Wednesday, June 27, 2012

co-sleeping and the family bed

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hi.  my name is andie.  and i'm a co-sleeper.

back when i taught preschool, and people would talk about having their baby/child sleep with them, i used to think "are you stinkin' crazy?"  and then Bear was born....

the first 4-5 months were rough {i'm not sure about the time, it was a sleep-deprived haze}.  i woke about ever 3-4 hours to nurse after falling asleep sitting up in the recliner with him in my arms.  as many of you know, this lack of sleep totally impairs daytime mood and functioning.

once Bear got too heavy for the bassinet in the pack-n-play, we set up the crib.  i left the drop side off and secured the crib to the bed.  we also pinned it between the bed and the call.  i wanted Bear close enough that i could sleep with my hand near Bear as that seemed to help him.  he didn't adjust well to the crib at all.  he'd be sound asleep after nursing and rocking to sleep.  within minutes of putting him down in the crib, he'd wake up crying. 

i'm not sure why i did it, but one night, i laid him on our bed before putting him in the crib.  he slept.  and slept. and slept.  i talked it over with my lactation consultant and she suggested co-sleeping and night-nursing

now, 3 years later, he's still snuggled up with me every night.  sometimes people look at me strange, or shake their head, or offer unsolicited advice that "he's gotta sleep on his own sometime."  i shrug it off. and we press on...

i love this diagram.... and the site it comes from, How to Be a Dad is hilarious!
Baby Sleep Positions from

here are some other mommas' takes on co-sleeping:

We have a family bed because it just feels right.    I'm perfectly fine giving them that security as long as they need it.    
-Erin from Royal Baloo

It comforts me to know that my son is sleeping safely and happily and it gives my son that extra security. I love waking up to my son's smiling face and sweet little voice.
-Amy from Z is for Zel

We don't have a family bed, but we do part time co-sleeping. When she was toddler I was in there full time. Here's her bed.  [My husband] has no problems with it because that's how he grew up.
-Rebekah from The Golden Gleam

I have always co-slept and it has got us through the hardest times. In the early days my boy breastfed through the night and I would sleep with my body cocooned around his. I know that this is where he feels safe and happiest while things are tough for us.  Also I should add, I love it, it's where I feel happiest and safest and I can snuggle up with my boy and feel content.
-Charlotte from Make Do and Friend
We have a family bed.  It just feels right to me as a mother. I just love snuggling up with babies. My daughter started sleeping in her own bed at 4.5 yo so now it is only my son (2.5yo) with us. Here is a post I wrote about cosleeping and transition to own bed.   
-Isil from Smiling Like Sunshine

We co-slept with Jake for 2 years.  It was so comforting feeling his little warm body next to me and so lovely waking up to a happy little boy.  We are now co-sleeping with Jake's little sister (3 mo). She breastfeeds during the night whenever she needs to and wakes up smiling every morning.  I feel its such a natural, comforting and wonderful thing to do and encourages healthy sleep for a lifetime.
-Katherine from
Creative Playhouse

We don't mean to, but it often ends up that way. My husband finds it hard to sleep with feet in his face, but I love it and know it, too, will soon slip away, so I'm cherishing those opportunities to snuggle.
-Jane from
Mama Pea Pod

We have 4 in the bed, it doesn't start out that way, but at some point in the evening they both make their way to our room.  My feelings are that it's our nature to sleep together, I have co-slept with both as babies as it was easier for nursing and as they got older they have the freedom to come and go.
-Cerys from Rainy Day Mum

We had a family bed...until they were ready to sleep in their own room at night (at about 2 years old). They also had a floor bed in their own room, but they really only slept on it for naps during the day when they were infants and toddlers.

We started cosleeping when my son came home from the hospital.  It just felt like the right thing to do. He was a very sickly child and we had many sleepless nights. However, by cosleeping, everyone in the family slept more.  Now he still begins in our bed -- and ends in our bed. We move him to his bed when he gets very sleepy, and then when my husband gets up in the morning, he puts him back in bed with me. I truly believe my son's love language is touch, as he is forever asking to snuggle with me. (He'll be six this weekend.) 
-Leanne from Montessori Tidbits

We have a family bed ~ completely unplanned... There is nothing better then snuggling down together for a good nights sleep... My little one usually has her first sleep of the night in her cot, and then the rest of the night in with us. My son usually comes in early in the morning. I just wish we'd bought a king sized bed!
-Kelly from Happy Whimsical Hearts

I'm in bed with my boys right now. I had a co-sleeper that sat next to our bed when I nursed. My oldest stopped nursing and ended up sleeping in his crib at 14 months. He is just about 6. My youngest, 3, still needs me to lay with him. He nursed until 26 months. He needs and is used to that close contact. I sleep better with my boys.
-Evie from PlayAway Online

My son starts out in his crib, but ends up in bed with me by the morning. He wakes up a LOT and it's just easier for me to sleep with him. We co-slept with my daughter as a baby, but she actually had a really hard time sleeping with us in the room. Once we moved her, she slept through the night and still does. Baby brother...not so much. :) By sleeping with him I get more rest and feel less sleep-deprived than if I always put him back after I nursed him.
-Adrienne from The Iowa Farmer's Wife

We've co-slept since my son was 7 months old. If anyone told me we'd still be (happily) doing it at almost 4 years I would have laughed but honestly, I wouldn't change it for anything. He starts off in his own bed now but by about 11pm he moves into our bed. This won't be forever and if that's what he needs to feel safe and happy then so be it. I love waking up to his smiling face and I'll miss him when he finally moves to his own bed.
-Ness from One Perfect Day

