I wasn’t really aware of the concept of co-sleeping until I was about eight months pregnant – I think I’ve mentioned before that I had a complete mental block about anything that might happen after pregnancy. ie, a baby. I was so focused on just hanging on to my pregnancy and making sure that everything was okay that it wasn’t until the last couple of months that I started reading up about parenting and looking after a newborn.
So anyway, I was unaware of that co-sleeping was a “thing” that people had opinions on. I hadn’t thought too much about where the baby would sleep, or what in – I suppose I thought that I would do what most people I knew had done: Moses basket next to the bed for the first however many months and then a cot in the nursery after that. Until I went to visit a friend who had just had her second baby and she had a funny wooden contraption stuck to the side of her own bed. A cot, but with only three sides, and the fourth side open against the adult bed, with the cot mattress at exactly the same height as the adult mattress.
This three-sided cot was called, my friend informed me, a bedside cot or co-sleeper cot. And my first thought was: brilliant, that saves you getting in and out of bed, doesn’t it?!
Further research when I returned home introduced me to the whole co-sleeping debate, which seems to be a bit of a hot topic and one that is totally confusing. As far as I can make out, co-sleeping is officially thought to be fine, so long as you haven’t been drinking, smoking, taking drugs or are so tired that you might unknowingly roll on or smother your baby. Now that’s a bit of a grey area, isn’t it, because when you’re a new mum you’re always really tired! How are you supposed to know how tired really tired is? Who falls asleep in the first place, unless they’re really tired?
I really didn’t know what to make of this information, especially after I’d come home with the baby and the health visitors and midwives kept drilling home the co-sleeping “rules” every time they popped over. It made me really panicky, actually – “don’t fall asleep when breastfeeding!”, “put the baby in its cot if you start to feel tired!” – and I’m not sure that I needed to be. I mean millions of mothers must be feeding their babies at any one time, and surely lots of them are having a little doze with the baby next to them? Or living in places where a cot would be an unimaginable luxury? Or living in places where babies are just kept close to the mother at all times, whether strapped to the mother’s body or lying in the same bed?
But as I said, this whole co-sleeping concept was quite new to me, so I didn’t really know which way I was leaning. Actually that’s a lie. I did. If I was being absolutely honest, I didn’t really want a baby in my bed full-time. I have enough to contend with sharing it with a man. I spend half of the night telling him to stop snoring and the other half of it worrying whether or not he’s going to strangle himself in the cord of his headphones! (He listens to the radio in his sleep. Don’t even go there.) So, selfishly, the idea of having a tiny baby in the bed didn’t fill me with enthusiasm – I’m a worrier, and I would have assumed a kind of ramrod straight position for the entire night, stiff with anxiety, not daring to move my arms or shift my weight.
Which was why a bedside crib seemed like such an enormously good idea to me. The baby is kept as close as can be (my face is a foot away from the baby’s when we are both going to sleep!) but there’s no stress or anxiety, if indeed you are stressed or anxious about the rolling-on-baby risk. In the bedside crib, the baby has his or her own little space, you have yours, but really, to all intents and purposes, you’re sharing a bed. Feeding through the night is a cinch – just slide ’em over (baby, not boobs! Unless they stretch that far…) and you’re good to go. If you’ve had a c-section it’s even more of a bonus because you don’t have to do any bending and lifting at awkward angles.
My Mum bought me my Snuzpod bedside crib (above) as a present, but she did take a bit of convincing on the whole semi-co-sleeping idea. “Why can’t you use a Moses basket like everyone else?” Answer: because a Moses basket, though you can place it next to your bed, has wicker sides and is a completely different kettle of fish. The bedside crib is part of your bed, almost, whereas anything else is standalone and you don’t have the same feeling of closeness with the baby. I’m not meaning to be soppy (and feel free to roll your eyes if you wish!) but it is the best feeling going to sleep and hearing your baby breathing right next to your face. Sometimes I wake up holding Angelica’s little hand. And in the night, I seem to be subconsciously aware of her being there and I often check that she’s okay, and not too hot or cold, without really waking up at all. So I suppose those are the benefits, for me, and I think that they are brilliant benefits: convenience, closeness, peace of mind.
So I would absolutely recommend a bedside crib – I went for the Snuzpod because it could be adjusted to fit to a really wide range of adult bed heights, it looked beautiful, the side panel was easy to zip up or down and the construction was sturdy and well thought-out. There were a couple of others that I checked out – the Chicco (here) and the Babybay (here) – but the Snuzpod best fit my requirements and taste*. You can find it online here**. At £169 (mattress bought separately) it’s far more of an investment than a Moses basket, but it lasts until around six months and it’s definitely the type of beautifully made product that you would pass on to other family members once you’d had your use out of it.
The bassinet part can be detached from the base to make a little floor rocker, which is quite sweet if you want to let your baby have a nap in the lounge as you watch tv, for example, or just be with you if you don’t want to be stuck in the bedroom. The whole thing attaches safely to your bed using straps (frame beds or divans, both work) and it’s pretty easy to assemble.
What are your thoughts on sleeping arrangements? The health visitors and midwives all seemed to hammer home that it was now the standard recommendation that a baby should be in its parents’ room for at least the first six months, but how close do you feel you need to be? Do you like having some separation between yourself and the baby? Or are you a committed co-sleeper? I would love to hear your thoughts.
*with regards to the other bedside cots, the Chicco “Next 2 Me” was too wide to fit between the wall and bed of the holiday let I was staying in the first few weeks after the birth but I did love it because it looked very transportable. Though apparently the supplied mattress is VERY firm! I liked the style of the Babybay but it was more expensive than the others and the siderail to close up the open side needed to be purchased separately.
**UPDATE: I’ve just seen the Snuzpod on Amazon here – free delivery and including mattress for £169.95.
***Please note that in the above pic I have my Sleepyhead inside the Snuzpod. It’s a kind of baby moveable bed and it’s absolutely brilliant. I’ll be talking about it in a separate post, but I just wanted to point out that it’s not made to go inside the Snuzpod, in case you were wondering what it was!