This working mum co-sleeps. Do you agree?

You may have seen this piece last weekend on why the Victorian Coroner has recommended against parents co-sleeping with their children.  Yet millions of mums continue to do so.  Why?  Today, working mum Angela Humphries shares her story…

To us, co-sleeping is a natural choice. We just did what seemed right, and it is an easy solution for time-poor parents. Our three year old daughter has slept with us since she was born, in the early days on a built up pillow next to us and thesedays she has her own pillow and a well-worn groove in the mattress.

I adore sleeping with my child. She is physically next to me, hand in hand or she snoozes in the crook of my arm. Often in the middle of the night, I open my eyes to stare at her perfect chin or feel her warm breath on my face. Of course there are issues; which we can easily resolve with a warm hug, a reassuring pat on the back or some soothing words. Sometimes these are even for our daughter when she wakes mid sleep. We don’t have tear infested nightly rituals with her, it seems to be a treat for her to go to the ‘big bed’ and one that she enjoys so much that bedtime is a special time for her. Not a drama every night with cold threats or as one friend refers to as ‘her daily worst nightmare time’… really… maybe try changing something around? Who wants to cry and feel fearful every 24 hours? Isn’t life too short to have your bubba being upset as their final memory at the end of a long day?

It is also a simple maths equation. We are given our precious children for such a short time. I doubt she will still want to co-sleep with us when she is 14. So I want to use every minute we have, and to choose to separate from her for up to twelve hours every single day seems absurd. That’s 300 hours a month! Over 3500 hours per year! I want that time. I demand it. I will never get it back with her. It is the ultimate in multi-tasking for busy families, I am gaining over 141 extra days with her per year! All while sleeping. No activities, no pressure – just time for us to be together in comfort and doing something that needs to happen anyway. Bonus.

I don’t think I need to justify my parenting decisions, but if you complain to me about the lack of time you have with your child try using the ten hours when you lock them away from you in their cell…..every night.

Angela Humphries is a mum to Sydney, aged three.  You can follow her on Twitter here.

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16 responses to “This working mum co-sleeps. Do you agree?

  1. Do I agree with co-sleeping?

    Yes and no.

    Yes when children are older. I love nothing more than waking up in the morning to a child snuggled up next to me, or to be woken early in the morning to a “mummy, can I cuddle you?”.

    But co-sleeping with babies, especially very small babies? Absolutely not.

    It’s far too risky, as many parents have discovered to their lasting guilt and regret.

  2. There’s almost no risk to co-sleeping with a child of any age, as long as you follow a few basic rules. Not if you’re a smoker, not if you’ve been drinking and not if you’re on any medication. As long as these conditions are met there’s almost zero probability of you rolling onto a baby while it’s sleeping and not waking yourself up. If you utilise some sort of snuggle bed (basically a pillow with raised sides the baby can sleep in on your bed) then it’s clearly shown that this is actually safer for your baby than having them in a cot because it massively reduces the risk of SIDS because being that close to your child (even when you’re asleep) means you can monitoring their breathing.

    It’s only modern Western culture that doesn’t sleep with their babies, it’s super arrogrant to assume we know what’s best when it goes against every natural instinct we have.

  3. Hey, I agree that parents should be supported in their choices, but that cuts both ways and calling a cot ‘a cell’ is pretty incendiary.

  4. Hi Danny

    I also love that “easy reach” snuggle time!
    With newborns, I think they should be either right next to Mum/Dads bed, or in a built up snuggle bed, especially built with safety guides that stop rolling or slipping. Thanks for your thoughtful comments!

    Ange

  5. I understand this is response to the non-specific and guilt evoking statement by the Victorian Coroner, but while it does start as piece discussing your choice to co-sleep, it ends very judgementally towards parents who chose not to co-sleep. I am not suggesting to co-sleep is dangerous and I really do wish the Victorian Coroner would take another look at his statement and say something a little more specific and useful, however I do think parents who do not co-sleep would have felt a slap in the face reading your last paragraph and subsequent comment. I certainly did. And stating that “With newborns, I think they should be ……” you are no longer discussing your choice but, as the coroner did, saying your way is the right way for everyone.

  6. I think the use of the word “cell” to describe putting children in a cot is fairly apt – wooden bars, dark room, alone and often upset

    One of the reasons prison is such an effective deterrent is becaue it locks you away from the people you love. Why would you want to do this to your child – no matter how young they are?

    For the most part adults don’t sleep alone by choice, that instinct for companionship whilst sleeping is built into humans from birth.