Whenever I do classes and someone asks if it's a problem that their child sleeps in their bed or still breastfeeds or what have you, my first question is, "Is it a problem for YOU or your family?" I think it's one of those things where you weigh out the info, but ultimately there isn't a right or wrong answer to get from an "expert". It something that has to work for your family when you consider personalities, needs, and expectations.
-Amanda from Not Just Cute

Our co-sleeping experience started after my eldest self weaned at 18mths he would start the night in his own bed then come to us when he woke up. My daughter was in with us from day 0 and she moved to her own bed at the start of the night after she self weaned at 23mths. She would come to us for a snuggle in the middle of the night but always ask to go back to her own bed!
-Alison from Heavenly Handmades

i would love to hear from you about your co-sleeping experiences.  share with us in the comments :)

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here are some other great co-sleeping resources {even one for kiddos}

**this post is in no way meant to replace the guidance of a medical professional.  Andie Jaye and can in no way be held responsible for any injuries or death as a result of implementing practices in this post.**


Kelley @ I Forgot To Socialize The Kids! said...

Love this! The diagram always givs me a chuckle.

We too have a family (of 4!) bed. Initially, my oldest (now 3, almost 4) and I started out co-sleeping because my husband was overseas. When he came home he wanted him close, so he stayed. When it was time for the new babe (now almost 2) to get here, the solution was obvious: Get a bigger bed!
My oldest only recently weaned, and now sometimes asks to sleep in his bed, but he always ends up back with us before the night is through. My babe is still very consitently night (and day, for that matter!) nursing, and though he does have his own bed in our room, has shown absolutely no interest in it, apart from piling it high with all of the pillows and diving in.
For us, there is really no "cut off" age. We will continue to bed share as long as everyone is feeling good about it.

Au Pair said...

The baby sleep positions are hilarious!

I guess as long as it works and it makes things easier than why not? I suppose all kids grow out of it sooner or later.

PlayDrMom said...

Great post, Andie! We co-sleep with Honor (my 3 year old daughter) for many of the same reasons you listed. She was never a great sleeper and has night terrors. I was so sleep deprived I couldn't function ... co-sleeping seemed like our only option ... and it works. We plan to transition her into her own room when we are all ready!

Alison said...

That diagram is so funny!
Our co-sleeping experience started the same as yours and after my eldest self weaned at 18mths he would start the night in his own bed then come to us when he woke up. My daughter was in with us from day 0 and she moved to her own bed at the start of the night after she self weaned at 23mths. She would come to us for a snuggle in the middle of the night but always ask to go back to her own bed!


Shelley said...

We co-slept with my first child (daughter) from about 3 months and she is 3 1/2 and still sleeps with us. Sure wish I could get her out of the bed, because she kicks and slaps me and my husband in the back. Now we have a 10 month old along in the bed with us. He slept in his bassinet all night till he was about 8 months and then we moved him to his bed and he slept there for a month or so and now I can not get him to sleep in his own bed...I love them sleeping with me, but mommy needs some sleep bad!

Happy Whimsical Hearts said...

Hee hee hee, I will have to show my husband the diagram! It is great. And I really enjoyed reading this post Andie :-)

Amanda said...

We don't officially co-sleep but every once in a while one or both of the boys have a bad night and end up in our bed, as others have said, it soon passes and its a time to just snuggle up and cherish the cuddles. The punches and kicks to face and smelly boy farts I could do without but they are a package deal!

MaryAnne said...

One of my siblings posted that baby sleep positions sign on facebook a while ago - love it!

We have the Arm's Reach mini cosleeper, which I adore for tiny babies. Older babies usually just end up in our bed. We don't even have a crib for baby #4 - we'll use the cosleeper while she's small, and if it looks like she will sleep in her own bed we'll see about finding a crib. If she's anything like her siblings, though that crib would end up using up valuable space in our (relatively) small home.

Unknown said...

Thanks for writing this! Co-sleeping in our house has been one of those hush hush things we just don't share with the world... Both of my children had been co sleepers just about all of their lives with us! My daughter has pretty much always been in our room because of her breathing issues... I feel more comfortable just hearing her breathe... We have a large room and a twin bed for her off to the side. My son, off and on, in and out of our bed. I used to worry that I was damaging them in some way, that they wouldn't be able to handle the world on their own in some way. He is now eleven and has transitioned just fine into his bed and room without any issues.

I can't remember a night for almost 14 years that I don't fall asleep with or wake up with a child in my bed or on the floor next to my bed!

Anonymous said...

My daughter is almost 3 and we have been co-sleeping since day 1. I had to wean her at 7 months because I had a hysterectomy followed by chemo for ovarian cancer and co-sleeping was such a source of comfort and blessing for me, my husband, and our daughter. We still treasure every slap and kick and hope that we will be able to adopt soon and add more babies to our bed. Thanks for sharing the sleep positions. The "H" is our daughter's favorite, but since it is our monogram we think it fits us well.

The Iowa Farmer's Wife said...

How did I miss this post?! LOVE it and i loved reading everyone else's takes on it too! I used to cringe too until I had kids! :)

Unknown said...

I'm so behind on reading posts! I love this one! You know exactly where I'm at... totally said I would never have a child sleeping with me. Each of our oldest two have slept with us some way or another and the third I would put in our bed if she would actually sleep but she WONT! She's wide away if I lay down with her.... little stinker... I terribly wish she would because at 12months she still nurses 2-3x a night!!!! Thanks for the awesome post Andie!!!

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