Monday, May 14, 2007

Co-sleeping with toddler

As the title suggests, my wife and I share our bed with our daughter, who is currently almost 21 months old.

First, just to clear the concerns, no, we did not do this from birth. We are well aware that newborns are in great danger of crib death or suffocation if they are in bed with you, and in fact, know that you are supposed to not only put them in their own space, but without blankets, sleeping on their back, until they are old enough and mobile enough to turn themselves over if they need to. So our daughter stayed in a basinet next to our bed for her first three or four months. Then we moved her to her crib. And she was fine there until about six months. Then grandma (my wife's mother) came to visit and help out for a month when I went back to work as part of the transition to day care. She would help with the baby at night, but it turned out that our daughter would refuse to cooperate, and so grandma would take her to bed with her and then just let her fall asleep there. So by the time she left, she absolutely refused to go to sleep by herself in the crib. And my wife absolutely refused to let her cry for even one minute, much less the hours that would be required (at first) for her to settle into the whole sleeping alone routine. Not wishing to fight over this, and rather just wanting to sleep so I could get up and go to work, we had her sleep with us. It was very easy, because she would just fall asleep without much effort at all when she was with us, and she was also extremely happy to have both mommy and daddy with her. She'd wake up at night and check to make sure we were still there. I'd sometimes feel her hand on my shoulder checking, or see her cute little eyes in the dark looking at me before closing again.

Now we are well used to it, since it has been this way for over a year. Moreover, ultimately, I don't think there is any real problem with it, beyond the logistics of fitting three in a queen-sized bed. For the first 200,000 years of our existence as a species, co-sleeping was the norm. You don't leave a toddler alone to sleep - they might get eaten by a lion or something. The phenomenon of sleeping alone at such a young age is a very very very recent one, and as such, I wonder if it is even a particularly good idea.

Of course, at times my wife would like her out of the bed, but at the same time, worries that she'll roll out of her own bed and she's worried she'll climb out of her crib. So we are sort of where we are by default, perhaps buying a King-sized bed soon to at least make more room. We've also put the bed off of the frame so it isn't quite so far for our daughter to fall, as she decided to do last week, twice.

Also, I admit, I rather like having her there with us. I can keep an eye on her, see that she's breathing (though not as fanatically as I did for those first months - any parent can tell you about that), see that she's safe, and enjoy when she cozys up. Plus, she is just so darn cute. Another bonus is that when she loses her binky, which she still needs most of the time to fall asleep, we can quickly help her locate it if she can't find it, as opposed to hearing her scream from across the house, have to get up, go to her room, find it, then go back to bed and try to get back to sleep after such a trek.

I figure when she is old enough to carry on some semblance of a conversation, we can have the discussion with her about her sleeping in her own bed. I also figure that she'll eventually want to assert her independence and sleep on her own. I'm not sure when that would be, and that would be a great milestone. I certainly don't want her there forever. She needs to grow up eventually. But for now, I admit, I enjoy having her there and it always brings a smile to my face to wake up in the morning and see her there, usually totally out, her mouth open, her arms above her head, sleeping like she's dead to the world, and looking darn cute while she's at it. And some mornings she'll wake up and then see me and my wife and have this huge smile and she'll start talking with us (who knows what she's saying) and that is just so pleasant as well, though it only happens on the weekends, since we usually have to get our little zombie up ourselves on weekdays when we get up rather early. Then, we have fun dressing her while she's trying to stay sleeping on the bed.

I'm sure some will have comments pro- and con- about co-sleeping. For us right now, it just sort of "is."


Anonymous said...

My son is 23 months old - and no doubt like your daughter to you, is the cutest kid I've ever seen. We had him in a bassinet next to the bed for the first 6 months or so. We then moved him to a crib in his own room, and a few months ago, when his physical size made that uncomfortable (although I dislike watching sports, he's going to be the next Michael Jordan I'm sure of it), we got him his own bed. Well, mattress really. It's a twin mattress which we put directly on the floor where his crib was. He can get in and out easily, doesn't hurt himself when he falls out, and seems seems to really love having his own room, and own bed.
We let him come and hang out with us in our bed on weekend mornings for a bit, but other than that, he's pretty independent.
I'm not commenting on whether your way or our way is better or worse, just passing along how we did it. When we have a second child, I think we'll do it the same way again.

DBB said...

Our daughter is pretty independent too, when she wants to be, like when she wants something (or doesn't want something taken away), but she's still pretty attached to us.

I wonder if she'll do any sports. I'm not really into sports at all, so she won't get it from me, but she is sure to be pretty tall. She's already almost 3 feet tall and she's only 21 months. (That makes it hard - she can reach so much and still doesn't quite seem to want to understand "no, don't")

LCR said...

As a mother of three, let me speak from my own personal experiences. This is a very easy pattern to fall into with a first. With our first child (as a toddler), whenever she had a rough night sleeping, we would pull her into our bed so that all of us could sleep. No problem. And I will admit to enjoying snuggling with her with few complaints.

As the second and maybe the third comes along it is not such a winning situation. Late night feedings, changing diapers, throw in a couple of exhausted parents, and you have a mess in the making.

Its easy to think that you will have plenty of time before a second child to address this situation. But it is also easy to let this slide, enjoy your sleep, and put off the necessary transition to her own bed until she is older. The problem is, the longer you wait and the older she gets, the harder her transition (and yours will be). I know parents that were in your situation and now have two kids. Their first, when asked to move into her own bed at the age of 3 when their second child was born, thought the world was ending and would have no part of it. In the end, they put mattress beside their bed. The mom divided her time between sleeping on the bed with her new son and sleeping on the floor with her daughter... and no one is getting much sleep.

