Co-sleeping: Why sharing a bed with my baby saved my sanity
Shannon Kelly White gets real about parenting
By Practical Parenting team
November 08 2018
My first child was a false advertisement. He was a good sleeper. A ridiculously good sleeper. I was strutting around planet Earth thinking I had mad parenting skills... but then I had Herbie.
Ohhhhh, Herbie, what an absolute galah about sleep. He wasn’t having it. As a wee bebe, when we’d lower him into his cot he would carry on and scream as though he were being lowered into a fire pit. ‘Child, I’m not pepper spraying you! For the love of all that is holy, cool your jets, son!’. So we’d scoop him back up, rock him and shush him until his little eyes would close, and then we’d gently place him in his cot.
And let me tell you, it was more stressful than handling a bomb. For him to stay asleep the transition had to be seamless. Every tiny movement was done in slow motion and with the fine hands of a goddamn surgeon. We would let his body make contact with the cot sheet inch by inch — slowly and carefully we would guide him to the mattress in an effort to not set off his finely tuned cot-radar.
It was a long and tedious process to get him to sleep, and then the little knackerbag would wake up 20 minutes later. Repeat this process a dozen times a night and you’ll find yourself on a slippery slope to exhaustion and/or insanity.
After weeks and weeks of these torturous 20 to 45-minute catnaps, I developed a collection of new wrinkles and an attitude that could be described as ‘unpleasant’ so I decided to co-sleep with the little meatball. What a bloody blessing.
He would lie in bed with me curled up like a kitten. Or a tiny frat boy passed out. But, whatever, it worked for us — we both got plenty of rest and cuddles. Even though it was like sleeping with a suckling pig, I loved it. It saved us. And we carried on that way for a year.
To co-sleep you have to*:
• Be sober as a judge.
• Remove any pillows or soft things that could smother your baby.
• Ideally have the mattress on the floor so if bubs decides to pull a crazy stunt, they won’t be left dangling from the duvet like a scene from Cliffhanger.
• Be a non-smoker.
• Ensure nothing will go over bub's face. They really need air.
*Check the up-to-date guidelines and with your healthcare practitioner to avoid accidentally smooshing your baby.
Did I get judged for co-sleeping? Of course I did! Did I care? Of course I didn’t!
There’s no one-size-fits-all family plan. You’ve just got to do your own thing and do what feels right for your kids.
HOT TIP: If you have a good sleeper try to not rub other parents’ faces in it. Don’t say, ‘Have you tried...’ Just shut up. And wipe that smug look off your bloody face while you’re at it.
This is an extract from Parenting For Legends by Shannon Kelly White, now available for pre-order here. Shannon is also a nurse, mum of two, and author of Shannon’s Kitchen: Healthy Food You’ll Actually F**king Eat.