Having given it my careful consideration, I have decided that the modern cot is a total crock. Of the five sleeping locations available to baby S in the last 12 months – a Moses basket, a co-sleeper, a Doomoo seat, our bed and said cot – it has proven itself to be the least effective and in some ways most disruptive sleep solution in our house. Let me put my case to you…
The Moses basket served its short purpose perfectly well. S took naps in it downstairs during the day when he was teeny tiny. It was portable and comfy but he wasn’t eight weeks in it when he started to look like a giant. I was delighted to have borrowed one rather than invested.
At night he slept in our co-sleeper attached to my side of the bed. I absolutely loved this because he was right there beside me and I could reach out and pull him in to bed for a feed. It also meant that I slept better because in those early few months on the occasions when I had him in the bed with me I slept fitfully for fear of hurting him. Oh, and the fact that he punched and kicked me and I often found myself teetering on the edge of the mattress while he sprawled out starfish-like and hogged as much space as possible. He stayed in the co-sleeper until he was seven months. Emotionally, I found it hard to move him out of it and out of our room but he had outgrown it and we were disturbing him at night coming in and out. Once he moved into his own room next door though, boy did I love my new found freedom! I could undress with the lights on, I rediscovered reading, I got my bedside locker back AND I could easily get in and out of the bed without having to climb in from the bottom or mooch in my husband’s side.
But the feckin cot brought it’s own problems.
For naps during the day there is absolutely no way he’ll fall asleep in it. Never has. This was learned the very hard way with months of experimentation. If he falls asleep in my arms, it is a military operation to lower him in without waking him and there’s a less than 50% success rate. Then you have up and down and up and down to try and get him to stay asleep in it.Which brings us to the problem of short people. Neither of his grannies are tall enough to lean into the cot and gently lay him down – a big problem for babysitting.
At night, I feed him to sleep and the same problem arises. I’ve a lovely content deeply sleeping baby who has to be deftly maneouvered into the cot without waking him. What a fantastic waste of time. It’s just not conducive to settling a baby to sleep at all. It’s primary function really seems to be keeping the baby in rather than an appropriate and comfortable place to catch some zzzzzzs.
When we were away for a mini-break at Easter, I took to feeding S to sleep, for both naps and night time, lying on a comfy double bed and hemming him in with pillows for safety. This worked like a dream – he fed, dozed, rolled onto back and fast asleep for hours he was. He went from taking maybe 45 minute naps to two to three hours. It was amazing. I’ve embraced this wholeheartedly when we’re at home during the day now. He’s never napped so well. We’re still persevering away with the cot at night but as I mentioned in an earlier post, now that I’m back at work, tucking him in with us when he wakes is the only way to get rest.
I remember reading about breastfeeding and co-sleeping when I was pregnant and in those first early days and often seeing the recommendation that the “family bed” should be a huge mattress on the floor for everyone’s comfort and safety. I also remember dismissing it as some seriously hippie ideology – what do you do with the bed that you have already?? – but I see the absolute sense in it now. In fact, I’m so convinced by it I think that next time ’round, we’ll probably pass the cot on to someone who’ll get the benefit from it and instead replace it with a good double mattress on the nursery floor.
I say probably because I’m unsure if when push comes to shove I’ll be able to cast aside my Westernised conditioning – like so many other things about pregnancy, birth and raising children – and actually take the plunge. But the cot is a terribly Westernised concept when you think about it though. It’s not a friend of the breastfeeder. It’s not a friend of the baby who is soothed to sleep. It’s clunky and awkward and hard to access.
I don’t like it!
Only Western societies use them. We’re our own worst enemies sometimes, trying to fit square pegs into round holes just because “that’s how it’s done – and always has been done”.
I think I might be ready to go native on this one though…