Newest Review: ... every night for a few nights and became upset in the daytimes too. Another problem that was I got so tired from getting out of bed every ... more
Trusting your instincts instead of hearsay
Member Name: lights84
Advantages: Baby is safer and more likely to sleep better in later years.
Disadvantages: Parents might like the bed to be their own private space.
There is a real stigma in western society about bedsharing/co-sleeping even though there is no scientific evidence to support advising against it. There are no recorded cases of parenting squashing their babies in bed and more cases of cot death which only occurs when the baby is left alone in the cot overnight. They don't know the exact cause of this but they think it's to do with the baby forgetting to breath or overheating. Back when parenting became suddenly medicalised with C sections and hospitals taking over from natural births and home births, bedsharing suddenly became frowned upon. In fact parents were told to put baby in a cot in another room. What happened because of this? Cot death rates shot up because actually babies need to hear their parents breathing at night in order to remember to breathe themselves. That's why we are now told to have the baby in the room with us at night.
But still there is this strange unfounded fear of baby getting hurt in the bed. Of course if you are drunk or on drugs then you are harmful to a baby in any circumstance. But when I started taking baby to bed I found that I quickly became alert to her needs; I could easily gauge her temperature beside me throughout the night, adjust just covers as necessary, and feed her when she was hungry without getting out of bed. In the beginning though I believed all the irrational fear of having baby in bed and I put baby to sleep in the cot. She cried herself to sleep every night for a few nights and became upset in the daytimes too. Another problem that was I got so tired from getting out of bed every few hours for nights on end to soothe baby back to sleep that I would sometimes end up taking her into the bed with me, but this was not a good decision as a very tired and stressed mum with a babe in arms can fall asleep with baby in a bad sleeping position. There are cases of this happening but this is not bedsharing in action.
So I set out to do some research and I found that what I was doing, which was leaving baby in the cot while I fell asleep trying to block out her crying, is actually extremely damaging for baby's brains. There is lots of scientific evidence to back this up; take a look online if you need to. The 'cry it out' method is now argued against by scientists and baby and sleep experts, but sadly a lot of parents end up doing it because their babies naturally do not want to be parted when they are at their most vulnerable, ie at night. This can also create sleep issues later in life for a baby who is abandoned at his or her hour of need. In my experience, my 16 month old daughter now always sleeps through the night, in our double bed beside me. When she was very little I woke up a few times to check on her - call it instinct if you like - and I found that she had forgotten to breathe. After a little touch from me she carried on as usual.
People complain about having to share their beds with babies but I think it is part of being a parent instead of something you can't make time for. Having a baby is hard work and being selfish and doing what you want to do is usually not at the top of any mum's agenda. But with bedsharing these feelings can creep in, as they did with me, because so many other parents told me that bedsharing is unsafe and would make baby clingy. In fact at 16 months she is very confident and happy and I put a lot of this down to her sleeping so well at night. She gets lots of cuddles and put weight on really well after being born underweight. In retrospect I wish I hadn't listened to parents telling me why bedsharing is so bad when in fact they had no right to say such things since they had never tried it before or with their own children!
The blunt fact of it is that most cultures around the world still sleep with their babies and children, and it's nothing to do with lack of space. They do it to keep their little ones close by and safe. No amount of new technology, baby monitors etc can change the baby's evolutionary need to be by its primary caregiver in the night when it is still very vulnerable and cannot fend for itself. We have bought into cots and nurseries and alsorts of other unnecessary baby aids but all baby really needs is a loving mother. When studies wee undertaken in China they found that there is no word for 'cot death' in their language because the idea of a baby dying in the night for no good reason is unheard of. This is in a country where bedsharing is completely normal.
I am completely confident that in her own time my daughter will move into her own room. At the moment we are dong it up and getting it nice and cosy so that it is ready for her to try whenever she is ready for it. My friend did this with her daughter and at age 3 she suddenly started sleeping alone in her own room every night. I hear stories of other parents fighting to get their kids out of their beds after they let them in when they have colds etc and these kids are much older than 3 - often they want what they missed out on in the early days and then it's hard to get them out of feeling like that, even if they can't express it. Personally I love bedsharing with my daughter knowing she is safe and never in danger of anything while I am close by. We both sleep really well and I have been able to continue breastfeeding too as she mostly wants it at night now she is on solids in the daytimes. I just wish I had done the research first and not given into other people's scaremongering and potentially harmed my baby's brain by letting her cry it out. If anyone wants to know more about the science behind bedsharing I recommend the book The Science of Parenting. It has no agenda whatsoever, it just gives you the facts on different issues that tend to get confused by people's politics.
So to parents who are considering bedsharing with their babies- don't listen to silly tales, it's a great decision to make for you and your baby, so just follow your instincts and keep baby close. Goodness knows she won't want to be in your bed forever and one day she might not want your cuddles either - so enjoy the peaceful nights while you can!! :)
Summary: Highly recommended, and practiced worldwide in countries where mothers' instincts are respected.