June 28th, 2007

Your Turn: Multiple Co-Sleeping

A Reader Writes:
My youngest is 17 months and sleeping with us. We are all happy with this arrangement but we are due to have another baby in 3 months and I would like to hear about people’s experiences with co-sleeping with two babies. Is it possible? Is it lunacy? She is no longer breastfed but still wakes with teething and I can see that happening for quite a while. Also, since she has stopped feeding, she goes down for a sleep with a bottle and a cuddle from me if necessary. I lie down next to her and she relaxes and goes to sleep. I love this time and part of me hates to lose it. But am I being unrealistic? The other part of me thinks “get her used to going to sleep in the crib by herself so it’s not so traumatic when the baby comes.”

We have never officially called it co-sleeping with two babies, but we surely have had multiple children in our bed at night. Sometimes it’s nice and sometimes it’s … really, really not. They key is figuring out and doing what works best for your family regardless of what the books, the mothers-in-law, the friends, and other “experts” might tell you. You probably won’t know exactly how you will like multiple co-sleeping until it happens.

For now, I think the key words you have used are “I love this time.” If you love your current sleep arrangements you should not feel pressured change them in anticipation of the new baby’s arrival. Every baby, every toddler, every mother, and every father is unique. They all have different needs and different preferences. I would suggest you keep an open mind and remain flexible about your family’s sleep arrangements as you head into the coming months. You might all co-sleep and love it. Or you (or Dad) might find your sleep is too disturbed and you need to find ways to encourage the toddler to sleep on her own. Be open to doing whatever works best for your family – even if it’s not what you envisioned as “ideal” all those years ago before you had children – and it will work out best for your family.

53 comments to Your Turn: Multiple Co-Sleeping

  • Jen

    Another option might be snuggling with her in HER bed. My husband is a light sleeper so what works for us is having a bed in the baby’s room and putting a toddler in a bed, rather than a crib. That way at bed time we can snuggle together and fall asleep or if the child wakes at night I can sleep with him/her for awhile but my husband still gets a good night’s sleep. My husband’s parents always laid with their(5) children until they fell asleep but in the child’s bed, not theirs. If your daughter is 17 mos. old you may want to skip the crib. For my second daughter we put the box spring and mattress on the floor so we didn’t worry so much if she rolled out(We put part of an old fence on the wall and decorated it with silk flowers and called it her flower bed–she loved it.) I agree with Danielle–go with whatever gives everyone in your house the most sleep:)

  • Joan

    When my second daughter was 17 months old and still nursing, my first son arrived. We "weaned" her off sleeping with us a few weeks before the new baby arrived. I just felt it would be too crowded with 2 babies in the bed with us. I continued to nurse her till she was 3 years old, and yes, sometimes she came in our bed, but most of the time she slept through the whole night, which she had not done since she was born. So, for us it did have the benefit of helping her sleep through the night. We could then have the freedom to be doting new parents of our next baby, and that precious bonding time was ours alone. Believe me, we had more then one child in our bed on numerous occasions, and we didn’t mind at all. What you do, is your personal decision, and you never know, you may have to rearrange the sleeping arrangements a few times before you are comgortable. Many Blessings to you and your family!

  • Sandyone

    What Danielle said! If everyone-in-one-bed seems to not be working, there are lots of alternatives. Dad can move out for a couple of nights/months/occasions. You can bring the crib mattress and put it on the floor next to your bed. We’ve taken the railing off of the crib and used it as a side-car. Sometimes, *I* was the one in the crib (poor crib!) while the kids were in the bed.

    Musical beds seems to be how it works out for us. Every morning is an adventure…you never know where you’ll wake up!

  • Amy

    I have done multiple co sleeping many times and sometimes for long periods of time. We still all sleep in same room and I still have 3 in my bed every morning. I think when you have a new baby it’s wise to let the older one keep sleeping with you until they’re used to all the changes, and then when you’re both ready, maybe a new sleeping arrangement can be made. And of course, just make sure everyone’s safe in the bed, but that goes without saying. I’ve learned in my short time of being a mother that all the little things that you worry about ie: sleeping arrangements, pacifiers, bottles, baby talk from toddlers, children born very close together, or whatever it is – that all those things truly do work themselves out and you really don’t need to worry much about them. I’m currently trying to worry only about the big things like my family members souls.

    And Danielle, you couldn’t be more right by saying not to listen to others negative advice on the subject, because everyone knows what works for them best. I always say, it’s better to be the best mom you can be to your children, then it is to be the best daughter-in-law or the best friend, or the best anything else.

  • Jen

    My 2 oldest children were about the same age difference as your youngest will be. My oldest was VERY needy. He has always had trouble sleeping alone…he is 5 now and is finally starting to come out of that. My husband and I started creating a bedtime ritual with him in his own room with his own bed about 2 months before I was due with our daughter. It made him feel special and gave us lots of time for him to adjust and helped us prepare for the new baby too.
    If you don’t want to move your daughter out of your room completely, put a little bed of some sort (maybe a sleeping bag if she likes that idea better) beside your bed or at the foot of your bed. My sister started this, because she consistently had 3 children in her bed!! She co-slept with multiple children and found there was no longer any room for her husband, which she found unacceptable. You will find the right solution for your family. Good luck and congratulations on your upcoming miracle!

