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Monday, May 06, 2013

Motherhood Mondays: Co-sleeping

My lovely friend Leigh co-sleeps with her husband and three children—meaning, they all sleep together in a family bed—and I wanted to ask her a few questions. Here’s what she told me…
Who sleeps in your family bed?
My husband Taro and I sleep together with our three kids: Jackson, 5, Walker, 3, and Hazel, 1.

You sometimes hear scary things about co-sleeping, like that controversial Milwaukee ad campaign a couple years ago. What are your thoughts?
Co-sleeping is definitely not for everybody. Parents have different approaches for their families, so I will speak to my experience. Lots of people co-sleep with their kids. It’s instinctual and feels good. But then they feel guilty because it’s frowned on by people in our country. My main reason for wanting to talk about it is to normalize it and let people know that it’s healthy and great. That way, maybe more people will plan for it—or embrace it if it’s happen to them organically!—and think, "How can I make this work best for our family," instead of "My mother in law thinks I'm crazy…"

Are you able to sleep well with adorable but wriggly kids next to you?
Surprisingly, I’ve never experienced that all-consuming sleep deprivation that you hear about from new mothers. The reality is that I sleep well when I have little kids. It’s not always a restful night—someone might be sick or fussy—but the overall feeding part is so easy when your baby is right there. They don’t even have to cry for you, they just whimper and you say, here’s my boob. Neither of you even have to fully wake up. I can’t imagine summoning the energy to stand up to get your baby.

Do you worry about rolling over?
When our first son was born, I realized that there’s a position that just kind of happens. Your arm is crooked, your baby’s head is there, your boob is right there. It’s as easy as can be. The position helps you have a constant sense of the physical wellbeing of your child. It’s funny when you see those hyperbolic ad campaigns against co-sleeping, because what could possibly be safer than having your baby that close to you?

How big is your bed?
We have a king-sized bed with a twin-sized mattress on the floor next to it.

Who sleeps next to whom?
I sleep between Hazel (1) and Walker (3) in the king bed. Walker isn’t nursing anymore, but he still wants to be close to me. He’ll say, “Cuddle me, Mama.” My husband Taro and Jackson (5) sleep together on the twin mattress on the floor. It’s a little crowded, but it’s cuddly. And I’m lucky: none of my kids are real flailers or starfish sleepers.

How do you keep the little guys from rolling off the bed?
We have a Tres Tria pillow on either side of the bed. You put it underneath the fitted sheet. That’s one of my top baby purchases I ever got.

What’s your typical bedtime routine?
After dinner, the kids try to cram in as much play time with Daddy as possible. Then we’ll all read a book in bed and try to have lights out by 9pm. We lie down as a family until the kids are asleep, and then if Taro and I have energy we’ll get up again. We have a video baby monitor, so we can keep an eye on them while we go downstairs and hang out until 11:30pm or midnight.

What are some cons of co-sleeping?
My husband brought up that the con for him is sacrificing having our own private space that allows us to cuddle. It’s sweet to hear him say that he misses that. He wants to whisper to me late at night and first thing in the morning. My husband probably misses it more than me because I get so much touch from the kids all day that I’m not craving as much snuggling at night. But of course a husband’s snuggle is different, and when it does happen, it’s so delicious.

But there’s another type of intimacy, closeness and bonding you get with your kids that fills you up and satisfies that need for human touch and connection. They’re so vulnerable and small and needing of your milk or comfort or presence that it feels good to offer that. So, it’s a trade off and we know it won’t last forever. Having these small kids in our lives is fleeting, so I think it’s worth it to have the bond of the family bed.

We just have to work a little harder to make sure our relationship doesn't suffer in the physical department because of that. It changes, but you don't lose it.

How long do kids generally co-sleep?
Until your child feels ready to sleep in his or her room. When I was growing up in Mississippi, I moved out of my family bed when I was seven. We actually have a separate room ready for the kids with bunk beds and dressers. Right after we built the bunk beds, it was really exciting and the boys slept in there a good bit. But now we’re all back in the family bed together.
Thank you, Leigh!

What do you think? Would you try co-sleeping, or would you prefer separate spaces? Perhaps you have a family bed already? I'd love to hear...If you’re interested in co-sleeping, you might check out the websites Ask Dr. Sears and Mothering. And, of course, Leigh has written about co-sleeping on her blog Marvelous Kiddo.

P.S. We did sleep-training with Toby, which is a very different approach. Also, a funny book for tired parents.

405 comments:

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Inari said...

Health professionals do not agree on whether co-sleeping is good or bad. That's the thing.

Megan Mitchell said...

I don't care if people co-sleep or not. But i didn't enjoy being forced to see a picture of a stranger breast feeding.

Lauren Knight said...

Yes! I found bed-sharing with my babies (one at a time... they each outgrew the bed by the time the next one came along) so much more restful. And also, safer.

One night in particular, I fell asleep breastfeeding my baby while sitting up in a rocking chair in his room (this was after we moved him to his own room), startled awake, immediately stood up on a leg that had fallen asleep, and fell with my baby in my arms. Luckily he was not hurt, but it sure was scary.

Another time I fell down the stairs in the middle of the night while trying to rush down to my hungry baby (separate baby, again, after he outgrew the family bed) and did get hurt. I still have a scar on my inner arm from that!

Obviously, I am better off not fussing about in the middle of the night, or I am just a major klutz! Cosleeping made breastfeeding so much easier for me, and because I didn't have to wake up completely, I was a much better mom the next day to my other children.

Kelly Rae said...

I think cosleeping or crib sleeping is up to a family-it seems so very personal. I wanted to cosleep very badly and was excited by the prospect. Our little one had other ideas though. She couldn't seem to settle unless she had her space. If we have another child and it is different we are open to cosleeping.

Lauren Knight said...

I believe another benefit is that it tends to prolong breastfeeding, as it makes it much easier to access each other throughout the night.

Lauren Knight said...

I agree! I was a little worried about reading some unsavory comments, but I really haven't seen any. Bravo, ladies! A good, fair debate!

Unknown said...

The images of siblings resting comfortably near each other are just so sweet! I think it's a lovely choice for certain families or individuals. People are SO different from each other, of course there can't be a one-size-fits-all approach to sleep habits. It wouldn't work for my family, but I can't see anything wrong with it when parents make it a mindful choice and address the safety aspects as well as the children's needs.

Nancy Cavillones said...

Like the song goes, "we ain't nothing but mammals so why don't we do it like they do on the Discovery Channel?" LOL. But in all seriousness, I felt very primal when giving birth, breastfeeding is something that all mammals do, and co-sleeping is a human, tribal instinct, if we choose to follow that instinct. So, yes, the comparison to animals is spot-on.

