If you are thinking of co-sleeping with your baby, be aware of these safety points.
Being a new parent is totally bewildering and can be a scary period, especially for first-time mummies and daddies.
Once you leave the safe bubble of the hospital, whereby nurses and midwives are on hand 24/7, you are thrown into the real world, left to fend for yourself.
The Google searches you carry out over every sneeze leave you questioning the temperature of your house, the type of pillowcases you own and the washing powder you use. Other parents, new and old, only seem to fuel these anxieties too:
"Oh you're not using those type of blankets are you?!"
"You let him sleep on his back?! It should be the front."
"You let him sleep on his front!? That is so dangerous!"
It can be a real minefield.
I remember feeling so tired during those first weeks with breastfeeding on demand taking its toll and Joseph would not settle anywhere, but on my chest or in bed with us. The beautiful wicker Moses basket that we set up months earlier still lay untouched.
We persevered and kept trying to get him used to his own bed, but I was really struggling to run on so little sleep as well as anaemia and all the pains that come with post-birth and early breastfeeding days.
Eventually, I stopped fighting and with Joseph in our bed, we all got the best and first-night sleep we'd had in – what felt like – ages.
Of course, when family and friends found out, we were bombarded with questions and concerns. Weren't we scared we would roll on him? What if we pulled the duvet over him? What if he fell out?
These were all concerns that had crossed my own mind, but my own need to sleep meant I was willing to try anything and co-sleeping seemed to be the only thing to bring relief. I began to do some research so I could find the best ways to do it safely.
Some people actively choose to co-sleep and believe it is how babies should sleep during their first few weeks and months, some see it as dangerous, and others like me fall into it completely by accident.
Here are the facts:
1. Co-sleeping is not a new thing and is certainly not localised in the UK. Other cultures co-sleep by way of normality and would think anything other than this to be alien.
2. Co-sleeping can have many benefits when done safely. It can help create a great bond between mother and baby and as I mentioned previously, it can help everyone get a better night sleep!
3. However, the chance of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) when combined with other factors, may increase when co-sleeping, for example, if you or your partner smokes; if you've been drinking or taking drugs or medication that may cause drowsiness; or if your baby was born prematurely.
If you feel you want to try co-sleeping, you can be safe:
Make sure no adult duvets or blankets are near the baby; instead use a thin sheet to lower risk of the baby becoming buried in a mass of bedding.
The same goes for pillows; keep them well away from the baby.
Make sure the baby is in the middle of the bed so they can't fall out, roll etc.
Always put the baby onto their back.
Whatever works for you and your family is fine and nobody should judge anyone else for how they raise their baby. We did things a little differently and despite warnings of never having our bed back, our son took fine to his own cot (although he still loves a cuddle!).
My advice would be to do your research and trust that mothers instinct – you won't go far wrong.