Interview: Marta Andreasik – Sleepcast (Child Sleep Specialist)

****EDITOR'S NOTE:

Is CO SLEEPING right for your little one?

Parents around the world have different viewpoints about the practice and a first-time parent can fins themselves in quite the dilemma of whether to co-sleep or not.

Technology has provided us with easy access to information and we are thankful for that, but too much information can overload us as well. With all the clashing information available on the internet for us to ingest, it's no wonder that the jury is usually OUT when it comes to what's right and safe for our new bundle of joy!

In situations like this, there is a need for trusted professionals to help clear the air for those of us who want accurate information about co sleeping.

Keeping all of this in mind, we are happy to present, our interview with one of the most sought-after Co Sleeping consultants around, MARTA ANDREASIK.

Aside from being a Polish parenting blogger (www.mamasubiektywnie.pl), Marta is also a consultant for parents struggling with the sleep problems of their children, and an editor of Pro Health Magazine ("Pro Zdrowie" in Polish). She is also the woman behind SLEEPCAST, a podcast which is very popular among Polish parents. She's also the author of "Journey for one smile" - a guide for first-time parenting.

Marta was wonderful enough to answer five of  our reader's most asked questions about Co Sleeping (yes, that's right... we're talking about you!). 

Check out her answers below to hear what she had to say:

Is co sleeping advisable for children?

Co-sleeping is a natural way of sleeping for all babies. The ability to feel, touch and smell their parents is one single thing that is known to them since the “day one” and even before. That is why children that sleep with their parents feel safe, which helps them to have long and good night and day sleep. The only thing that we, as parents, need to remember is to make sure our babies truly are safe in our beds. This is to prevent babies from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

What are the advantages of Co Sleeping?

Co sleeping, especially when the parents literally share their bed with the baby, is a wonderful way of creating and enhancing the relation between parents and their child. It is also advisable for breastfeeding mums, who can easily reach their babies when the night feeding comes. Co sleeping and bed sharing are great for children too. Close to the parents, babies feel safe and sound and that puts them to sleep better than any other method or gadget.

What are some safety measures parents should be aware of while co sleeping with their children?

At some stage, most of the parents hear about SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and other sleep-related deaths. That can really scare them off. But co sleeping can be safe and, as American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) states, room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent. In order to do so, we need to make sure the baby is truly safe. It is worth mentioning here, that AAP does not recommend to sleep with the baby until she turns 1, but at least for the first six months. Few years ago I was not aware of that and did sleep with my first child since the day we came with him from the hospital. Nothing bad happened, but there was one night when I woke up for the breast feeding and saw my son lying with the duvet covering most of this face. Situations like this one prove that when it comes to co sleeping, baby’s safety comes first and there are no excuses here.

Just to remind parents, AAP recommends to follow those rules in order to ensure our babies sleep in healthy and safe environment:

  • Always put the baby on her back on a firm sleep surface (it can be a crib or bassinet) with a tight-fitting sheet.
  • Avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys.
  • Share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface
  • Make sure you are not under the influence of smoke, alcohol or illicit drugs

Photo by: Joanna Słyk (Facebook: Joanna Słyk Baby Photography)

At what age should children stop sleeping with their parents?

As an attachment parenting advocate, I always say that there is no “should” and “shouldn’t” when it comes to raising a child. I believe that all the parents have what it takes to decide what is the best for their children. I also believe that a good parenting means mindfulness in relation to all people in the family. That’s why I would say that once the baby and parents feel they don’t want and need sleeping together anymore, that is the real sign they should stop it. My babies have their own rooms and beds since they were around 4 months old, but have slept with us occasionally up until they turned 10-11 months. Since then, they simply stopped coming to our bed. Sometimes, though, they do climb the bed in early morning, just to get that extra quality time with us before the alarm clock goes on.

Can you give some effective suggestions on how parents can easily detach themselves from co sleeping with their children?

It really is a question of teaching the baby to fall asleep on their own. Because, even if the baby sleeps with parents, we can show them how to comfort themselves while falling asleep, starting from the first days with a new-born at home.

As with everything in parenting, the preservance is the key. Say, the parents do not want to sleep with the babies anymore, because those precious ones cause their insomnia, then the “old ones” should decide on how are they going to implement this change. It sounds easy but most of the times is far from it. We should be prepared to hear some crying, although I always remind parents that crying out is not an option. I find it extremely cruel to children who are being left of, alone in their cribs and beds. It is always good to start with explaining the kid what are the parents’ intentions and what is going to happen for them in the future. No matter how young, the children are allowed to know, what are we going to do with them. Some of my proven methods of encouraging babies to sleep in their bed include:

  • Making the bed irresistible and fun. We can encourage the baby to spend some time during the day in the bed, it also helps to show that the bed can be fun place – let’s put some toys in it, let the baby choose the bedding, etc.
  • First few nights, depending on how long did the baby sleep in parents’ bed and how old the baby is, the parents can put a mattress beside the child’s bed and put themselves to sleep on it. It helps the baby to feel safe. Sometimes it only takes few days for the baby to get used to this new way of falling asleep. Later on, parents can move the mattress a little bit towards the door, until the mattress is finally gone from the baby’s room.
  • A mascot or a blanket is also a good way for a baby to comfort herself prior the sleep.
  • When the baby is very young (usually did not turn 1), I always recommend to use the “shushing” sound (parents can use their mouth for it or a there is a number of mascot and gadgets doing this for them). Gentle patting on baby’s back is also proved to be helpful, so is: calming sounds (lullabies sung by parents are fantastic here!), rocking the baby In the arms of parents, massaging, touching face or head and many more. Parents should get creative and, most of all, observe their children and respond to their needs.

Conclusion

We hope our interview with MARTA ANDREASIK has cleared some of your doubts about Co-Sleeping. With the right attitude and approach, both parent and baby can benefit from this wonderful practice, and if it's right for you maybe you can give it a shot with your little darling!

You can find more of Marta Andreasik below...
Please do note that her social media is primarily in Polish,
but you can always contact her in English via email:

email: marta {at} mamasubiektywnie {dot} pl