March is National Bed Month in the UK. I thought I would take this opportunity to share my experiences of co-sleeping.
Lucinda started out in a moses basket by the side of my bed. She has always been a sleepy baby, to be honest, and is infact in the middle of her three hour afternoon nap at the age of 2 years and almost 3 months! But, as a young baby, after her night feed she would not entertain the idea of going back in her moses basket. So, rather than disturb the hubby with numerous attempts of putting her down, I just laid her beside me in bed. As Aleksander Orlov the Meerkat would say... "Simples"!
Hubby went to work away when she was 5 months old and, as she had then outgrown the moses basket and her big cot wouldn't fit in my bedroom, she just slept in his place in our bed. It really did make life so much easier as around that time she was coming out of the 4 month growth spurt (marathon more like!) waking countless times for feeds. It really is preferable to have your baby there next to you instead of having to wander around the house in the dark seven times a night.
I didn't know anything about the research at the time, I just did what came instinctively to me. I'm glad my mothering instinct led me to what is, ultimately, the most natural way to sleep with our babies. When babies are at arms reach to their mothers, their heartbeat and body temperature are regulated. They also don't sleep as deeply and neither does the mother. Infact, studies have shown that mothers and babies who sleep together go in and out of light sleep and deep sleep at almost exactly the same time, so in tune which each other that they are. This means that a mother will not sleep through her baby's need for feeding and often wakes just moments before the baby and is ready to feed straight away. I experienced that often and remember thinking how clever it was!
So when you see baby animals snuggled up with their mother, all cosy, warm and content - Remember... Humans are mammals too!
Sensible precautions must be taken while co-sleeping.
Never sleep with your baby on a sofa, a water bed or a memory foam mattress.
Avoid bed-sharing if you or your partner have been drinking or smoking or are on medication that makes you drowsy.
Make sure the baby cannot fall off the bed - or fall down a gap between bed and wall, etc.
More information can be found in the NHS leaflet on co-sleeping, I believe!