I beseech you to make the transition now before it is too late. Yes, she will cry, but I can almost promise you that the battle will be over in about 3 nights. Yes, you should not let babies cry, but after about 9 months of age, those wonderful little angels have already figured out how to manipulate you with tears. Keep in mind who is in charge here (its not her!), recognize that it will be easier on her now rather than later when her more developed brain can make things more complicated, and get her into a crib, or even a toddler's bed as soon as possible.

No judgement here, just concern. I've seen it happen both ways, and in the long run getting them learning how to sleep on their own will be so much healthier for them. My three kids fall asleep easily, stay asleep, have very few nightmares that wake them, and most of the time can get themselves back sleep when they do wake. Do what is best for them in the long run, not what is easiest or what feels good to you and to her now.

Anonymous said...

I have nothing to offer as far as whether co-sleeping is beneficial or detrimental...I haven't tried it.

I think I would really miss talking to my husband at night if I felt like I had to be quiet because there was a child between us. I would also miss unwinding with a good book in my bed each night if I felt like I either had to go to sleep when my kids did or because I had to keep the light out as to not wake up a little one. So I guess those were some of the reasons we never tried it.

Here's what caught my eye though: you said in you above comment:

"Our daughter is pretty independent too, when she wants to be, like when she wants something (or doesn't want something taken away), but she's still pretty attached to us."

I think plenty of kids (including mine) have a "mind of their own" when it comes to wanting something or not wanting something taken away. But I think that comes from them being all id and not realizing yet that the world is not here to cater to them.

"Independent" kids, which most healthy parents probably strive for, are kids who are resilient, who know that the world doesn't end because they spilled red popsicle on their favorite shirt. They don't create excuses to stay home from school, because they know their job is to get an education and they have friends and a life outside of their own home. You can easily leave them with a babysitter because they trust that the world will not end when you are out of sight and they will be just fine in the care of someone other than mom or dad.

Obviously any 21-month-old still has a lot to learn about independence, but I'm hoping that my generation of parents can see normal toddler "I want it!" behavior and see that as something to be corrected, rather than something to be praised under the banner of "independence".

DBB said...

I appreciate the concern. I know things will have to change with another child, though that is at the earliest 9 months off (we are going to start trying soon).

I'm hoping being able to explain when she's a little older will help. I agree that three night's crying is a small price to pay, and I'd be willing to pay it. The problem is, my wife would not be. She pretty much can never let our daughter cry for any reason. Though I suppose she's starting to get better about that, perhaps because our daughter is older and now knows how to throw a specific tantrum when she doesn't get what she wants.

We once tried to do it before, a year ago. Our baby cried for an hour while I tried to keep my wife away from the crib. She finally simply could not take it any more. So three days just isn't going to happen.

With another baby, the adjustment may be that we put the bassinet next to the bed in our guest room and my wife will sleep there, getting up for feedings at night, while I sleep in our bed with the first child at the opposite end of the house. That is probably going to have to be how it goes anyway, because I'd rather a crying baby not wake up the toddler at night.

We split that sort of duty with our daughter for the first few weeks. I couldn't breastfeed, so we decided there was no point in both of us going completely without sleep. So we'd go in shifts, and I'd do day shift and she'd do night shift. But then you know that the first few weeks are pretty much 'round the clock exhaustion no matter what you do.

We'll hopefully survive a second baby so we can have a third, then we're done.

DBB said...

Nicole - oh believe me, we don't praise her tantrums. We mostly let her get it out of her system then do what we need to do. And we try not to laugh, because, well, she just looks so cute and funny as she throws them. Her "protest" move is like "passive resistance" protesters - she drops to the floor on her face and just lies there. One time she did that to protest going to bed and then she ended up falling asleep like that on the floor.

And as far as talking in bed, actually, we do talk, quite a lot - that is probably when we do a lot of our talking if you don't count cell phone calls while commuting. Once our daughter is out, she's out. She sleeps like a corpse, I like to say. We've watched movies and TV while she sleeps, sometimes staying up a bit late while doing so.

I know that you need to set boundaries for children. And she is far more independent now than she used to be. She used to scream when I dropped her off at daycare, and you had to pry her off of me with a crowbar. Now she runs and plays. She used to scream and run at me when I picked her up, now she is busy and I have to coax her to leave.

I don't want to raise her spoiled. One thing my parents taught me well was to save, spend wisely, and get used to not always (or even usually) getting what I want. I find that sticks with me even now, to the point that things I want and can now easily afford I still have the mentality in the back of my mind that I can't really get them, or at least don't think about getting them, so I don't. I want her to have that same sort of mentality. I think it is a healthy one to have.

I worry sometimes that my wife will spoil her, because my wife grew up poor, even poorer than my parents, who were also dirt poor (and worked their way to the middle class like my wife and I are now), and so she wants our daughter to have a better life than that. I think it is very valuable to have the mentality to not to expect to get what you want most of the time.

Hopefully she'll learn to be independent and try to earn what she wants in life.

Anonymous said...

Well, I have to add my 2 cents just for perspective and to give you food for thought for another option. With both of my boys (ages 2 and 5) I slept with them, but in their own room, not ours. So, when we transitioned out of sleeping with them, it was just them getting used to being alone in bed but still in the same room (theirs). That made the transition not so bad. This has only happened with my older one. I still go in to sleep w/ my 2yo about 2 am when he wakes. We are slowly working on moving that waking later. Good luck!
ps. I've enjoyed your other posts as well. This was just the first I felt compelled to comment on.

Anonymous said...


