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The Simple Joys of Co-Sleeping and Family Beds

Warm hug and sunny smile, first thing in the morning. Snuggling in close as we settle down for bed and breathing in the special toddler-smelling hair. Waking up in the middle of the night for a drink of water only to stop and stare at the sweet soul who lies fast asleep next to me, looking perfectly angelic. Ah, the pure joys of co-sleeping

I’ve been co-sleeping with my daughter since she was 4 months old and I’ve loved it. The family bed is as special and sacred to us as the family dinner table. Besides the “pure joy” reasons above, there have been many other advantages to snuggling in with her.

  1.  It was always super easy to feed and soothe her in the middle of the night when she was a baby. I never had to get out of a warm bed and so, was able to manage my sleep better.
  2. Whenever she was running a fever or a cold, I could always reach out and touch her to make sure that the fever was not getting too high or that she wasn’t getting too cold.
  3. Managing bedtime was easier since she knew that I would be around if she needed me in the middle of the night, and so would settle down faster. She’d also adapt to changes in her bedtime routines and rituals quickly.
  4. I noticed that as a baby she slept better when we were together and so, it made sense for us to sleep together.
  5.  Finally, the main reason I shifted her to the bed with me was because she would keep getting her tiny hands and feet stuck between the bars of the crib and I was terrified that she would hurt herself (Blame first-time mom fears!). In other words, I slept better too when I knew that she was safe and soundly asleep next to me.

 I know that the jury’s out on whether co-sleeping is safe, whether the risk of SIDS is higher or lower and whether co-sleeping inhibits a child’s independence. When my daughter was a baby and I was a new mom, I did tons of reading and couldn’t really find conclusive evidence on anything. If I’d read an article that co-sleeping increased the risk of suffocating an infant, I’d also read another that a family bed increased a child’s feeling of security.

  So, I did what I thought was best – followed my “mommy” heart and I’m glad I did. My daughter (***proud mom bragging***) is extremely independent, loves to explore and discover, has slept safely and soundly since babyhood and is blissfully happy throughout the day (except when Tantrum Tank decides to visit!)

 Your turn! Do you co-sleep or not? Have a family bed? I’d love to hear you in either case. Do share!

 Photo Credit: Karin Dalziel

Prerna


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Comments

  1. We co-sleep as well. With our first, he slept better & we slept better. We thought about putting him in his crib around 6 months, but my husband & I couldn’t sleep that night! Our first slept with us until he was 2 years old. It wasn’t working by that point for either of us, so now he sleeps in a big boy bed like a dream.

    At one point there were 4 of us in the bed! When our second was born, the four of us snuggled up together. It was heaven.

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Jacqie, welcome to The Mom Writes! Am so glad to hear you co-sleep and that even with two babies, it was joy. Something for me to remember and keep in mind!! And yes, you’re right, kids graduate naturally to a big bed when they’re ready for it. Thanks for sharing!

  2. We co-sleep or bedshare. I love having my little man sleeping next to me. We both sleep better for it. We are in the process of trying to transition him to his own twin bed in our room. He 21 months old and I am pregnant(due in Jan). I want to have him sleeping in his own bed well before his little brother arrives so that he doesn’t feel like the baby took his place. I think it is actually a harder transition for me than it is for him. If we weren’t epecting the new addition, he would definitely be in our bed for a while longer. We still nap together though. I do cherish our snuggle time together and think that we will continue to nap together when his brother arrives. I’ll just sleep in the middle, that way no one feels left out.

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Amanda, welcome to The Mom Writes! Lovely to hear that you’re enjoying the family bed. In fact, like Kelly, you can try four in the family bed if your little one isn’t ready to move to a big bed:-) All the best for the new baby!

  3. Hi Prerna! It was so refreshing to read your post. I also did the family bed thing when my kids were little. It was my mothering style and it worked great for me as I listened to my “mommy” heart. :) I would do it again since we all derived great pleasure from it, besides being so convenient.
    Thanks for bringing back such beautiful memories. Loving blessings!

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Andrea, glad you liked the post and happy to know that co-sleeping worked well for your family! Thank you for sharing.

  4. We have had a family bed from day one and I cannot imagine it any other way! I know we are in the minority in our culture but I always forget that because it just feels so natural to me. I don’t see any reason to enforce separation at night and I know we all sleep better being together. Right now we have a king and a double pushed together so the four of us can sleep comfortably! :)

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Kelly, welcome to The Mom Writes! Delighted to know that even four in a bed can be snuggly and comfy. Totally with you about not enforcing separation at night.. Thank you warmly for sharing your experience!

  5. Agreed on all points! My favorite part is having those peaceful moments at nights during times that I get so frustrated with him during the day. If I didn’t have that, I am not sure that I could make it through the difficult days.

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Julie,glad you liked the post! Am with you on the ‘peace during the night’ part. Makes hectic days and tantrum times bearable:-)

  6. Sara Renae Mattson says:

    I never thought I would co-sleep with my son. My whole pregnancy, I read books and articles about getting your baby to sleep in their own room, in their own crib. I thought, “Yep, that’s what I’m going to do. He’s going to be independent from the get-go.” Nope…my son has slept with me every night for the past eight months, his entire blessed life. Being a single Mom, I did not have to share this decision with anyone, since I don’t share my bed with anyone. Also, as a breastfeeding Mother, it was easier for me to just feed him in bed. Well, we don’t sleep through the night, as my son wakes up 3-4 times to breastfeed, and I must admit I get rather envious of moms who brag, or simply share, that their infant sleeps soundly through the night. But, I truly love sleeping with my little man. I am still undecided as to when or how I will move him to his own space.

