You know when you become a new parent and think you have everything figured out, only to discover that nothing you had planned ever turns out the way intended? I was one of those people who said “I am having a home water birth with a midwife and a doula”, only to end up on bed rest not even in my third trimester and having Little One canon-ball her way into the world without any doctors in the room to deliver her! I was only 28 weeks pregnant when she decided she wanted to make her grand entrance into the world!
I was also one of those parents who said our child would never sleep in our bed.
Wow. The joke was on me.
I had done extensive research on co-sleeping. When you’re strict bed rest when pregnant, you have a lot of time to do research. It’s both a blessing and a curse.
I knew that I wanted our little one to be able to sleep independently of us being in bed with her. I also knew that for our own mental and physical health, Hubby and I needed our bed to ourselves. Hubby’s an extremely light sleeper, so any rustling, movement, noise just really disrupts his sleep.
I read articles that warned of the dangers of co-sleeping. Babies could get suffocated by pillows, blankets or even get rolled on by an exhausted parent. All valid points. I also know that in many cultures, babies sleep in their parents’ beds or with older siblings. That’s just the way it is.
When Little One was an infant, we had friends who co-slept with their babies. I said that wouldn’t be us. I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of the “family bed”. Though it worked for friends, I wasn’t sure it was for us. We also had friends and family who told us, “DO NOT let that baby sleep in your bed, let alone your room!” I wasn’t sure of that either.
For my own sanity, I didn’t want Little One sleeping in our bed. I wanted her close-by because after her spending the first 72 days of life in the NICU, I wanted to have her in the room with us. She slept in a crib in our room for her first nine months at home (until we moved her to her own room). I won’t lie. I did get a bit lazy at times and brought her to our bed in the middle of the night to nurse her. To be honest, I was sleep-deprived, exhausted, and nursing her in bed was so much easier.
New parents! Wow! We look so tired!
For her first two years she slept in her own room without any issues at all. She was a dream baby! It wasn’t until she was three years old that she started coming to our bed in the middle of the night. She’d scream and cry because her legs or feet were hurting (we could actually feel the muscles tighten into knots in her calves). She’d cry because she had a nightmare. There was always something and the witching hour would be anywhere between 1am and 3am.
If your little one crawls into your bed in the middle of the night (and stays there until morning), is that considered co-sleeping?
To this day, she continues to start off in her bed and a few times a week (okay, maybe four or five days out of seven) she’d end up in our bed in the middle of the night! Most of the time I’m asleep and too tired to even notice that she’s crept into our bed. Hubby, being a light sleeper, always notices. He hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in ages. I’ve somehow learned to sleep through it all. When she was an infant, it was the opposite. Every irregular breath she’d take or the slightest of sounds from her crib, I’d bolt out of bed to see what was going on. Now? I sleep like a bear.
When is it time to say no to co-sleeping?
My question is, when is enough enough? I’m going to be honest here and this is where I think I may get shot down by other parents. It’s okay. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions. I’m actually savouring these moments with Little One. Though I may complain that I have no room in our bed with her occupying an entire queen-sized bed, or that my butt’s always hanging off the bed, I actually do love having her close. I’m happy she starts off in her own room and love it when she manages to sleep a full night in her own bed, but I’m also aware that these moments of her being so little are fleeting. In a few years, she might not want to cuddle or feel the need to sleep with one arm on Mom and one leg on Dad. Better yet, one arm tightly around Dad’s neck!
She does love her own bed and her own bedroom (it is a pretty awesome bedroom!), but she somehow manages to stumble into our bed around 1:00 to 3:00 in the morning at times. Is this an issue? I don’t know. I’m sure she won’t be doing this for much longer. Seriously. When she’s 6, 7, 8, or 9 years old, will she want to do that? Likely not. She’ll be asserting her independence and before we know it, she’ll be ready to flee the nest.
Do you co-sleep? Why or why not? How old was your child when he/she decided to stop crawling into mom and dad’s bed in the middle of the night?
Please be respectful of others when commenting. What works for one family may not work for another.
Victoria Ess says
I haven’t had to make this decision yet but it’s an interesting debate!
Darlene Schuller says
I didn’t co sleep. I’m not ‘anti co sleeping’, it’s just not something that was for me. I’ve had friends that co slept from birth and had no transitional issues, I have other friends who started co sleeping when teething began and ended up still taking a 7 year old back to his room at night.
Each family, each situation is different. I won’t say mine have never slept with me, but it’s not something that occurred on a regular basis.
Julia a.k.a. Mama MOE says
OMG, Christine, you were reading my freakin’ mind today!
I woke up exhausted from being up most of the night (like your husband, I’m a light sleeper) and all of this has been on my mind for months now.
You’re right, it won’t last forever. You do what you have to do and what makes you feel good.
