Did You Lie About Co-Sleeping?

Did You Lie About Co-Sleeping?
14 March 2016

Co-sleeping - i.e sharing a bed with your baby - is surely one of the most divisive parenting topics of all.

While it's well documented that co-sleeping can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, there are of course also countless mums and dads for whom bed-sharing with their baby is a foundational, formative part of being parent.

And now parenting author Sarah Ockwell-Smith is shining a light on the topic again following a study she commissioned which revealed that 46 per cent of parents who had shared a bed with their newborn hadn't disclosed this to health professionals.

The Mail reports:

"Sarah Ockwell-Smith of the website Gentle Parenting commissioned a study of 600 parents which found that 46 per cent of parents hadn't admitted to sharing a bed with their newborns to a GP, midwife or health visitor about co-sleeping for fear of being judged. The research was commissioned for her new book, Why Your Baby's Sleep Matters which argues that allowing babies to sleep in their parents' bed is in fact better than putting them in a cot and is safe if done the right way."

Ockwell-Smith points out that current guidelines on safe sleep don't state that parents shouldn't share a bed with their baby but rather that they should be given adequate information to enable them to make an informed decision.

This latest study really resonated with me because I did bed-share for a period of time with all three of my babies and I did avoid discussing the issue with my health visitors because I knew they would likely disapprove.

But - and here's my real point - I wasn't an advocate of bed-sharing so much as a new mum taking whatever means necessary in order to get some sleep. I was uncomfortable about sharing a bed with my baby because of the risks but it was a needs must scenario whereby that was the only way either of us could get some sleep, so I went with it. I think that's why I avoided discussing co-sleeping with my health visitors. It wasn't so much that I feared a health professional's disapproval or, as with some of the survey respondents, that I worried that my child might be deemed at risk if I admitted to co-sleeping. It was more that I was taking what felt like a desperate measure to me at the time and thus I didn't have the wherewithal to debate the issue.

We'd like to hear your views on this story. If you co-slept with your child, did you disclose this to your health visitor and if not, why not? Join the debate on our Facebook page or leave us a comment below.

TOPICS:   Parents


  • biglesleyc

    I shared my bed with both of my babies as it was the only way I could get some sleep. I worked full-time and after trying my damnedest to train my babies to settle alone, I figured it just wasn't worth the fight. I never admitted to any health care professional that this was the case. I knew I'd be judged. I believe my way was for the greater good. My boys are well-rounded individuals and I am sure that they benefitted from being in with me for a few years. It comes to a natural end anyway. I'm amazed at how many 6 year-olds are still sneaking into their parents' beds. I know I'm not alone but parents are very guarded about giving away such privileged information. At the end of the day, we don't want to be judged.

  • Heidi Scrimgeour EDITOR

    Thank you for commenting. I completely agree, and love your point that co-sleeping had benefits for your boys despite it not being exactly something you did intentionally. And don't we eventually come to miss those days!

  • Seesh1

    I co slept with both of my children 1 now 4 and a 1 year old who is 50/50 co sleeping and cot . My first I breast fed for 3 weeks and the second still am on and of but more threw the night . As a mum I feel you should go on your instinct and my instinct told me to do this for the babys and for me to be able to sleep. My son wanted his own bed at 1 and my daughter is still a bit mardy. They both were premature and are healthy. I think as long as they are safe and happy who else should comment about your parenting.

    I did not like to say to health visitors with my first but my second I realised I'm the parent and found it's wad not illegal to do so. 

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