Three Women On Co-Sleeping - The Grace Tales

Three Women On Co-Sleeping

Co-sleeping is surrounded by controversy. Critics claim it’s more for the mother than the child. That it’s unsafe...

It has been described as “inherently dangerous”. I personally disagree with the idea that it’s more for the mother. In my case, my premature baby would not settle unless we co-slept. What is important when making the decision to co-sleep is understanding how to co-sleep safely and responsibly. Be educated and informed on the topic. And do what you feel is right, because you are the mother. We speak to three mothers about their experiences and the decision to co-sleep…

Have you ever co-slept? Can you tell us about your experience? Tell us your story below!

Chloe Brookman, co-founder of Olli Ella, mother to Tenny, 7, Arlo, 4, Nell, almost four months  @olliella

Can you tell us about the decision to co-sleep with your baby girl?

I think it happened naturally. I’ve always co-slept with each of my babies for the first six weeks but this time was different – perhaps due in part to the fact that Nell’s big brother (Arlo, 4) was co-sleeping with us up until Nell was born – something that started when he was about 1.5 years (he had suffered a few febrile seizures which led to us bringing him into our beds at night to keep him close) and so it felt very natural to keep Nell with us. I definitely don’t feel any sort of rush to move her out of our bed at this stage, I love having her close, it feels so natural.

Is your baby a good sleeper?

If we have skin-to-skin contact then yes during the day, at night she goes down fine by herself in our bed – but I probably wouldn’t classify her as a “good sleeper” by common standards.

How do you co-sleep safely?

I am a light sleeper and so am always conscious of where she is in our bed. I remember with my first baby (Tenny, 7) I couldn’t get a proper night’s sleep with him in our bed because I was so worried that I would roll on him but I think now after three babies I’ve settled in to it.

What do you believe are some of the biggest benefits of co-sleeping with your baby?

It’s so easy, first of all! There’s no getting up in the middle of the night to feed and then resettle, and so in that respect I am well-rested in the mornings which for me is essential as a mama of three and running a business. If I’m completely honest about it, co-sleeping for me has played a large part in me being a bit lazy!

What does a typical night currently look like for you?

A typical night starts with me feeding Nell to sleep in our bed, slowly, carefully trying to ninja my way out of the bed once she falls asleep, which always fails, repeating the process two, three, or four times until successful. She usually stays asleep until 9.30/10pm when I go to bed, and will wake up one more time usually in the night. Each time I nurse her back to sleep and fall asleep during this time myself.

Amanda Dos Santos, founder of Little People Nutrition, mother to Isadora, 7, Maya 4.5 and Timmy, 1 @mandy.dossantos

Have you co-slept with all your children?

Yes all of them at different times. We are still fully co-sleeping with our one-year-old.

Can you tell us about the decision to co-sleep?

With our first it wasn’t a conscious decision. She slept like a ‘baby’ so to speak from around 1 to 2 years of age. I use to complain she woke at 5am. Little did I know what we were in store for! Once we moved her into her own bed she would get out and because my husband was away a lot during this time and we lived away from family and friends, I let her come in. Oh the drama that ensued. We had no role models at this time for co-sleeping and the pressure from some family and friends and ourselves meant we struggled with Isadora being in our bed (although I loved it when she was there). When Maya was born, Isadora was two and a half. Maya was in her bassinet in our room and Isadora basically in our bed the whole time. I was nervous about having a newborn in our bed so would feed Maya and place her back into her bassinet. She has always slept relatively well in her cot and when she moved into a big girl bed around two she would come in and out but mainly stayed in her bed, more so than Isadora. Timmy has slept with us since day dot. He was a very gassy baby and would have an upset bubbling tummy at night so I would have him in with me on his side to get rid of the gas. As the girls would be in and out we tried one of those ‘infant sleeper’ protection pieces so that he would not be rolled on while he was very young. From around four months, we then placed the cot up against the bed with the side down and he slept there as an extension of me. And from around five months, he has just slept with my husband and I, in the middle. The girls still come in and out but since Isadora turned 5ish, she has slept a lot better independently and will often sleep weeks at a time all night. Maya still wakes every few days and comes in around 3am.

Are you children good sleepers?