Coco said...

it's beautiful in concept and definitely something that i would love to do but as a medical professional, with coroners in my country, australia now making concerted efforts to detail that this is actually a very significant issue they see in their profession and an activity that should be avoided, i can't put the life of my own child at risk. but i would love to do it if i were sure it were safe - it simply isn't.

Jessica said...

Jen, thank you for posting this, because I was scanning the comments and wondering if anyone was going to voice their concern. I'm a doctor as well. While I understand the possible emotional and physical benefits that proponents of co-sleeping bring up, the simple fact remains that babies DO die while co-sleeping, even in situations that don't involve drunken or drug-addicted parents. And co-sleeping deaths occur for parents who "knew" that they could sense if they were going to roll onto their child. In my mind, as a mother and physician, there is no possible benefit of co-sleeping that could outweigh the risk of a child dying. To say that co-sleeping "if done properly...is safe" is misleading; while thousands of people do it every night without consequence, we know that there is a risk to sleeping in adult-type bedding and that it is always possible for adults to inadvertently suffocate their child. I don't think that parents who co-sleep are bad people by any means, I only bring these points up out of concern. It just makes me extremely worried and sad to think that the "whatever works for your family" mentality will likely, statistically, lead to more unnecessary infant deaths in the future.

The Milwaukee safe sleep campaign was mentioned in the blog post...if anyone is interested on more information about SIDS and safe sleeping from the Milwaukee Health Department see this Q&A: http://city.milwaukee.gov/SSSQandQ.htm Notably "In 2005-2008, less than 18% of caregivers of infants who died were using alcohol or drugs while sleeping with their babies". While we don't understand exactly what causes SIDS or why, many factors can be eliminated to reduce the risk, including co-sleeping in an adult bed.

For anyone considering co-sleeping with an infant, please, please consider the science behind the advice to not co-sleep.

jm said...

That top picture is incredibly beautiful.

Lisa said...

This is tough for me to read. As a (nursing) mother, I completely get it: everyone has to do what is right for his/her family - absolutely. As a pediatrician, I can never forget the look on the father's face as he walked out of the Emergency Room without his child, who he had rolled onto and smothered. (He hadn't been using alcohol or drugs of any sort.) To this day, it remains the most heartbreaking case I have seen.

Lisa said...

But...you weren't forced.

Aquarian by Heart said...

Our son is 4 months old and he's been co-sleeping with us since the first day we brought him from the hospital. For me, he is safer in our bed than on his crib as I am able to see immediately his movements. Even when I am asleep, I wake up easily and tend to him. We keep the bed safe for him by clearing the bed with puffy pillows and sheets that may cover his nose. Our bed is right next to the wall, so we place a pillow on his right so he won't get even near the wall, I sleep on his left and my husband sleeps at the foot of the bed. When he's not there yet and we're ready to sleep, I just put a pillow on it.

I wasn't afraid of rolling over him since even in our sleep, we're very much aware that we have a baby with us.

aquarianbyheart.blogspot.com

Christine Case said...

Her husband sleeps on a twin mattress on the floor with a five year old. Let that sink in for a second. Sounds like a last minute "not-enough-beds-in-this-beach-rental" situation, not "how-a-grown-man-sleeps-every-night" type thing. Most dudes want to talk with their wives, read in bed, and get it on. I don't know that any man would honestly say he wants to sleep on a child-size mattress on the floor with a kid all night.

Jessica said...
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Kara said...

My sister is a pediatrician and she has told me that she sees at least three deaths every year due to co-sleeping. It can be very dangerous! The ads are scary because there is a real danger, this should be addressed more in the article. Maybe with very careful precautions this can be done safely, but this is not addressed at all in the article.

Inari said...

Well, if it were possible I'd rather not take baby in the car at all and walk to all destinations. Since I live in the city though that's not very realistic and about once a month we've need to hop in the car for some reason or another.

There is a HUGE difference between car seats and cribs (or lack thereof)though. In my home I have control over the environment. I know what to expect from the other human beings occupying the space.

When we are driving, we do not have this control or knowledge. The environment is beyond all control and people drive like maniacs; there is no way to predict their craziness. Even if I follow all safety rules and obey the law... I'll pretty much be the only car on the road doing so.

Jennifer Manzano said...

My newborn slept in a family cradle in the room with us, and around 4 months we organically started co-sleeping. It wasn't planned. He had a crib, but that didn't work for us. He woke up more in the crib, and I was exhausted getting up with him. I'm a heavy sleeper, but with him there, I was aware enough that it wasn't a problem, and half-waking to give him a boob while co-sleeping made it SO much easier. He weaned on his own around 19 months, and continued sleeping with us until he was about 3. He then easily transitioned into a twin mattress on the floor of his own room.

Myke said...

Reading some of the comments about husbands above, I wanted to chime in as a husband. I love that we co-sleep and actually think that my wife and I are more intimate with this setup than we would be otherwise. The co-sleeping allows my wife to not need to get up several times a night to feed the baby and leaves her generally well rested. Once the baby is asleep, we can be as intimate as we want in any other room in the house, with the baby monitor on to let us know how the baby is doing.

I think my wife being well rested and having the energy to be intimate is much more important than having our bedroom to be intimate in. The bedroom to ourselves is useless if my wife isn't in the mood because she's tired and just wants to get some sleep in before the next time she has to wake up for the baby. Or if the baby is constantly unsatisfied and crying often/interrupting the intimate time.

Certainly any couple should weigh the pros and cons - not being as close while sleeping at night is still a con like the post mentions! However, as I mentioned, I do think we are overall more intimate as a result of co-sleeping and that is a big plus. The baby and my wife seem much happier as well - and in case some guys don't realize this, a happy wife means a wife that is relaxed enough to think about sex.

Marissa Rangel-Biddle said...

I'm co-sleeping since my baby born 5 years ago. Like she says is so easy to breast feed this way... I'm Brazilian with an American husband and is very common in my country. Here in US I just change the subject when comes to co- sleeping. People gave me hard time before.

The pics are adorable!!

nina corvallo said...

Thank you so much for this post! We have an 11 month old that we co-sleep with.I have been curious about what would happen if number 2 arrives! This gives some answers. Lovely photography as well.

Design Scouting said...

