When it comes to what’s best for your baby, experts know best. No. Not you. You’re just the mum. Clearly you know nothing.
And when it comes to children and sleep, the experts like to remind us over and over again that co-sleeping is out.
One Aussie mum has dared to challenge the experts in an honest and heartwarming post about why co-sleeping isn’t always such a bad idea. Despite the countless studies and experts’ opinions on why children need to go through sleep training, Brisbane mum-of-three, Peta Tuck is calling bullsh*t.
Because sometimes a mother’s instinct wins. And sometimes these experts need to kindly step back and stop filling our already guilty-minds with their judgemental rubbish.
Mum takes on co-sleeping debate… and wins
Peta Tuck, a doula and mum to three children (aged five, three and two), has dared to go where many mums go, but usually don’t like to broadcast – into the beds with their children. Peta shares a photo co-sleeping photo with a very powerful message about why it’s okay to sometimes trust your instincts (and ignore the experts).
As Peta writes, “I saw a post tonight published by our mainstream media. A post, yet again dividing us as mothers and parents. It went a little something like this: ‘Research has shown that having a baby sleep with you will decrease their ability to self soothe [and] increase tantrums and childhood obesity.
“Umm, yep. Please shut up… It is in our DNA to be with our children. They cry for a reason, to communicate their needs. They don’t need to learn to self settle at 6 weeks, 6 months or 16 months. When did having a baby sleep through the night become the defining thing for successful parenting?”
On behalf of all mothers (co-sleeping or not), please shut up
“Self soothe, co-sleep, formula-fed or breastfed…I don’t care whatever your choice is, do it because you are informed, it fits your family’s needs and most importantly you are supported in those choices!’ Peta writes. “Remember, you are perfectly imperfect.”
Her stirring words are hitting the mark with mamas everywhere. We highly doubt choosing to co-sleep will cause our kids to be fat later in life (unless they’re sharing the bed with a box of doughnuts). And we’re pretty sure choosing to co-sleep doesn’t make us bad mums either.
“Young babies are not biologically programmed to sleep through at a certain age. It’s based on individual development with many factors affecting it,” Peta tells Mum Central. But, somehow, along the parenting journey, sleep and successful parenting got put into the same category.
“When did a child sleeping through, waking 10 times, sleeping in [his or her] own bed or in the parents’ bed become such a defining parental moment?” Peta asks. “None of these situations means you are succeeding or not. They are simply your child’s sleeping habits.”
“It is in our DNA to be with our children”
Sleep training isn’t for everyone. The whole process of trying to teach bub to self-settle, of standing in the hallway listening to the heart-wrenching wails, of crying yourself to sleep as your baby does the same… it may be what the experts suggest… but it’s not the right decision for everyone.
It wasn’t for me. And it wasn’t for Peta. Peta admits that she did try the whole sleep training chapter with her daughter, but it wasn’t worth the stress or the tears. “I FINALLY listened to my instincts and not everyone around me telling me what I should be doing.
“For subsequent children we always co-sleep, cuddled, fed or rocked to sleep.” Peta tells Mum Central, “My youngest son has just turned two and does not have his own room or own bed. This choice to co-sleep has been one of the best decisions for us!”
Trust your instincts and your infant
Sure, co-sleeping works for some. But it doesn’t for others. And that’s perfectly okay.
“What works for one mum may not work for another and that goes for children too.” Peta tells Mum Central.
The thing is, mums don’t want to be told over and over again they are wrong. “They don’t want to be judged for their decisions. They want to feel supported no matter their parenting style.”
So, if you’re struggling with self-settling or going through the nightmare that sleep training can be (and secretly giving up and co-sleeping with your little ones), then take heart in knowing that you’re not failing by doing so.
It’s okay to give in to another cuddle. It’s okay to let your little one use you to help them soothe to sleep. And it’s more than okay to listen to your instincts over the experts. You’re the one who pushed the baby out. You get to decide what’s right.
For parents who do want to try co-sleeping, the Raising Children Network has some useful co-sleeping tips. They include:
- Don’t co-sleep with baby if you smoke or take drugs
- Put baby next to one parent instead of between both parents to minimise the risk of baby being rolled on
- Use a baby sleeping bag or lightweight bedding instead of heavy doonas
- Make sure baby’s head isn’t covered
If the sleep fairy keeps skipping your place, you might like to read our article about things to check when baby won’t sleep.