Despite the fact that our co-sleeping is slowly winding down (it will probably never 100% finish in the event that Zeke is unwell, had a bad dream or just needs a snuggle) I still love it, and really enjoy the benefits for myself and my baby, not to mention knowing that I'm making the right choice for my family.
So why consider co-sleeping?
- Co-sleeping, when performed safely, with the appropriate measures to prevent suffocation and falls from the bed has been shown to have a lower incidence of SIDS
- You are so much closer to your baby overnight, that when they wake they rarely need to cry as their early hunger signs, a small snuffle, rooting for a breast/bottle will stir you more easily than if they were in their own bed (whether in your room or their own.) Ryan does not often get disturbed by Zeke's wakings as I am usually awake and ready to nurse well before Zeke gets to crying point
- Because the baby has less reason to cry, the transition from bed to breast/bottle is easier, your baby is calmer and will latch and feed almost immediately and without fuss.
- If you are breastfeeding, you can remain lying down while feeding your baby at your side, allowing you to doze, and not wake up fully... and the more rest you get as a new mother the better!
- The transition back to sleep is smoother as well, all you have to do is lie both of you down and snuggle up again. No need to walk back to their bed, and settle them back in, waiting until they are asleep before heading back yourself.
- If you stay away for a night, there is no need to bring a portable cot for your baby. (Providing you know there is a suitable bed for you to co-sleep. ALWAYS check this before hand so you can arrange alternate bedding if you need) This saves on money for the purchase/hire of a cot, room for luggage in the car, and can ensure the baby continues their normal sleeping pattern while away even in an unfamiliar environment as you are there and can be their 'security blanket'
- If you plan to co-sleep and let the baby nap on your bed during the day, the purchase of a cot can be put off for some time, which for Ryan & I as a single-income family was a huge bonus. Had we not co-slept we would have had to purchase a cot when Zeke was around 4 months old and outgrew his bassinette (which he rarely slept in anyway!)
- You and your baby are wonderfully close and warm all night, and non-food wakings are usually less, as anything that may startle your baby into waking is usually counteracted by the immediate closeness and warmth of your own body. When Zeke startles at night, he throws his hands into the air and gropes around till they rest on my face/neck/breasts at which point he immediately goes back into a deep, restful sleep. I only have noticed this because I am awake at the time, I don't know if he has ever done it while I am asleep.
- The warmth and scent of your baby under your nose and against your heart is a wonderfully soothing experience, it is surprisingly easy to sleep with that warm little weight in your arms.
- Mornings are often started with a smile, because you wake when the baby does, meaning they don't need to get to crying point - a wonderful start to the day!
If you are nervous about co-sleeping, afraid you will roll onto your baby etc, it is amazing how much you don't move! I normally shuffle, roll, kick and goodness knows what else while I am asleep, but as soon as Zeke is next to me, he comes into my arms and I don't move a muscle all night. This means I actually have more restful sleep as well!
If you are really nervous, perhaps try a nap with your baby during the day when someone else is around to keep an eye on things - you may be surprised how instinctive it is.
Co-sleeping isn't a choice for everyone for whatever reason, and you should carefully consider the risks of co-sleeping, and whether or not you can do it safely before you make the decision, but if you do, I hope you enjoy your lovely restful cuddles as much as I do!