Can I just say how awesome it is to be able to share real concern with someone who sees it just as that and not a personal attack? I think it's awesome that you responded thoughtfully to what I wrote, even though you could have easily taken it as a personal attack and thrown DOWN! I really enjoy your well-thought-out blog and your reasonable exchanges with people who comment here.


armagh444 said...

I'm not going to throw any advice at you as I remember all to well how much advice I used to get inundated with when I was still a new parent. (And, if I'm to be honest, I still get inundated with advice.) And I really can't say anything helpful about the co-sleeping thing as we never did that with either of our kids. I did, however, want to offer my sympathy on one thing.

You know that tightrope you feel like you're walking . . . trying desperately not to spoil her while simultaneously making sure she knows she's loved and valued; trying to avoid letting her run roughshod over you while simultaneously trying not to be utterly inflexible; trying to make sure . . . well, you get the picture. After ten years of parenting, I hate to have to say this, but that never goes away. The good thing about it though is that every parent deals with trying to strike that delicate balance and every parent, at one point or another (usually pretty frequently), asks "am I doing this right?" So, if nothing else, there will always at least be folks who get the struggle and get the challenges and with whom you thus have some common ground to share resources and funny stories.

Pissed OFF Housewife said...

Here's a 30-something's take on co-sleeping.

I knew her well as a child and I assure you this is the sort of woman you'd be proud to raise.

FYI my children slept in their own beds. It didn't work for me.

Lots of kids, lots of parents, break the rules.

Maya's Granny said...

Well, I'm going to add my two cents. First, I'm a parenting expert, having worked for over 14 years training parents who were at risk to have their children put into foster care. Also, I raised two children of my own and fostered four others.

When you mention that during the first 200,000 years of our history we slept with babies, you have half of the truth. The other half is that no other mammel would be so cruel as to put their young in bed alone. Small mammels sleep with their mothers, and often with litter mates as well. To be forced to sleep alone is unnatural and leaves them feeling insecure. It is, of course, not the worst mistake a parent can make, but it is not some ideal to be sought.

The fact that your wife can't stand to allow your child to cry at night is a sign that she is a good mother with the confidence to listen to her own response to that baby and take her direction from it.

I slept with both of mine forty years ago, and have advised all of my students to do the same. There is no need for the baby to be insecure. Nor is there any need for the parents to be frazzled from lack of sleep. I know that the medical community advises to not sleep with new borns, but the medical community also advised my mother to bottle feed me and did everything they could to discourage women of her generation (and mine, actually) from breast feeding. They had to be dragged kicking and screaming to allow fathers in the delivery room and natural childbirth. The medical community gives the best advise it has at the moment, but things change from decade to decade. Meanwhile, for a very long time women have been giving birth and babies have been raised and doing just fine with natural ways.

DBB said...

Thanks for all of the input, everyone.

Nicole - I'm glad you enjoy my comments and my blog. I try to be as reasonable as I can be. I know how things can degenerate, particularly with on-line discussions where some people take great license to be hostile. I'm sure I've been guilty of it sometimes. The thread I am in on thinking girl's blog related to the dollar value of stay-at-home parents has generated some hostility against me and it is hard not to take it personally sometimes. I welcome your input and you shared a good point - that tantrums don't have anything to do with independence.

Girlcarew - thanks for the input. I know what you mean about only commenting when you have something to say. I do that as well. We have thought about transitioning to the bed in the room we will eventually have our daughter sleep in, though since that bed is on a frame, it would be higher than the one in our bedroom now, and we are still uneasy about the possibility of her rolling out of bed or just walking off the edge, which she did recently. Fortunately, she doesn't seem to have a problem falling asleep anywhere there is a parent to be with her or hold her. Sometimes when I'm watching TV in the living room she'll just climb into my lap and then fall asleep. Or if I'm not sitting, she'll complain and cry and say "uuuuu" (up with a silent "p") and then when I pick her up, she'll fall asleep while I hold her.

armagh - I know what you mean by getting bombarded with advice. Fortunately, most of it was helpful. I do expect that the challenges will only grow with time, though it will be nice to be able to have a conversation with my daughter. She already understands quite a lot, she just doesn't feel inclined to speak in sentences or use regular words a lot of the time (she can still talk quite a lot). My parents told me I was like that - I didn't talk for the longest time - they started to get worried. I mean, I said a few words and babbled, but no short phrases. Then they said all of a sudden I started talking in complete sentences. They thought I must have been working on it and didn't talk until I figured it out. I wonder if my daughter will end up doing the same thing. I was worried a bit, then I asked her questions and she would answer me with pointing - things I had no idea she even knew (but probably learned in day care) - like asking her 'where's your head' and she points at her head - she knows her body parts, then I ask her 'where's daddy's head' and she pointed at my head, and so on. So she knows all these words, but I never hear her say any of them. She knows ownership, she knows her name. But I never hear her say any of that. I'm not really worried, I figure every child has their own pace and she'll figure things out eventually. But it would be nice to have a conversation with her.

And then, of course, things will get more fun when we have more kids.

Maya's Granny - I have thought about that as well - that it does seem cruel to take a small baby and make her sleep alone when it probably isn't the natural inclination. I remember when I was little, like 3 or 4, I'd not want to sleep alone so I'd go sleep in my sister's bed. I think I had to sneak in because my parents didn't approve, or at least that was the impression I have. It is hard to tell because memory that young is always suspect.

Ultimately, the fact that for almost all of our history babies slept with their parents just lets me know that there is nothing wrong with it (some people think there is a problem with it).

I've gotten fairly used to it.

Anisah said...

