Safe Co-Sleeping by Michelle Matissini

A Sleeping moon in a cap.

Image via Wikipedia

Michelle from Devon’s Attachment Parenting Group, talks about a recent experience travelling with her two co-sleeping young children, and shares some tips on safe co-sleeping.

I love looking at hotel websites before I travel somewhere. I am always amused at how serenely calm and leisurely-looking the holiday-makers appear in room photos compared to the grubby, exhausted me I tend to take on my travels!

We recently took our two daughters (age 3 and 8 months) to Brazil via trains, planes and hotel stays. The two hotel overnights meant I got to look at more room photos…one photo involved a happy Brazilian man reclining in a transparent bath tub drinking champagne while a lady lounged on the adjacent bed with an enormous laptop!

Anyway, my nosiness was driven by another purpose entirely related to our sleep-sharing arrangements. Hotel rooms featuring bed mattresses sunk into immovable concrete bases are a definite no-no. Any hotel offering two double beds sounds great! Our first overnight featured the two double beds, yet, alas! the immovable bedside table – oh designers of the world, why?! After scratching my head and moving the various beds around the room in my head and nearly resorting to drawing a new furniture plan of the room that would fox any chambermaid, we found our solution.

The overnight in Brazil was less complicated – we had been given the choice of two Italian-size beds (I hadn’t ever heard of these either!) or a King-size bed. As it happened we checked into our room with a bed at least four metres wide and a cot for my daughter to jump in and out of for fun!

The rest of our trip was in a friend’s house (a friend with the decency to date a Brazilian who lives on the beach) and she had gone to some lengths to accommodate the four of us. Two mattresses (like at home), two mosquito nets (not like at home) and two children unwittingly keen on letting mosquitos into bed. I think this is what you could call foolproof contraception!

The girls were incredibly adaptable with the change in environment and maybe the continuity of falling asleep with mummy was all the security they needed at night-time in a new place with different sounds.

At the moment, back home, while my little one is teething and the other fights a virus I can watch and monitor and adjust the temperature or bed clothes as necessary. Wake-up snuggles and bedtime stories are genuinely exciting – I would hate to miss out on hearing my oldest daughter’s dreams or not be there when they wake with a start. I know when they both need to wee (bum in the air body language) and can take them to the bathroom before they are even awake. Often, my husband and I will chat in the mornings waiting for our daughter to wake – the first smile and the first thing she says are often the most beautiful of the whole day.

Obviously there are nights when I feel contorted and can only imagine the joy of having enough room to lay both shoulders flat because they are both so snuggled up to me. I can well understand how not everyone would find this comfortable, it is a very personal space to share after all (and makes side-car cots a very attractive option). But this precious time is brief, soon they will be travelling the world and checking into a bunk bed in a youth hostel and I will be home lazing  stylishly reading a lifestyle magazine with well groomed hair!

Co-sleeping can be practiced safely by following some important guidelines:

  • Never sleep with your baby while under the influence of drink or drugs or when smoking.
  • No pets or older children should be close by.
  • Don’t sleep with your baby if you are extremely obese or if your baby is low-birth weight/premature.
  • Only bedshare on a firm mattress – don’t fall asleep in the sofa, beanbag or other unsafe place.
  • Baby should sleep on one side of the mother (not between the parents).
  • When bedsharing use approved side rails and fill in crevices between the bed and the wall.

Michelle has written a few other posts on the NCM blog, click on the links below:


One thought on “Safe Co-Sleeping by Michelle Matissini

  1. Doodlemum says:

    Good advice. I have bed shared with all of mine as I think when you breastfeed, you cant escape it! Gruff is in his own cot now but still comes in early morning for a cuddle. Its over too soon, and my bed feels too big at times!

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