  • We have also used the big bed (matress on floor)for little guys so that I can lay down and nurse, or cuddle someone to sleep/back to sleep. It worked well for the firt two, but not #3. She didn’t want me to leave. We worried and debated and wonder if we have "spoiled" her as so many warn you about…but recenly (on our trip to Rome no less!) she suddenly decided that sleeping in a port-a-crib with a bottle was just the ticket for her. For the first time in 15 months I don’t have her in my bed or me in hers waking me up every two hours.
    My experience has told me so far that the whole sleeping arrangement debate is all about what works best for your family. We have not had kids in our bed on a regular basis once they achieve toddler hood and have successfully transferred to a big bed or crib (each kid has done this differently so far), but we tend to be hands on with night time stuff, responding quickly to cries at night. One night we were entertaining and I had quickly responded to my daughters cries from her bed. The friend that was visiting asked why and I said because she wanted me to come and see her, he wondered if I would let her drive at 10 if she wanted to. Obviosly not!
    Sleeping habits are important but flexible, often changing and can be unique to particular kids and families. My advice is don’t get caught up in the theory of it all, the abstract wondering what is best for your child’s ultimate psyche…just do what your mother’s heart tells you is best for now and know that this may change two weeks/two months/certainly two years down the line.

  • We co-sleep and my daughter was 20 months when my son arrived. I knew that with the changes of having a new baby in the house she didn’t need such a big change as getting put in a different bedroom so I pushed a toddler bed next to our bed and let her sleep in that. Sometimes she would spend all night in the toddler bed and other nights she would end up in our bed half way through the night but it made things much easier. When she did end up in our bed I made sure that I was always between her and the baby so that she didn’t accidently roll over on him. Now my daughter is three and sleeps in her own room, though hubby sometimes sleeps in there on another bed to get some space and get a good nights sleep. My son just turned two and I am gradually putting him in the toddler bed to "wean" him from our bed. It works well and is a gradual change. I highly recommend getting your daughter a toddler bed and pushing it agaisnt yours so that she feels close to you but you can have your space. If she were pushed into her own room so soon before the baby she may be extra jealous and upset with all the changes once baby arrives. Good luck and do what works for you!!!

  • Like the other posters, do what works best for your family. However, if you are thinking seriously about your toddler out of the bed, I think it is easier to do it a month or two before the baby comes. Changing bedtime routines is a dramatic change, and I wouldn’t want to combine it with another dramatic change, a new sibling.

    Also, I assume your toddler can sleep alone with Daddy, too. If not, I would work on that or moving her to the crib. You do not know what is going to happen with your birth – C-section, complications, baby’s health- and you may spend more time in the hospital than you expect. I think it is important to prepare your toddler to be without you for sometime to lessen the disturbance in her life if, God forbid, there were complications. My daughter had health issues her first few months of life, and I had to spend nights at the hospital that I did not forsee. Also, it would have been very unsafe for a toddler to be sleeping in the bed with her because of her condition. I know this is not the norm, but it is important to at least have a feasible Plan B ready in case of emergencies.

  • Tina D

    Ditto what Danielle and others said… you will find what works for your family. You might have to try different things, though. I made the mistake of thinking I would do exactly the same thing with my son as I did with my daughter, who was 22 months old when her brother was born. My daughter almost always ended up in our bed at night, either falling asleep there or coming in the middle of the night. I wanted very much to bring my son into bed (we did until he was 5 months old) but it just didn’t work. He was too noisy! He would not only wake me up but also his sister and daddy as well. So one crying baby, cranky toddler, annoyed father and crabby mom later, we decided to keep the baby in his crib all night. I used some tips from "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley (which I believe I saw in Danielle’s Amazon store!), and eventually it worked. He now sleeps anywhere from eight to 11 hours at night in his crib (he is now 13 months old). If he wakes I go to him and can almost always pat him back to sleep. If he’s really upset (usually by teething) I do bring him into bed, keeping myself between he and his sister (she’s a much deeper sleeper now at 3 than she was at 2, so she doesn’t usually wake when he comes in). I kind of feel guilty about keeping him in his crib all night while letting his sister sleep in our bed, but when he figures all that out I will be happy to let him into our bed! Then we’ll find something else that works. This is working for now.

  • anon

    Sorry I don’t have time to read all the comments but the Dr. Sears site says: "Don’t allow older siblings to sleep with a baby under nine months. Sleeping children do not have the same awareness of tiny babies as do parents, and too small or too crowded a bed space is an unsafe sleeping arrangement for a tiny baby."– http://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/t102200.asp

    I thought I’d read something else about under 2 years — I don’t remember if it was don’t let older siblings sleep in the same bed with a child under 2 or not. That same page linked above and probably other things I have read also say not to put baby between mother and father but on the mother’s side instead.

  • Here’s a live link to the Dr. Sears site mentioned by the commenter below.

