To buy for baby – The sleep survival edition

Two things that we have bought or will be buying:

A beside lamp with dimmer:

Before Arlo was born, we installed dimmer switches on the two upstairs rooms. The problem was that it meant I had to get out of bed to turn on the light every time Arlo woke for a feed. It was either that or hover my iphone above his head so I could see to help him latch – not ideal. Because of all the night-time latching issues we had with Arlo, I’ve decided a bedside lamp with dimmer would be a really good iea. If anyone has any recommendations, do let me know. All I’ve found so far are touch-operated ones that cycle through the brightness settings – going from dim to bright to off – which is no good when you don’t want to disturb a baby with a bright light at the end of each feed.

A new moses basket mattress:

Current guidelines are that you should have a new mattress for each baby. Seeing as it only costs £10 for a new moses basket mattress, this one was a no brainer. Also, the next door neighbour’s cat has been known to use our moses basket as a cosy place to nap, so the whole thing really did need a good airing and I wouldn’t have been comfortable using the same mattress again.

And one thing that we weren’t going to buy, but now aren’t sure, maybe will be buying….who knows?

A bed for the baby:

I don’t really know where to begin with this part of the post because our sleeping arrangement plans are all a bit of a jumble in my head. I thought we had it sorted but now we are not sure what we will be doing.

We weren’t going to buy a cot or crib for the baby. The moses basket was going to be for downstairs sleeping. Because I want to co-sleep.

Current bed frame

In order to adapt our bed for co-sleeping, we either need to source another bed frame (ours has a really large surround that makes it completely unsuitable for use with a sidecar cot), or get rid of the frame altogether and just have mattresses next to each other on the floor – this was my original plan as it would work out cheaper and there would be no unnecessary purchases (Arlo could use the single mattress once the baby was ready to move into Arlo’s cot and Arlo into a ‘big boy bed’). Also, unlike a bed with cot attached, which would block off a large part of the room, the single mattress could be quickly lifted up when we need to access our loftspace. Our bed is a standard double,  buying a bigger bed is not an option as we have neither the space or money.

But Sam doesn’t want to put mattresses on the floor. And he doesn’t want to go to drastic measures to swap our bed frame and get another cot. (I know neither item is that expensive, and could probably be freecycled, but I can understand the thought that it does seem silly to get a whole new cot and bed). Sam is not completely averse to setting up a sidecar cot (he loves a good DIY challenge), he just doesn’t want to go to all the trouble before the baby is here. I, on the other hand, have an urge to have it all sorted right now, because I really don’t want to be driving around by myself picking up freecycled bed frames and cots at however many days postpartum.(Sam doesn’t drive and we wouldn’t be able to fit anything in the car if him and the children have to come along for the ride too).

Despite explaining it repeatedly (we seem to be having the same conversations every week at the moment), Sam doesn’t really understand why I want to sleep next to the baby when we didn’t do it with Arlo. But what I did do with Arlo was spend the first six months sitting up in bed to feed him, and then the next year going into his room to feed him at least twice a night, usually a lot more. Not only do we not have a room for this baby, but as far as I’m concerned, when dealing with a baby and a toddler, I will do anything to survive a night with as little disturbance as possible to my sleep. Co-sleeping is the simple solution to this. Although I understand Sam’s resistance to wanting to spend time and money drastically adapting our bed and room to suit co-sleeping when we don’t yet know what kind of sleeper this baby will be, I’m also anxious to try the ‘wait and see’ approach because of my experience with Arlo. We did part-time co-sleep in the first few weeks, and part of me wonders whether he would have adapted better to co-sleeping if we’d properly established it from the start (this is a tricky one to work out, he always hated feeding lying down, found it very difficult to latch on in this position, and seemed very restless sleeping next to me – I’ll never know if this was because of his reflux/milk intolerance or if it was just his personality).

