creating this kind of an internal sense in a child assists in fostering positive healthy development into further childhood and adulthood. This tells them relationships are good, that they are good, that they are loved and worthy of that love. This is a vital message all children need and I am sure any loving parent would want this for their children.

Practicalities of Co-Sleeping With Baby

In terms of how I went about co-sleeping, it is quite simple. I simply placed a pillow on one side of my son and I was on the other. Being tuned into his needs and a responsible parent I literally would stay in this position (ensuring it was comfortable for both of us) until he woke and then I would change over and maintain this position until he woke again, repeating this through the night. The pillow next to him ensured he did not fall out of bed as well as creating a physical barrier between him and my husband to act as a mental reminder to my husband that he was in the bed. I only needed to do this when co-sleeping with newborn, but as he got older and bigger this was not necessary.

Practicalities of Co-Sleeping With Baby
Credit: 23 de março de 2012 on Flickr via CC

Baby sleeping on bed protected by a pillow

Co-Sleeping Safety

As much as I strongly advocate for co-sleeping it also needs to be done responsibly. If you take sleeping medication, drink alcohol (any amount that will affect your sleeping and waking at night), or take any kind of drugs, co-sleeping is not recommended as then you will not be in tune to the baby/child’s needs and possibly not wake through the night as needed.

Furthermore soft mattresses, comforters and pillows should be avoided for risk of suffocating your baby. As I mentioned earlier, I used a pillow to prevent my husband from rolling over and inadvertently crushing our child. For these reasons the use of a bedside bassinet can be instrumental in creating a safe place next to your bed where the baby can sleep protected. It also creates more space in the parent’s bed which reduces tension and improves intimacy between the couple.

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Co-Sleeping Our Second Child

After having such a great experience with our first child with co-sleeping it was a no-brainer for both my husband and I that we would do this again. After our daughter’s birth we started off straight away with co-sleeping and it was heaven from the start. She slept even better than our son, from the start she slept longer, was not as fussy, she was generally a much calmer and content baby. We both believe having the confidence in co-sleeping offered our daughter more security and comfort and allowed her to be content and happy. In turn I slept wonderfully. We had friends who had babies the second time around the same time as we did and comparatively I was far more well rested as well as our daughter was far more content as the others. Since I was more rested I was being a lot more productive during the day than my friends and even coping better with our toddler first born.

Repeating The Rewards

As I said earlier, I believe co-sleeping fosters positive attachments between parent and child. As time moves on and we watch our children grow we can see this healthy attachment blossom as our children grow into kind, loving, generous, happy individuals. We see the evidence of the positive impact it has made everyday.

In a nutshell, co-sleeping created a happy family by creating happy well rested parents and baby. I would strongly recommend co-sleeping with baby.