My son slept with me for his first two years. Then I wanted him to sleep in a crib. It took him crying for a couple of nights but he got used to it surprisingly quickly.

A couple of suggestions for when you want to get her ready:

Get a mattress and put it in your room on the floor beside yours. Tell her that is a small mattress for her since she is small. Then when she is used to it move it closer to the door.

Another suggestion is to let her pick out a toddler bed and bedding with whatever is her favorite character. Let her use it on her new mattress.

Hugs to your family!


Anonymous said...

I've read in other places that the alternative to this is letting your child scream bloody murder until they fall asleep on their own. Usually for a few nights on end until they get use to it.

I'm not sure I could take it. And some people think it is cruel to let a child cry like that, but others suggest it as the only method that works and that it isn't really cruel.

I have no idea what the right answer is. I guess it depends on how you both feel and how bad the level of crying is. 5 minutes versus two hours of non stop crying. Measuring these things is hard though. Obviously.

DBB said...

I know my wife could not take it. I could take it for a little while, if I knew it was for the best. We've heard that before from books and also from other parents who have gotten their kids to sleep alone.

But then I have to think that if it is pretty much universal that kids scream their guts out for days before they'll sleep alone, this means that it is biology trying to tell us something - perhaps that sleeping alone is not the default. Just because kids can adapt doesn't change that - after all, humans are nothing if not adaptable.

It feels pretty natural to me to have her with us. It seems pretty natural to her as well, given that getting her to sleep in the crib alone was a struggle but it was no effort at all to get her to fall asleep with us.

armagh444 said...

It's good that you're not fretting over the late talking issue. Both of my little ones talked late. The Imp didn't start chattering away until she was a month or two past two (and then she taught herself to read at 2 1/2 and how to write at 3), and my son - who is just a few days shy of two - still doesn't say much beyond a few words. Some of my friends are fretting, but given that his sister, my husband, and my husband's brother were all late talkers (and then all of them launched into full sentences and paragraphs), it's not something I'm wasting too much worry over. Now, some kids do talk late because of a hearing deficit, but if you have no reason to believe that's an issue (and it doesn't sound like you would have any reason given how responsive she is to speech), fretting over it otherwise is more wasted energy and gods know parents have little enough of that stored up to begin with.

LCR said...

Yes, unfortunately both parents have to be ready to stand firm and not give in to the crying if and when you decide to teach her to sleep in her own bed. I understand your wife's reluctance to try this. It is painful to listen to them, but when doing this, we didn't simply desert them in their cribs. The idea is to lay them down in their cribs sleepy but awake, follow a bedtime routine you wish to stick with (lullaby or whatever you like) and then leave the room. When the crying starts, go in to her immediately to reassure her that you are there, pat her a bit, but don't pick her up, and then leave the room again. Assuming the crying continues, wait 2 minutes before returning again to reassure her and then leave. Then wait 4 minutes, then 8, then 16... you get the idea. The idea is to let her know that you are there but not to give her what she wants, namely to be picked up and cuddled and taken into your bed. It really doesn't take all that long for this to work. The first night takes a little while before they sleep and I agree that it is a difficult night. Its a lot less the next night, and by the third night, maybe just a whimper or nothing at all before they roll over and go to sleep.

As far as waiting until your daughter can be talked to about this... well, you can give that a try. To me, when you can talk to them, they can argue with you. Its just plain hard by that point. The less ammunition they have to change your mind and bend you to their way of thinking, the easier it will be on you!

But then again, my husband and I didn't really figure this out until our second was born. It may be easier to take these steps when you are sleep deprived and will do anything for a few uninterrupted hours of rest... :-)

Anonymous said...

We're cosleeping with my 3 and almost a half year old. He's still got the whole cute thing going, and dang! it's hard to resist. He'll move to his own room when we're all ready.

I let him sleep on my chest for the first several weeks because he was breastfeeding and didn't want to be put down. Besides, sleeping on my chest kept him warm and I always knew he was breathing. (New panicky mom and dad thing!)

Anonymous said...

We did pretty much the same thing when our son was born (23 years ago).

When he was about 2 we started putting him to bed in his toddler bed. We would read him a book or two and then snuggle with him and sing quiet songs until he fell asleep.

When he did wake up during the night he would climb into bed with us. It got to a point where we wake in the morning surprised that he was in bed with us..neither of us had awoken when he climbed in.

He was about six when he stopped coming to our bed every night. By the beginning of the second grade his nite moves were done.

Sometimes my hubby and I would wake up on a Sunday morning and we'd miss him, miss teasing him awake with whispers in his ear or light touches...

Candy said...

I am thrilled I found ur blog. My son is 14 months old. I breast feed him at night and yes he co-sleeps. He used to wake up at night for a feed so I increased his food in take during the day..changed his food time etc so that stopped. Now he wakes for comfort, feeds from me fr a min or two and then sleeps back again. The result is I am exhausted, dark circles under my eyes and back ache due to sleeping on my side to feed him. So we got him a cot 2 weeks ago. We first got him to play in it and he loves that. But after 2 days we tried putting him down for his midday nap and he wakes up screaming. After that he has refused to be on the cost except to play. He is still co-sleeping and I am truly overcome with being tired. My in laws tell me that they co-slept as well with their children and evrything was fine.I am not sure if i want to leave my son in his cot screaming till he tires and falls asleep. What good will that do him? Please suggest a step by step approach to help me enjoy a good nights sleep.

DBB said...