Great post, Joanna and Leigh! Co-sleeping is such a personal choice; depending on your family and your child. That being said, co-sleeping saved my life. My son Alex, now almost 4, was a really high needs infant, waking up every two hours and needing to be bounced constantly (on a yoga ball) to soothe. I was depressed, sleep deprived and so co-sleeping wasn't even a discussion or something we agonized over -- for us, it just happened very naturally. We started co-sleeping, I started sleeping longer, Alex started sleeping longer, everyone was happy, we bought a king sized bed so that we could all be together. There was one funny night when we were sleeping in our FULL sized bed, SIDEWAYS to accommodate all of us. My husband and I looked at each other in the morning, circles under our eyes and started laughing -- the next day we ordered the king. I didn't know anything about co-sleeping (besides the "you'll kill your baby" ads) and had to get educated on how to do it safely. My husband loved the co-sleeping because he meant he got more time and closeness with Alex, especially since in the first year with the breastfeeding I think he sometimes felt left out. Co-sleeping made everything more equitable in terms of parenting.

Around two we got Alex his own big boy bed (he was crawling out of his crib) and we would put him to sleep in his own bed at bedtime (6:45/7) and he'd come into bed with us around 4:30 and spend the next two hours with us. Sometimes he sleeps through the night in his own bed, sometimes not. At four, he's just started to be able to put himself to bed (we do bedtime routine, books, and then say good night and he falls asleep by himself). So, at each stage we've adapted to his needs -- been driven by his needs. It's worked really well for our family.

Intimacy wasn't a problem for us; lots of places besides the bedroom is all I'll say!

Melissa said...

Thank you so much for this post. Not sure who will ever see my comment but this is something that I have been struggling with lately. My daughter is 9 months now and strictly breastfeed because I never had a need to pump and bottle feed so she does not take a bottle. Anyway, she sleeps in a crib in our room but the nights I try to keep her in her crib, no one sleeps well. The nights I allow her to sleep with me and my husband, we all sleep well. Our three year old son sometimes joins us in the morning and I have to admit that I LOVE waking up to us all in bed together. Everyone wakes us smiling and giggling and I know the time we have like this is fleeting so I try to bask in every moment but on the other hand; I have been struggling internally with how to transition her to her own bed so my hubby and I have our bed back. After reading Leigh's post and seeing her pictures I think I will let things take their natural path. Thank you Jo.

Ayana said...

What a beautiful picture and well written piece regarding co-sleeping. My only question is when does L find the time to and/or where does she have sex with her husband?

Ayana said...

What a beautiful picture and piece regarding co-sleeping. My only question is when does L or where does she have sex with her husband ?

aa31b8d4-3390-11e0-b088-000bcdcb471e said...

I think this idea is great for families in which it works well. I have 5 siblings and none of us regularly co-slept with our parents. My sister and I both have a chronic illness and when we were dealing with bouts of that we'd sleep with either or both our mom/dad. But it was really important to us, as kids, to have our own space, be on our schedules, so to speak, and frankly, it was important to our parents to not overlook each others' needs for the sake of us. Surely, a marriage lacking intimacy [which, can be unhealthy] is just as detrimental for these kids [or will be once daddy's actual resentment surfaces... and it sounds like it will] as *not* co sleeping sometimes. For Christ's sake, this man is sleeping on the floor, on a twin sized mattress in his own bedroom. Uncool.

Mommy Lauren said...

I don't think everyone that co sleeps as a child will co sleep with their children. I said I wasn't surprised.

The BIG move said...

We all sleep in the master bedroom - my 5 & 6 yo on mattresses on the floor (good quality mattresses with fluffy pillow, duvet and the works, I feel the need to explain here coz I can just foresee "critics" working overtime, heh) and my 6 months old on the king size bed with my hubby, all safety measures taken.

My 5 & 6 yo do have their own shared bedroom and will sleep there on their own when they feel like it, but most times, it's always with us. It works for us, as we feel, as full-time working parents, we really want to spend as much time as possible as a family.

No issues about intimacy (be it sex or cuddling and talking) as baby is not in the middle between us (for cuddling and talking) and there's always the guestroom, or kitchen, or bathroom or the hall...(for sex).

Really, it's no biggie unless you make it to be

Em Ringstaff said...

I hadn't planned on co-sleeping when our son was born but as he grew older, around 3 months, and I started nursing in bed it just came naturally. It's really wonderful watching him sleep next to me, and my husband. It does get crowded sometimes but when that happens my husband sleeps on the couch, which he actually enjoys. Our intimate life hasn't suffered at all. It's exciting finding little ways to make the other person feel special, it takes you out of your routine. We don't do things in our bed, but we do find other places and it's fun and great, kind of like when we were dating. I adore co-sleeping, it's what came natural to us. I think everyone should so what is best for their family.

Daniella said...

We co-sleep. We co-slept with my first but she was such a light sleeper that we moved her to her own room at 6 months and within days she was sleeping through the night. My 2nd child is a much better sleeper. Sleeping about 6 hours in a row at night in between my husband and me. I am SO aware when she is sleeping next to me that I would never be able to roll over on her. My husband did almost squash her when she was a week or two old, that was scary. But I woke up and moved her back to my side of the bed- I think a mother has a hyper-sensitive awareness when she is sleeping next to her baby.

There is so much negative propaganda about bed-sharing. But what about all the deaths caused by problems with cribs? Cribs for newborns scare me more. A baby should be warm and safe next to their parents. If you have ever slept with a baby, you'll notice how they nuzzle into the warmth of the nearest body. They thrive on that closeness.

Thank you for sharing this post! It's so natural to bed-share and it's good to talk about.

The BIG move said...

We all sleep in the master bedroom - my 5 & 6 yo on mattresses on the floor (good quality mattresses with fluffy pillow, duvet and the works, I feel the need to explain here coz I can just foresee "critics" working overtime, heh) and my 6 months old on the king size bed with my hubby, all safety measures taken.

My 5 & 6 yo do have their own shared bedroom and will sleep there on their own when they feel like it, but most times, it's always with us. It works for us, as we feel, as full-time working parents, we really want to spend as much time as possible as a family.

No issues about intimacy (be it sex or cuddling and talking) as baby is not in the middle between us (for cuddling and talking) and there's always the guestroom, or kitchen, or bathroom or the hall...(for sex).

Really, it's no biggie unless you make it to be

Monica Merel said...

I completely agree with you Emma! I'm a newly wed, and don't plan on popping out munchkins for another few years, but I would definitely follow this style when I have a full house. As much as I respect co-sleeping, I just never understood why parents would want to completely give up their personal intimacy. Maybe its because I don't have kids yet... Any who, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

sumslay said...

Hahaha, *that's* exactly what I thought he'd be thinking! One of those, "where did i go wrong in my life?" sleepless nights. Granted, I don't know this guy, but that's what I'm thinking for him!

sumslay said...

Aaah, and it's women like you, Anna, that give me hope!

Melissa Gaggiano said...