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Sara, welcome to The Mom Writes! You know what, even I used to think about independent sleeping when pregnant. But like I said, after my baby started getting stuck in the crib bars, I started co-sleeping and happily never looked back! Also, don’t feel too bad about your baby not sleeping through the night. Mine started sleeping through the night at 12 months. :-)

  7. Neither one of my kids ever slept in a crib. My first baby rarely slept at all, unless I was cuddled up next to him. His brother wasn’t quite so high-needs, but I still co-slept with him since I was well into the habit. It worked very well for us, and I don’t think I could have survived those years any other way.

    • The Mom Writes says:

      I completely agree with you and don’t think that even I can make it through the night without my little one snuggled up, next to me. In fact, I think I’ll be the one to get separation anxiety when she finally moves to a big girl bed:-)

  8. I co-sleep with my 3-year old since she was 2. she used to sleep in her crib but as soon as she moved to her bed and found the independence to leave the bed, she started to visit me (I´m a single mom). I tried to make her stay in her room, but I wasn´t sucessful and in the end I gave up and now I love it. It´s so sweet. I kiss her in the middle of the night and there is the morning cudles. Too good!

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Marilia, I love the midnight kisses and morning cuddling too.. Am glad that you shared your co-sleeping story with us. Thank you so much.

  9. I never thought of it as co-sleeping, but I suppose I did a bit of it. I think people that smoother their kids while co-sleeping have drugs or alcohol in their system. I rocked my first one until she would fall alseep so she wasn’t used to me not being there when she went to sleep. So when she moved to her toddler bed I would rock her and if she wasn’t sleeping yet I would lay down with her until she would fall asleep. Inevitably I would fall asleep with her and wake up two hours later to go to my own bed. Also while I was nursing much of the night was spent with my babies on the couch. I slept while they ate. :-)

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Angela! Even I rocked my little one as a baby.. But now she just snuggles up and falls to sleep:-) I’m glad to hear that you co-slept with both your babies.. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I’ve done the same when my son was a baby – it makes so much more sense. The snuggles are well worth it. I had so many people telling me that he would never be independent this way – but am glad I also followed my “mommy heart” – and oh yes, he is definitely independent. Somehow I think the co-sleeping contributes in a big way in building confidence and – well – another huge bonus is the constant flow of affectionate gestures. I loved it.

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Vidya, thanks for sharing. Yes, co-sleeping has nothing to do with increasing dependency. My toddler is truly outgoing, expressive and confident. So, yay! for co-sleeping.

  11. Thank you all for sharing your sweet experiences! I stumbled on this, reading blogs that mentioned sleep sharing. I tried co-sleeping with my little girl (now 25 mo), starting at 3 mo, but had to give it up by 5 months. It sounds so good, natural, peaceful, snuggley. I read “They Family Bed” and a couple of other books, everything. But the truth was plain: we woke each other up. All night, all the time. I could take her out of my bed, lay her in a bassinet within arms reach, and see- she was more restful. But even then, I kept waking up. So at 6 months, I put her in the next room in a crib, but kept both doors open. Gradually, as she got older, I closed her door (to help her sleep longer in the mornings). I wish it could have worked for us. Maybe I will try with my next baby (God willing). However, as soon as I get her up, I bring her right to my bed for 20-45 min of snuggley nursing time! We couldn’t start our days without it!

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Jennifer! Thanks for sharing.. Am glad to know that you tried co-sleeping. But you’re right, sometimes, it doesn’t work. What’s important is that you and your little one were rested, happy and connected. And yes, I love the snuggles too.. :-)
      warmly,
      Prerna

  12. As far as independence goes, I would think that babies who were able to sleep next to their parents would be more independent generally. I don’t know for sure, but it seems that it would create a much stronger bond between parents and child. Then when the child gets a little older, s/he’ll know that they have a great support system in their family.

    I don’t have kids yet, but I do plan on trying co-sleeping. It doesn’t really make sense to me to take a helpless infant that has only known warmth and the sound of mother’s heartbeat, then put him in a silent, cold room alone for hours. I love the fact that your are helping to make this more mainstream. It needs to be more accepted.

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Jen, thanks for visiting..I agree about fostering independence in a toddler and that co-sleeping does create a strong sense of security. And yes, I, too,was never comfortable about letting my daughter cry it out or wake up alone.. Glad to know you plan on co-sleeping too..Yay!

  13. Kristin Peoples says:

    It is so wonderful to find this post!!! We have co slept with our son since he and I came home from the hospital. He will be 5 this month. We have no plans to change. When he is ready he has a bed waiting on him. I also have a 15 year old who has slept by herself for about 11 years. I really stopped mentioning it because you get all of the “advice”. It works for our family. And he is very independent. He just loves sleeping with mom and dad.
    Kristin Peoples recently posted..Last Chance to Load These Coupon on Your Plus Card

  14. Love co-sleeping! My son and I have done it since his birth five years ago. It works for us and keeps us well rested.

  15. Beautiful! I love co-sleeping, too!
    Leslie recently posted..My Favorite Parenting Books

  16. My kids are 21 and 19 – I never co-slept with them because I wouldn’t be able to sleep with them there. I have really good hearing and every little noise wakes me. Plus, my husband and I already generate too much heat in the bed and spread out a lot, so another warm body would only make it worse – it may sound like tmi – but when my son was nursing and would fall asleep next to me, we would both end up sweating. My daughter would climb all over us while we slept and end up constricting our breathing and kicking us to death. However, my kids shared a room until my daughter finally decided she could take the separation from her younger brother. To each his own, you need to find your own rhythm,
    Diana recently posted..Spring Sorrel and Minty Pea Soup

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