Candida - I'm sorry to hear about your sleep problems. I'm no expert. I'm sure every kid is different. We just ultimately found it easier to let her sleep in bed with us rather than have her scream because she's by herself. As she's gotten older now she is starting to show signs of being ready to sleep on her own, at least for naps. She'll get into bed by herself now, she sleeps without prompting at day care now at nap time. I can only suggest that you try and find middle ground - my daughter just wanted the comfort of knowing we were there with her. Maybe you need a bigger bed or sleeping space for everyone to be comfortable. I'm not sure what else I can tell you other than sharing my own singular experience and what worked for me.

Unknown said...

Well.. this blog dates from 2 years ago, but has been very useful to me! I am on the hunt for information as we co-sleep with my 13 month son and I have just found out I am pregnant. So far I am loving the comment from Maya's Granny (though my heart sank at first when she said she was a parenting expert) and the one from the person who transitioned their son into a toddler bed aged 2 by sleeping with them. What a great idea. I don't want to force my son out prematurely.

The other thing that strikes me... there is so much fear about our children being "dependent". Well of course they are dependent when they are young. They are made that way! Not to start running off away from mum (or secure care giver) to creche or wherever aged 2 months for 13 hours a day. I believe the theories about satisfying the needs of a child in order to foster later independence.

DBB said...

Olivia - yeah, this post is old, but the blog is still going...

And my daughter is still sleeping with us. My son, who is 19 months now, sleeps on his own and never has had a problem with it. You put him to bed at bedtime and he goes to sleep, just like that. So I think it varies a lot with each child. And obviously no child will want to sleep with you forever - I have trouble picturing a teenager doing so!

So my daughter will grow out of it eventually.

Totally_Inedible said...

Hi DBB. It's nice to see your post on toddler co-sleeping. I think we co-sleepers are in the minority :( It was also nice to see Maya's Granny's reply to you!
I have a much older "toddler" in my bed right now. Like yours did, he reaches out in the night to check if I'm there. I'm not at all worried about how long it might go on. His elder sister moved out to her own bed during a phase where she was all excited about the girly sheets and doona covers she would have (aged almost 3).
I keep thinking they are only young once... why should I stress over it when a peaceful transition is just around the corner!

DBB said...

My son is now 21 months and even though he is starting the terrible twos, he still sleeps on his own without too much trouble. My daughter, now 4, still sleeps with us, same as always, but at least she'll sleep in in the morning now.

In eight months or so, she'll start school - maybe by then, she'll want to sleep on her own, particularly if she talks to kids in Kindergarten and finds out most sleep alone. Then again, she's never been one to follow the crowd - she tends to do her own thing-which is a good thing.

Roo said...

This is another person who has felt this blog to be sooo useful two years later! I've got a 2 year old daughter, whom I left to cry when she was little and who then slept through the night until recently. There were lots of other issues involved - I am married to a Cambodian in Cambodia - where co-sleeping is the norm - and lived with in-laws, who bullied me when I didn't feel able to sleep with my daughter. I would have hated to co-sleep in those first 18 months till now, as I was so unsure of my own identity as a mother and was straggling with two cultures. This time she's not sleeping, I've gone straight to co-sleeping and it's perfect. I don't care how long it goes on and neither does my husband, I feel like it is strengthening a bond that was being singed by my full-time work and I feel like the stresses of temperature, lost water cups, nightmares are all gone. But what's most important is what it's taught me: a) I can change my mind and it's not the end of the world and b) both versions can be right or wrong, for different people, at different times - so not worth looking askance at anyone. Now perhaps my Cambodian relatives will stop looking askance at me! Thanks for this wonderful input.

DBB said...

Roo - glad you find this useful. My daughter is still co-sleeping with us - she refuses to sleep alone. She's 4 now. On the other hand, my son, who will be 2 in February, sleeps alone and always has with no problems (though sometimes he likes to come and socialize with us in bed and watch TV before we put him into his crib). I think it is just a personality thing. Some kids must like it and some can do without it. We certainly can't do both of the kids in bed - they play too much and would drive us crazy and never settle down.

I don't know at what age my daughter will grow out of it, but it will happen eventually - probably around the same time she's embarrased to be seen with us.

Unknown said...

I co-sleep with my 20 month old daughter and I love every second of it. I don't understand why people get so upset over this. I asked my pediatrician who is Indian and she laughed and said "I don't understand why Americans get so bent out of shape over this. It is very common where I come from and it is not unhealthy in anyway to a child." (A child of course meaning not a newborn or under 6 months old). So many people are shocked that I allow my baby to sleep with me. They say "You are not supposed to do that," but when I ask what is the harm no one has a direct or proven answer. The only answer I have ever gotten was that it is hard to break. That's it? That is what is such a concern? Isn't the bottle and pacifier hard to break but we still give them to our children. If the worst thing we do to our children is cuddle them every night and enjoy their presence as we sleep, then I think we are doing just fine. There is nothing like waking up to my precious child kissing me on the cheek and greeting me with a huge smile and there is nothing like the knowing she is safely sleeping beside me. I totally agree with you!

DBB said...

Yeah, like much in our culture, concerns about co-sleeping (with children old enough not to suffocate) are hyped up nonsense. I am happy when my daughter or son are with me - though it is nice to not have them kicking me all night, at least they are safe.

Traditional Catholic said...

Hi, my husband and I co sleep with our 4 and 2 year old. We started with both because I nursed them in the bed at night. It just seemed like the natural thing to do. I dread the day they decide to "move out" and sleep on their own. This is what works for us and we wouldn't have it any other way. Everyone is different though and no one way is the right way. You have to do what is right for you and your family. I have to say though, I personally could never leave a child to cry in another room just so I could get some sleep, but that's just me. I have such calm and peace when they are snuggled next to me. I feel like a Mamma bear or lion with her cubs snuggled safely next to me. Little arms and legs hanging over mine! It is so sweet. What is even sweeter is when they nap together and they snuggle together. I couldn't imagine doing it any other way or not having them there next to me. They are their 100% for ME...I want them there and I need them there. They are not in my bed because they throw tantrums or are manipulating me. I don't want them to leave. When they ask for their own bed (which I'm sure will be sooner than later for my 4 year old), I will be as sad as the day he stopped nursing. Having to accept another level of independence. Thanks for the posting and everyone's input!

