5 ignorant questions about co-sleeping

questionsaboutcosleepingThis started out as yet another “5 stupid things…” post (see ‘babywearing’ and ‘breastfeeding’), but once I started listing the questions I realised they weren’t so much stupid as ignorant about co-sleeping and instead of venting my stored-up sarky responses perhaps it might be helpful to actually address some of the most common concerns I hear mentioned. However, this is me and I do have a sharp tongue when writing, so expect the odd drop of sarcasm here and there, it’s just the way I roll.  So if you want to know about how to make co-sleeping safe, or how to have sex whilst the result of your last encounter snores gently beside you then perhaps you might find an answer or two below… And for the purposes of accuracy, I am referring specifically to bedsharing, as co-sleeping technically just means sleeping in the same room as your baby.

1 – Aren’t you worried about SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)?

No. Not in the slightest. I’m sometimes occasionally concerned about over-lying, especially with my first baby, but over-lying (or smothering) is not the same thing as SIDS.  In fact, the risks of SIDS are reduced with safe co-sleeping and that’s what we practice.  This is borne out by the fact that the lowest incidences of SIDS occur in countries where bedsharing is the accepted norm.  Here’s a bit more info if you’re interested.

2 – Is it safe?

It is as safe as we can make it. We have a firm mattress, a super king sized bed, she only sleeps on my side and I exclusively breastfeed. Neither of us drink, smoke or take drugs (good thing we have a terrible sense of humour and love to eat junk or we’d be so virtuous it’d make other people sick) and our room is cool and well-ventilated.  There are no cracks or gaps for her to get wedged in or fall down.  I tie up my long hair (although this is also because otherwise she rips handfuls of it out with her tiny little monkey hands) and avoid overheating. We have done everything we can to ensure her safety.

You know what’s not safe? Falling asleep over the top of your baby whilst sitting in a hard, upright chair as recommended by my Health Visitor with my first baby.  Or making a nest on the sofa to sleep in so he can stay on your chest.  In fact most of the studies that conclude how dangerous co-sleeping is do not differentiate between bedsharing and sleeping on a sofa or chair. Those are always dangerous to do. If you’re tired and your baby will only settle near you then why not read up here and make sure you’re doing it safely?

3 – But how do you have ‘an intimate relationship’ with your husband?

OK, firstly, do you mean sex? Cos if you mean sex then you should just say sex, cos you know, that’s how we made the baby so it’s not too presumptuous to assume we might indulge in sex sometimes. Sex. Sex. Sex sex sex sex sex. Right. Now I’ve got that off my chest allow me to answer the question.
I would have to quote a blogger friend of mine who said on a post about Attachment Parenting on her blog, Another Bun, that if the only place you have sex is in your bed then she feels sorry for you. So yes, a little inventiveness can go a long way. Plus, you know, babies sleep well and we have a super king size bed with a co-sleeper attachment so there’s ways around these things. Plus, you know, it’s not really any of your business.

4 – Doesn’t she wake you up?

No more than any other breastfed infant. Oftentimes I actually stick a boob in her mouth without fully waking up and wonder the next morning why one of my breasts is hanging out, assuming she’s slept through the night.  In fact sometimes I struggle to get to sleep at night, too many lists and worries whizzing through my brain. At times like these I lie my head down next to her so I can feel her breath on my face, I take hold of her little hand in mine and drift peacefully off to sleep.  She’s a very restful wee person. I don’t wake her up, either, in case you were wondering.  She sleeps best knowing that her source of warmth, comfort and food is right there within grabbing reach.

5 – Are you still going to let her be in with you when she’s a teenager?

Somehow I think she might object to this more than I will. Aren’t teenagers renowned for retreating from the world to fester in their bedroom all alone? My son started flinging himself around and insisting on his own space from about 10 months. I suspect my daughter will want to stay rather longer than this (and she’s certainly more pleasant to bedshare with as she doesn’t hurl herself about in the same way) but, as with him, I’m happy to let my baby lead the way. I sleep better when there’s someone beside me to cuddle up with, why it shouldn’t be the same for my children I don’t know.

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5 stupid questions to ask a babywearer

stupidquestionsbabywearerI don’t know what it is about babywearing that invites comment from strangers, perhaps just the mystic nature of carrying a baby close to your body wrapped about by yards and yards of fabric rather than in some hi-tech buggy or buckled contraption with steel struts in – who knows? All I know is that living in a town full of narrow sloping pavements and cobblestones a carrier is not just more attachment-parent-y, but more practical! Whilst I don’t get that many stupid questions where I live (the perks of being a lentil-weaving hippy in Hippyville central) I’m never quite prepared for how many daft queries come my way when I travel abroad. Never quite certain what to say I usually smile politely and say nothing, but I mentally roll my eyes and think of the –rather rude– response I’d like to have made.  This being so, I thought I’d compile a list of the most commonly asked questions and finally lance the boil by answering them as sarcastically as I wish I could in real life. What’s the stupidest comment you’ve ever had when babywearing?

1 – Is she comfortable like that?

Nah, she bloody hates it, that’s why she’s smiling and gurgling at you/fast asleep. Honestly! It’s only holding a baby like you would in your arms, but arms-free.

2 – Can she breathe in there?

Nah. I like to suffocate babies. It’s my dream in fact.  Pfft. Always makes me think of that Eddie Izzard sketch from Dressed To Kill “I put babies on spikes” – I mean really. Not only can she breathe, but her face is just inches away from my face so I can (and do) check on her regularly.

3 – Oh my goodness, there’s a baby in there!

“What?! Where?! Holy hell – where did that come from?!”

No shit Sherlock. What, you think I stuck a sunhat to my chest?  I mean, OK, the baby is fast asleep and kind of concealed by the wrap, but don’t say ‘there’s a baby in there’ like you’re informing me of something I might not have noticed. Trust me – it’s not news to me.

4 – Can’t you afford a buggy?

I can. In fact I own one. It’s great for putting all the slings on when I go to outdoor sling meets…

5 – But what if the knot comes untied?

baby in half wrapped sling

Almost completely unwrapped – but look – no hands!

OK, fair enough, I can kind of understand why people might be a bit nervous of this. If I have time, though, I like to freak these people out by untying the knot behind me and letting the fabric go suddenly and watch as they jerk forwards to catch my baby. Hey – I’m not putting her in danger. She won’t fall, I promise. In fact, I can even untuck these cross passes here and just let them hang so she’s only held in one layer of fabric and what do you know, still not hitting the ground with a loud splat.  Wearing a baby in a wrap is one of the safest ways to carry your baby, especially if you’ve been doing it as long as I have. I understand your concern, but trust me, my baby is safe – look – no hands!


Just editing to respond to a couple of comments I’ve had declaiming this post as (worst insult to hurl in the hippy-lentil-weaver world) ‘judgey’. To those people I would simply ask them to examine the kinds of questions I’ve mentioned and the tone in which they are usually expressed.

These are most often not people with genuine queries, to whom I would obviously explain fully if I had time and by whom I would not be annoyed. No, these are ridiculous queries framed to be funny or mimic concern but portray a whole world full of judginess. I’m an intelligent fully-functioning adult. I know when someone is genuinely concerned for the ability of my baby to breathe (and reassure them) and when they’re just being snotty (and ignore them). Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so polite…