  • I had not heard of co-sleep-although I had heard of nursing laying down- when I first got married. We did not have a large enough bed for it but did it anyway because I had a CSect and getting up and down to the crib was hard. However over the years we have had many instances when cosleeping as a habit would have been hard.
    With my last 2 babies I also had teens. If we went to bed early they tended to get into trouble. Or one being sick and my prefering not to have the bug spread through the whole house if I could help it. Also with planned CSects and being in the hospital for a week I wanted the ones left at home comfortable falling asleep on their own.
    Our compromise is special time at tucking– I prefer lullabies some prefer a story, a kiss, hug and blessing. If they wake for any reason they are welcome to join us till the probelem is solved. This is a good barometer for how they are doing emotionally and physically. The one feeling ignored or left out is the one who wakes up signally I need to spend more attention on their needs. The one feeling so-so is quicker to speak up if it prevents them from falling asleep.
    It is sad when it ends. My youngest had stopped coming in completely till last night. She had been away at Grandma’s for the first time and needed extra mom-time. It was a real gift to me since my oldest moved out this week to start college. (talk about sad!)

    PS The other thing we did that encouraged them to feel they could visit us and yet have their own bed was to use toddler beds instead of a crib by 1 1/2. It started because they were able to climb out of the crib by that age but helped in many other ways. Just gate the stairs.

  • Dani

    I’m sure I’m echoing other comments here, but it doesn’t have to be all or none. There are a lot of options that fall somewhere between co-sleeping and totally independent crib sleeping. When we were a few months from baby number two, we knew our queen bed would be too crowded for 4, so we got a twin mattress and put it on the floor right next to our bed. Then my dh or I could snuggle with ds and we would start the night with ds1 on the twin bed, and dh, baby, and I in our bed. By morning, dh is sometimes in the twin alone while ds is in bed with me and baby, sometimes ds and dh are in the twin together, and sometimes ds sleeps the night through in his bed. It’s a flexible arrangement 🙂 For our family, this has worked well. Danielle was so right on with encouraging you to follow your instincts on this one.

  • Anonymous

    I have always started to make the older child feel "big" now b/c a baby is coming. start now so that it is enough ample time to see how getting bigger is an awesome thing!

    a fried used a crib mattress next to the bed for a while in transistion.
    i have given them a big boy/girl bed and really went to all lentgths to decorate their bedroom they way they wanted it done-gives a sense of ownership.
    i have also had a friend that co-sl;ept with her 2 s and her husband for a long time and all turnedout fine.
    #1-Pray! Ask God what is best for you all.
    #2-Do it!

  • marion

    im sorry to be negative but in UK official advice is do not sleep with a newborn infant in your bed overlaying and smothering does happen and increases chances of cot death and thats from our dept of health! other than that, we have a saying you make a rod for your own back. i know many co-sleep with toddlers but its much better to get them in their own beds. just have crib next to you for newborns, i guess large families were there is always another baby you dont end up with too many in bed, but how long before the last one becomes a problem because they wont sleep alone ever? its a common problem the odd cuddle after fright is one thing but automatic bed sharing ?not a good idea parents should have at least their bed to themselves most of the time and its not very hygenic either!

  • Liz

    I appreciate the answers to this question as I’m in a similar situation but with the toddler still nursing. It is nice to know that worrying about this transition is normal – and that there are so many potential solutions to try!

    And I appreciate your concerns, Marion – fears of co-sleeping are not unique to the UK as the American Academy of Pediatrics has also condemned co-sleeping. There are legit concerns to address if you are a co-sleeping family (and much research has been done on the topic – Dr. James McKenna and Dr. Sears have solid research), but hygene, fears of children never sleeping alone, and too many in bed seem to be cultural fears to me 😉

  • Joan

    " comgortable"

    HAHA, now that is a funny word. What I meant was "comfortable" LOL. It’s not very comfortable reading that odd word LOL.

    Carol, You seem to be in quite the similiar situation that we were years ago. It’s amazing how they can sleep through the night when they are "out of the box". That is really something to think about.
    Everyone’s comments are interesting and show’s the many diverse ways that families do things. The attitude "my way or the highway " certainly does not apply here LOL.
    Have a great day everyone.

  • "most of the time and its not very hygenic either!"

    lol! I’m sorry, I’m honestly not trying to pick on you Marion, but this just cracked me up! How is co-sleeping not hygenic exactly? That’s one argument I really haven’t heard. These children came out of my own body, were in my arms or their father’s arms almost constantly for months, and at 17 months were still nursing from my breast. What cooties could I possibly give them that they haven’t already been exposed to?

    I’d encourage people that reject co-sleeping because of being afraid of smothering their baby to research that further. The studies that show this are very badly done and do not at all differentiate between parents that are safely co-sleeping (i.e., minimal if any bedcovers, firm mattress, unmedicated parents) from a parent that fell asleep on a waterbed with their baby after taking too many vicodin. Much better done studies have actually shown that the risk of SIDS is less when a baby is co-sleeping than alone in a crib. Parents have safely co-slept with their babies for many generations before Jenny Lind came along. 🙂

    That all being said, Danielle is right, this is one of those "do what works for your family" situations. Some co-sleep with whomever wants to climb in and love it. Some parents can’t sleep at all with a child in the bed. Many, including us, have found a middle ground. I really do sleep better alone…but I sleep better with a baby than in a chair nursing half the night, so once we reach a certain age I help them learn to start out the night in a crib and then bring them to bed with us when they wake to nurse during the night. The babies temperment makes a big difference too. I’ve had one that would *not* sleep out of arms and one that hated co-sleeping…so what works for your family at one point may not work when the next comes along.

