Attachment parenting, Cosleeping, Parenting

The Family Bed- Cosleeping as connection

27 February, 2013

A few weeks ago Ramona woke up in the middle of the night, full of beans. She sleeps in the middle of the two of us, so if she wakes one of us can cuddle her back into dreamland. This time she woke up instantly, and gleefully, and she shouted “LEEEG! Where ARE YOUUUU? There you are! Other leg?! Where aaare youuuu?? FOUND you!”

Yes, YES, my friends. She was playing hide and seek with her limbs.

After stifling my giggles I stroked her head and she snuggled back down into a deep sleep.

People ask us alot if Ramona, just over two, will ever have her own room. I suspect she will one day, but we are in no hurry at all to usher her out. It is too much of a crack up! Ha. But, really, I still just find it the most perfect way for us. I know that she sees it as her place too for now, and that that won’t last forever- it won’t be long before she will be hankering after her own space I am sure.

Cosleeping as connection

One of the primary reasons I am still enjoying cosleeping with our toddler is the almost subconscious connection it gives us. I have had to work some crazy long days over the last few months, having breakfast with Tim and Ramona before leaving and not seeing them until Ramona is fast asleep. Getting to breathe in my daughter’s presence, to have her find my hand in the night, to share dreams seems to make up for missing out on a whole day.

I find cosleeping helpful too after a day of being together but being a bit out-of-sync. You know those days? When it is hard to put an agenda aside, when you miss the cues, when playing is last on your to-do list and you end up handing your child over to that magnificent pair of scallywags, Charlie and Lola, on Youtube? A fresh start and a new dawn is ALWAYS helpful, but I sometimes wonder if sharing sleep gives it an extra boost. That by being close for those night time hours just helps us to re-connect and find our natural parent-child rhythm again.

Last week I heard about the term the Japanese use for cosleeping, where the Family Bed is the norm until kids are quite old; it is “Kawa”. Kawa is the same character used for a river cascading between between two banks; they see parents as the strong, supportive edges, the life-giving river child flowing through them. How beautiful! An anthropological study found that the Japanese see cosleeping as a way of nurturing interdependence between child and parent, an interdependence that fosters good relationship for life.

Perhaps cosleeping isn’t for everyone, I do know lots of parents who just wouldn’t entertain the idea. I would never in a Brazillion years tell a parent what to do, or judge them for not doing what I do. But I hate that many parents are scared into not cosleeping. The way the media report cosleeping is incredibly skewed, citing examples where clearly unsafe practices have been used (bed sharing when drunk/ excess bedding) to deter it. It saddens me that fear and propaganda would drive people away from this beautiful, ancient way to connect –  particularly when countries that practice cosleeping have the least incidence of SIDS.

Admittedly, I am pleased as a pickle in punch that I am not nursing through the night anymore, and happy that Tim is able to comfort Ramona as much as I now. I reckon being the solo night nurturer for two would be exhausting. But I am excited about this little womb-baby emerging into our family bed in the Spring time. Where the four of us can laugh at each other’s crazy sleep talk, bond in our dreams and wake up facing the day together.

I just hope the two kids don’t start playing dream Hide and Seek together – that would be far too raucous, thanks….

PPS I’d hate for you to miss a post… enter your email to get them pinged into your inbox. I won’t be spamalot, promise!

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  • Ruth 27 February, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    What a lovely post, you make it sound very appealing!

    We didn’t co-sleep at all (other than in circumstances like T being poorly, or our first night on holiday when he was unsettled). In fact, we moved T into his own room when he was just a few weeks old.

    I’ve never really given too much thought about why. We are all totally comfortable being in bed together in the mornings, when he comes in for a cuddle with a pile of books. I think in those early days though I still saw my bed as being a bit of a haven, somewhere to recover physically from a difficult birth, and mentally to have a bit of space that will still mine as a woman rather than as a mother.

    I think second time round – if there ever is one – I would probably be a lot more relaxed about it because I’m more comfortable and confident with my identity now. The one thing that fills me with dread about a second child is returning to the multiple wake ups and exhaustion – I hadn’t realised how totally crucial good sleep is to my well being – and maybe co-sleeping would make that slightly easier 🙂

    Lots of food for thought, thank you xx

    • Lucy 27 February, 2013 at 8:59 pm

      How lovely to hear your thoughts on it.

      I have to be honest, we kind of fell into cosleeping out of laziness! I couldn’t imagine actually waking up, getting out of bed and nursing on a chair!