Co-sleeping is definitely not for me. I like being close to all my family, but there are other ways for me to bond with them. The other thing too, being a heavy sleeper, who moves around in her sleep I'd be terrified of rolling on to my babies.
I enjoyed this article but there was one thing that struck me, which didn't sit right. Leigh spoke of her feelings a great deal and how wonderful she felt by the constant physical contact with her children. But on mentioning her husband's thoughts on the matter she doesn't appear to care for his feelings. She'd rather be in contact with her children than with her husband. Did I read this wrong?

sumslay said...

Haha, just imagine how we treat men! ;) no, I know everyone's different, and I do applaud Leigh for being so passionate about it.

However, if she eats yogurt for breakfast, she's probably a lunatic. ;) juuust kidding!

tasmia said...

wonderful interview. I have 2.5 years old boy and he sleeps with us. In between me and my husband. I cant imagine, how can i sleep without my baby. if its a question about lack of intimacy because of cosleeping, i would tell the problem is lack of communication.

Samantha H. said...

I'm jewish myself, reform to be specific, and I've worked with orthodox families, in their households, and they're kids are allowed to go into their rooms without a problem, and even use their room's bathroom. Also, the babies would sleep with their mom (orthodox couples sleep in seperate beds) for a nap, and at night they would sleep in their own crib, in the parents' bedroom, until they were old enough to sleep with their older siblings. I've honestly never heard of the kids-not-allowed-in-the-parents-room thing, but it'd be interesting to look it up.

Clairsy said...

Yes, SO uncomfortable! (maybe I need bigger boobs).

Clairsy said...

Me too - SO uncomfortable!

lashleyn said...

I can definitely see the benefits of co-sleeping especially while feeding, and i can definitely understand how great that connection is, But being a nurse in a very large ED I have seen first hand what can happen and once you see those parents who no longer have their child... You understand those AD's and suddenly there is no debate.... I would definitely caution the people who say I would never... because you could... and people who have said I would never.... HAVE.

little t said...

Jo, I am so so surprised you didn't ask the sex question. That was the first thing that came to mind when I read the title of this post. Maybe it's because I don't have any kids... but really, isn't that a big part of any marriage? To me, (sexual) intimacy is what a couple's bedroom represents, and co-sleeping completely changes that.

Nancy Park said...

Babiee are born premature in the sense that they still need physical closeness to set the tone of their nervous systems, establish heart and breathing rhythms. If they were born much longer than 42 weeks gestation no one would survive birth. We are the north star by which they set their compass. They are lost in so many profound and deep ways without us.

I think our culture needs to more closely examine why people choose to have children and what we are willing to change for the privilege of parenthood. Intimacy annihilates the ego, and distance starves the heart.

Cosleeping is a revolutionary act of love.

Nancy Park said...
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Nancy Park said...
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Mandy Byron said...

Thanks for this post. I was one of those mothers who was embarassed to tell people that I coslept... I got over thankfully, but it would have been nice to find more posts like this back then! My son Cooper and I still cosleep (he is 4), but my daugther sleeps in her crib (ever since 8 months or so). My husband and I don't see eye to eye on the cosleeping thing unfortunately. I would have them both in our bed if he hadn't started bringing her to the crib early on after I nursed her one last late feeding each night. She started sleeping through early on in her crib.

Marte said...

In our household, we stopped co-sleeping when my son was 1 year old. We stopped because I (the mother) did not like it any more, since our son suddenly became fussy when we were all sleeping together. It seemed both he and I would sleep better when we were in separate beds.
My husband was very sad when we had to (and I really wanted to) give up co-sleeping. He still talks about how he would like to start again, and we try sometimes but it just doesn't work anymore. If it were up to my husband we would continue co-sleeping forever :-D He also never complained about the amount of intimacy that we were having :-D
So, just some anecdata that points the other way, i.e. not all husbands hate co-sleeping and are forced by their overbearing wives.

Marie said...

I read "The Family Bed" in 1977, when I was expecting my first baby. I was enthralled. "Doesn't this sound WONDERFUL?!?!" I said to my husband. "NO!" he replied just as emphatically. lol A few years later he gazed at me over the two toddlers in between us and ruefully said "I can't believe I ever thought this was optional." It had evolved so naturally, we came to accept it without much thought.

Our (eventually four in total) children grew up safely and well adjusted. All of them had big boy or big girl beds by the age of two and only slept with us as needed. And when needed, it is one of the easiest and best ways to make your child feel safe and secure. It makes me sad that there is still so much shame and disapproval related to this instinctual and loving contact.

little t said...

So so true! I feel like co-sleeping is a sacrifice of intimacy between you and your partner in an effort to forge more intimacy with your children, when a mother-child or father-child intimacy is reinforced so many times in the day/ night in so many other ways.

Megan said...

Love co-sleeping and it worked wonderfully for my first born at two he moved into her own bed. My second bub worked the opposite, an amazing sleeper but found her way into our bed at about 2 and is still with us at 6 years old. I love having my babies with me. Don't know if its been discussed here but husband and I have plenty of intimate time kids in bed or not!

Amy Ruben said...

Potty training. What happens when the kid is 2 andthey wet the bed? Wouldn't that make things terrible to wake the whole family up to change the sheets and clothes and possibly bathe more than one kid?kids aren't in diapers forever.but seriously, what do you do?

Kara said...

There are more than two choices here. Not co-sleeping does not mean using cry it out.

17 beats. said...

I miss Leigh's blog so much ! Her family is so beautiful.

We co-slept with our daughter until she was about 6-7 months old. Once she 'woke up' from being a newborn, she never quite understood that SLEEP was supposed to happen in the bed. She would nurse and snuggle and then want to play all night. Fortunately, she transitioned to her own room completely perfectly -- no major tears.

Stefania said...

Well, and some animals eat their young (or their poop). Let's follow their example.

Erin said...

I love the down between the little boy's shoulder blades. So sweet.
Our second baby slept in the bed with us, just because it was the easiest way to get enough sleep to face the next day with a baby and toddler. Everything was great until he was able to crawl, and then it was terrible: he went to bed at seven, and I was in constant terror that he was going to wake up while I was downstairs and crawl out of the bed. It happened once (when we had company over, of course) and the thud when his head hit the floor was sickening. At that point, he was so used to sleeping next to me, that he refused to sleep in his crib, other than for naps. Things worked themselves out eventually, but we had a bad time there for a while. If I was going to do it again (baby #3 is due in July), I would either have to suck it up when he hit the crawling stage and let him cry it out in the crib, or sleep on the floor.

Koyuki Smith said...