They’ve all been different. Timmy is still breastfed and wakes every couple of hours although is getting better. This is predominantly why he sleeps with us. Maya also woke a few times a night while she was still breastfed, till 2. When I stopped feeding she slept better but would still wake once a night for something. Isadora would sleep through, as long as she slept with us!

How do you co-sleep safely?

Isadora and Maya never worried me, as they were toddlers by the time they came in with us. Timmy we used the ‘infant sleeper’ more because of the girls coming in. When he went to the cot on the side he was fine. And at five months when he came into the main bed, in the middle, I would make sure he had no pillow and would pull the blankets down so they were not above his middle.

What do you believe are some of the biggest benefits of co-sleeping with your child?

It’s easier to breastfeed, you can cuddle with your baby, hear them breathe when you are an anxious new mum, can hear them breathe if they are unwell, creates that special bond, nothing is better than Mum and Dad’s bed and you can get more sleep or not!

What does a typical night currently look like for you?

At the moment, we put the girls to bed roughly at the same time with a book. If my husband is home he will put Timmy to bed in our bed. Timmy stays in there. I go to bed around 10pm. I probably feed or placate Timmy with nursing around four times a night. Maya probably comes in around 2 or 3am and slides in. She is brilliant at sliding in without you noticing. She often comes in on my husband’s side. If Isa comes in and we cannot be bothered to take her back to bed, I flip upside down with her to snuggle with her and if Timmy wakes, I flip back to settle him and stay there with him. Oh the comfort. It isn’t perfect but it works for us. And seeing Isadora naturally grow and create that independence around the age of 5 or 6, I know that Maya will, as will Timmy. They are babes for such a short period of time.

Photo: Julie Adams 

Georgie Abay, editor of The Grace Tales, mother to Arabella, 3, and Lottie, 2

Can you tell us about the decision to co-sleep?

I didn’t co-sleep with my first daughter and never planned on co-sleeping with my second daughter. With Lottie though, everything was different. We co-slept for four months. She was seven weeks premature and spent three weeks in the special care ward at hospital. I had health problems after the birth, which made things harder and I was exhausted. We just ended up co-sleeping. It was the most natural thing in the world. She wouldn’t settle, not for a minute, unless she was next to me. It was such a difficult pregnancy and I still felt so grateful that she was here and healthy. I enjoyed holding her all night. It helped me heal from the anxiety I’d gone through during the pregnancy and it also helped her thrive. I didn’t have the energy to get up in the night – I was too physically weak. So we stayed in bed together and my husband slept in another room so there was more room for us. We were both happy and it worked.

Are your children good sleepers?

Um, no. My girls were not good sleepers. They were the feed-on-the-hour (two if I was lucky) kind of babies for about six months. That period of my life is a total blur. I’m not sure how I functioned. With Lottie I had a consultation with mothercraft nurse Jane Surgenor at five months after I’d decided co-sleeping wasn’t working for me anymore and I needed some separation at night – she was fantastic and got Lottie into a bassinet, then eventually through her routine I was only feeding her once a night. At 10 months, both girls started sleeping through the night. Now, they share a room and generally sleep from 7pm to 630am (but honestly, you never know how the night will play out – they are just as likely to be up half the night!).

How do you co-sleep safely?

It is all such a blur but I do remember often jolting up in the night in a panic thinking I’d rolled on Lottie. I always made sure the covers were at waist level. Mark slept in another room so there was plenty of space in the room. She always slept next to me, not on me. There are definitely risks sleeping like this and it’s even riskier when you’re sleep deprived so you do need to be mindful of these. I do think you sleep very lightly when you’ve got a baby next to you.

What do you believe are some of the biggest benefits of co-sleeping with your baby?

For me, it meant I got more sleep, felt connected to my baby after a period of feeling disconnected and she was settled and content. If you have an unsettled baby, it’s an easy way to get them to sleep more during the night. It was also Winter when we were co-sleeping so I knew she was warm and cozy.

What does a typical night currently look like for you?

Things are far easier now than they used to be. I used to have a baby strapped to me and be bouncing around the house, doing washing, making dinner etc. Now, we start dinner at 430-5pm and then the girls are in a bath around 530pm and ready for bed at 630pm. We then play and do books and teeth then it’s bed at 7pm. Lottie often goes to bed at 6pm depending on how tired she is. Arabella will go in at 7pm and usually wake her up but they settle, chat (or yell out for water, milk and anything else they can think of) for a bit and drift off by 8pm.