Wednesday, 19 November 2014

What's the fuss with co-sleeping?

Last week I found myself deep in a fog of sleep-deprivation. Now, you might remember that I am normally pretty good with the lack-of-sleep thing. See here if you need a refresher. But I may have hit rock bottom last week, where I reached a point of actually feeling unwell with sleep-dep. My eyes were itchy and hot, my brain a mushy mess. And I was so fed-up with being tired!

It's Baby J that's causing the angst at our place. He won't go to sleep in his cot, and when he does, he's up again after half an hour. I've tried all the recommended stuff: shushing and patting, staying in his room, leaving the room, letting him cry, offering comfort, decreasing the comfort, encouraging him to settle himself. None of it works. He just stands in his cot crying bitterly, and he will BATTLE YOU UNTIL THE END. I've managed to face-off with him for an hour and a half, with me going to comfort him and then leaving him for increasing intervals. The few times I've done this it's been a shambles. He has just stood there and cried the whole time, watching the door until I returned. Not even the slightest hint of self-settling. And as soon as I pick him up, he snuggles into the crook of my arm and falls asleep.This is really frustrating, because a couple of months ago, he was able to fall asleep on is own every time. Not anymore.

I don't know what Baby J's story is, but I do know that last week it was all beginning to take its toll on me. And when you have to go to work and pretend to be functional and intelligent, this situation is no good at all. I also looked like AWFUL.

So I decided to try co-sleeping with him. There's a bit of taboo about this and I don't get why. It seems that there's two strong camps of thought. On the one side you have the attachment parents, that are all for co-sleeping and will happily continue with this until their child or children are good and ready to leave the parental bed. I have no judgement about this, I am all for parenting that works for the family.

On the other side there seems to be the opinion that co-sleeping is a bad thing, a habit that will be impossible to undo. A few people I know who have co-slept with their babies have talked about their guilt for doing so, and the feeling that they really need to 'sort it out'. I told a friend about my plans to try co-sleeping and she shook her head adamantly. 'Keep persevering with the sleep training', she said. 'Don't start a habit you'll regret.'

But I was done with the persevering. I needed sleep. There was no way I wanted to tough it out for another night when it JUST WASN'T WORKING. So I put the sleep-training on ice for the night and let Baby J fall asleep in my arms during our overnight feed, before transferring him to our makeshift bed on the floor in his room. I used a load of blankets as padding for us and a 'safe sleeper' bed insert thing for him, designed for babies to sleep in their parent's bed safely.

And  guess what happened? Yeah, he slept. He's slept there every night since, with me by his side. If he stirs a little, I just put my hand on his tummy and he falls back to sleep. Last night he slept through, for the first time. I love his little snore. The only time he wakes is if he catches me leaving the room when I hear Baby A crying. A slight flaw in the plan. But it's still so much better than how it's been.

So I don't get the fuss with co-sleeping. For some reason, my baby needs to be close to me to sleep. I can give him that, with minimal trouble, and my reward is that I get to sleep too. What's to argue with? We will work on his sleep again down the track. All our instincts at the moment are saying that he's not ready for the tough stuff.

And to be honest, I think it's awesome to sleep so close to my baby. He's my last one, I'm loving being near him all night. While I'm sleeping, anyway.

We went down a similar route with our first child, so I know how it goes. After many months of interrupted sleep, we finally caved and let him sleep in our bed. Which resulted in me moving to a different room to sleep and our bed being dubbed 'Daddy's bed' for the next year or two. Eventually we got control of it. Once he was old enough, we used positive reinforcement (read: bribery) to coax him into his own bed permanently and that's where he now sleeps. No big deal.

For now, I'll let Baby J have his way. I'm a soft touch for a bit of sleep. I just hope my back can cope with the big rod I'm making for it.....

What about you? Ever had to resort to co-sleeping with your baby to get some sleep? Or did you get yourself into any other 'bad' habits for the sake of a few Zzzs?

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