Baby

Co-sleep, my darling…

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And the 7 tough lessons I’m still learning from not sleep training my baby…

If there is anyone who dares telling you that co-sleeping is fun (while carrying with them an annoyingly big smirk), go on and slap them and please erase that smug grin from their face! Unless it’s a joke and they are the owners of some obvious jumbo eye circles. Then laugh, give them a sympathetic tap on their shoulder or go on and even hug them, everyone needs some unexpected support once in a while; as for the eye situation, pay them quickly a very insincere compliment, I promise it may make their day and give them a healthy boost of the so needed parental confidence!). Because co-sleeping, my darling, is terribly harsh, painful and pretty much a bone slayer (if you don’t already go through a frenzied experience yourself, well…You should ask my toddler to tell you all about this mirthful buzz).

Photo credit: Anna Pawleta Photography

I guess today’s story begins with a mum who refuses to sleep train her tiny human and a toddler who will be two in a couple of months and who doesn’t seem to be too fond of his new Snow Whitey cutest dwarf size bed that just arrived. Actually, only one other person in the household felt in fact as happy as a child can get when meeting the real Santa for the very first time: the father who hoped his son’s bed arrival could mean two things: 1. finally, revendication of his own bed’s space and 2. the fun that comes with assembling 40 pieces of what I thought it was the most complicated put together item. Not sure why we bother so much with this kind of parenthood efforts, the tiny human wasn’t too fond of his pretty expensive cot in the first place. Not thrilled with the car seat nor happy with the ultimate level of comfort of his cool buggy. No. He only likes the warmth of the bed we never thought we’d get to share (every night!), not because we may pretty much be the most self-absorbed adults, but because we didn’t really know that toddlers can kick, punch and have the ability to pull your hair while sleeping. When we finally  realized it, it was already too late for us…At this point I’d like to say to all future parents: ‘save yourselves, don’t share your bed!’, yet there is something inside me that holds back and ironically enough, we got used to this ‘domestic violence’…After thousands of hours spent on sleep training vs co-sleeping research, I decided co-sleeping is not easy, but simply a choice some parents are prepared to make as long as they feel it works in the best interests of the child.

Here are the co-sleeping lessons I reckon I got the hard way after one year of sleeping in the same room with us, the toddler is now falling asleep in his nursery, soon to wake up and only a second later his feet kicks meet our ribs…

 

1. Co-sleeping is hardcore & cruel to your spine.

Sometimes. All that fun tucking yourself in each night on top of serious snuggling and cuddling family moments may eventually steal that pain’s thunder you can end up with by the early light of dawns. But is it all worth it? To me, it is. I call it perseveration despite some nights of endless zombie trips to put him back into his tiny bed which sometimes he even gets to share with me…

Photo credit: Anna Pawleta Photography


2. Co-sleeping calms nerves. 

Well, at least it calms mine. As a new mum (like all new mothers), I did my reading and researching books and forums, still sometimes I tended to assume things were scarier and less common than described. How cannot co-sleeping calm me down after having checked websites like Ask Dr Sears which describe studies that show how infants who sleep near to parents have more stable temperatures, regular heart rhythms, and fewer long pauses in breathing compared to babies who sleep alone? This means babies sleep physiologically safer.

 Photo credit: Anna Pawleta Photography

 

3. Co-sleeping comes naturally. 

Did you know that according to Neuro Anthropology, in Japan (‘where breastfeeding and co-sleeping are the cultural norm’) the rates of sudden infant death syndrome are the lowest in the world? So I discovered that when I don’t over analyse the things I feel that come naturally and follow my instincts, it may be easier to enjoy the small treats in my life as a parent. I often had research materials on the pros and cons of sleep training before even breakfast. Although personally I do not agree with it, I do not judge mums going for it as long as they are comfortable with it. I feel more comfortable co-sleeping (although my spinal column doesn’t!)

 Photo credit: Anna Pawleta Photography


4. More independent, less anxious, more comfortable with affection ME. 

There are so many research works advising that co-sleeping babies grow up with a higher self-esteem, less anxiety, become independent sooner, are better behaved in school, and more comfortable with affection. They also have less psychiatric problems. When I decided to open up on this topic through this post, I called my parents and asked them both how they felt about co-sleeping at the time. They said that both my sister and I used to go into their bed since we were both toddlers until late; prior to that, as babies, we used to sleep with our mum in a separate room from the working dad. And they so miss it…

Photo credit: Anna Pawleta Photography 


5. Breastfeeding is a good friend of co-sleeping. 

From the very beginning, I hoped and pretty much decided to breastfeed for two years, but I soon realised it doesn’t come as easy as I thought. Especially during the night when the baby, now a toddler, is waking up more often, not really because he’s hungry, but he’s often looking for some comfort. Co-sleeping has been giving me the freedom of not having to wake up, drag myself to his cot/bed, pick him up, feed him, then try again to make him fall asleep. Now he wakes up, feeds and goes back to sleep on his own. Easier job for myself! Breastfeeding can indeed be easier, smoother & less stressful.

Photo credit: Anna Pawleta Photography 


6. Breaking up with the ‘too much spoiling’ nonsense myth is a must.

This is one of the biggest lessons I have learnt since I became a mother. There is no spoiling in co-sleeping as there is no spoiling in picking up a baby when he’s crying. As there is no spoiling in holding a baby for longer in your arms. Just because a child is spending more time in your bed rather than having his own space for himself doesn’t mean he will be dependant on you for the rest of his life. I strongly believe in the exact opposite and I really didn’t need thousands of books to tell me this.

Photo credit: Anna Pawleta Photography 

 

7.  Co-sleeping is tough. Tough love.

Skipping sleep because you may not feel completely relaxed and comfortable next to your bundle of joy and in your own bed (living at the same time the awful fear that you may muffle the baby in your sleep) may get you completely exhausted. So at least this is what I went through at the beginning of co-sleeping with my child. Time was though on my side and I realised that some things, although they don’t come easily, they come naturally. So I embraced this tough love and made the most of it…

Photo credit: Anna Pawleta Photography

I am not here to talk about all the reasons why sleep training is not for me (although often, during zombie moments, I am for a split second tempted to give it a try and then pray I could dose off for four days straight), but to share the tough but great lessons I got from co-sleeping. Also I’d like to make it clear that I have not started this co-sleeping business because I hate sleeping! No one hates sleeping, right? And I do not enjoy waking up five times per night either in order to pick up the eye piercing tiny human…

Thank you, Anna Pawleta, I can’t get enough of your amazing baby shots!! You’re the most talented maternity London photographer and I’m thrilled our paths crossed! All I’d like now is another baby bump or a new-born!

Photo credit: Anna Pawleta Photography

If thirsty for more creative fun ways to enjoy motherhood and its perks, follow Allmumstalk Facebook page or you can get lots of colourful ideas from my Instagram#allmumstalk (I’m such an Instagram junkie!). Cool mums tweet, so throw at me your tips if braver (#allmumstalkhere)! 😉

Motherhood can be beautifully challenging yet tough. Good news, we’re all in this together!

 

Ally