Three and a half years ago I wrote a blogpost about why I hated co-sleeping with a passion. So I thought it was time to share again where I was at with the whole thing. Especially after the NHS issued new guidance recently.
Those of you who didn’t follow me back then, would probably assume that because I brazenly stated I hate co-sleeping, and I’m probably the furthest from being a ‘gentle parent’ as you can possibly get, that it would mean I’ve never let my kids into my bed.
But oh how wrong you’d be. Although I guess we could discuss the use of the word ‘let’. Whether I actually ‘let’ them willingly, or just ‘let’ them for an easy life – there’s a big difference.
My eldest has always been a pretty good sleeper. Sleeping through the night around the time when most babies do. God knows when that actually was, as my memory of all things baby is a bit on the patchy side these days. But I remember there never really being any major problems with him at night, and other than if he was poorly or had a bad dream, he’d generally crack on with the whole sleeping thing pretty well.
Firstborn lulled me into a false sense of security
So obviously I was lulled into a false sense of security. And had a bit of a rude awakening (excuse the pun) when it came to the twins and how they were at sleeping. Twin One? Not too shabby I suppose. Twin Two? Fucking AWFUL!
When I wrote about this previously, Twin Two was just shy of 2.5 years old. And within that first two and a half years he’d probably slept through the night precisely THREE times.
He would hate to actually GO to sleep. Preferring to stand up in his cot screaming, shouting and throwing around anything he could get his hands on instead.
Or if he did eventually give in and drop off to sleep, it wouldn’t last. He would be awake again at any point in the night – 11pm, 2am, 3am, or 4.30am. Or all of them if we were really bloody lucky.
Making as much noise as he could, so the whole house would know of his dissatisfaction at the situation.
And that’s where the main problem occurred. He shares a bedroom with Twin One, and would also regularly wake up his elder brother down the landing in his nighttime protests.
One child awake we could deal with. Three children awake at night was a disaster. Especially when my husband was away for work and I was flying solo.
So we’d reluctantly bring Twin Two into our bedroom in the hope of a bit of shut-eye, and pray that he’d not wake the entire house.
How our co-sleeping started
That’s where the whole co-sleeping thing started. But that’s not where it ended. I wouldn’t have minded him being in our bed, if he’d have just GONE TO FUCKING SLEEP. But no, that would be far too simple. Twin Two used to treat our bed as a trampoline and soft play assault course all rolled into one.
If he wasn’t commando crawling under the duvet to the bottom of the bed, he’d be standing up clinging to the headboard (not at all fazed by the fact he was wearing his baby sleeping bag) using it to see how high he could jump up and down. Just centimetres from our faces. Or if he wasn’t doing that, he was trying to run away down the landing (still in his sleeping bag). Night time was just one big fucking party to Twin Two.
Which is exactly why I hated co-sleeping. It was absolutely NOT like the peaceful, cute pics you’d see online with a child and parent sleeping soundly, wrapped in each other’s arms, love practically oozing out of every damn pore. It was utter FUCKING CARNAGE. Every single night.
So obviously you’re all now assuming that 3.5 years on, co-sleeping in our house would be a thing of the past. And that now nearly six year old Twin Two would have grown out of all that crap, and sleep like a baby (oh the irony of that cliche!) all night long.
How it’s going 3.5 years later
He still wakes up. He STILL WAKES UP. And whilst I can’t say every single night, I can safely say it’s pretty much 9 out of 10 nights. Unless you call 5.30am still night time, and if you do, then yes it is EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. Seeing as that’s the time he seems to like to start his day.
Nowadays he goes to sleep quite quickly. Unless they’re both on a total bender where they wind each other up, decide to get out of bed at least 5 times, move mattresses and bedding to the floor, change INTO new pjs, change OUT of new pjs. You get the picture. They still share a room, and at least once a week are total knobheads at bedtime.
But generally he drops off quite quickly. At what point he then wakes up is anybody’s guess. Like when he was little, it could be 11pm, 2am, 3am, or 4.30am. And ALWAYS 5.30am.
Luckily for us these days it’s not all of those times. Although it has been known for him to wake up before we’ve even gone to bed and interrupt our boxset bingeing. The main difference is that now when he wakes up he will actually go back to sleep.
Albeit it in OUR bed. Ugh.
The co-sleeping continues
Yep, the co-sleeping has continued. Every time Twin Two wakes up he seems absolutely incapable of getting himself back to sleep in his own bed. So I hear him plodding down the landing at whatever time of night he’s chosen, he climbs into bed in between us, pulls the covers up over him, and is out for the count again within seconds.
And THIS is the reason I’ve changed my mind about co-sleeping. There’s no bedroom acrobatics (of any kind with him around!), no trampolining, no commando crawling, or making a run for it.
He just climbs in, and goes back to sleep. Our bed is plenty big enough for him to be in the middle, and I’m so far beyond giving up on the whole situation I’ve even put a small pillow between us for him. Otherwise he tries to use mine!
Sometimes I literally don’t hear him come in, I just wake up in the morning and he’s fast asleep next to me. So I don’t even mind anymore.
The alternative is waking up, getting up, walking him back to bed, having to stay with him for however long whilst he refuses to go back to sleep, him waking up Twin One, me getting all sorts of pissed off, and nobody having a good night’s sleep.
So I’ve literally given up and let him come in. For an EASY LIFE.
And what’s even funnier (if you can call it funny, maybe I’m delirious through lack of sleep!) is that at least once a week Twin One does the same too. So we have two of them in our bed. Thank fuck we went for the super king size. It’s when the seven year old has a nightmare and wants to come in that it all goes to shit. There wasn’t room in the bed for five of us 3.5 years ago. There certainly isn’t now. And on those rare occasions I get out and sleep in one of the twin’s beds. In a pitch black room with blackout blinds, with the door shut, on my own, nobody interrupting me. And it’s BLOODY BLISS!
Will they still be doing this when they’re 18? I seriously doubt it. Will they still be doing this when they’re 9? I expect so. Will I still let them for an easy life? Absolutely.
Because not only do I like a cuddle as much as the next person. I like my SLEEP even more. And by doing it this way, we ALL get some sleep. Until 5.30am that is.
NHS guidance on co-sleeping – what the experts say
If you’ve stumbled across this blog looking for co-sleeping advice, obviously the ‘anything for an easy life’ strategy possibly isn’t the best if you’ve got little ones.
Here is the latest guidance the NHS updated in March 2023.
Be safe if you share a bed with your baby
If you share a bed with your baby (co-sleeping), you should:
- make sure they sleep on a firm, flat mattress lying on their back
- not have any pillows or duvets near them
- not have other children or pets in the bed at the same time
It’s important not to share a bed with your baby if they had a low birthweight (less than 2.5kg or 5.5lb) or if you or your partner:
- smoke (no matter where or when you smoke and even if you never smoke in bed)
- have had 2 or more units of alcohol
- have taken recreational drugs
- have taken medicine that causes drowsiness
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