  • Sonya Cisco 27 February, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Hahaha love the leg hide and seek!! We co-sleep too, would love to hear how you stopped night feeds, and if you have any tips! Syd is 18 months now, and still wakes several times looking for boob, am really hoping it stops soon as I have a couple of nights away in the summer when it will be just him and his dad in the bed, plus would be lovely to have a full nights sleep again! 🙂

    • Lucy 27 February, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      At around her second birthday she just started being able to nod back odd at night without milk.
      I don’t believe I did anything, although i was pregnant so maybe changes in milk or a bit of reluctance on my part, sub consciously comforting in different ways.
      Also, remember once you stop night nursing you miss out on sleep hormones, I have a lot more insomnia again now! 🙁

  • Jen aka The Mad House 27 February, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Both my boys have their own bed, but the family bed (which we changed to a super king sized 6 years ago) is always open to them. In fact Mini comes in every night and has always done since being small.

    As a family there is nothing we like more than snuggling together. I love the pre dawn not yet awake feeling and snuffling up to a warm and asleep little chap.

    We decided that they will not want to come in our bed when they are teens so we are making the most of it now.

    • Lucy 27 February, 2013 at 9:05 pm

      Yes, what a lovely perspective! We LOVE our super king, don’t think we could manage four in the bed without it!

  • Allie Jane Young 27 February, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    wanted to try it, but I was so scared of doing it, incase I suffocated one of them, silly I know,but I have heard horror stories of the child being suffocated during the night as one parent forgot they were there. I used to put the crib or the cot in the same room as us so we could keep an eye on them. I still like to pop my head around the bedroom door to check they are okay. and I still get the cuddles a kisses off the eldest one!
    you will always have that maternal instinct and there will always be different styles of parentng, Do what makes you happy

    • Lucy 27 February, 2013 at 9:08 pm

      Oh 🙁 Such a shame! There are the most wonderful studies showing mamas instinctively protecting their babies. Fairly sure incidences of suffocation happen when parents have been drinking/ smoking/ taking drugs. 🙁

  • Valerie 28 February, 2013 at 7:40 am

    I didnt really know about co-sleeping until Mums on a forum started a thread for co-sleepers and when I heard all their stories and saw all the inventive photo’s of beds pushed together, 3 sided cots strapped to beds and the like, I was ready to give it a go. Oscar is 4 and starts the night in his own bed, bed pops into our bed some time between 2am and 4am. We hardly waken when he climbs in between us. We have a king-size bed, and thats the best advice to give a co-sleeper, GET AS BIG A BED AS YOU CAN haha. Lovely post 🙂

    • Lucy 2 March, 2013 at 10:34 am

      YES YES YES! Absolutely! The bigger the better, the best investment ever made!!!

  • Jenna 27 February, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    I absolutely love co-sleeping with Charlie. To wake up to his smiles, snuggle up to his warm body. To me there is nothing better. I am however, looking forward to when the night feeds stop. Sometimes it feels like he’s feeding like a newborn……..(he’s 15 months nearly).

    • Lucy 27 February, 2013 at 9:19 pm

      Oh, I understand! Ramona too, until she was two. Some nights were okay, others hard! He will night wean when ready, he will, promise! There are some very gentle things you can do, to help deter it but you have to be very consistent!

  • Bek @ WeAreWildThings 27 February, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    Kit has his own bed but he always appears in my room shortly after I go to bed, he’ll be 4 in 4 months (argh). I’m not in any rush to throw him out though, especially in the cold as he is like a wriggly hot water bottle! I was a bit reluctant at one point though, when he went through a bed-wetting stage shortly after potty-training and he wee’d over me one too many times! 🙂 I agree with you about the re-balance thing though, the calm of sharing sleep is rejeuvinating for the more hectic days.

    • Lucy 27 February, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      Hehe about the wees! It is so true about the hot water bottle! Aren’t they lovely: )

  • Cheryl 27 February, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Wow, what a great post! I would also be interested to hear how you stopped night nursing. I sometimes feel like I’m an all-you-can-eat-buffet throughout the night, but I still wouldn’t change it for the world. =)

    • Lucy 27 February, 2013 at 9:23 pm

      Thank you Cheryl 🙂 Yep I was an all night diner, until she suddenly stopped at night at around two. I think pregnancy may have bought it on sooner, but maybe she was ready. It won’t last forever and I sleep less well now, without the sleepy hormones!

  • Three Counties Mum 27 February, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    My DD is 2.5 years and hubby *really* wants her in her own bed now but DD and I aren’t connecting brilliantly right now (at least, not like DS and I did / do) so I feel that’s the only time I can make it up to her, by snuggling her up at night…and one of the few times we’re not at odds about something or other.