  • paigeu

    nope. don’t do it. not for me. that much family togetherness would drive me bonkers.

    Mostly I am just greedy. I want to cuddle with my husband all night and you can’t do that when you are sandwiched between two munchkins. Plus…sometimes we watch movies before we go to bed and we certainly don’t want to be restricted to "G" ratings.

    I try to get kids out of the bed by 6mo…but I went to a year with one more needy child.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with it though, if it is mutually acceptable to all parties.

  • Missy

    As far as research goes…you can find pros and cons of co-sleeping…my favorite is Dr.James McKenna..an advocate of co-sleeping. There are many cultures around the world who co-sleep and the S.I.D.S. rate is extremely low…His research is very interesting. Also Dr. David Servan-Schreiber has good info. on co-sleeping or the family bed. It’s your decision…do what works for your family.

    We co-sleep. It’s just easier when breastfeeding. We also have more than one child in our bed at once. Sometimes I wake up and all 4 are in the bed. We have the "Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper" attached to our bed and our baby always sleeps in that or right beside me next to the co-sleeper with the other children on the other side of me…between my husband and I. This has worked for our family…my older girls do sleep in the own bed most everynight…occassionally sneaking in some point during the night…unless it’s keeping everyone awake, it isn’t an issue.

  • Due to deliver our second child in a few days, we’ve had to address this issue over the course of the last few months, too. We gradually started moving our son out of our bed by following some advice from Elizabeth Pantley’s "No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers." We found gentle ways to introduce him to his own bed in his own room, and we’ve come a long way, though we’re still working now on getting him to sleep all night without Dad. I don’t want the toddler in the same bed as a newborn for the newborn’s safety, having read warnings about that, as a previous commenter mentioned. I’m sure we’re in for some more interesting nights coming up, but I’m not sure how to plan for them, so we’ll just go with the flow!

  • Bethany

    Let me preface this by saying that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and what works for one family doesn’t necessarily work for the next family, or what works for one child might not work for the next one. I’m sure we’re all familiar with and would agree with the above statment.

    Also, it goes without saying that to be a mother means to live a life of sacrifice. And the same goes for being a father. Albeit the sacrifices are different, but nonetheless bringing children into the world and raising them is a calling that requires much of oneself.

    We as parents, and as husbands and wives need to take some time for ourselves and for our spouses. For stay at home Mom’s or Dad’s, we are constantly doing things with and for our children. Therefore, when your with your children during the day, and then they sleep with you at night (and by children I mean 12 months and up) where does that special husband and wife time come in?

    When my son was born (he’s now 15 months) I really thought we would cosleep on a long term basis. I nursed him as an infant and continued nursing him until he decided he was finished at 13-months-old. Around 4-5 months, the cosleeping became too uncomfortable and no one was getting any sleep. We had to make a change.

    Everyone has the stories and reasons for why co-sleeping works and/or doesn’t work for their family. I’m not undermining anyone’s reasons for wanting the best for their children. Keep in mind however, that your children also need to see a healthy relationship between you and your spouse. I think it’s important for children to understand that Mommy and Daddy need some "alone" time everynight. If co-sleeping is putting too much stress on your marriage because you don’t have that opportunity to be "alone," than, re-evaluate and make some changes.

  • I just wanted to add a quip to Bethany’s comment below. I know co-sleeping is not for every family and each family must do what is best for them, but, it is not good to assume that co-sleeping automatically has a negative impact on mom and dad’s marriage!! This is coming from a voice of experience, as we have had 2 or more children in our bed since we have had 2 or more children, and our nineth little one is due in 2 months. Obviously there has been no harm to our marital relationship because of that! 🙂

  • We don’t co-sleep because my husband needs his space and sharing a bed with me was enough of an adjustment. Our daughter has slept with us in the occasion of threatened tornadoes and once or twice while sick (she will be one year in a week), but even as a breastfed around the clock newborn, she slept in her own bed.

    One comment here seemed a little out of line to me and I’d be glad to say why: "I’d encourage people that reject co-sleeping because of being afraid of smothering their baby to research that further. The studies that show this are very badly done and do not at all differentiate between parents that are safely co-sleeping (i.e., minimal if any bedcovers, firm mattress, unmedicated parents) from a parent that fell asleep on a waterbed with their baby after taking too many vicodin." Melanie, while everyone should do their own research, a mother of nine in our parish who has co-slept with all her children smothered her eighth child and he died. She did not sleep on a water bed, and she and her husband did not even use sheets when co-sleeping with an infant and she had unmedicated vaginal births and was one not to take an aspirin for a headache. She rolled onto the baby while asleep (she’s also 5’4" and weighs about 110 lbs) covering his face and he suffocated. She would be crushed to read those comments generalizing parents who have smothered children. Please be careful with the generalizations as they are just that–general. It can happen to anyone and all of us should be careful whether co-sleeping or not.

    And as someone else said, pray on it and do what you feel you are guided to do in your heart by God.

