So I’d like to address SIDS awareness. I think it’s a great thing to learn of some ways to protect your child, but I am so tired of being told that bedsharing is unsafe. It’s not. It’s not. It’s not. Large swaths of the world bedshare, it’s mostly North Americans who have this idea that we need to remove our babies from our space and force ‘independence’ on them. Now lest I get yelled at for inferring that by placing your baby in a crib you’re pushing them away, lets not also forget: crying it out, forced ‘self soothing’ and various other ‘techniques’ used in order to make your baby independent of you. I’m sure you can infer by now that I advocate being with your baby, a lot. It’s true. I believe that when you are pregnant your baby is very dependent on you, and just because that baby is born, this does not change. I believe that by bringing your baby into you closer and keeping them close to you, you’ll have a more independent child. There’s a lot written on this in various places, I’ll let you do your research.
Now on to bedsharing. I’ve been told over and over that I will kill my children if I sleep with them. I’ve been chastized, critisized, threatened, questioned and labelled for sleeping in the same bed as my babies and children. And yet we (as in my husband and I) did it and plan to do it again. Why? Because we believe in the benefits: a better sleep for everyone, better body regulation by the baby, better healing by the Mama post birth, better breastfeeding relationships, oh and did I mention better sleep? Sleep was rarely an issue for us with either child. They’d wake, we’d change, feed and they’d go back to sleep, because they were comforted. Sleep was awesome.
Regarding safety. I agree wholeheartedly that you must have a safe bed for your baby. Let’s go over some basics:
1. No smoking/ no drugs/ no drinking. Nothing that will put you into an unnatural sleep. Plus smoking is gross and has all sorts of problems on it’s own, but especially for a baby.
2. No fluffy bed stuff. No overstuffed pillows, no throw pillows, no fluffy comforters, no frills.
3. Get a good firm mattress. Even better, get an organic one.
4. Have only one small pillow per adult, or less if you dare. If you have the baby, make sure the baby is far away from the pillow, see #8.
5. Have only one thin blanket per adult, make sure it’s washable. If you think you’ll get cold, then wear warm pjs. If you have the baby, only pull it up to the baby’s waist. (which will likely coincide with yours)
6. Safely swaddle your baby, or use a sleep sack, s/he doesn’t need loads of blankets and fluff either.
7. No pets. (or train them to not sleep near the baby)
8. Positioning. My children slept with me, I would sleep on my side and they’d sleep in the cove of my body, they’re quite safe there, and you’re quite aware of them. If this worries you, then get a sleep positioner and put it in the middle of your bed. It’ll remind you of the baby and make you more comfortable. We used one for about 2 nights. I hated it. (I also see that they’re on the bad list now. How things have changed since Hudson was tiny.)
9. Don’t sleep with your baby on a couch. This is unsafe.
As you can see these all suggest you should have an ugly, yet functional bed, which is perfect for bedsharing.
Okay, to further discuss benefits, besides sleeping better; in the cove of your body your baby is close enough to feel your warmth, which will also help him/ her to regulate their own temperature. They’ll feel and hear your breathing, which will also help them with theirs, same for heartbeat. It’s like this time is being used to help teach them to use their own bodies. Also when they wake to feed, you’ll be attuned to their movements and how they wake and likely you’ll be able to do what’s needing to be done, breast or bottle feeding before they’re truly awake and upset, which helps to preserve sleep. Blessed sleep.
So yes, I am pro bedsharing, which I feel is different from cosleeping. (Cosleeping being defined at sleeping in the same room, often with a device pushed up to the bed.) I am also pro sleep. I don’t want to fumble around at night, walking into walls to get to the baby’s room.
And now. Yes I understand that some babies don’t take to it. I understand that some parents don’t take to it. I understand that Babywise says I’ll destroy my child. What I am saying is that it is perfect for my family, and that we’ve done our research, we have a safe bed. In fact we don’t even own a crib, never did. If it doesn’t work for you, that’s fine, but lets all remember that parenting isn’t black and white, there is so much grey. As such, lets not judge. Don’t tell me I’ll kill my baby by sleeping in the same bed, and I won’t judge you for feeding yours that nighttime formula meant to make them sleep through the night. Let’s acknowledge that there is more than one way, and that bedsharing is in fact, safe.