I Iove how Leigh shows that cosleeping can look different for everyone. In our household, my husband, younger son (age 2), and I all sleep together in one full-sized bed, while my older son (age 5) sleeps in a toddler bed about two feet away. I'm a childbirth educator and birth doula, so I have spent some time researching these issues. I know that studies show that with younger babies, cosleeping moms get more sleep. I also know that studies show that safe cosleeping is, well, safe. But this knowledge is not what led to my cosleeping practice. In fact, I didn't have any of this knowledge when my first was born - I still hadn't entered the birth field as a professional at that time. Cosleeping just felt right, and it worked well. My baby and my husband and I were happy that way, and it made complete sense. That's how I knew it was the right thing for us. :)

Gracie said...

My beloved niece died of cot death while sleeping in her parents bed, she wasn't suffocated but it is a factor for some reason as we all know. My heart broken sister will never ever risk taking her babies into her bed again, no matter how exhausted she feels she gets out of bed to feed. If I have children I couldn't risk it either, I just couldn't.

Miss Stovetop said...

I'm from India, where co-sleeping is largely the norm. My daughter slept in her crib in our room till about 6 months (Though we did share a bed when we travelled) and then moved to her room. My parents and in-laws were aghast! It was almost unheard of in their time, so they just couldn't understand it. I'm not sure, but I think co-sleeping was so common back in the day in India because:

People used to live in joint families, so getting a room for a baby was tough. When a couple got married, they were normally given a HUGE bed in anticipation of kids :) When the kids came in, you'd normally see a carpenter come in and have a barrier built on one side because babies hardly ever sleep in between their parents.

Central heating is still very uncommon in the cooler regions, so the best way for the baby to feel warm was through her mother
People used very thin pillows and thin mattresses and that too just one each for a person. Fluffy pillows have come in now but you hardly see a bed with 25 pillows and two people.

My sister lives in a hill station where it's very cold (compared to other regions in India, that is) and with each of her 2 daughters, they gave away the big blankets for thin ones.

I was citing these because I find it interesting how different cultures have so many different norms.

Anyway, my daughter got really sick when she was 11 months and started at a nursery for a couple of hours a day, and then because of many nights of going into her room to check her temp, soothe her etc, we brought her to our bed. It worked for us because we travel a lot and this arrangement comforts her when she isn't home. I miss our adult time but I know that when she moves, I will miss snuggling up to her in our bed just as much. I am not expecting a second, and I do hope we will not have the baby sleep with us, but then who knows... circumstances and baby will probably decide.

AMY said...

I am a huge fan of co-sleeping too! Mostly with my one year old and sometimes still with my 3 year old (he transitioned easily into his own bed when we wanted him to and now it's just a treat for both of us when he occasionally comes into the family bed in the night). And I also do not know what that bleary-eyed sleep derived new mom thing is all about. People would make comments about being tired in the first few months of my kids' lives and I would have to say no, I'm not!
And I am sure I am not the only one who never thought I would have sex a foot or so away from a sleeping baby but then you do it and it's no big deal. (But no, never with the 3 year old in the bed!)

Hemingway said...

red flag: your husband has needs that aren't being met by you. Your relationship with him is the single most important relationship in the household and the foundation of your family. Let those needs go unmet and you've lost your way. I would never co-sleep and I think children need to learn how to sleep alone and sleep well for their health, happiness and to foster some independence.

Natalie - The Senses Five said...

All I'm saying is not everyone's sex life is the stereotypical, as seen on tv, sex at bedtime. Doesn't mean they aren't having sex, but perhaps not in the conventional setting of a bed at night. If that's what you like, awesome. But realistically 1 out of 3 relationships aren't having very much sex, and those who do have a healthy sexlife will continue to have it regardless of where they sleep at night. Hello shower.

Maria said...

There have been many studies that found that a mother will never roll on her child. Of course, you shouldn´t drink or take drugs while bedsharing, but in a normal circumstance? I feared i would roll on my child when he was born, but after some weeks i got so used to having him there, and he felt so safe!we are pretty aware of or suroundings even while sleeping- we don´t fall out of our beds either, do we?

Kathy said...

I remember reading back in 11/2011 a post on this blog about "Who gets the best kisses - child or husband?" where Joanna talked about how a mother can use up so much intimacy on her child; kissing, cuddling, etc., that by the time "adult time" comes, she's exhausted, intimately speaking. That seems (to me, the reader) to be what's happening here. But of course, I'm not her, so maybe it's not. I like the idea of co-sleeping, but I'm not sure my husband would ever be on board.

Stephanie Fazio (aka lealou) said...

This definitely isn't for me but those are the SWEETEST sleeping photos ever!

Laura said...

Actually, I disagree about having babies sleep on their backs. I personally don't think back is best and I know a friend who's baby died sleeping on his back because he burped up some formula and started choking and gagging on it but because he was laying on his back there was nothing he could do about it and choked to death on his own vomit. Why do you think so many babies are on acid reflux medicine because its not normal to eat and then lay flat on your back. My son was a terrible burper and the same thing nearly happened to him. I put him on his stomach ever since and he's been sleeping like a champ. My mother can't believe we put babies on their backs...not to mention it gives them flat head (another friend of mine has a baby who is wearing a helmet because of this). When they are newborns you turn their head from side to side and then when they are old enough they can turn their heads on their own. But that's just my personal opinion.

Heather said...

We only co-slept for about 6 months (our kiddo just sleeps better in his crib for the most part), but we never had a hard time finding places to be intimate, and still don't if our son sleeps in our bed. If anything it makes you be a little more creative and we enjoyed that because it made us feel like we were younger again and dating and couldn't keep our hands off each other. We never felt forced to have sex elsewhere - it was just fun and made our sex life more interesting. I don't think there's a room in our house that wasn't christened. ;)

That doesn't work for everybody, though, and if you feel resentment towards your children being in the same room or bed, then co-sleeping is definitely not the right choice.

mary catherine hamelin {magical days} said...

There's a natural presence awareness that happens between mothers and newborns--specifically with breastfeeding mothers whose sleep is influenced by an awareness of baby's night-nursing needs. It would be very unlikely to roll over on them. There is definitely a difference between "safe cosleeping" and someone just having a baby in their bed. It's not recommended for drug or heavy alcohol users, or those who use sleep-aids.

Laura said...

