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  • mysleepykoala

It does not have to be the cot or the highway!

Updated: May 19

Do you struggle to get your baby to sleep in their cot? Then, this blog post is for you. Keep reading!

I want to dive into a topic that's often laden with expectations and confusion: where your baby sleeps.

As new parents, we're bombarded with the idea that our little ones should snooze in a bassinet or later transition to a cot. Yet, this narrative doesn't always align with the reality of our babies' needs or our own experiences.

Can you relate? I vividly recall the frustration of trying to coax my eldest into her bassinet or cot, only to face resistance every step of the way. What am I doing wrong? Oh the amount of sleep and rest I could have got if I had known better.

But here's the truth: where your baby sleeps isn't a reflection of your parenting skills. It's about understanding your baby's temperament and needs, and adjusting accordingly.

Every baby is unique, and their temperament shapes how they respond to sleep environments. Spirited babies, for instance, may struggle with change and crave more reassurance and physical contact. Highly sensitive babies, meanwhile, are attuned to even the slightest stimuli like certain sounds or textures, changes in temperature, light and darkness; and thrive on close connection. Additionally, some babies need more reassurance and physical contact and a lot more parental support to fall and stay asleep. This can be challenging to provide when there's a physical barrier, such as a cot, separating you from your baby.

Here's a reality check: Babies are wired to seek closeness.

Your warmth, scent, and presence provide a sense of security unmatched by any cot. It's natural for them to resist separation, especially in their first year of life.

So, if the cot isn't working for you and your baby, know that there are alternatives worth exploring:

1. Bed-Sharing

While not suitable for everyone, bed-sharing, when done safely, offers numerous benefits. It fosters breastfeeding, promotes rest for tired parents, and enhances emotional bonds between caregivers and baby.

Professor James Mckenna elaborates on the fact that nighttime contact is good for babies. He explains that a baby who sleeps close to their parents, whether in the same bed or on a separate surface, experiences the ongoing reassurance of their caregivers' presence through regular check-ins, physical contact, familiar scents, movement, warmth, and, thanks to more frequent breastfeeding, even the comforting taste. These sensations contribute to the baby's emotional well-being and sense of security (Mckenna, 2020).

Safety is paramount here, so ensure you familiarise yourself with guidelines to establish a secure sleeping environment. The book Safe Infant Sleep by Professor James Mckenna is an excellent resource to educate yourself on safe bed-sharing practices.

Here is a brief summary of some safety must-haves for bed-sharing:

  • Mom in the cuddle curl position.

  • Baby positioned near the breast and lying on their back.

  • Use a firm, clean mattress. Check the label for any potentially harmful materials to ensure your baby's safety.

  • Ensure your sheets fit tightly to the mattress for added security.

  • Ensure the baby's face remains unobstructed by pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals to promote unrestricted breathing.

  • Maintain a smoke-free setting to optimise health and safety for your little one.

2. Side-Car Cot

A side-car cot provides a compromise, allowing your baby to have their own space while remaining within arm's reach. It facilitates nighttime feeding and comforting without the need for constant bed-sharing.

Here's a little secret: Many cots are designed to convert into toddler beds, making them suitable for use as side-car cots alongside adult beds.

To install a side-car cot, follow these steps:

  • Ensure the cot’s base is set to the lowest setting.

  • Remove the side panel closest to your bed.

  • Position the cot against your bed frame.

  • Ensure the cot mattress is level with your mattress to prevent suffocation or entrapment.

  • Securely attach the cot to your bed frame.

  • Eliminate any gap between the two frames by sliding the cot mattress all the way over to your mattress.

  • Remember to fill the gap on the other side of the cot mattress with tightly rolled blankets or towels, ensuring they're at the same level as the cot mattress.

3. Floor Bed

This is probably my favourite option. Simple yet effective, a floor bed offers flexibility and safety.

Floor beds are very convenient, providing an easy way to support your baby's sleep. You can lie with or nurse your baby to sleep and then easily roll away, often without them noticing. There's no need to transfer your baby to the cot. Additionally, they make responding to your baby’s night wakings easier, as you can simply join them in their floor bed to help them return to sleep.

They are a great option to facilitate the transition to your baby’s independent sleep space. You can sleep in their floor bed with them until they feel ready and comfortable with their new sleep space.

Moreover, they are the safest way to bed-share.

Here are some tips for safely using a floor bed:

  1. Follow all safety guidelines for cot sleeping.

  2. Place the floor bed in a safe location away from walls and any gaps to prevent your baby from becoming trapped if they roll away from the mattress.

  3. Ensure the mattress is positioned away from potential hazards such as electrical outlets, cords, sharp objects, or heavy furniture that could topple over.

  4. Always use a firm mattress for safety.

  5. Keep the floor bed free of blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals, as these can pose suffocation hazards. Use a fitted sheet that securely covers the mattress.

  6. Childproof the surrounding area by installing baby gates, securing furniture to the walls, and removing any small objects that could be choking hazards.

  7. Periodically check the mattress and surrounding area for signs of wear or damage that could pose a safety risk.

  8. If you choose not to use a bed frame, remember to keep your mattress free of mold. Lean it against the wall for a few hours at least once a week.

Still determined to make the cot work? Here are some tips to consider:

  • Establish positive associations to the coy by doing lots of play time during the day.

  • Create a cozy sleep environment by warming up the cot and making it smell like you.

  • Layer up as many sleep associations as possible.

  • Transfer your baby to the cot during deep sleep.

  • Practice, patience, and perseverance are key.

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