    • Lucy 2 March, 2013 at 10:32 am

      Hmm, I think hubbies can be this way. I think they see cosleeping as being the reason they don’t get enough, um, business time….
      For me, I know it isn’t the culprit of that at all – just mamahood and general mayhem! So lovely to hear how your snuggling is making up for other disconnects. Hope you find a way of connecting in the day too soon x x x

  • Kopócs Éva 27 February, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    We slept together with our sons (4 and 2 then) even when I was expecting the third. Now we mainly share the bed with only the youngest one (18 months) but sometimes we just can’t resist the urge and magane to somehow nestle up all together. The big ones have their own bed in the same room with us, so we share the same space throughout the night and it is absolutely calming to hear them breathing. I also remember sleeping with my parents and these are one of my nicest memories.

    • Lucy 27 February, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      How beautiful that you remember your childhood family bed! I can remember snuggling in with mum and dad as an older kid once in a blue moon, I loved it more than anything.

  • Suzanne 27 February, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    You really do ‘sell’ the idea of co-sleeping so beautifully in your post but I know for a fact that I love my own space far too much to have ever been able to do it successfully! I take my hat off to anyone who does but tell me… does it affect your relationship with your other half? That would worry me. Far too late for me now, being that my youngest is 8 yrs old (that would be weird!) but am merely interested in your view of it.

    • Lucy 27 February, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      Hehe about “sell” 🙂
      Well, to be honest, the primary factor in the relationship side of things *raises eyebrows up and down saucily* is just general tiredness and business, rather than having a kid in the bed. Although we are lucky to have a big house…. and Ramona is a deep sleeper too. We still get to cuddle and talk at night together.

  • Lilybett 28 February, 2013 at 2:15 am

    We attempted co-sleeping when Dear Boy was fresh and smooshy but he was (is!) such a noisy and wriggly sleeper that I was getting literally NO sleep and Lovely Husband was getting very little. I shifted him to a bassinette beside the bed but even there he was snoring and farting and snuffling so much , we ended up rolling him out into the dining room, which we eventually converted into a little bedroom cave.

    Am wondering how you’re going to arrange the family bed when the little newbie arrives. Will both kids be in the middle or is there some concern about flailing limbs (once they’ve been hidden, sought and found, that is)?

    • Lucy 2 March, 2013 at 10:33 am

      I think we will have Ramona on other side of Tim (she can be quite flail-y!!) and baby by me.
      Hehe, I love Ramona’s night farting, makes me laugh hehehe

  • Gilly 28 February, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    I really love co-sleeping with my 7 months old. We have a side car cot but she prefers to be snuggled right up next to me. I’m not complaining, I’m enjoying every moment! The only problem I had is for ages I couldn’t figure out how to nurse laying down and be comfortable enough to fall back to sleep while doing it, but as she’s got a bit older it’s got easier. Now I can fall asleep while she’s latched on, but I still wake up with aching arms every time.

    • Lucy 1 March, 2013 at 10:00 am

      Oh my word, yes! Doesn’t life CHANGE when you figure out lie-down side nursing!! Suddenly Ramona’s nigh feeds became nothing to bother me at all! Amazing x

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  • Kat 1 March, 2013 at 11:29 am

    It’s so lovely to read a story like this! We thought we might give it a go but discovered Everett is the most noisy and active sleeping baby. I slept on the couch with him in the first few weeks but after that he had to sleep on his own. Eventually we even had to kick him out of our room because he was so noisy we couldn’t sleep (doesn’t help that PJ is a light sleeper and I suffer from insomnia). Fortunately Everett sleeps happily on his own for most of the night but if he’s lonely in the morning we sleep on the couch together. It’s always about finding what best works with your family and it sounds like you guys got it right! I’m looking forward to hearing about how womb-baby goes!

    • Lucy 2 March, 2013 at 10:35 am

      Yes, each baby and mama is so different, we all have to find our way! x

  • becky 1 March, 2013 at 11:51 am

    F was only 3 1/2 lb when I cam eout of hospital and I was indeed scared out of cosleeping by scary health visitors. I fed him till he was 2 and we had lots of long night time cuddles but this looks lovely. I think that photo is adoreable Lucy

    • Lucy 2 March, 2013 at 10:35 am

      WOW that tiny? My days. How beautiful that you had such a long and lustrious nursing relationship! I bet that got him right on track, weight wise x x

  • Kate 1 March, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    What a lovely simple story. Our daughter is 2 years & 4 months, and still sleeps with us. It’s the best thing we ever did.

    My friends are currently transitioning their toddlers from cots to beds, and discussing various ways to keep the bedroom door shut, so the toddlers can’t get out of their room and go in search of their mum & dad’s bed at night. Each to their own, obviously. But I found the thought of that really sad. It’s nice to read your post and know I’m not alone! x

    • Lucy 2 March, 2013 at 10:37 am

      And nice to read your comment too 🙂 Yes, I have heard of door handles being taken off *weeps*
      I just find it quite natural that a kid would want company at night?!
      I think I can imagine the kids having a room and cosleeping together one day, and getting their cuddle allotment that way 🙂

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