The great debate: Co-sleeping- marriage killer or sleep saver?
28 September 2015, 10:32
The solitary sleepker
Renate Hertenberger-Brack - Attorney
Long before I fell pregnant I had my own set ideas about where children should sleep, based mainly on what I observed in other parents who had condoned co-sleeping and seemed to pay the price for many, many years.
From the day we came home from the hospital, I put Gina down to sleep in her own bed in her own room. All three of us get more rest when she sleeps in her own bed. Both my husband and I have fairly demanding jobs and need a proper night’s rest. With her in her own room only one of us has their sleep disrupted. Being selfemployed, I continued to work (though initially from home) from about one week after Gina was born. Not having her co-sleep made it possible for me to have undisturbed naps between feeds. Gina goes to bed at about 8pm. We read her a story or sing
lullabies and then leave her to fall asleep on her own after her goodnight kiss. If she re-emerges from her room, we take her back until she gives up and falls asleep, though this rarely happens.
I bore much criticism over my decision, being called harsh and uncaring. But I have no regrets. We all sleep well, and it makes a sleepover at her grandparents’ on the odd occasion easy, because she’s not used to having us physically near at night. It was exhausting in the first two months because I kept having to get up to tend to her when she called and then spent more time getting her settled after feeds. But I was rewarded when she started sleeping through from about two months, sleeping a good seven-hour stretch after her last feed at 10pm.
We are expecting our second child in March, and I have every intention of doing the same.
I admire Sarah’s open-mindedness, and I may have felt differently if I had two babies to deal with! Co-sleeping is a choice made for purposes of comfort: instead of getting up at night to feed or comfort, you just tend to the child’s needs then and there. While it may be practical to begin with, it becomes a problem when you try to break the habit in the toddler years or even later. And I don’t believe that the continual presence of a small person in the marital bed is very good for a marriage.
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Sarah Goodwin- Owner of EchoRain Interior Decor
For us, co-sleeping has been a way of extending the contact and love we share with our children. My husband’s mother was a La Leche League leader, and he co-slept with both and then one parent (when his brother arrived) until the age of six. Peter looks back on the relationship he had with his parents and wants the same for our children. He believes that sharing your space with your child encourages a feeling of comfort and belonging. Peter also liked the idea of having more contact and time to bond with his girls at night.
With different upbringings, we had a lot of decisions to make with regard to parenting. The co-sleeping decision for me was easy as Pete felt so strongly about it. I could see that it would be easier to breastfeed two babies on different schedules from your bed, especially while recovering from my C-section.
And it does add another dimension to the time spent in direct contact with our children – holding and smelling them, bonding with them.
The girls responded well. They were sleeping on our chests after their horrible birth experience where they were separated from us in NICU for four nights. They slept better on us for the first few months than they did in-between us in our giant bed!
We have since stopped co-sleeping as when the girls got bigger the space became an issue and they were waking up more, and it became uncomfortable sleeping with them on our chests. They started sharing a cot in their nursery, and when they first woke up they would be brought through. Recently they started sleeping in their own cots. They mostly sleep through until 3.30 or 4am, when they come through to our bed and snooze or toss and turn until morning breastfeed around 5am.
The best part is those morning moments when they open their eyes, see you and smile while snuggling up. Also in the early days I was constantly checking if they were breathing. If I wasn’t sleeping with them in my bed I would be up and down the corridor all night! I understand people need solid sleep to function and deal with a stressful office job. We’re lucky enough to work from home, which allows us the luxury of being able to co-sleep.
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