Co-sleeping always sounded like the perfect solution to sleep deprivation. Snuggling up with my baby, being able to feed them while lying down, both of us dozing off, just drifting in and out of beautiful slumber… Then as they grew into toddlers, the reassurance of Mummy and Daddy’s presence nearby in the night. Being able to soothe them instantly if they had a bad dream and drifting back to sleep once more. Snuggled up together, sleeping blissfully – it sounded perfect. Four years on from those pre-baby fantasies, I have learned that while co-sleeping might be a way of getting a little more sleep, it is not quite that blissful snuggly slumber that I imagined it would be.
Here’s what our experience of co-sleeping has really been like illustrated by ten sleeping positions that seem to be firm favourites with my children.
1) The dream
The holy grail of co-sleeping: that beautiful, blissful slumber where you and your child are snuggled together and cuddled up close. The one where they’re just in the right place to pretty much be able to latch themselves on for a feed if they’re breastfeeding. Sometimes this really is what co-sleeping is like and it is wonderful. If only every night could be like this…!
2) The scarf
This is the one where your little one decides that their legs make the perfect scarf and therefore must be draped across a parent’s neck. Bonus points for trying to tickle the parent’s neck with their toes at the same time.
Turning your back on a co-sleeping child is a dangerous move. It is almost certainly guaranteed to result in them using your back as a punch-bag or for practising their best kicks. Thankfully Daddy seems to be the preferred target in our house for this one!
A very popular sleeping position for my little ones! I can never quite understand how such a little person can manage to take up quite so much room in a bed. I swear their arms and legs somehow grow a little during the night and then return to their normal size in the morning. It’s amazing how quickly you do learn to sleep on a tiny amount of bed though!
5) The ‘H’
Another good one for making sure that Mummy and Daddy both have minimum bed-space – just lie horizontally between them. And stretch…!
6) Kiss my…
Ah the joys of having a small person’s bottom shoved right in your face when you’re trying to sleep. Usually saved for the moment when they’re just about to fill their nappy so as to give you the best experience of this one!
The one where they just decide to throw themselves across your face almost suffocating you in the process.
8) Leg warmer
That moment when you reach out to put your arm around your little one who’s snuggled against you – only to find they’re not there. The split-second of panic before you realise that they’ve just worked their way down to the bottom of the bed, and are wrapped around your legs with their head by your feet.
9) Playing the shin xylophone
The sensation of small feet being scraped up and down your shin bone is really not the most pleasant feeling. Thank goodness this is another one where Daddy is usually the preferred target.
10) There were four in the bed…
Once you add a second child into the mix, sleeping on a miniscule amount of bed becomes the norm. At least 75% of the bed space has now been commandeered by the children. Mummy and Daddy now only get a quarter of it – if they’re lucky! A kingsize bed is really your only chance of having a reasonable amount of space to sleep in. On the plus side though, you are now practically capable of sleeping on a tightrope with a small child lying across various bits of you.
But crazy positions and cramped sleeping conditions aside, it is the most wonderful thing in the world to wake at night with my little ones snuggled against me. To be able to both hear and feel their breathing as they sleep and to cuddle them close before drifting back to sleep again myself. One day they’ll want to sleep in their own beds. I’m sure I’ll enjoy having some space again, but I have no doubt that I’ll miss the snuggles too.
Do you co-sleep with your children? Are there any crazy co-sleeping positions that you would add to this list?