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Co-sleeping, bed sharing and baby sleep

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
Co-sleeping, bed sharing and baby sleep
I'm back in the confessional yet again! I havent blogged for all of January. Holy moly. I'm writing books on parenting, I'm employing peoples at Nurture Parenting and the start of the year has started like a fire cracker. January was one of my busiest months ever and I'm afraid the blog fell down my list. But oh how I've missed it. Nurture Parenting is 4 years old and a very Happy Birthday to it. I'm amazed and very happy how far we've come.

Yes we are now a WE. Nurture Parenting has a big back office and a front office and peoples...staff...and we're all very excited about 2015 and beyond. And we would be nothing without all of you and I'm so very grateful for it all.

Today I'm delving further into the bed sharing, co-sleeping and attachment parent debate. Oh yes I've decided it's about time I went there!

baby sleeping

There was a recent positioning statement out on official recommendations of the influential American Academy of Paediatrics published in 2011. Then this article came out and a hypnobirth business manager commented in Linkedin on how we may actually be increasing SIDS cases by not advocating bedsharing with babies.

http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2014/12/dire-warnings-against-infant-bed-sharing-backfired

Well it went off like a firecracker. And of course I put my two cents in too.

It’s important that you know my views on things and why. Once we know someone’s motivations or their why, we can understand them so much better.

I’m very much into psychological attachment theory (I have a degree in Psychology) however I’m not a fan of bed sharing.

My reason being that I had a mum whose baby died of SIDS at 5 weeks old. He was a beautiful big 4 kg boy. His mummy was exhausted. She’d gone for a lie down on her bed just before her husband was due to come in from work. None of the typical risk factors applied to her apart from the overtired bit. She’d accidentally rolled onto him and he had suffocated.

How totally devastating it was for her and her family. I went to see her at home with her 2nd baby and she vowed never to lie down with this baby on the couch or bed.

As a Health Visitor and Midwife of 26 years I’ve never had a SIDS case in a cot. Yet there had been many SIDS cases bed sharing and falling asleep with parents on sofas. In 26 years I’ve never had a SIDS case in a cot. Ever. I’d also trained as a Midwife pre SIDS days where babies were put onto their tummies and sides to sleep.

I know many parents like bed sharing and maybe this is a point of view that we don’t share. And to me that is totally OK. Now you know my experience you can hopefully understand my point of view. I’d rather avoid another heartbroken mum at the risk of offending an attachment parent who likes to bed share.

I'm using the term bedshare to indicate this is sharing the same sleep environment vs co-sleeping means sleeping in the same room as baby.

We all make our choices and it’s important we respect that parents’ choice as to how they parent. However I do help many parents move from bed sharing to cot loving when they're ready to do it and no I do not pass judgement.

Parenting choices are very personal and how we choose to parent must be respected.

Parenting philosophies wax and wane. I think as parents you can choose how and which philosophies you would like to parent by. I’ve met many parents who don’t want to bed share but yet are loving and responsive parents. This is my philosophy. I like to think I’m not at either polarizing side of the parenting doctrines. I’m just where I (and many mums I know) feel comfy. It’s an authoritative parenting model. It has boundaries and guidelines but is based in attachment psychology with applied behavioural psychology.

We know that babies who bed share, wake up more at night compared to babies who sleep in their own cot. What we don’t know however is whether this has any detrimental effects on these babies or mums, compared to the solo sleepers. We don’t know why some babies wake more than others and whether it's detrimental not to know how to self soothe and what age this should happen. These are all the great unknowns and we constantly hypothesize about them.

Babies who bed share, breast feed for longer and SIDS recommends sharing the same room as the parent for the first 6-12 months.

We also know that there is an optimum time for learning to self soothe and that is 6-12 months old. This is based on sound research. I've met many older children who have really struggled to learn this skill past 2-3 years old. I see a lot of separation anxiety in these older children and it makes me concerned for how they will adapt to going to school. They often get extremely distressed when we take away their sleep association of the caregiver and try and get them into a cot or bed.

In the developing world group sleeping is normal. It's the one on one sleeping of the parent-infant western model of bed sharing that creates the issue. If both parents took it in turns would there be the same issues?

When I went to the Sydney baby and toddler expo I had an aha moment. The sidecar cot...

co-sleeper

This was my aha and I'm leaving it to another blog to explore it further.
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And if you’re battling with getting your little one to sleep then... You need to know about my NEWLY launched online #nurturesleepprogram ??
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Can you tell Karen is getting rather excited for all you parents who need a good nights sleep and one that happens EVERY SINGLE NIGHT and not just in a blue moon?

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