Co-sleeping, specifically “safe bed sharing”, is when you sleep with your baby in bed with you. This should only be done after you have taken steps to make it safe, even if you just do it accidentally or briefly. Here are two safety information pages: Lullaby Trust and Basics.
Personally, I choose to bed share with my baby because I feel it’s safe and natural. It makes it easier for me to feed and care for her in the night, especially as my disability makes it tricky for me to get in and out of bed.
While bed sharing is a contentious issue in the UK and USA, research shows that 50% of babies at 3 months old [ref] have slept in their parents bed at some point. Therefore, it is vital that parents know about how to do it as safely as possible, even if they don’t plan to bed share.
Thankfully there is lots of info about safety out there – but here are three non-safety related issues that no body mentioned!
Changing KING SIZE sheets!
Baby cot sheets are really small and easy to change. If your baby throws up milk on bed, or their nappy leaks and they get wee on it (or poo!) – it’s not a problem. Just whip off the sheet put on a new one, sorted!
With safe bed sharing however, every time they get milk on your sheets you’re faced with the choice of changing an entire adult size bed. In our case that’s a super king size bed with a heavy latex mattress, it’s like a 20-minute job!
We haven’t found a solution to this yet, though wiping the affected area with a cheeky wipe right away does help a lot.
Baby’s wriggle a lot!
The baby might be asleep but that doesn’t mean that they’re not constantly wiggling and punching you in the face. I always thought babies slept peacefully – hence the phrase “sleeping like a baby”. But not so!
Babies can smell milk on you
One thing that I realized pretty quickly about my daughter is that she is much less hungry when someone else (any one else!) is cuddling her.
At night, she would often wake every few minutes for a little more milk. It’s not that I mind feeding her, but it was pretty clear she was restless and not actually hungry.
A friend of mine suggested that she could probably smell my milk and was keeping her awake. I suppose it must be like trying to sleep when you can smell a cake baking nearby! Anyway, I have found a quick pre-bed wipe down of my breasts with a warm flannel, and a clean vest with a little lavender oil on works wonders!