Want to trigger some INTENSE responses on the internet? Talk about bed sharing (i.e. co-sleeping)! For many cultures, bedsharing is the norm, but in many cultures, co-sleeping is not endorsed by experts because of links to SUDI (Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy) such as SIDS or suffocation. In this article by Luci Corley from the Luna Sleep Co, we touch on the links between establishing good sleep habits, baby sleep issues and bedsharing. This article is particularly useful for parents who have had their baby or child in their bed and are looking for things to change.
For more information on the position of Australia's leading research body Red Nose on bedsharing/co-sleeping, click here.
First, a note from our Founder.
Ok, so I totally bed share sometimes with my kids. I have had one or two of my kids in my bed at times for the past 6 years. Kids get sick, get scared. Sometimes you're so bloody tired it's easier to just let a small person kick you in the face very half an hour (seriously, why do kids sleep upside down?). BUT, and here's the BUT. Every time I've done so, I've known that it means derailing the other night where we all sleep in our own beds, more than often all the way through the night. It means a few nights of disruption and getting back on track (which is where great, Kippiny sleep rituals come in). Disruptions happen. Your baby isn't going to sleep through the night one night and then do so for the next 30 years. Sometimes, we've got to go with the flow, but Luci's article is full of truth bombs and the reality of bed sharing as a habit - Heather
No. You can’t.
Sorry to be so concise, but that’s the straightforward answer. We can get into details as we move along, but for those of you who just wanted a “yes-or-no,” I thought I’d give it to you straight up.
So, why do I think that sleep training and bed sharing are mutually exclusive?
When I meet a new client who’s been bed sharing, they fall into one of two groups.
- Parents looking to get their kids out of their bed
- Parents who want to keep their kids in their bed, but want them to sleep better
For those parents who are looking to move their little one out of their bed, I’ve got a variety of approaches which I personalise based on baby’s personality, temperament, and established sleep habits.
For those who want to keep bub in their bed, I’ve only got one approach. I tell them that I’m happy to help, but to call me when they’re ready to move their little one into their own bed.
It’s not because I’m a tyrant. In fact, the reason I don’t like to work with families who bed share is because I think it’s too confusing for the child.
In a bed sharing situation, baby usually has access to a breast whenever they want it, and that’s almost always their sleep prop. They wake up in the night, after completing a sleep cycle, and they instinctively go for the breast. Not necessarily because they’re hungry, but because that’s the way they know to get to sleep.
Grown ups do the same thing. (Well, obviously not exactly the same thing) but we all have personal routines and strategies that we use to get ourselves to sleep when we wake during the night. They’re usually very brief and simple, like turning on to our backs or side, flipping the pillow, or wrapping our blankets around us, but these are sleep skills, just like nursing.
So if you’re going to break that association between nursing and falling asleep, which you have to do if you want your baby to sleep through the night without waking you up, then baby’s got to learn a new skill; one that doesn’t involve you. That’s not going to be easy when their favourite method of falling asleep is lying right beside them.
If you’re determined to stay in close proximity to your baby when they’re sleeping, try using a sidecar or a cot in the same room, but there’s just no good way to teach a baby not to nurse themselves to sleep if they’re sleeping right next to you.
One final thought on this topic before I sign off. I’ve seen a lot of people on Facebook and other social media channels, saying things like, “They’ll leave your room when they’re ready! Don’t rush them! This time is so short! Nobody sleeps in their parents’ bed when they’re 18!”
Again, if you’re happy with the arrangement you’ve got, I’m not here to change your approach. But I would like to point out that I’ve seen families with kids up to eight (!) years old who are still sleeping in their parents’ beds. Don’t assume that your little one will finish brushing their teeth one night and say, “Actually, I think I’ll go sleep on my own tonight.” Sleep habits die hard, especially with kids, so the day your child sleeps in their own bed, in their own room, is probably the day you tell them they have to.
The good news is that once your child has moved into their own bed and learned some independent sleep skills, they will typically sleep much better, more soundly, and for longer than they do in your bed. And so will you and your partner, which means the whole family will be rested and refreshed in the morning, which comes with a whole array of physical, emotional and psychological benefits.
To find more about Luci and read some more brilliant articles on baby sleep, visit:
Website: The Luna Sleep Co.
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Luci is now available only by appointment. Please call 0400970864 to get in touch!