  • I had a single friend ask me, in a curious and slightly hushed tone, "what we did" about the two year old being in our bedroom (he sleeps on a crib mattress on the floor next to our bed). What she meant, of course, was "how do you manage to have a sex life?!" The answer, put delicately, is that we learned to be somewhat open minded about where and when we ‘spend quality time together’. If anything, it has prevented us from falling into any sort of rut as far as alone time is concerned. We’re hoping to have another one in the next year, and I’m thinking a twin mattress on one side for him, and a crib mattress on the other for baby, should have us all happy together.

    NB. we only have one bedroom. If we had more living space, the toddler might already be in his own room. But you make do, as our g

  • Kristen, no, my comment was not meant to be general or offensive. I’d really not ever heard a legitimate story of a smothering death. But thank you for sharing that one.

  • Bethany

    To Lisa:

    My comments were not made to suggest that "I’m automatically assuming cosleeping has a negative impact on mom and dad’s marriage!!" As I said, each family has to do what works for them. From talking to other mothers about cosleeping, I know from experience that bringing someone else into the mom and dad’s bed changes a marriage. For some relationships, they are able to adapt, for others, it might not be a healthy situation. Just be certain that the lines of communication are kept open so that both parties are in agreement.

    In addition….

    There are a lot of Mom’s commenting on this subject who are advocates of cosleeping, but I feel that it’s important for those of us who don’t cosleep to understand that our kids will still love us and grow up to be confident and independant adults even though they haven’t coslept.

    When I was doing my cosleeping research, this was a constant topic I came across. However, there are many other ways to raise confident and independant children and cosleeping isn’t the end all be all.

  • paigeu

    I agree with Bethany.

    I think the needs in each marriage are extremaly different…but I know mine really benefited from ending co-sleeping early.

    I think that if anything my hope would be that if someone was reading this thread and was experiencing difficulties or just generally ‘missing that special something’ in their marriage, that they would consider the option of making their night/sleeping time to be exclusively for them and their spouse.

    Each spouse has love languages, and life with a lot of kids can make it difficult to meet those. I know my spouses most significant relationship need is physical affection, and there just isn’t a lot of time for that. Now I can write him love letters and we could find time for "procreative activities" without much problem, but just spending time embraced and cuddled next to eachother did not happen when co-sleeping and it appears that that is what it needed the most.

    I aso think that it is important to keep in mind that while us moms nurse our babies and get filled with all the warm fuzzies that experience allows, our husbands don’t get that experience. They don’t get the oxytocin release that causes us to go all goo-goo over our babies. So a co-sleeping experience that is very pleasant for the mother may not be shared by the father (on the other hand I realize some fathers enjoy co-sleeping as much as the moms…I am not meaning to generalize).

    I guess my point the same as bethanys- consider the mans point of view first because that is more important. Children don’t *need* to share a bed with you (though I understand the benefits) but your children most certainly need their parents to have a great marriage.

  • Mary

    I don’t think a husband should ever feel that he needs to leave his marriage bed with his wife to make room for children — one child, three children, whatever. I think it is important for children to view their parents’ bed as just that: their parents’ bed. As Danielle said, if it works for both the husband and the wife to invite their child(ren) into their bed, then that works. But I think it would be problematic for a husband to feel that there wasn’t room for him in his own bed. It just doesn’t seem right to me. I would sooner put a crib mattress at the foot of the bed for extra children (as Danielle has shared in one of her books).

  • Missy

    I do agree with an earlier post…co-sleeping has in a way forced my husband and I to be more creative as far as intimacy goes…which makes it more exciting!!! But if having my children in our bed caused problems between us, the kids would be out…I think I"m ready for them to leave our bed before my husband is!!

  • Anonymous

    All this comes down to being a "United Front" towards the children.
    If both husband and wife are aok with co-sleeping then be it; or if not, so be it.
    We need to acknowledge that it is coming down to communicaiton between spouses. If there is communication- good listening as well as good nice speaking and frequently- then this would not be an issue (issue I mean of husband maybe feeling left out and wanted out of bed).
    I agree with the Anon. to PRay upon a decison- if praying together-even better.

  • This is a response to Mary about a husband shouldn’t leave a bed to make room for the children. I agree, but there are some people that just don’t like sleeping with people period. My husband and I are sort of like this. I don’t mind having a small baby body next to me but my husband and I have never been very comfortable sleeping next to one another. Maybe that is because all we have ever had was a full size bed so that even without children we felt cramped. My husband likes to pile the blankets on and I don’t, I move a lot which bothers my husband, and so on. My husband often sleeps in the second bed in my daughter’s room and neither of us mind, as I get more space in bed and my husband gets better sleep. This does not affect our marriage since we feel that sleep time is for sleeping and we can still do the cuddling and other activities other times. It may be an odd arrangement, but just like co-sleeping, different things work for different families. As long as everyone is happy in whatever you do than that is the important thing!

