I’ve been meaning to write this post for a few months now, to document and record the fact that now Charlotte is here we’ve happily chosen to go down the co-sleeping route again. A year after the last round of scaremongering (Co-Sleeping Worked For Us) we now have it surfacing again with recommendations from NICE suggesting that you don’t even consider co-sleeping with a baby under the age of 1.
See for me I couldn’t imagine co-sleeping over the age of 1, but then don’t quote me on that until Charlotte passes that age. For nine happy months, we co-slept with our second child, Dylan. I didn’t walk around in a daze for that first year because both of us was getting the most fantastic sleep together in my bed. The night we moved him into his room into his cot, he slept happily and slept straight through the night. The timing and the experience were perfect. Our chosen method of parenting worked for us; we didn’t follow ‘guidelines’ we did what was best for us a family.
We weren’t going to set it in stone that we co-sleep this time around with Charlotte; I let her lead the way. For a couple of weeks her cot sufficed her, but then we had some night feeds where I was sleepy, and we had some times where she didn’t want to settle in her bed. Of course, we both knew the perfect solution; she came into bed with us. March 28th was the date, and she’s been there ever since. I’ve not made a song and dance about it, but I’ll happily share photos, and I will discuss co-sleeping if the subject comes up in the news/social media. Charlotte is four months so nowhere even near that 12-month mark they want to recommend.
I don’t get what use it is recommending that parents don’t do it until then, most often co-sleeping is mainly started within that first year. For many different reasons, some will do it without even meaning to, and these are the ones we need to be helping. We need to tell these parents who are at risk of unsafe co-sleeping how to do it safely. Like Belinda Phipps CEO of the NCT said these draft guidelines do not reflect the reality of family life and that they could lead to parents concealing this information from health officials.
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Which is exactly what I did after the birth of Charlotte and we were given a ‘safe sleep’ talk from our Midwife. This had newly been introduced since our last baby; it involved showing the midwife where the baby was to sleep and going through a form with her answering questions. Now if I didn’t like my Midwife so much I know where I would have told her to put this ‘safe sleep’ talk. I nodded along saying how I won’t do this, I won’t do that and how I concealed the fact I would probably most likely end up cosleeping and how it had worked so well with my last child. Though I’m failing to see how this talk directly after the baby was born was of any use, co-sleeping probably doesn’t cross many parents minds until a few weeks later. Maybe that time may have been better spent preparing me in case I was to co-sleep in the future and how to go about it safely.
We never drink when we co-sleep, we don’t do drugs but then we also never take prescription drugs like paracetamol or ibuprofen when we co-sleep, we never put them under a duvet or blanket, we don’t and have never smoked whilst co-sleeping, baby is always placed on his back to sleep, pillows are kept well away from them, so heads remained uncovered, our babies were not born premature or had a low birth weight, they are never placed where they could slip in between the bed, we breastfed and most importantly we do what is right by all of us.
I do think we need more of an emphasis on how to do it safely. The basics shall I call them are handed out, those I highlighted in bold above but how about actually saying what to do instead of what not to do. Like these co-sleeping guidelines which go into more detail and even points out how long hair can be a hazard. I know when I’m asked questions on how to co-sleep safely, I point them towards Hannah’s post ‘Co-sleeping – If you do it properly it IS safe‘. We need more information like this; we need real pictures of actual co-sleeping happening not all these ‘stock’ photos of mothers pretending to be asleep with babies next to them. Mostly of which display dangerous methods of co-sleeping such as pillows to close to baby or blankets just drifting around.
I’m not one to throw around research or statistics, for me, it’s about the experience and doing what is right for you as a parent and as a family. What works for us is what’s best for us, but then this may not be the case for another family. That us bit being rather significant in all of this, both I and the husband were on board with what we were doing, with what came so naturally to us both. We co-sleep on purpose, and we do it safely, it’s unfair to group co-sleeping in with situations where it’s gone wrong, and it’s not been a planned co-sleep. Why human babies do not and should not sleep alone talks more about that.