I personally think co-sleeping is a negative in many different ways. First off, the intimate relationship that my husband and I have at night in our own room in our bed is just for us. I know a lot of people said you can get creative but honestly you can only get so creative and even that gets old after awhile. Not to mention, we have a two year old and combine that with working full-time jobs and sometimes you barely have the energy to even have sex much less be creative. Also, I don't find that co-sleeping creates any independence. My son sleeps in a toddler bed in his room and slept in his crib as a baby and has slept great other then when he is sick. My husband's boss co-slept with her son forever and now they are having a very hard time getting that kid in his own bed and honestly he's kind of weird and has some mother/independence issues. Lastly, I am from the Milwaukee area and that billboard went up for a reason. The infant mortality rate is ridiculously high in Milwaukee. Personally, I think most parents co-sleep for themselves and its really not about the kids, not to mention it sounds like the dad sleeping on the floor on a twin mattress is having a blast.

Emily said...

I live in Milwaukee, and for some odd reason we seem to have a crazy high number of co-sleeping deaths every year. Most of the incidents, unfortunately, involve drug/alcohol use by the parent and are also usually low-income families. (I don't think too many readers of "A Cup of Jo" are in that category.) It's considered quite taboo here - probably generated out of fear more than anything.

I read quite a few comments talk about the "value" of co-sleeping, but I'm not seeing what that is. Is it just the closeness factor? Or the convenience for breastfeeding? Is this "value" to the child or just the mother?

While I was breastfeeding my breasts were so large (DD's) that if I wasn't alert and holding my breast away from my daughter's nose I could easily have suffocated her. It may be convenient for some breastfeeding mother's, but not possible for all.

Regarding the closeness, I think that is easy enough to get during daytime hours. I'm always snuggling with my daughter on the couch and while I tuck her in at night. My son is always napping while I hold him on my chest or in my arms. I think they both get enough snuggles to let them know they are safe and loved.

I guess I understand why people want to do it, and that it can be done safely; but at least with infants, it seems like a big risk. One misplaced pillow or blanket, one night you're sleeping just a bit too deeply and it could end terribly. It's a risk I'm not willing to take.


Kristina said...

I don't co-sleep with my daughter and I will not with my soon-to-be-born son. Do you feel I need to "examine my humanity"? My child is loved beyond words and I feel incredibly privileged to be her parent. The fact that we sleep separately - and always have, happily - does not harm that bond. Believe me.

L.O. Ratliff said...

That's a pretty big con, don't you think? I don't think having your child sleep alone will scar them for life. However, neglecting intimacy in your marriage, as others have said, is crucial considering that your relationship with your partner is the whole reason you have children in the first place!

mary catherine hamelin {magical days} said...

We are a happy co-sleeping family also, and I love seeing it featured here. We came to co-sleeping sort of naturally after setting up a crib and bassinet for our first baby, who slept much better in between us, and chose it again when our son was born. Our daughter, five, now sleeps in her own bed (no sleep training involved!) and our son, nearly 2, sleeps with us.

As far as marital intimacy goes, we have no problems. We get creative. We miss each other a little, as all busy parents do, and that makes it so much sweeter when we get to connect. We know our kids are only small for so long, and that once our youngest is in his own bed one day we'll have as many morning and midnight cuddles alone as we want. For the people who said it sounds like this is putting kids above a marriage--I think happy nurtured kids can help a marriage. I'd rather gaze at my husband in peace while our kids are sleeping sweetly than look at him in anguish while they're crying in another room somewhere. This baby time is short--we'll have our bed back eventually, and we are having plenty of fun in the meantime.

Our bed is always open for our kids though, whether there's a lightning storm or a bad dream, our daughter knows she can always come crawl in with us. I think that's one way we show her that we are always there for her, day or night. We don't stop being parents when the sun goes down--parenting changes your life, one way or another. For us it has been all for the better.

Some babies sleep better by themselves, it can be an individual personality thing, but I think for most families who are open to it, this is a great arrangement. We all sleep better, no one had to cry about it, and there is nothing sweeter than seeing my two kids cuddle together at night and wake up saying "good morning" with hugs.

Thanks for sharing this cosleeping experience--I hope it inspires more parents to try this arrangement if what they're doing isn't working for them, or if they feel the instinctual call to parent this way. It's safe, when done with awareness, and should be talked about way more often.

Dani said...

I agree with you about it "laying the groundwork" for for future sleeping habits. Before my son was born I read about babies "confusing night and day" at first or having really no set circadian rhythms after being in the womb. We co-slept until he was 6 weeks old (then he slept in the bassinet right by the bed and moved to his crib around 5 months), and it didn't take long at all for him to get the night/day thing down. Laying by mama, feeling her breathing, etc. has to help with that. He would wake to nurse (I sat up, more comfortable to me) and would go right back to sleep after, it was a dream.

As far as those with questions about rolling- we never had that issue, you are just aware of their body. I've never rolled into/onto my husband either, ya know? And one thing we did, my husband slept under the duvet and baby and I slept on top of it with a separate quilt over us, that way he really couldn't roll on the baby either, but it was never an issue.

Laura said...

Well said Anna. I couldn't agree with you more. My time as a woman and my time with my husband are very important to me. Our bedroom is our down time.

maticki said...

I would never ever do it. Biggest con is rolling over the baby or not sleeping from worrying not to roll over the baby (talking form experience) followed by my 2nd question, what kind of sex life are they having with all the kids in the bed. Fun, loud and adventurous is not coming to my mind.

glad she is enjoying it, but no thank you

Karelys Beltran Davis said...

This post actually made cosleeping easier last night.

I noticed the night before it hadn't been as hard as before. Not sure what it is. But I do have some super starfish sleeper baby.

This whole "natural ways" of parenthood (that makes me laugh!) is pretty new in our families. We get a lot of flack for lots of things. Of course the idea of cosleeping was met with some awful replies.

Looking back it breaks my heart.

I was in such vulnerable state it was hard to think logically and stick to my guns. When I'd do what made sense for our family I still felt a nagging feeling that I was putting them all in danger.

Here's how we handle cosleeping right now.

Around the time it's obvious baby is ready for sleep I lay on the bed and nurse him with lights off and a sliver of light coming from the closet.

Then husband and I watch Game of Thrones, or the Good Wife, or if we're really tired we move baby to his crib (next to our bed) and we go away to "kiss" ;). (Does anyone remember that interview with Angelina Jolie when she mentioned that's what they told the kids when parents needed some time alone? I thought it was so hilariously sweet!).

Around 3 ish Murphy squirms around, and funnily enough, my boobs wake me up. I move him (or my husband does) to the bed and nurse him. It's pretty uncomfortable to nurse. My body is contorted in different ways. And I always feel guilty because I think "I don't want to do this nursing thing one more day!" Lots of moms talk about it like a beautiful thing but it hasn't been for me. It's been very hard in all aspects.

