This week it is believed that NICE will be releasing new guidelines on Co-Sleeping, recommending that parents should not co-sleep with their children until they are at least 1 year old (previously the guidelines were 3 months old).
Whilst the exact new guidelines are yet to be seen by Nice Mums, it seems as though NICE are looking to scare new mums out of co-sleeping rather than provide them with the guidelines needed to do it safely, which is a great shame when co-sleeping carries such huge benefits for both baby and mum.
The term 'co-sleeping' is as blurry as previous guidelines. It can be used to cover bed sharing, sofa sharing and room sharing, resulting in confusion as to what the real definition of co sleeping actually is, and more important where the dangers lie and how it can be done perfectly safely.
By changing the age for "safe" co-sleeping, NICE are serving to insult the intelligence of mums by no doubt offering up unfair studies which have included results of both those who co-sleep safely and more so, those who don't. Rather than offer up the facts that co-sleeping is a perfectly safe and infact beneficial way to sleep when done correctly, they appear to have presumed we are all too stupid to co-sleep safely and have gone for the alternative option of covering their arses by putting everyone off doing it, as opposed to offering advice on how to co-sleep safely.
Yes co-sleeping can be seen to be dangerous, especially when you consider how studies will count the drunk mum who hopped into bed after too many pina coladas and a pack of marlboro lights, or the acid tripper who decided to pass out on the sofa with baby/ pink spotted penguin or whatever they perceived them to be in that particular acid fueled moment, but I'm not so sure all mums fall into that type of parenting style. It can also be dangerous if you swamp your baby in huge duvets and pillows. Hey, it can even be dangerous if you and your partner both weigh 20 stone and decide to sleep with baby inbetween you in a single bed. I'm hoping though, that if you're intellegent enough to have read as far as this 4th paragraph, that you could have worked all that out for yourself anyway.
Co-sleeping is one of the most natural things in the world for a new mum to do, and they will always be drawn to this, especially during the early days of sleepness nights and endless feeds. These kind of guidelines will not stop mothers having their newborn in their bed, they will only serve to induce unnecessary guilt and confusion over whats right and natural, and drive those who are co sleeping undercover, forgive the unintentional pun, pretending to health visitors that babys sleeping in a cot, when in reality they fell asleep in the mums bed.
In giving a blanket guideline that you just shouldn't do it, NICE are opting out of offering advice on how to co-sleep, putting those that do (and are perhaps lacking in common sense) at risk. So here is Nice Mums guide to safe cosleeping:
1) Step away from the pino
Co-sleeping, or being around a baby full stop when you're drunk is stupid and dangerous, either leave the pino in the fridge or get a baby sitter
2)Don't do drugs
As above, don't be so stupid
Your baby does not want to inhale those horrible chemicals and it can harm him/her if they do. Either don't smoke or don't co-sleep. You have to make that choice and stick to one or the other.
4) You are not from princess and the pea, you don't need a stack of high mattresses or a high bed
Or if you infact are a princess sleeping on a stack of mattresses, make sure there is no chance ever of baby rolling out of bed. A bed guard on both sides should do the trick, or even better, have your mattress on the floor.
5)Use a baby monitor
Place it on the bed so you can hear baby at all times. Make sure however that there are no wires from it around to pose a risk.
6)Keep covers and pillows to a minimum
A newborn baby can easily wriggle under a big duvet. Getting out from under there is a whole different matter. Avoid duvets and thick bedding. Its better you sleep in a warmer top so that your covers can be kept lower down.
7) Think about your sleep patterns
If you have a tendancy to throw yourself around or disco dance in your sleep, your baby probably won't appreciate being in the same bed as you.
8) Consider easy alternatives
If you're not certain about having your baby in your bed then consider a bedside crib/ side car cot which is a 3 sided cot that attaches to your bed. It offers the benefits of co-sleeping whilst giving your baby a safe space to sleep
9)Take NO risks
If you feel at all unsure about being able to co-sleep safely then don't do it. Trust your instincts at all times and assess all risks before hopping into bed.
Sleep safely Nice Mums! xx