co-sleeping

One reason that it’s really important for me to listen to Sam’s wishes on this one as well as my own selfish reasons is because having Arlo in the bed with us really affected Sam’s sleep. He never properly relaxed knowing I was drifting off with Arlo right next to me, and I’d often wake to find Sam moving Arlo back into the moses basket. You know those programs about people with crazy sleep disorders? We think Sam actually has a (mild) case of this. It’s noticeably worse when he’s been playing video games before bed, drinking, or when he’s tired and stressed. I have many stories about times when he’s sleepily tried to ‘attack’ me thinking I was an intruder or some sort of zombie that needs to be killed. Having Arlo in our bed when both Sam and I were adjusting to broken sleep was a massive stress-inducing factor for Sam. He’d wake countless times per night, throwing off the duvet shouting “Where is he??” and it would take me a good few minutes to convince him that Arlo was either right next to me or in his moses basket – he’s not really ‘awake’ when these things happen. Having these disturbances on top of the usual newborn night-time wakings was not ideal for anyone, and both Sam and I were suffering more sleep deprivation than necessary.

So, it’s all a bit of a muddle. But writing this out has made me think that the only really sensible option is to do what Sam has been saying all along – wait and see. It won’t be the end of the world if I have to kick Sam out onto the sofa downstairs so that the baby and I have more room in the double bed whilst we wait until we are in a position to sort a more permanent co-sleeping arrangement (if the baby decides that co-sleeping is definitely something that he or she would like to do, unlike Arlo!) When it comes to getting sleep with young children, it really is a matter of pure survival, so I’m sure we will be trying everything we can to ensure that everyone gets the best night’s sleep possible.

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Chloe

Sorry About The Mess documents the life of London blogger and photographer, Chloe, and her young family. Sorry About The Mess is a personal lifestyle and parenting blog.

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About Chloe

Sorry About The Mess documents the life of London blogger and photographer, Chloe, and her young family. Sorry About The Mess is a personal lifestyle and parenting blog.

Comments

  1. We have put a cot with a side removed next to our bed and it’s the best sleeping arrangement we’ve had out of all of them, and there have been lots! With Iyla we had our mattress on the floor and it was okay, I prefer this though as it means I can put him back in his own space after feeding :) xx

  2. In the beginning with Izz we (all 3) shared a double and while it was snug, it was doable so I think you’ll be ok with the wait and see approach (or like you say, chuck Sam on the sofa, heh)

  3. Years ago I bought a Lumie Bodyclock which gradually starts to light up half an hour before the alarm goes off to simulate sunrise and your bodies naturally waking up rhythms. It’s been a godsend since having E as I also had difficulties with latching and needed to be able to see at night time. We set the light on it really low when E goes to bed so it’s just enough light to see by if we need to go into him but still makes the room seem dark and night like for when we go to bed.

    As for co-sleeping, like you say wait and see is a good option as I’m sure Sam is wanting to be as considerate of your wishes as you are being of his. I’m sure it’s a whole different ball game with a toddler to care for as well so Mum and baby having the whole bed to themselves while Daddy recharges sleeping on his own and is then up with toddler is absolutely what’s needed some nights. If Sam is worried about the physical arrangements with co-sleeping as a fidgety sleeper we used to put a v pillow behind E when he was in the middle of the bed so that if G turned over with his arm up and felt the pillow he’d know he was there. General guidelines for co-sleeping often suggest baby should only ever be on the outside of the bed on mum’s side but I think you have to weigh up how practical it is to keep bed hopping to different sides when feeding and the more real fear for most people that baby will fall out of the bed.

    • I’ve just bought a night light type thing which has an automatice fade (as well as the dimmer function) – should cover all bases!

      RE co-sleeping, the baby will always be on my side. Sam just can’t be trusted! I get kicked or hit at least once a week by him in his sleep so will use myself as a barrier between him and the baby, no way would I consider putting the baby in the middle!

  4. This is the BEST LIGHT EVER!!! There are a few designs on the main company website. They dim to a really low level really easily and brighten quickly. Excellent, althought quite expensive.
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B0007RHEP0

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