  • Catherine

    Just do what feels right to you and your husband. Before the birth of our second child, we moved our first out of our bed into his own room (at 24 months). But we still laid down with him to go to sleep, and since he was still night-waking for several months after our second was born, my husband would go in his room and sleep with him for the second half of the night. It made no difference to our son where he slept as long as we were available when he needed help going to or back to sleep. True, it would be simpler if you could just lay your toddler down in a crib once the baby comes; if you’re not comfortable with that now, you can always try that at the time if you find your current situation can’t adapt to having another one in the bed. Our second child was so much less needy, and so much more squirmy, that we moved him out much earlier (15 months). We still lay down with him to go to sleep too, though. I have to admit the months since we moved him to his brother’s room have allowed for a flowering of intimacy between my husband and me! Now we are expecting twins so we’ll have two in the bed afer all. 🙂

  • Before my husband and I had kids, he was dead set against having them sleep in our bed at all. He wanted to make sure that the kids knew the crib was their bed. We had our son and he slept in a bassinet right next to my side. When he outgrew that, he moved into a crib and started sleeping through the night but once he hit 6-7 months he began waking every hour, sometimes more often. At that point, we moved him into our bed, after his first night waking. We all slept so much better, and I think that is an understatement. Now, he is a lovely 4-yr old who spends most of the night in his own bed. It’s surprising if on any given morning we have at least one of the 3 in our bed. The 6-month old sleeps through the night most of the time, so he doesn’t count.

    Our kids have managed to find who they like to sleep next to best as well. My 4-yr old loves to snuggle up nice and tight right next to me while the 2-yr old prefers her dad. I suppose we could really manage a 3rd in there but it sure would be tight and for now, it works for us and we are more than happy to invite them in after waking in the night. And if things get particularly cramped, we pick one up and move him/her back to their respective bed where more than likely they will stay until morning.

  • Anonymous

    Is it possible? Based on the comments, it is possible if everyone (especially your husband) is happy with the new arrangement.
    Is it lunacy? Some of us think so because it wouldn’t work for us, but others believe it is best and it works for them. You can always give it a try and make changes if you find it is not working.
    Am I being unrealistic? If you think having a new baby won’t change anything then yes. It’s hard when our children don’t need us as much as they did in certain regards, but we don’t want to keep them from growing up. We can’t force their independence but we don’t want to hold them back and make them dependent on us when they begin to take those little steps towards independence. My 5yo still wants me to lay down with her and rub her back at night while she falls asleep, but my 3yo gives me a hug and kiss then climbs into her own bed and tucks herself in!

    One last thought: I know your emotions are tied up in this, but try not to project them onto your daughter – moving her to her own bed might not be as "traumatic" for her as you think…unless she is truly not ready and you just throw her in a crib in a room by herself in the dark and shut the door for her to cry it out…but you sound like a reasonable, loving and caring mother who wouldn’t do something like that. 🙂

  • Michelle Westrich

    What has worked incredibly well for all of our six kids is to give them a safe twin size bed of their own (whether it’s a mattress on the floor in a safe room with a baby gate, or our latest contraption, a bed with an old fold old out, closing crib around it – I’d love to win on the American Inventor show with this one!). We even do this with our infants since my husband is such a light sleeper. Since it’s a twin size bed there is plenty of room for me to comfortably lie down with the child and either leave when they fall asleep, or stay there because I fell asleep. Now, if any of our children wake in the night they don’t even want to come into our bed, they want us in theirs. It sounds like a pain but it’s really nice because we just lay down with them and either fall asleep there ourselves or move to our own roomy bed once they are asleep. But, I think the key is to simply read all the advice and do whatever works best for your family – regardless of how weird it may appear.

  • denise

    Having two children in bed is fine, but they should not be next to each other. As a mom, I have a sense of where people are in my bed, a 17 month old does not. I have read that the best place in bed for a newborn is between mom and a safe bedrail. Even dads, for the most part, are heavier sleepers than moms – at least that’s my case.

  • Laura

    Our two oldest boys are 14 months apart and we all slept together until the younger one was about a year old. Sometimes it was crazy, but we lived in tiny places and it just seemed best at the time.

  • marion

    OK ladies, thought id read your comments and then reply to any things you raised about my input,Firstly i breast fed all my 4 not ,as many as some of I know but all in 7 years so always a toddler and a baby, I preffered to do the changing of nappies and clean babygros etc away from my bed because in the days of terry nappies and plastic pants you got a lot of leaks! and having to change my bed as well?? no thanks, do you all wear knickers in bed? also none of my quite grasped the idea of coninence as early as most, dont know why but 3 of mine wore nappies at night well into 3rd year.secondly my husband didnt wake up very easily and is liable to roll around a bit in bed(understatement)He isnt quite so bad now in his 50,s but as a younger man he could end up on the floor or with his feet on the pillow and the duvet anywere between under him or all doubled up on me. Also he doesnt wear pyjamas ( I,ll let you think about that ) also all day my darlings got hugs and raced around in the day but bathtime, followed by supper, cleaning teeth and a story, then prayers and a goodnight kiss were sacrosanct,a routine was always important to me and my lot remember their childhood fondly and most of the people who i know who co-sleep as a matter of course rather than only if child is in distress( they could always count on me or their Dad for comfort day or night)have big problems with late night wide awake kids and privacy in the bedroom.

  • carolyn

    My experience is that co-sleeping with two, or more children works just fine! We currently have five and have co-slept with two ever since we had two. Eventually they would move on to a crib mattress on the floor. Now that we have older children the older toddlers feel comfortable sleeping with them. Our opinion is that we only get 18 very short years with them, and every additional time spent with them, even while sleeping, is a blessing. We love it!