Unknown said...

Great blog post. And amazing comments years later. My daughter just moved into her big girl bed tonight. I'm a little sad about it. She was excited! We've been building up to it for a while now. She's a little over 3. We got her Disney Princess sheets and a full size bed. I did lay down with her when she fell asleep but I told her I was leaving when she fell asleep. It has been sweet having her with us. But I am also glad to have my bed back!

I never intended to co-sleep at all and certainly not so long, but it felt right and so we did it. I do think it is the natural thing to do.

Unknown said...

I just wanted to say that I appreciate seeing all of the positive feedback on the whole co-sleeping thing. My daughter is 21 months old and I am a single mother. She has always slept with me and I thinks it's wonderful! I like the idea of getting her some "cool" sheets and a mattress of her own to transition when she is ready. I honestly don't think it will be that difficult.

khadija said...

What a great post! I have a 22 month old boy, who sleeps in his own crib. For the first year he was in our room in the crib, after that we moved him to his own room which he didn't mind at all. He's always done well falling asleep on his own and seems to like it that way. However my entire family and extended family were appalled when they found out we don't co-sleep. We come from India and this kind of arrangement is very uncommon and looked down upon! Only when my mum visited and saw that he was happy and content sleeping by himself did she stop bothering me about it.

We are expecting our second one in a few months and this time I really want to co-sleep. In fact since I've been pregnant I am increasing uncomfortable with my older one being on his own in his room and find the need to cuddle and sleep with him, to the point that I tried to get him in our bed a few times that he woke up in the middle of the night. But all of us couldn't really sleep well as aren't used to it, esp him- he kept waking up, tossing and turning.

Your post is 5 years old but I still really enjoyed it!

Iris said...

I love this post :-)

My daughter sleeps in my bed with me, and I think it's one of the loveliest parts of being a parent. I think it's strengthened our bond, which is extremely important to me as I'm currently studying full-time and don't get to spend time with her during the day.

Space is not a problem, as it's just the two of us, and it also makes more sense to me in terms of keeping warm in winter! We only have to heat one bedroom, much more economical :-)

DBB said...

Iris - that's a good point - the economics of it all. Then again, this past year I bought a bed for my son, and he still does not sleep in it - or rather, he won't unless someone is with him.

But he's 3 1/2. And he just had surgery so I really want him close to make sure he's ok. (The surgery was on his kidney - he seems to be ok now, but he's still recovering - that's a long story in itself).

Apple O said...

Great blog. It's years old, but still very much talked about. Our daughter is 22 months old and we co sleep part time. She's never been a particularly good sleeper on her own. We co slept for the first ten months and then tried to get her into her cot. She wasn't that keen. I did the walking in and out as I've never wanted to do the whole CC thing or CIO. I don't believe it's a good thing to do. You may have short term gain, but I believe it leads to long term pain. She has gone through phases of being able to go to sleep on her own. At the moment, she needs me there. When she wakes once we've gone to bed, I bring her in with us. At first, my husband thought this wasn't good for her, but I have managed to persuade him that it's actually a really positive and beneficial thing. How long he'll be happy to do it for, I don't know. I hope for as long as she needs. Thank you for talking about this much frowned upon topic.

Apple O said...

I wanted to say too that I hope your son has recovered from his operation.
Does your daughter still sleep with you?
I too think it's about personalities. Some babies and toddlers are more than happy to sleep alone, whilst others are not.

DBB said...

Our kids still won't sleep alone. But that's ok. It won't last forever. Really, I'm more concerned that they get to bed on time than where they sleep.

And my son is doing much better now after his surgery.

Adelc said...

I have found the comments here really inspiring & best of very positive. Many forums/blogs on the subject contain very negative comments. I started off with my little boy in a basket then bedside cot, I breastfed from day one till 22 months. When I moved house after a few months he went into his own room, but found most nights he was in my bed, so as I was still Bfeeding I moved in with him. Took down the cot & put mattresses on the floor. I would settle him then go out of the room. He would usually take up to 2hrs to settle including feeding, which was a real trial. Since finishing Bfeeding, we still co-sleep in a proper bed. He will take between 40mins to 1hr to fall asleep. I am expecting another baby in a couple of months & do worry about what will happen with my my little boy's 'routine' & how it will/or not fit in with the new baby. I will be Bfeeding & have the baby in a basket next to us. I have a small house & we will hsve to all sleep in the same room. I do enjoy co-sleeping although it does have it's challenging moments. Any advice on co-sleeping a 2yr old & a newborn would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Adel

DBB said...

Every baby is different, so it is difficult to say how things will go with a new baby.

We lucked out in that our son was a good sleeper in his own crib right up until the point where he could climb out of it. But by then he was big enough to sleep with us and our daughter.

When my son was taking up his mother's time when he was a baby, my daughter was with me. That may be the only thing you can do - trade off.

BSly said...

May as well keep this alive.

First the background of the relationship: I've been with my girlfriend for 3 months now. I knew her in high school, we had one "occasion" together, lost touch, and then there was Facebook. We started talking again for a couple years, and I just became single again so we are giving it a shot. I've been taking things very slow with her. Only sleeping over maybe once every 2 weeks. Seeing them for a few hours each day. I'm 30 and she is 26.