Great post ( and hilarious Barbie pic!!) love ya! Julia
Julia: I know, right?? Oh, and before we know it, our little ones won’t be so little anymore. Hey! Will I be seeing you in Ottawa next weekend??? 🙂
Dayna Wilson says
Oh my gosh, yes. I just gave birth to my second last month. I always said “Oh, I don’t judge those who co-sleep, BUT…” (and I totally secretly judged). There was no way my son was sleeping in my bed, and he never did, and it worked just fine. My newborn daughter is a different story. She’s much clingier, for lack of a more positive word, and she does not like to be put down. She’s not quite 5 weeks old, so I’m obviously not going to let her cry it out or anything like that, so what ends up happening is that she sleeps for a few hours in her bassinet.. and then she comes into bed with me for a nurse and ends up spending the rest of the night there.
Basically, what it comes down to is that I need to be up and functional to deal with her needs, and the needs of my 20 month old son first thing in the morning. I don’t have the energy or the luxury of coaxing her back to sleep in her bassinet. You do what you have to do to survive, and if that means cosleeping, then so be it. Plus, you know, now that I’ve gotten used to it? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t kind of enjoy it…
Thanks so much for your honest comment, Dayna! 🙂 It’s so true. You do what you have to do to survive. I also convinced myself that I didn’t judge friends who co-slept. I believed I wasn’t judging, but in my head I wondered “How do you get private time with your partner?” or “How on earth did you conceive baby #2 with a toddler sleeping in your bed with you?” The truth is, it’s not our place to judge anyone for their decisions. What works for some may not work for others. 🙂 Even if I don’t practice the same parenting ways as others, I don’t think things are black and white, cut and dry. I was convinced we’d never co-sleep, and yet we find our 5 yr old in our bed sometimes in the middle of the night. At that hour, I’m too tired to bring her back down to her room, tuck her in again, and lose a few hours of sleep when I have to get up in a few hours later anyway. Oh, well! lol
Dayna Wilson says
Absolutely, and I’ve found that having a second child sure helped me kick any judging to the curb.. you tend to think you know what you’re doing, until number 2 shows up and teaches you that you don’t actually know everything after all 😉
🙂 Love your comments, Dayna! Hmm…I only have one child and I KNOW I don’t actually know everything…or anything, really! LOL! 😉 xoxo
Dayna Wilson says
Hehe I don’t think I thought I knew everything, but at the same time, I don’t think I was aware of just how much I really didn’t know. Not that I’m saying two is harder than one or anything like that! 🙂
Amy Brown says
Team co-sleeper over here! My 5 year old would never stay in her bed as a baby and frankly I would miss her snuggles if we didn’t co-sleep. She is almost 6, she starts off in her own bed and when she wants to she comes to my bed she does. I don’t mind one bit! Before long she’ll be heading out with her friends by the time I’m getting in bed. I plan to enjoy every little second of snuggles I get now.
I confess, I actually (secretly) kinda like the closeness and the cuddles. This said, I do miss a good night’s sleep! Little One moves/kicks/hogs blankets/SNORES when she sleeps!!
Sarah at Journeys of The Zoo says
I’ve never lived a day in your shoes. No judgement from me.
Funny that I’m reading this today because after 4 years and 3 months, last night was the first time that The Kids slept with me. One wasn’t feeling well and the other one didn’t want to sleep alone. Poor DH had to sleep on the couch. Won’t be a regular occurrence (famous last words) and thankfully everyone slept.
Enjoy the time while you can, it won’t be forever.
Blogger at Journeys of The Zoo
Sarah, I had to giggle because I could totally envision your situation. The other night, LO totally hijacked our bed. Instead of moving her or waking her, we let her sleep in our bed. I ended up in her bed and DH ended up in the guest room! LOL!
Ninja Mommers says
Don’t get mad at me here..
I love my kiddies! A WHOLE LOT. I love them all the time, in the day in the night. But, I can maintain my love for them whilst they sleep in their own beds. There has not been one entire night in which either one of my children have slept in my bed. Not one.
Little Man has woken up and had bad dreams, he has come into my bed. We snuggle for a little while, I tell him a nice funny story and then it’s back to bed. He knows this. It doesn’t bother him. He knows that bedtime is bedtime and we sleep in our own rooms.
That’s not to say that when the kids wake up at 7am, that I do not then allow them to come cuddle with me in bed. But they do know that will not happen until the sun is rising and bright.
We have had some rough nights with Baby Girl, she wasn’t the best sleeper, but we all stuck to our guns and now she sleeps 12 hours a night in her own bed and she’s two. Little Man has always been a great sleeper.
It is what has worked for us! What works for others is their prerogative.
(In terms of them being in pain, I can’t say though, that I wouldn’t allow them to come snuggle. That’s a different scenario.)