  • Anonymous

    Marion, i am glad that you cleared things up.
    thank you for your generous input.

  • Mary

    To Bethany…

    I think it’s great that you made your comments for those of us who don’t co-sleep. Our two children slept in our room in a co-sleeper/in our bed for the first four months. We moved them to the crib in their own room after that and I would drag myself out of bed to give them their middle of the night feedings and put them back in their crib. This was out of respect for my husband who is a light sleeper and has a hard time not worrying about rolling over on the baby. Eventually, when we felt each of our children was ready to start sleeping through the night without a feeding, we would let them cry, going in periodically to pat them on the tummy or head to assure them we were here and everything was okay. We have never rocked either of our children to sleep on a regular basis. If my husband comes home late from work and doesn’t get much time with my daughter before her seven o’clock bedtime, he’ll do her bedtime routine and walk her until she falls asleep, but this is only once in a while. Our children each have a regular nap and bed time and we rarely waver on these times. This has its downsides, but I am more than willing to see to it that we are home on time for naps and bedtime and have found that the consistency has made my children incredible sleepers. They each LOVE to go to bed! They each enjoy their bedtime routines and are awake when my husband and/or myself leave their bedrooms. In other words, they fall asleep on their own. We take great delight in listening to them jibber-jabber to themselves as they fall off to sleep. And in the morning when they wake up, it is a rare occasion that they awake crying. The same at naptime — they will wake up and jibber-jabber, playing with the various toys tied to the side of their cribs or reading a book. For us, it is our sanity as a couple to have these consistent, easy sleep times and I really don’t know how I would function (especially now that I’m expecting again) if my children weren’t so easy to put to bed. This method (if you can call it that) has worked beautifully for our family. We are so grateful.

  • Bethany

    Thank you for the positive comments from those of you who are not regular cosleepers. It’s obvious that these two schools of thought (to cosleep or not) bring up a lot of emotions for many people. Within a family, it’s a very personal choice and each is entitled to his own. Is it just my experience or does this decision sometimes seem to segregate women? Do we tend to "hang out" and become friends just with the other mommies who value our child rearing opinions? Or, do we also welcome those relationships where people can agree to disagree on a certain method but still maintain their friendship?

    I’ve heard way to many stories in my short 15 months of being a mom about the decision to cosleep, or not, as well as the decision to let your child cry it out, or not, and how it has divided mommies and ended friendships. Obviously if the situation becomes that unhealthy between two people than something needs to change. However, in my situation for example, I have a very dear friend (I was one of her bridesmaids) who cosleeps with their almost two-year-old Son. She is expecting their second child in September and as far as I know, they still plan to cosleep with this one.

    She is always asking me questions about our bedtime routines and is always baffled at how our Son goes to sleep by himself without crying. Yet, she still continues to cosleep, sometimes even driving her kid around in the car every night to fall asleep. Do I agree with her methods? Not really. Am I still her friend? Absolutely! It would be silly for me to lose her frienship over something so little. It might not seem little now, but in the big scheme of things, this is minute.

    Mary, I would have to say that my family does the same thing you do and it works beautifully, although his bedtime is somewhere between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m. We too had our son in our bed and a cosleeper for the first few months, but eneded up moving him out when our sleep and intimacy were becoming jeopardized.

    Was it a struggle to get to this point? I certainly won’t deny it. Was it hard hearing my Son cry himself to sleep for a few days? ABSOLUTELY! Jesus never said that child rearing was going to be easy…I mean, imagine what Mary went through when she saw her Son hanging on the cross.

    For those who cosleep, i’m sure it can’t be a piece of cake either. Although you love your child tremendously and love the feelings and the blessings you get from sleeping with them, I wonder how many nights a mother has laid their until her child falls asleep and is thinking to herself about all the other things she needs to be doing? What happens when you have older kids who stay up later than the younger children, but you can’t spend some more "adult time" with those kids because you are laying with your toddler, a process which could take 45 minutes to an hour!

    As Mary put it, my child also LOVES to go to bed! He knows when it’s time too. We’ll walk to his crib and his thumb immediately goes in his mouth. He reaches for his blanket and other various cuddly items in his crib and is so excited to see them. I tuck him in, give him kisses, make the Sign of the Cross on his forehead as my mother always did to me. I tell him how much I love him and to have sweet dreams. "I’ll see you in the morning." I say and he replies with a big smile on his face. I close the door and I too feel blessed at the miracle God has entrusted me with.

  • Concerned

    Our daughter in law insisted on sleeping with each baby (they have 2 girls) in a separate room as not to disturb our son so he could get up early for work. The end result is a very troubled marriage. Plus the 2 girls STILL at ages 5 & 12 want their mother to sleep with them & our son STILL goes without a wife. I don’t even want to get into the personnel tragedies that this has turned into. A child should learn right from the beginning where their bed is & where the "Marriage" bed is for the parents.