Next, the child's behavior: Her 18 month old son's behavior has been getting worse since I've come into the picture, according to her. He whines and cries for unknown reasons. I know part of the problem is that he can't talk besides "Mommy". But according to her, it's since I've been around. She says she thinks he is jealous. She is having a harder time dealing with it than I am. I've caught her crying because of it. He is with her all of the time except the 3 hours she is at school and he is with her mom or her sister. She never had him sleep in his crib, so he won't sleep unless he's laying with someone. Makes "quality time" pretty much impossible.

The question: Does this situation sound familiar to anyone here? Anybody have any suggestions on what we can do to make this go smoother? I'm not blaming him or her or calling either of them a problem. The situation is what it is and we are willing to let him deal with it how he does, but I was wondering if we could do something different. My last ex had 3 boys, 10, 9, & 5. That was much easier because we could talk and explain things to them. This is just a new road to travel. Any pointers would be appreciated.

I posted this question on another board and all I got was 8 pissed off women who basically told me I was selfish. I like the kid. I like being around him. I just wanted some input on how to help him make the transition from "Mommy and Me" to a complete family. I'm not willing to give up on them.

coupons4sarahann said...

Hi! Great blog post! Our 17 month daughter has always wanted to co sleep with us. She sometimes sleeps in the crib. She has never really been a good alone sleeper since birth. My 4 month old son, well he's a "good" sleeper; he'll sleep anywhere anytime. Are your children sleeping by themselves now? I am hoping that my daughter will sleep alone in the nursery when we move he baby in there.

alimac said...

this has been great reading and i agree with a lot of u guys about it is so refreshing to be reading possitive feedback !!our daughter has reflux so has always needed a lot of nursing ,,,she is now 6 months ...staerts of in her crib but always is in our bed by about midnight !and i love it !i bought a bed rail for the side of our bed and have her beside me next to rail...i feel it is completely safe. ...although now she is turning onto her side and cosying right in !which is great ...i do not worry abourt transition ...everything happens at the right time and our children are the biggest blessings we could have so i am going to treasure every moment ...and in the morning when she opens her eyes and smiles ..i feel like the most blessed woman alive .love n smiles .

Unknown said...

I am guessing that a lot of people come to this blog looking for resources on cosleeping and AP parenting (like I did). If so, I would like to share some other resources you may find useful as support for cosleeping... and all the rest! Warmly, a happy cosleeping family of 4 with 2 kids aged 3 and 1!

Unknown said...

Stumbled across this blog entry while researching how to best and most gently transition my 19 month old into her own bed. Actually I really hate to do it, the natural reassurance of having her there and safe is wonderful. Also, cuddly baby :)
But with our second due in May it's presenting itself more and more necessary.. My husband has been wanting the transition for awhile.but teething and moving set us back. He is a rock hard sleeper and prone to sleep walking. In the beginning i was afraid to have the baby away from me through fear he would sleep walk and hold the baby.
My daughter takes after me unfortunately and is a very light, hyperaware sleeper. I am also afraid that when the newborn arrives, between my light sleep, her light sleep, and newborn waking up to be changed and breastfeed, neither myself nor toddler would get enough.sleep.

I do NOT want to do cry it out. I am not opposed to a.modified, more gentle approach.. very apprehensive about the transition.

Alex said...

When do you have time for intimate moments with your wife?

diadima said...

There are a lot of other rooms in a house, Alex.

OZSHRINK said...

Just a word of caution from a father, husband and psychiatrist. Few people mention that co-sleeping profoundly changes the marital relationship, often already under pressure from perpetual exhaustion and the stress of a new baby. The year following childbirth is a high risk period for marital failure, separation, separation & divorce. Studies show that co-sleeping acts as a barrier to the re commencement of intimacy and sexual activity and can turn a previously active sexual relationship into a celibate one. Many sexless relationships begin with the first pregnancy and co-sleeping. Beware that co-sleeping itself is not being unconsciously perpetuated as a means of sex avoidance by one or both parties. Co-Sleeping should be enquired about by health professionals dealing with new parents and couples need to be reminded of the primacy of the marital relationship to the health, happiness and well-being of the entire family, especially children .

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AmyJean {Relentless Bride®} said...

Hey, I'm curious if you ever did have your second and how that transition went? (6 years later)... We currently have a 21 month old and I am like your wife-CIO is not for me. As we contemplate the second, I'm brainstorming a variety of scenarios to make it work. I know the first few months will be be hardest transition. Wondering how others have Handled it.


Mama Kat said...

Stumbled upon this blog like many others. I actually searched 'Co sleeping with 2 year old husband works nights' and this popped up. We have a 25 mo old who until recently has been sleeping in her own crib/own room...sort of. I'd say it's been a struggle since the beginning. I've always classified her as just not that great of a sleeper. I nursed for 16 mos and the whole time there were constant struggles of putting her to sleep and keeping her asleep. Now I feel like we are in a whole new sleep issue chapter. For about 6 mos my daughter would go down in her crib awake, fall asleep and then wake up a few hours later crying. My half asleep self would pop out of bed immediately, incoherent of course, and just pick her up and bring her in bed with me. We have always slept great together and she'll actually sleep in a little. From the beginning though, the idea of co sleeping was not in the cards and was actually just for hippies and pushover parents.

The 'bringing her into my bed in the middle of the night' routine has lasted for months now and was actually really nice. So I've started putting her in my bed for the full bedtime, right from the start, and she loves it. She giggles, we snuggle and read books then it's lights out while I read on my Kindle and she falls asleep. It just feels right. There's no fight to go to bed. No mind games to make her ok with sleeping in her room by herself... and she actually sleeps all the way through... and so do I.