    I think taking this away from your child is almost worse than prison because they can’t understand why they’ve been seperated

    • Lovely, unbiased, non-emotive opinions from your cocoon there Daniel. Why would you want to do this to your child???? I suspect there are thousands of reasons people do this (subject them to a fate worse than prison) that are often their only choice or out of their control. How would you manage to co-sleep with all 3 of your children? How would you manage if your partner drank every night, not to excess, just to make you feel uncomfortable co-sleeping? How would you manage if your bedroom was too small to accomodate the extra cradle for your baby?
      I am all for people discussing their choices and reasons for it, however these condescening, dismissive comments do not support open discussion.

  7. I agree with this post, at first like many parents I tried to keep them in their separate room, but they were not having it and they would cry and it was awful to see them both with their big eyes looking scared. I started to sleep with them in the end and it makes it easier to have them next to me to reassure them should they awake at night. Now that they are 3 1/2 yrs old, they tend to wander off into their own room as they have more space to sleep in their own beds. Like you say, they will not be in our lives for very long, plus how we treat them now is how we will be treated by them when we are old and need to have them around in our lives…

  8. Yep, I agree too
    Although we do not choose to Co Sleep, It chose us .We have two little people in the bed with us every night
    Although some(most) nights I’d love the extra room to spread out, having happy, non scared kids is a much higher priority to us.
    I’d much rather be seen in their eyes as the person who makes them feel safe at night, than have them scared in their own home.
    Just like when they chose to walk, to use the toilet ,they’ll move into their own bed when they’re ready, we won’t be forcing them out anytime soon.

  9. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was do ‘what ever gets you through’ (within reason of course). All of my kids have slept in our bed with us at one time or another. Our 3 year old is still there, and we have a young baby (who sleeps in a co-sleeper bassinet next to the bed, unless she needs a feed or cuddles.. then she ends up in with us too). We’ve had nights where 5 of us squeeze into our queen sized bed, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s not to say my way is the right way. We all have different experiences. What the books, experts, friends and family say may not apply to you, or then again it might! I’ve watched many friends crumble under the pressure of trying to do things the ‘right’ way… Who’s right way? One experts says something, and another offers the opposite opinion. ‘What ever gets you through’ has saved my sanity through three children. Parents need empathy, not judgement. Children need love, not perfection. None of us get it right all of the time.

  10. I really enjoy all these different perspectives on this debate. Thanks for all the comments. Personally I wish I had coslept a bit, but I was too scared from all the hype. Given I wasn’t drinking, taking any drugs and am a light sleeper, I think the sleep deprivation was a bigger risk to baby and me than a bit of cosleeping would have been. I think authorities should educate about potential risks, and leave the fear mongering alone. Which is actually what was happening at my local baby clinic. The nurses there knew that comments like the coroners would just move cosleepers ‘underground’ and not allow us to chat about how to be careful.

    Thanks Ange and everyone for your contributions.

    Kirsten

  11. Pingback: “C” is for Children and Coffe | a hectic life

  12. Awesome article! I did exactly the same. When my first born was 15 months, I went back to work full time. I have co-slept him since birth and found that, that was our time together after a long day of being seperated. I didn’t want our only interaction during the week to be over breakfast and dinner and the nightly shower. I now have 6 month old twins, who I also co-sleep and have since birth, my 4 year old is still in bed as well. I don’t have a partner, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs. All that stuff is common sense. As for the risks, as a health care professional, I have provided care to families who have lost babies who aren’t co-slept, they have died sleeping in their cot, but those deaths haven’t generated headlines. I truly believe that this is just another case of people turning their nose up to something that is different to their own ideals and wanting to be clear in their own minds that they made the ‘right’ choice doing the hardest job in the world. People need to stop being so judgemental and worry about raising their own kids to the best of their ability. Cause at the end of the day, what parents decide to do something cause it wasn’t in their childs best interests? Some may see sharing their bed with their child to be dangerous, to others, having their child in a cot in another room down the hall where they can’t see or hear them is dangerous.

  13. I have three wonderfully adjusted happy, rested children and haven’t co-slept with ANY of them (except for the occasional night visit from a toddler or when I was nursing here and there). I trained them to self-soothe at a young age and we never had screaming kids left in their “prison cells.” And who said when a baby or child cries that means they are scared? Anyway, that’s a whole other topic…

    My question for the co-sleepers is, “what about time with your partner?” I love my children and consider myself a wonderful parent. I believe having two parents who get private time together and who put each other first keeps family in balance. I can’t imagine having a healthy relationship with my partner with our children in the middle of us every night. To each his own, I suppose!

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