Co-sleeping – a common reality and guilty secret?

NICE announced their new guidelines this morning, recommending against co-sleeping in baby’s first year due to the increased risk of SIDS.

I’m no expert on SIDS and I have no idea on how many precious babies die because of co-sleeping.

I am, however, a new mum and it was made very clear to us during pregnancy and these first couple of months that babies must sleep on their backs and NOT co-sleep, whether that be from midwives, health visitors, antenatal classes, books, magazines, apps….

‘No problem!’ I thought, when W came along, he’ll sleep in his moses basket next to me. I went mad with my OH if he brought W into bed with us or had a nap on the sofa with him. Then sleep deprivation and reality hit in – W settles ok in his basket ’til about 3/4/5am but then gets difficult to settle so I tend to bring him into bed with us.

At first I felt awful about this, and nervous, and scared. Then something strange happened – whenever I sheepishly mentioned this to family/ friends/ colleagues/ other bloggers and tweeters it turns out I wasn’t alone and I’d say 90% of them admitted to co-sleeping at some point or another… to comfort their babies and get some much-needed sleep.

I’m sure I’ve read that sleep deprivation has the same impact on reflexes as drinking a load of alcohol. So what’s riskier – co-sleeping for a few hours? or being in charge of a baby on very little or no sleep??

As I said, I’m no expert and I’m not disagreeing with the guidelines. What I’d like to suggest is that the experts at NICE and the NHS recognise that a large number of parents co-sleep, and give guidance on how to do it as safely as possible.

In my experience, co-sleeping is a common reality, but at the moment feels like a huge guilty secret. Again, could we reduce risk by making it less of a taboo?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – do you agree with me, or do you think more should be done to stop people co-sleeping?