I’m looking for details on everything. Even down to should I swaddle while bedsharing? Or do I put my baby down in our bed before we actually go to bed? What is the nighttime routine? I have been looking everywhere for this kind of info. All I end up finding are the basics of being safe. Which is great, but I’m still not confident enough.Tamara
Newcastle, New South Wales
One night early on as a new mom, I fed my newborn in a rocking chair and tried with all my might not to nod off. I had already done a hundred google searches on bedsharing, and like you — I found a lot of information on how to do it safely.
But that night, I put my baby’s life at risk by rocking in that chair instead of lying down with him on our bed because I still lacked confidence on how to actually do it.
I didn’t have one friend in real life who bedshared. I’m guessing you’re in the same boat, and I wonder if you’ve also felt like screaming into the void, BUT HOW DO YOU ACTUALLY BEDSHARE?!
That was the night that I dreamed up this blog. I wanted to create a place where new moms could find support and practical how-to’s when their real life friend options were lacking.
I smiled when I read your letter, Tamara, because I know exactly how you feel. And I would love to break down my nighttime routine for you.
Keep in mind that there is no universal routine that you “should” follow.
I hope that seeing what I did in those first couple months with an infant gives you a jumping-off point to create a routine of your own, perfectly tailored to you and your family.
This post is an excerpt from my Bedsharing Beginner’s Guide. If you’re a brand new parent and are finding this post helpful, you will love the guide! So far it’s supported 1000+ new parents, just like yourself.
I decide whether Cubby needs a bath or if spot-cleaning with a wipe will do. If he needs a bath, this is when my husband and I give him one.
I put on a clean diaper. I fold the top down so it won’t interfere with his belly button.
I log the time and whether he peed or pooped on the worksheet. The amount of wet diapers each day lets me know if he’s getting enough to eat.
I dress him in cotton footie pajamas. Always cotton because it breathes. If none are clean, I dress him in a onesie, pants, and socks.
I make sure his nails are short, so he won’t scratch his face in his sleep. I decide whether to put mittens on him (tucked under his sleeves to keep them in place) or to clip his nails after he falls asleep.
I don’t swaddle him, since it is not safe to swaddle while bedsharing for at least two reasons:
- His temperature will increase as he lies against my body. A swaddle may lead to overheating, which is believed to be a cause of SIDS.
- Swaddling him would restrict his arms and legs which may be needed to push off me, flail, or otherwise get my attention ASAP if he has rolled into an unsafe position.
I turn the thermostat down to 68°F (20°C).
I mute my phone and turn off bluetooth, wifi, and location tracking, since my phone will be so close to Cubby’s head when we lie down together.
I take Cubby to the bed as my husband leaves to make dinner.
I lay baby down in the center of the bed and feed him in the side-lying position.
Once or twice, I stop to sit up and burp him. I don’t want him to spit up while lying down.
I wait a for him to fall asleep as he nurses.
I log the time Cubby ate on the worksheet.
I set my phone timer for 9:30 PM, the next time he needs to eat.
My husband brings dinner to our room on a tray.
I detach Cubby from my breast and gently move him from his side to his back.
I scoot over to the side of the bed, leaving him in the middle.
I enjoy dinner with my husband.
I do any of the following on the bedroom floor or on the side of the bed — all while supervising my sleeping baby, for the next two hours until he needs to eat again:
- Stream a film or TV show
- Talk to my husband
- Don’t talk to my husband
- Take pictures of sleeping baby
- Cuddle, have sex, or anything in-between
- Listen to music
- Scroll through baby pictures on my phone
- Smell baby’s head
If Cubby wakes up at any point, I am right there to nurse him back to sleep.
When I’m ready to sleep, my husband keeps an eye on Cubby while I get ready for bed. I choose warm pajamas, since the room temperature is so cool. I’ll sleep with a thin blanket on my legs and feet, to the side and far away from baby.
I lie down on my side next to Cubby with his head level with my breasts. I situate myself in the cuddle curl position to keep him from inching up or down as he sleeps.
I mentally run through the safe bedsharing guidelines so I can sleep without worry.
I wake up to my vibrating phone alarm and bring Cubby to the changing table. I put on a clean diaper to help wake him up.
I bring him back to the center of the bed and feed him.
I repeat the same process as earlier: I burp him, detach him after he falls asleep, make sure he’s lying on his back and away from my blanket, log what time he ate on my worksheet, set my phone for three hours from then, and try to catch some zzz’s!
When Cubby got a little older, I felt more comfortable falling asleep as he nursed on and off throughout the night. But that took some time and experience.
You’ll find that your bedsharing routine evolves as time goes on.
In my case, I stopped needing to burp him at a certain point. After a couple months, he started waking up on his own to nurse, so I no longer needed to set my alarm or keep track of everything on a worksheet.
I hope you gain more confidence with each passing night, mama. You already have everything inside that you need to be your little one’s best protector, comforter, and favorite human.
Trust your instincts. Stay diligent with all the rules of safe bedsharing, and then let go.
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