Ninja Mommers: Oh, I totally hear ya! We need to work on getting LO back in her room after snuggles when she’s had growing pains or nightmares. The thing is, when she’s screaming in pain in her sleep, it’s so hard to soothe her. Admittedly, I’m so exhausted at 3am when this happens, that I end up patting her back and rubbing her legs and falling asleep! LOL!
I totally hear ya. My MIL said the same thing as you about getting sticking to your guns and having them stay in their own beds. Work in progress here.
Ninja Mommers says
I totally understand the pain thing, we have never had anything like that happen (yet) here… Therefore making me unable to say NEVER.
I just meant in general SO FAR.
No judgement to you at all my love.
Ninja Mommer 🙂 The other night, she said “I’m sleeping in my own room for the entire night!” LOL! Ummm…was there any questioning that? You bet you’re sleeping in your own bed 🙂 Mama needs a good night’s sleep for once!
Kris Kipp says
We play musical beds in our house. Most often my 5 year old sleeps in his own bed, my 3 year old wiggles his way into our bed in the middle of the night and my 18 mos old sleeps in his crib in our room. My husband starts off in our bed but will often move to the guest room if our room gets too noisy or crowded for his liking. Everyone of us has slept in each of the rooms at some point for one reason or another, whether it be due to illness, a bad dream, or my youngest wanting to stay with his big brother. I don’t care where anyone sleeps as long as everyone gets some sleep.
Kris, that sounds like our house the other night! 🙂
Erin-The Usual Mayhem says
I think it’s something you have to decide on a kid-by-kid basis. To say that I’m a light sleeper would be a huge understatement, so my preference is generally to have them nearby but not in the same room. That being said, my first child was a skilled escape artist and mischief maker from the time he walked at 7 months old. In his case, having him sleep with me was the only way I could be sure of where he was and what he was doing!
Erin, for sure! If it means knowing where he is, what he’s doing, and that he’s safe, a parent’s gotta do what she’s gotta do! Escape artist! LO wasn’t an escape artist, but she did love climbing things. I once saw her on TOP of the piano and another time climbing the bookcase!
I have 3 kids, and all co-sleep/slept with us differently. My oldest almost exclusively co-slept with us, I’d crawl into his bed at night time to help him fall asleep, then he’d craawl into ours early morning, and we all slept just fine! he’s 6 now and on his own stopped coming into our room.
My middle child breast fed in bed, and would sleep in our bed for everything! naps included! Now that he is a toddler, its a rare night when he comes in our bed!
My baby who is 2 months old, sleeps in his crib, but when he gets up at night, I breast feed him in bed. And we all snooze in the bed after the feeding!
Every baby and every family is different, but I love the peace of having a family bed has offered us.
Karen, yes…exactly 🙂 Every family and every baby is different. You’ve got to do what works for you 🙂
P.S. I love that feeling of peace too…when LO is not kicking us off the bed or whacking us in the back with her arm 😉
Lori Lewis - @Miss_Elles says
We never really discussed having a family bed, it was just what felt right for us. We currently bed share with our 29 month old & 14 month old daughters (one on each side of me & a bed rail!) Although we have a toddler bed in the bedroom next door, we are waiting for our 2 year old to want to sleep there – just this morning she said, “I don’t wanna sleep in the Birdie bed (bird blankets) I like to sleep in Mommy & Daddy’s bed!” LOL We are fairly confident they will choose to sleep in their own beds before they are teens! 🙂
Lori: Hehe! Exactly! I told my husband that I seriously doubt she’ll be sleeping in our bed when she’s a teen! LOL!
Shari Goss (@knitwitshair) says
Oh man…when I was pregnant I knew people who co-slept and one is/was my best friend. I told her I love you, but no way I am doing that…she smiled and nodded LOL her kids were teens. I believed her when she said that her kids are teens and don’t sleep with them now. But for me I was like my bed is my place of peace. Then I had my oldest. He was colic, and didn’t sleep more than an hour at a time, and then would be up for 2-4 hours. I was so exhausted that one night I just laid down in the bed with him on top of me at a month old. I planned on resting my arms for a couple of minutes. I fell asleep, I woke up 5 hours later with him still on top of me…Every muscle in my body was cramped and frozen. My brain knew he was on me and that I couldn’t let him drop. It wasn’t my safest moment, but I totally wasn’t planning on sleeping. He never slept that long.
After that I figured if he would sleep longer in our bed…I was letting him sleep in our bed. We did that until it stopped working for us. The 2nd one was in our bed from the first. Our 3rd we tried it, and he wouldn’t sleep. He ended up only sleeping well way down the hall in his crib by himself. That was very hard on me. But it worked best so it’s what I did.
Shari: So true. Each baby really is different. Like you said, we do what works best, right?