The Big (Little) Co-Sleeping Experiment

ruth crilly and baby

Following my Co-Sleeping. Kind of. post, I decided to take the plunge and see what it was like sharing a bed with Baby Angelica. If only for a few hours. Because I started to wonder whether the whole co-sleeping issue had maybe been blown out of all proportion, fuelled by newspaper stories and SIDS statistics. After all, co-sleeping is – quite simply – just having your baby in the bed with you. It’s not rocket science. The safety considerations should be, for the majority of people, a matter of common sense. (Though I suppose many people lack common sense, or are perhaps too tired or overwhelmed by new motherhood to have a good grip on the practicalities of life. In which case it’s probably a very good thing that the co-sleeping safety “rules” are drummed into us. I have to say, actually, that I was staying at a friend’s house last week and she has a very soft mattress topper. I had planned to have Baby A in with me because I was staying alone and thought it would be nice, but I decided against it because the mattress was so plumpy. Gorgeous for me, possibly not for a baby. And perhaps I wouldn’t have even thought of that had I not read about babies needing to be on a firm mattress. So: on the one hand, you could say that the safety drills are overkill, but on the other, maybe they are totally necessary!)

Anyway, the other day, after doing a quick bed “safety check” (was it a water bed? No. Was it a bed of nails? No. Was I drunk or on drugs? Possibly to an outsider it would have seemed so, dressed as I was in a kind of medieval smock with one breast hanging out and a demented look upon my face, but no, I was not drunk or on drugs) I placed the babe in the middle of the (firm) bed, making sure that all pillows, duvets, dogs and loose bits of clothing were well away. I suppose things were helped along on the co-sleeping front by the fact that a) the husband was (inexplicably) on a bike ride with his best friend at 8am in the morning, having not done a jot of exercise in the twelve years we’ve been together, and b) I wasn’t really that tired. In fact, I had been up for a couple of hours after an early feed – ready for a nap but by no means exhausted.

So no fear of a hulking great man rolling over accidentally, and no fear of me being so knackered that I lose track of what’s going on in the baby department. But do you know what? She didn’t do very much. Just lay there and went to sleep. My fears that the duvet would have some kind of supernatural moment and levitate itself upwards and over the baby’s face were unfounded, as were my anxieties about doing a violent side roll (having never before executed such a move in bed, a slovenly mooching slow-turn is the best I can manage).

The baby slept soundly and so did I, and I can tell you that it was utterly joyful having our heads close together and being able to have a proper sleepy little time. I loved it. Would I do it all the time? At night? No. And I’ll tell you why: I do all kinds of jerky sh*t in my sleep – I have night terrors and regularly panic that the ceiling is closing in, or become convinced that the wardrobe is James Corden and start engaging in conversation. (True story). Now and then I sit bolt upright and the husband has to get up and talk me back from the edge. Sometimes I go all rigid and think I’m strapped to a trainline. None of these things, I would have thought, are conducive to a good night’s sleep for baby Angelica. Or for me.

So back she goes into the bedside crib, which is, for me, the best of both worlds. I’d highly recommend if you can spare the cash/ convince your parents that a bedside crib would make an excellent present. Click through to my Snuzpod post to see pics.

Some things I thought of that you may find interesting if you’re considering co-sleeping:

1) I reckon you need quite a big bed. At least a king. Preferably a superking. I say this because you really have to treat the baby as an extra adult – you don’t want to be squishing him/her into the middle of the bed and you don’t want to be lying there with your arms pinned to your sides all night, worrying that you’re going to elbow the baby in the face or suffocate him/her with your enormous boobs. Just my humble opinion, of course – perhaps some people do very well in small beds with babies – but I would say that a small double or double would be a bit tight with two adults and the babe as well.

2) Opt for a firmish mattress so that there’s no “give” beneath the baby – I can’t imagine it’s good for his or her face to be surrounded by soft, yielding mattress topper. Water beds are a no-no, air beds I’d imagine the same.. I have no idea about memory foam. Anyone know?

3) The official advice seems to be that the best place for the baby, if you’re co-sleeping, is between the mother and a wall, so that the baby can’t roll out and the mother has “control” of the space. Apparently Mums are better at being aware of the baby’s presence. Funny that…

Please – as always – add your own comments, advice and experiences below!

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