Bed Sharing & Co-Sleeping- What’s it all about?
Co-sleeping is defined as sharing a room with your child, and bed sharing is defined as sharing a sleep surface with your child.
In the U.K., it is recommended that you share a room with your child whilst they are sleeping (including for all naps), until they are a minimum of 6 months old, with longer being optimal.
Mama makes the best pillow
The World Wide Norm for Bed Sharing
Around the world,, many families not only share a room with their infants, but also a bed. Often, the whole family will all sleep together in a large family bed – and what a perfect way to stay connected and warm. Studies show that sharing a bed with those you love is good for your health – because it can help with the production of oxytocin, the ‘love hormone’ and can really lead to a better night’s sleep.
When I was pregnant with Squid, my midwife did one of my appointments from home, and we got to talking about where the baby would sleep when he arrived.
I showed her our set up – a co-sleeper crib, side-carred to our bed, and she was horrified. She told me that our baby might roll into our bed, and that bed sharing is fatally dangerous. I was terrified – I didn’t want my baby to come to any harm!
Over the following months of pregnancy, however, I did my own research, and when Squid was born, I was comfortable that we knew how to safely bed share with our small person. And when he was born, I did not want to be apart from my sweet baby for a second, and sharing a bed with him felt like the most natural, normal thing I could do.
To bed share safely, we followed these tips!
1. Baby flat on the bed – not on your arm!
2. No quilts and duvets, pillows or covers anywhere near baby’s head. They can have a light blanket, shared with you, from their waist height downwards. Before Squid turned one, I would sleep with a blanket over my bottom half, wrapped around me so there was no loose bits, and wear a cardigan if I was chilly.
Baby can wear their own sleeping bag, or be uncovered and your body heat will be enough to keep them warm! Don’t forget that your body can help them to regulate their own temperature.
3. Nursing mother. There are studies which show that breastfeeding mother have specific instincts not to roll and therefore keep their baby safe.
4. Baby at breast height. This means they’re nowhere near pillows and also makes it easy for babe to nurse frequently throughout the night (which is essential for milk production!).
5. Bed guard or side carred crib on the side of the bed. This helps prevent baby from falling out!
6. Baby sleeps on the outer edge, next to mama – NOT in the middle of the bed between parents! This is because non-breastfeeding partners do not have the same responses and instincts as breastfeeding mothers.
7. NO alcohol, drugs (illegal or prescription!) and no smoking. These 3 factors are leading causes in bed sharing related SIDS.
8. Bed sharing should NEVER be done on a sofa or anywhere other than in a bed, and you should always plan to bed share, rather than accidentally fall asleep with your child.
Bed sharing myths
- Increases SIDS risk – NO! In fact, studies have found that PLANNED bed sharing, when done safely and correctly, can actually help to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Bed sharing parents don’t have sex. Well this is simply untrue, isn’t it? This claim works on the assumption that sex only happens at night, in bed. And let’s face it, there are plenty of other rooms to conduct ‘marital relations’ in! How else do you think siblings get made?!
- Babies should learn to self-settle and be independent – learning to sleep alone is a developmental milestone – one which all children will reach at different ages. At some point, your little bed sharer WILL ask to sleep separately of you! How many teenagers do you know who still share their parents’ bed?!
The long and short of it is that bed sharing absolutely guarantees me the most sleep.
Because if I did not share a bed with our baby Squid, I would probably be up and down like a yo-yo all night. Bed sharing can also help to prolong the longevity of breastfeeding – and we all know the benefits of that! And there really is nothing I love more than cuddling up to my baby boy, drinking in his warm milky breath, and falling asleep to the beat of his heart.