I get it. I really do. After all, I’m a mother myself. The absolutely primal and uncontrollable impulse to stay close to your baby is so deeply rooted in our DNA that it’s almost frightening sometimes. I’m sure evolutionary defensive instincts are what’s at play in this phenomenon, but it feels more like love to me. I just love this little human to the point where I want to be in contact with them 24/7, 365. And hey, the baby doesn’t seem to mind, and there’s just something so beautiful, so maternal, about sleeping next to your baby, that it almost seems crazy not to.
Or at least that’s how some of us experience it…
I know lots of families who co-sleep, some of them have more than one child sleeping in bed with them and it works beautifully - If they enjoy it and they’re doing it safely, this is absolutely something I encourage.
“I think that children are supposed to sleep with their parents. Many of the sleep problems are to do with sleeping alone.” Margaret and Phil, parents of James, 20 months
However, I also know lots of parents who describe it more like, “Listen, I love you, you love me, that’s established. But I can’t sleep next to someone who hasn’t yet figured out the etiquette involved in sleeping next to another person. And jamming your thumb in my eye at 3:30 A.M. is just simply outside of the lines.”
“Thomas went into his own bedroom pretty early on – we couldn’t sleep and noticed when we went to bed we disturbed him” Sue and Thomas, parents of Thomas, 2 years
And I’ve spoken to more than a few parents who are big on co-sleeping but are shattered and need to get more sleep for the whole family's wellbeing and they want to know if sleep coaching will get their little ones to stop squirming or waking up fifteen times a night to nurse.
The short answer is yes there will be strategies you can implement but they might not be the complete solution you are after. I certainly can't promise no squirming for example, I understand wanting those two best-case-scenarios to live in harmony. Sleep next to your baby but have them not squirm or repeatedly through the night. That would be magical, no question.
And it is possible and in lots of cases this is how everyone gets more sleep, however it is rarely the case for parents who are reaching out to me, if it was working out well you probably wouldn't need to reach out. Here are some reasons why it might not be working out.
1: all babies are different some are very animated sleepers. It’s just a fact. They twist and turn and readjust themselves a thousand times a night and will often end up completely on the other side of a king-sized bed with their feet towards the headboard – this works for baby but not for parents.
2: some babies are really sensitive to their environment and when they wake up in the night and see you lying next to them, they get excited. They want you to interact with them so they try to engage with you and then what might have been a brief awakening turns into a full-blown wake-up.
So can sleep coaching alleviate this?
It’s possible that you could see some success in your child’s sleep habits by supporting them to:
If you are having sleep struggles now with co-sleeping you might want to try the above approaches first and then assess, you could get to a place that you are happy with while continuing to co-sleep or if not, assess if in your situation it is wiser to have baby in their own sleep space in the their own room (remember you need to room-in with your baby until at least 6 months)
For those of you who are sad about giving up those magical cuddles in your bed, I have a suggestion that has helped my own family and many of those that I’ve worked with. Set aside fifteen or twenty minutes every morning, after your kids are out of bed and well-rested, and bring them into your bed. Cuddle them, play with them, sing some songs, play-wrestle, whatever their hearts desire. You can both still enjoy the closeness and familial bond that comes with sharing a bed without creating any associations that might mess with their ability to get to sleep at night, and without waking each other up. If you’ve already been co-sleeping for quite a while and have decided it’s time to reclaim your bedroom, but your little one has other ideas, please get in touch. I’ve worked with families to get them through this exact scenario with tremendous success and I can help yours too.