  • Jennifer

    Wow! I’m chiming in a little late since we were on vacation last week. We have four children and I nursed each one for at least a year. But I could never co-sleep. Not even with a newborn. I am the worst sleeper in the world. If a pin drops three floors below, I wake up. If I wake up in the early am hours, I could be up for the rest of the night. In fact, I have a hard time sleeping with my husband every night. So, I am in awe of moms & dads that can sleep with their kids (and eachother every night). I could never do it. My kids were all pretty good sleepers and were sleeping through the night, going down on their own and staying in bed all night long by the time they were 18 mos or so. But that’s what works for us.

  • A lot of people have punctuated their comments with "this is what works for us". Wouldn’t it nice if we could just stick to that instead of being defensive or making slurs about what other families do? There is a point to sharing our stories – to support those doing what we do, promote understanding in those who parent differently, and present options for those who haven’t decided or are looking for something different.

    We fall between camps, I guess. We did try to put my son in a crib on and of for the first year because we didn’t have a large bed, but co-sleeping really did work best for us, especially when my son was nursing at night. Our attempts at ‘cry it out’ (when he was 4 months, again at 8 months and 10 months) were abject failures – he was terrified, hyperventilating, choking on his own mucous and tears.

    When I start night weaning, he went into a toddler mattress on my husband’s side of the bed so my husband could run interference for me, and he is still there, at 28 months.

    We set a regular sleep routine for our son at the same that I weaned him (around 22 months). My son falls asleep on his own. He goes to bed hours before we typically do, and even though he is right beside us, he only comes into our bed for an hour or so of dozy cuddle time in the morning. He is not any needier than any other 2 year old we know, and I think sleep training was actually easier for him and us at almost two than it would have been when he was preverbal and unable to understand our reassurances that we were just in the next room, we would come if he really needed us, and we would be there in the morning.

  • I have a comment for ‘concerned’. If your daughter in law insisted on co-sleeping in a different room and was/is unwilling to meet her husband halfway on this, newsflash: there were already problems with the marriage. In good marriages, spouses usually aren’t so quick to seize on an excuse to stop sharing a bed. You may be his mother, but nobody knows what goes on inside a marriage except the man and woman who are in it, so please be wary of simplistic explanations for your son’s troubled marriage – it is likely much more complex than their sleeping habits. I knew a girl who hated being alone in her bedroom at night, would sleep in the hallway, have friends over constantly, or ask her mom to sleep with her – at the age of 14. Turns out her older brother had been preying on her in her room at night. Not that anything like that is the case in your family’s situation, just that there are usually multiple explanations for behaviour, and when you seize on the visible easy one, you can miss the real bogeyman.

  • PM

    I have found all the comments very interesting. I don’t think anyone is writing slurs about what other families do. Rather I see them as observations that perhaps someone could use co-sleeping as a way of distancing themselves from their husband and that it could also create a child who never learns to fall asleep by themselves. However, I can understand that we all can "read" the comments differently.

    I have sometime observed that some child rearing practices have really stressed a couple out to the max and have had difficulty understanding the choices. Kate you are right though I don’t really know the whole story. And come to think of it I too have made decisions that were not the best for my marriage and family and learned from them.

    Bethany asked some good questions that really challenged me to think. I used to be pretty black and white about everything in life. I would be more likely to hang out with moms who only validate my own opinions rather than expand my world. For example, when I was a young mom most of the moms I knew did not believe in preschool and thought it was only a place where kids learn bad habits from other kids. So I didn’t send my first child but did send my other kids and what a tremendous blessing it was for all of us to have their hearts nuture in a Christian environment.

    I humbly admit that God works in bigger ways than I ever imagined and with raising kids there is rarely only one way that is God’s way of doing something.

    I really appreciate the diversity of experiences and the different personalities that shape them.

  • Concerned

    Comment in response to "KATE"
    Your hurtful assumption saying that our son & daughter in law had a troubled marriage before her sleeping with the babies is not only wrong but very judgemental of a family & a situation you know nothing about. You do not know anything about us & our loving family & your comment was totally uncalled for.
    As far as the 14 year old that slept in the hallway I wish I would of thought of that 50 years ago because I too was molested by an older brother.
    Please be kind & understanding in your thoughts.
    This was not a slur but merely what was asked that we give our comments. You were very hurtful.
    God Bless you.

  • Concerned,

    I am sorry if you found my comment hurtful. It’s true that I know nothing about your family except what you told us. Still, your attempt to generalise from your observations of your son’s marriage to co-sleeping families in general was overly simplistic, as, I suspect, is your analysis of your son’s situation. I won’t pretend to know anything about it, but I hope you are aware of the limits of your own knowledge of your son and daughter in laws marriage, which could be complicated by any number of tensions you are unaware of.
    For example, although any parenting practice that spouses disagree on and do not resolve can be divisive, it is poor communication or lack of respect that is the culprit in such cases, not the parenting practice in question.

    Your attempt to generalise from your son’s experience to a warning about children in the ‘marriage bed’ is a slur against the practice of cosleeping, and insulting to all the couples who have chosen this as the best practice for their children and their marriages. It is not the best choice for everybody, and I would never recommend it to a troubled couple or to someone who didn’t have full spousal support and a healthy reason to co-sleep, but to insinuate that co-sleeping will confuse children about their place and hurt marriages is completely uncalled for and unsupported by any evidence.