My husband started a night shift about a year ago, so me having an empty bed makes it easier to welcome her in. She's a mover so I run the risk of a foot to the face occasionally but she's also a great cuddler and I've noticed that she likes to have some part of her touching me. I just think that she's one of those kids that doesn't like sleeping alone. Some kids are perfectly fine with it and some need that closeness. I'm glad I found this site because I was really looking for reassurance that what I was song wasn't 'wrong'. I think this just has to be one of those go with your motherly gut things.

Unknown said...

Here's the thing, kids are different. We can pretend that we can force them to act a certain way, but we can only do that to a certain extent. With my first son I tried to get him to sleep in his crib from the very first day, but he just wouldn't have it. I tried it for a week but gave up since I was so exhausted and severely anemic after the birth. After two weeks I tried again and it worked to some extent. I got very little sleep even up until he was a year old. So I gave up and let him sleep in the bed with me. He seemed happier and I got more sleep. He ended up sleeping on his own from 3 years old. My second son was completely different. I had made up my mind that I wouldn't repeat the mistakes I made the first time around, but to my surprise he didn't want t sleep next to me. He just seemed restless and by the second day he was in his crib. He's now 6 and he still hates sleeping next to someone. He's very independent. So, I really do think that some kids are more needy than others. As parents we should really try to get them to sleep alone, but I think you can see if your child is not adapting or is unhappy. Let's not be inflexible as parents because of preconceived ideas and just give our kids the love that they need in the way that they need it.

JNicE818 said...

i loved your blog.i felt as though i could have wrote some of it. our family is also sleeping with our now 19 month in a queen mattress with the box springs out next to the dumpster. lol. difference is, now we have a 2 month old. I was searching online about best ways and times to transition to a toddler bed from co-sleeping..... I think I will wait a bit more, but then put the bed directly against my side of the bed so my toddler can touch me if neccessary to help the transition. Eek

Alice-Rose said...

I know this post is years old but I want to comment and curious... has she slept alone?
my son us 18 months, 6 months in a cot at night and always napped with me during the day.
my recent seperation led us to having no cot so I slept with my son. golly it was hard at first - he wiggles and breastfeeds a lot

now I wouldnt sleep well without his wee body

but here is my news, last week he took me by my hand to sleep in his bed... a toddler bed hes never slept in.

he showed me he was ready.

I would ask him every few days
where do you want to sleep?

you are great parents
this precious connection is so valuable, its also short

great read thank you

Horst said...

As the title suggests, my wife and I share our bed with our daughter, ...

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Unknown said...

My son is 16 months and sleeps with us. we are due in April for our 4th child. My 4yr old twins sleep in their own bed/s. So I can say this. My twins never coslept, mainly because they always had each other. Now at age 4 even though they both have their own twin beds it's extremely uncommon for them not to sleep in the same bed, even if it means curling up to give the other more space.

My littlest one coslept from the start, first in a cosleeper then in the bed with us and we love it. My husband at times hates it because a tiny baby means no spontaneous intimate moments but when I asked if he thought our son should transition to his own crib he said absolutely not. He also likes being near our son to check on him and since he gets up at 4:30am to go to work it's not a big deal since the bed ends us mostly ours after that (along with our cat when she feels like it)

I saw a someone say it's harder with more than one and I just don't agree. We will cosleep with our daughter when she is born also. Her cosleeper will go against our bed nearest me and my son will continue to sleep between us.

As for the talking/unwinding someone else mentioned its not a problem for us. We all lay down together, turn the light off and talk (my son contributes) it's a great bonding moment as a family. We all drift off one by one knowing our loved one's are near. We are now looking at a bigger bed as to accommodate our newest addition.

For us cosleeping is the perfect way to be together before we have to go out seprate ways in the morning. Plus we save tons on our heat since we have each other to smuggle with lol

Unknown said...

My son is 16 months and sleeps with us. we are due in April for our 4th child. My 4yr old twins sleep in their own bed/s. So I can say this. My twins never coslept, mainly because they always had each other. Now at age 4 even though they both have their own twin beds it's extremely uncommon for them not to sleep in the same bed, even if it means curling up to give the other more space.

My littlest one coslept from the start, first in a cosleeper then in the bed with us and we love it. My husband at times hates it because a tiny baby means no spontaneous intimate moments but when I asked if he thought our son should transition to his own crib he said absolutely not. He also likes being near our son to check on him and since he gets up at 4:30am to go to work it's not a big deal since the bed ends us mostly ours after that (along with our cat when she feels like it)

I saw a someone say it's harder with more than one and I just don't agree. We will cosleep with our daughter when she is born also. Her cosleeper will go against our bed nearest me and my son will continue to sleep between us.

As for the talking/unwinding someone else mentioned its not a problem for us. We all lay down together, turn the light off and talk (my son contributes) it's a great bonding moment as a family. We all drift off one by one knowing our loved one's are near. We are now looking at a bigger bed as to accommodate our newest addition.

For us cosleeping is the perfect way to be together before we have to go out seprate ways in the morning. Plus we save tons on our heat since we have each other to smuggle with lol

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out in the open that was with someone new, it confused me why he still stared at me. At first, I thought it was only my imagination, until other co-workers actually started noticing it too. Is he staring at me so that he can feel better that he’s found the
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Unknown said...

I know this was years ago and I am sure you are In a completely different stage of your life now, but reading your views have been refreshing! A lot of your views mirror my own , and I can see that it has worked for you and you no doubt have raised strong and confident children

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