The exhaustion of motherhood is so overwhelming, but things
have improved since I took the baby into bed with us, and
that is where he has stayed. We all get a bit more sleep,
and are content with the situation. The problem is that my
mother finds is distasteful, and also thinks it isn’t
safe for the baby.
Parenthood is a totally individual experience. What works
for you may not be right for the next person. That is why
it is so important that we figure out what works for each
of us, listening to the advice we are given and only taking
from it what is relevant for our own lives. Your sleeping
arrangement is one that would have been frowned upon when
you were a small child – and the ‘children should
be seen and not heard’ motto was the one that parents
lived by. Things have changed a lot since then and this
is your chance to be a mother – which means you get
to choose how you are going to do that.
But don’t be tempted to throw the baby out with the
bath water! Your mother does have many years of wisdom and
experience under her belt. Just because you do not agree
on this particular issue, does not mean that you should
not listen to her opinion on other issues. Just don’t
allow her to tell you how you should run your life. Take
what works for you, and leave the rest.
In fact, babies that sleep with their parents tend to be
very content, and to sleep well. It is easy to attend to
baby’s needs, and to feed in the night, which can
be a huge bonus in cold weather or when baby is not well.
Early risers can usually be persuaded to drop back to sleep
if you are cosily tucked up in the same bed. All the physical
contact can be very good for a baby, helping him develop
and grow because he is so secure.
But you do need to be aware of the downsides of this arrangement.
The first and most obvious one is the lack of intimacy with
your partner. This is an issue that only the two of you
can figure out. Just make sure that your partner is coping
with this situation. While babies tend to sleep well in
their parent’s beds, the same is not always true of
the parents. New babies in particular are often noisy, restless
sleepers, and this can disturb the sleep of the parents.
You do need to get enough sleep in order to function, so
be careful to monitor the situation.
Babies who sleep with their parents do not learn how to
fall back to sleep when they surface in the night. This
is an important skill, and it is just good for you to be
aware of the fact that your baby will have to learn it at
some stage. Should the need arise for you to move your baby
from your bed, this can be a very difficult experience for
your baby. However, it is not necessary for you to worry
about situations that may never arise, just to be aware
of the possibilities. It is perfectly likely that a toddler
will ask for his own bed, and the whole situation will be
Meanwhile, do have a room which is his own and make sure
that you carry out pleasant activities in there. Perhaps
baby can play in his cot while you sort the washing, singing
and chatting to him all the while. He needs to be comfortable
in his cot and his room, so that if the need arises to move
him in there, he has happy associations with the room. It
may also be worth trying to let him have his day time naps
in his own cot. He may enjoy that. If he objects, then revert
to the previous arrangement, and persist with letting him
spend time in the cot when he is happy.
Your mother may be worrying about the safety of baby. She
may fear that you will roll on baby or smother him in his
sleep. In fact research has shown that babies are perfectly
safe sleeping with their parents unless the parents are
under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Make sure that
baby is on his back and that his face is not covered by
the bed covers. However, if you or your husband are smokers,
then this is not a good sleeping arrangement for your baby.
There seems to be a link between smoking parents and the
incidence of cot death. The link is even stronger if the
smoking parents sleep with the baby in their bed. It is
also not a good idea to sleep with baby on a sofa, as there
is a risk of baby getting wedged between the sofa and your
body and being smothered.
Baby Sleep - Compromise
Baby Sleep - Controlled Crying
Baby Sleep - Cot in parents’ room
Baby Sleep - Doing it your way
Baby Sleep - Overtiredness
Baby Sleep - Own Room
Baby Sleep - Position
Baby Sleep - Teaching baby to sleep