Then Murphy falls asleep and it's so hard to move him back to the crib. The nights that we manage that I spread across the bed (queen size) and tangle my legs up with my husband's. The nights that I miss my baby too much or we're too tired to move him back I scoot around until I can find some room for myself and then all three of us, husband, starfish sleeper baby, and I sleep like tetris on the bed until we have to get up again at 7 am because Murphy can't stand anyone sleeping if he's awake :).

EH said...

"Having these small kids in our lives is fleeting." That is key for me. My children (now 14 and 11) slept in our bed...until they didn't. They never will again. Do what feels right for you and your children.

melle-belle said...

No. Absolutely not. Never.

Cuddling with your kids replaces cuddling with your husband? Sad.

Lauren Ashley said...

Very sweet and could be a good solution for urban dwellers who maybe can't afford to move into a larger place right away ...

Laura said...

My mother didn't co-sleep with any of us and strongly urged me not to when my son was born. I very vividly remember her saying, "Get your lazy butt out of bed and breastfeed him". I have to agree with her.

Sue said...

My husband and I co-sleep with our (almost) 3-month-old daughter and I've almost never woken up feeling like I didn't sleep the night before. She sleeps better next to me, I sleep better next to her. I never have to get out of my bed to get her and she doesn't even fully wake up to feed in the night. It's amazing and I love it! Most of my family and friends think I'm a little nuts for doing it this way but it works for us. I'm sure it's not for everyone though.

likequietdreams said...

Great post! Hubby and I co-sleep with our 4 year old and 20 month old. We love it, and everybody sleeps well. While, I wouldn't be comfortable with my husband sleeping next to a newborn by himself, a nursing mother really does take a natural position that prevents rolling... baby's at the breast, mama's arm over the head, knee curled under baby. I'm not sure if that's different for non-nursing mothers.
My husband and I are still intimate regularly... though I do agree that night-time cuddling doesn't really happen anymore.
Oh, and I agree that the Tres Tria pillow is amazing and well worth the money!

Gina said...

Yup.

Brittany said...

What a great post! I don't have kids yet, but will consider co-sleeping when I do. I can definitely see both the benefits and drawbacks.

On a totally unrelated note, could you share where the bedding in these photos is from? It's beautiful!

Karen said...

We didn't really set out to co-sleep with our newborns,(though I was not against it) but since I was breast feeding, it was really easy. I never felt like I would roll on my children. I did keep them close to me, though. Since my husband was a deeper sleeper. We don't often have both kids in bed with us. My oldest is happily in his bed every night unless he is sick or has a nightmare. My 3 year old used to come into our bed every night at some time and I would just let him stay there. Now it's getting less frequent. I do love the cuddling, and since he's got type 1 diabetes, I feel like I'm more aware of if he goes hypoglycemic if he's in the room with me. So I'm not hurrying to get him to sleep in his bed all night. He starts out in his own bed, and sometimes sleeps there all night. He is outgrowing it on his own. But I definitely co-slept with him more as an infant, mostly so we wouldn't disturb the sleep of my older son if the younger one woke up to nurse in the middle of the night.
As an aside, I never slept in my parents bed. But I liked the extra bonding, cuddling, and sleep that it afforded us in the infant stage.

Diane Blaken said...

Currently we co-sleep with our 4 year old and 3 year old. Both since birth and we are getting ready to have #3. Obviously the closeness of husband and wife has not hurt us any (since #3 is on the way). We know that it won't last forever either, and let's be real no kid ever went to college saying they still slept with their parents. If it works for you GREAT if it doesn't GREAT. Let's work on teaching our kids to listen to that inter-voice that tells what is right for us and what isn't.

Jenna said...

does leigh (or other co sleeping moms) ever drink wine? take nyquil? or drugs? because then her "heightened awareness" of baby being in bed with her is gone. you can have the baby in a bassinet right next to you for ease of breastfeeding and still allowing baby to hear your breath and rhythms and eliminate the risk of adult pillows/blankets/soft mattresses. i think she is taking care of her own needs and ignoring the risks to her small children. my mother is a former nicu nurse, now published sids researcher and i unfortunately have heard one too many unfortunate stories.

Elizabeth said...

When my daughter was still tiny, I had to go back to work. Because it was Christmas season and I was a retail manager, that meant 70-80 hour work weeks and 5am freight trucks. We would put her to bed in her crib, and my husband and I would stay up for a bit for adult time. When the baby woke up in the wee hours, her dad would get up, change her diaper, and bring her to me to nurse in bed. We'd all spend the rest of the night co-sleeping.

Her father and I split up when she was just over a year old, and it was understandably a difficult time. She kept sleeping with me because it felt comfortable and safe for both of us after the tempestuous end of a 10-year marriage. She has always started out in her own bed and migrated to mine if she wanted to, decreasing in frequency as she's gotten older (she's nine now) and our Gentleman moved in two years ago.

The Gentleman is less thrilled if we end up with a kiddo in bed more than once or twice a month (it's a full size bed, he's 6'2" and 195lbs - I'm tiny and try to just split my space with her, but you know it gets crowded), but we discussed how she might feel if she weren't allowed to seek our bed for comfort, and I appreciate that he was willing to consider that.

There are lots of different ways to parent. I don't think there's a wrong answer to this as long as children feel loved and safe and have adults in their lives who make the best choices they can.

Unknown said...

I am a long time reader, first time posting, and I had to share a few additional points with any readers that are considering co-sleeping in a family bed.
First, if you share a room with your child that is co-sleeping. Here, we are discussing the family bed. Just so people are aware of the terms.
I never intended to have a family bed. In fact we spent a small fortune on a nursery, that has been published in magazines and on-line, and my son HATED his crib. Wow, was I in shock. So, in that first sleep deprived month we laid him down in the middle of our bed and he slept 5 hours straight. I was losing my mind, my physician husband suggested it and I will admit we shared a family bed for 16 months. Now our son sleeps on a twin, in his nursery, no fuss, no crying it out ever employed, no bed time fights and sleeps 12 hours straight.
A safe family bed, with newborns, starts with a breast feeding mother. Two healthy, normal weight adults who do not take any sleeping medications nor engage in any alcohol or illicit drug use and is a non smoking home. When you sleep with a newborn you don't use comforters or frankly big pillows. We slept in layers of clothing, becuase newborns need a cool room (no more than 70 degrees) with small child size pillows under our heads. AS described by the original post the infant is positioned ready to nurse. Nursing is key. Nursing is the body's way of making both the mother and infant in beautiful harmony.
If you want to read more about the science behind this and the incredible benefits of a family bed please GOOGLE Dr. James McKenna of Notre Dame and his sleep institute's work. Anyone considering a family bed situation must read his work. It is illuminating and also provides the necessary safety guidelines.
Now, this question of intimacy I find frankly annoying. How many parents of newborns do you know having sex regularly? I was just at that stage and I did an unscientific survey of two dozen couples and let me tell you NONE. In fact, my husband and I were most active. I am expecting our second and the answer is you steal time away from your child whenever you can. Just as any parents have to do. What is going on in evenings when your child is asleep in a crib? You are doing dishes, catching up on email, watching tv, perhaps doing laundry etc. All parents with kids in cribs are getting it on during this time period? Please, that is a falacy and frankly partners need to be aware that intimacy changes when you have a baby and are raising children. Blaming a family bed on not being intimate is, in my view, not being honest about the state of your relationship. Intimacy can be defined in many ways and has new parents you need to SEEK out NEW ways to be intimate.
Lastly, like everything in parenting, I think both partners need to be in agreement.
-Tina, NYC

Nina said...

