“Does your daughter sleep through the night yet?”
When Jade was just 6 weeks old I got my first night of not needing to get out of bed all night, which if you talk to pretty much any parent, is pretty phenomenal.
Even on average, I was only getting up about once per night. The reason I was able to get so much sleep? The wonders of bed sharing!
When you sleep with your baby all curled up at your side, you can basically feed them in your sleep, so that means the only reason to get up is to change them. And I don’t know about all babies, but Jade doesn’t eliminate in her sleep, so if there’s a wet nappy it’s because she has properly woken up for some reason.
That means once she got used to the day-night cycle she was happy to sleep through, because who needs to wake up when you only need to nuzzle in for a snack?
To be fair, the scenario I’ve painted here is for the breastfeeding mother, which I know isn’t everyone. I completely recommend breastfeeding if you’re able, but I’ll go into that more another day. As for now, regardless of how you feed your baby, bed sharing is a great way to connect with your little one and be there for them.
I often hear stories of parents struggling to trick their baby into sleeping without them (or giving up and letting them cry themselves to sleep), the long nights of getting up for constant feeds, and the artificial solutions like trying to feed them filling substances before bed. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Why struggle so hard to find a solution to a problem that nature already solved?
We were made to sleep with our babies. Think about it. If you were out in the wilderness, like so many animal mothers, would you really want your vulnerable little sleeping baby to be sleeping separate to you while predators were about?
So why have people formed this habit? Parents have been made to be scared. As with all areas of life, there are ways for things to go horribly wrong. Bed sharing has been labelled dangerous by some, and because of that the public eye has turned away from it. That is why it is important to look up rules for safe bed sharing, just as you should for having them sleep in their cot.
If you are safe in the way you bed share, I personally feel it’s much safer than it they’re sleeping separately, because you have a better sense of if they need you. I will admit that, in the first few weeks of bed sharing with Jade, there were some times when I accidentally pulled the sheet over her head when I was trying to cover myself. She didn’t like this, so she would start wriggling and that would alert me to the issue so I would then fix it.
If she had accidentally gotten her head covered while sleeping in a cot (which can happen if you don’t put the baby towards the bottom of the mattress), I doubt her wriggling would have been enough to alert me.
By the way, if you are thinking “but I’m a heavy sleeper! I might not wake up!” know this: you’re instincts as a mother will wake you. I have always been a very heavy sleeper. In fact, I even slept through an earthquake once. However, even from day one when I was exhausted from giving birth, if my little girl started wriggling in her sleep I was instantly conscious.
That said, if you are not the birth mother of your baby I don’t know how it works, so I would recommend looking it up. Regardless, do look up bed sharing safety if you are considering it.
Some of the rules we follow include having a bed rail on our bed (mattress on the floor also works), no drugs or alcohol, making sure to get enough sleep, and arranging sheets, blankets, and pillows so that baby is not in danger of getting her head covered by any of them.
By the way, the solution we ended up with for the sheet covering issue was for me to have a separate small cellular blanket which I use just for my shoulders. This way the sheet stays well below Jade’s head as it only covers up to my waist.
To sum up, we have been bed sharing with our daughter since day one and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I mean really, who doesn’t love cuddling up to their sweet little sleeping baby, going to sleep, and then waking up to that curious little face looking up at you in the morning?