The co-sleeping commandments

Co-sleeping, just like breastfeeding, is a learned skill. It doesn't just come naturally. You have to work at it constantly - you, your partner and your child all need to learn to do it.

Co-sleeping isn't right for everyone and I know many parents feel that their bed is their space and not to be shared with babies. This is a personal choice, but as long as mom and dad are both happy to share their space then it can be beneficial for all!

If you do choose to sleep with your baby, here are some important lessons you need to learn to have a successful night's sleep:

Firstly you need to learn how to sleep with a foot in your ear, a head on your hip or a hand splayed over your face. This takes a lot of practice and one often finds that you've forgotten how to do it -this usually occurs when you have a passed out baby sleeping across your back, with her feet in your face. It is surprising how quickly you do learn how to sleep like this though, when exhaustion hits, you will sleep around your baby, no matter how she decides to sleep.

Secondly you need to learn how to move a sleeping baby into a more desirable spot on the bed, WITHOUT WAKING HER UP. This is one of the hardest lessons and one that I still haven't mastered. It makes getting lesson one right all the more important. If, like me, you have a baby who sleeps so lightly that someone slamming the car door outside makes her startle, this is an almost impossible lesson to learn. Once the baby is asleep, no matter what position he or she is in, leave her there!

Thirdly you need to sharpen your senses so that you wake up before the baby rolls off the bottom of the bed, bumps her head on the wall above the bed or crashes her head into yours. This is one of the easiest lessons to learn, a few black eyes (yours) and you learn to anticipate these things. A bar on the side of the bed helps to make sure the baby doesn't roll off (and by 'the baby' I mean you, the bar on the side of the bed is often the only thing keeping me from spending the night on the floor).

Fourth lesson is learning how to sleep in whatever space is available. The bottom of the bed is not just for feet, and you really only need that 3cm gap between you and the edge of the bed. Any more would be greedy! The mattress on the floor? We tell people it's for the baby to sleep on when we're not in the room, in actual fact it’s to catch us when we fall.

Finally, another difficult lesson to learn, you need to learn to sleep when you get into bed and not gaze lovingly all night at your little squishy warm baby. You need to learn that when baby sleeps, you sleep, so stop adoring her long eye lashes, her perfect nose and her teeny tiny finger nails. Go to sleep and be quick about it!

Co-sleeping is fun and beneficial for all. Being able to wrap your arms around a sleeping, snuggling baby is wonderful. You will all sleep better and longer.
All together now 'and they all rolled over and the one fell out, and the little one said, roll over!'

Do you co-sleep with your baby? Share your tips below.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

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