Have you heard of co-sleeping with your baby?
Well… actually, I was doing it but I just hadn’t heard the term used before, until a friend told me what it was that I was doing!
You may be the same: desperate to get some sleep, you have an arrangement where your baby isn’t quite making it back into their own sleep space after night feeds before you both crash…
When I was a new mama I was told that in no uncertain terms I was NEVER to sleep in the same bed as my baby by professionals.
I would undoubtedly kill him in my sleep unawares.
Having grown up in East Africa I knew that lots and lots of babies have survived the dangers of sleeping next to their mother, so I was a bit freaked and confused by this info. Why was I already such a terrible mother when he was only a few days old?!?
As time went on I realized that while lots of babies do survive sharing a sleeping space with their mothers, not all do.
There is, of course, that story in the Bible about co-sleeping going very badly. You know, the one where King Solomon made his controversial ruling about cutting the living baby in half when two mothers came to him fighting about whose baby had died in the night and whose was the live baby. It worked out well for the baby in the end though since the real mother preferred to give her baby up rather than have him die. And King Solomon was forever considered wise for then giving that woman the baby. (It’s in 1 Kings chapter 3 if you want the full version.)
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Co Sleeping with a New Baby
Anyway, apparently, there are some risk factors that make co-sleeping even trickier.
- For example, if you smoke then it makes it more dangerous for your baby.
- And obviously if you drink or take drugs then it can end up badly for everyone if you roll on the baby while under the influence…
But I don’t do either of those things. And I am not a heavy sleeper.
AND most mothers around the world do actually have their baby alongside them when they sleep.
I read a great article about a Mom admitting to co-sleeping with her baby and how she didn’t think she should have to feel bad for admitting to it. [My favorite part of the article is that fact that one answer she found to her question of “why is this taboo in America?” was “Americans are weird”!!]
But culture will always play a big part in how we raise our kids.
Westerners tend to encourage independence in our kids. So from an early age, they often have their own beds and their own rooms.
I loved it when we moved into a bigger house so that I could put my 2 kids into different rooms so that they would not keep each other awake late into the evening… well, that was the plan. Some nights it works! But they shared a room for 3 years, once they had stopped sharing it with either / both of their parents.
Safe Co Sleeping Alternatives
For the record, I think co-sleeping is absolutely fine (done as safely and responsibly as possible) and I may have possibly harmed my children out of sheer exhaustion if we hadn’t done it!
This book outlines some of the positions that we have definitely tried during our time co-sleeping… but there are not many I would recommend! It is worth it for a good laugh though.
But I really do understand that co-sleeping is not for everyone.
So I thought I would put together a few options for exhausted parents who are not sure about co-sleeping but really need to find a way to get more sleep!
Use a Baby Basket In Your Bed
Also called a Moses basket, presumably since he was found in one, these are easy to place anywhere but really can only be used while your baby is small. But since that is when baby is the most vulnerable, that may be enough.
This is more like a way to co-sleep but feel safer because baby is contained in his or her own little space.
Safe Co Sleeping Products
There are a few good options you may like to try.
- AOLVO Baby Bassinet for Bed – this is very similar to a Dock-a-Tot (one reviewer notes, ‘like a Dock-a-Tot but without costing an arm and a leg’ ) so please note, these may not meet safe sleep standards in your location.
- Baby Delight Snuggle Nest Afterglow Portable Infant Sleeper
- Tadpoles Cable Knit Moses Basket – Recommended! The firm sides are high enough that baby will stay fully contained in the basket and out of harm’s way.
Have Baby’s Crib In the Same Room
Of course, this may not be enough for some kids.
My daughter would have just screamed until I was actually holding her when she was small. She could sense when we pulled away from her and if she couldn’t snuggle up against either of us again then she was wide awake!
But for others it may actually help.
My son was ok if he was in the same space as us. He could hear us and that seemed to be enough for him to remain asleep.
Use a Bassinet that Sits Right Alongside the Bed
One of Cath’s long time favorite #babygeargoals is the Halo Bassinest – it has mesh sides (so you can see baby without having to sit up in bed) and you can swivel it and move the bassinet itself to sit right beside you in the bed.
There are plenty of other bassinets that are designed especially to fit up against their parents’ bed, like this:
Here are some that are similar:
- Halo Bassinest Swivel Sleeper
- MiClassic Rocking Bassinet – cheaper than the Halo, and one reviewer says she has both and likes this one better!
- Simmons Room to Grow Newborn to Infant Sleeper
- Fisher Price Soothing Motions Bassinet
Put Baby’s Crib Alongside the Bed (Side Car-ing)
You can buy cribs that have a side that can be removed. The point being that they can convert to a toddler bed.
And with the side off they can easily be pulled alongside the parents’ bed. You might need to get creative to get the bed surfaces level though!
A Parent “Sleep Schedule”
Ok, so this may seem a little strange, but hear me out.
This really only works if you can bottle feed at least during some nights…
And if you have two adults involved!
When my husband had some leave from work during the early weeks of both of our kids being born – super amazing having him home during those weeks, by the way, I highly recommend it if at all possible! – we had a pattern going for when we were struggling with sleep.
We would take turns to have a night of sleep.
One of us would be on duty next to the baby and the other one would have a night to sleep in the other room.
When my husband went back to work, we tried other options like him taking the “late shift” while I was on duty through the night and early morning.
Another option was for me to do the night shift but once it hit 5 am I was off duty and my husband took over.
I think the late shift thing worked better for us since I got to sleep until my husband went to bed late and sometimes I got a longer chunk of sleep with our babies sleep patterns.
I guess the suggestion is to get very creative!
Sleep is so important to basic functioning and I recommend being able to do at least basic functions while your baby is young!
Whatever you decide to do for sleeping, I know you can make this work, Mama. And it will get better. Honestly, it really will. Hold in there. You can do it!