I really really don't want to sound judgmental. I know how sensitive parenting decisions can be to make and then keep and I want to respect everyone's decisions.

But my husband, a pediatrician, has had to treat children that have been injured as a result of co-sleeping. Just because you haven't had a problem with it, doesn't mean that you wont have a problem with it.
Co-sleeping is, honestly and truly, unsafe.

Emma said...

As a physician, I can definitively say that babies' nervous systems, heartbeats, and breathing rhythms are not "set by" after birth contact with the parents. Couldn't be further from the truth. Skin-on-skin contact can be helpful for baby in other ways, but parental contact does not have bearing on basic physiological functions like you listed above.

Elizabeth Butterworth said...

Hear hear - I completely agree. I am 6 months pregnant with my first and don't plan to co-sleep. To me and for my husband it seems like a very strange thing to do but each to his/her own. In the UK the NHS recommend the baby is in the same room as you for the first six months (not in the same bed mind you) and even that period of time makes me wonder about balancing the other aspects of our marriage. People tell me I will be too tired to be interested in anything else though!

Emma said...

We aren't religious at all and our children aren't allowed in our room! :)

Emma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruna Holst said...

It sounds to me that most people commenting this post are overestimating co-sleeping because sleeping with their kids it is a pleasure to them, the parents. I read some posts of people talking about only one scientific research to fundament their co-sleeping. I'm from Brazil. Most of the population of my country MUST co-sleep because it is the only alternative, as most families have only one bedroom and one bed for all the family.
I'm a psychologist and I work directly with children development. Most researches that I'm aware of, indicate a great negative impact of co-sleeping, psychologically and physically. Just to mention one of them: parents (it doesn't matter if they like it or want it) GET sexually excited during their sleep. Children don't have the maturity to elaborate this fact. Besides that, children don't have the maturity to evaluate if they are ready or not to sleep alone. You are sending your kids the message that they can only have pleasures in life, that if it "feels" good, then it is good. Im not going even to mention the researches that shows that children that has this important period of having to sleep on their own bed postponed can develop mentally problems, low self-steem, lack of autonomy, etc, etc, etc.
I'm not saying that you should agree with me. But, please, base your opinion and actions on something reliable. Not just "it's good", "it feels right", "most people do this, so what's the matter...".
We can do everything. We just have to know the reasons and have arguments for that.
Sorry for my english, I'm from Brazil

mary catherine hamelin {magical days} said...

Here here! So well said. Different things are important to different families. Sex in a bed does not a good marriage make. My husband and I cuddle anywhere and everywhere, not necessarily only in the dark of our bedroom. That's where we SLEEP.

Linda Z said...

I had the same thoughts. Would love a follow-up interview from her husband.

LadyTurz said...

Yep, same here. I loved the idea of co-sleeping but NONE of us were sleeping well, especially our baby! She slept much, MUCH better in her own crib in her own room. I tried to get her to cuddle in bed with us, I really did! Not having it. ha!

Laura Wiseman said...

I never co-slept as a child. Even when we would go into our parent's room after nightmares or during storms, we always got a nice place on the floor. My parents always protected their right to have the bed to themselves. Understandable! I did co-sleep my son for the first five months. It was never my intention to do it longer. We co-slept until we felt comfortable transitioning him to his own bed and room. He didn't take well to the pack and play we tried to put him in at first. He was more comfortable cuddling on his side into me. It was very sweet, and I do miss that. Now if he is ever in our bed, I spend most of the night either being head-butted or kicked in the chest. I'm glad we co-slept for a while, but it was a nice return to being just the two of us.

Alexandra Wright said...

Yay for Dr. McKenna!!! Love him and his work!

Laura Wiseman said...

I definitely agree with you! While we co-slept for the first five months, so that we could actually SLEEP, it was nice to finally have the bed back to ourselves. The rest of our lives have become so child-centered that it is nice to get in bed at the end of the day with my husband and be able to enjoy the closeness of being able to talk or whatever else! :) Our son usually comes into our room in the morning for cuddle time and another hour of sleep, but I love those moments even more for how special they are rather than routine!

Nina said...

I'm with Megan on this one. My husband, while on ER rotations during his pediatric residency, saw a lot of injuries as a result of co-sleeping. You just can't predict when you are going to be so out of it that you aren't aware of what you are rolling over and on to.

Emily said...

Agreed! I don't think co sleeping is that weird, but I have a very hard time sleeping in a double bed with a partner, let alone a whole gaggle of people. I need a lot of space to sleep well, and sleep is so important to me!

Jenna said...

does leigh (or any other co sleeping moms) ever drink wine? take drugs? cold medicine/nyqil? because then she is is probably compromising the 'awareness' that she has of her baby being in the bed with her. you can have a bassinet next to your bed and still allow for ease of breastfeeding in the middle of the night so you aren't trodding down a hallway, and allow the baby to hear moms breathing and movements without having the dangers of adult pillows/mattresses/blankets and know that baby is closeby. i think leigh and other moms who chose to co-sleep while ignoring the bassinet by the bedside option are being selfish and choosing to satisfy their own needs over their childrens safety. my mom is a former nicu nurse/current sids researcher and i have heard too many terrible stories to think this is a good idea. we would never chose to not use a car seat because women all over the world do not use them, sleeping (which is how many babies spend their days) should be no different.

melle-belle said...

The term "family-bed" makes me cringe.

erin said...

My thoughts exactly! I'm very impressed and encouraged by the positivity in these comments

Sarah O. said...

Roxarita, it seems so, or if they do their husbands may not be completley honest.

Inari, my question for you would be is Cry it Out the only alternative to co-sleeping? I don't personally think it is. I do think there are other methods somewhere in between the two.

Mina said...

This is a lovely post - the photos are gorgeous.
It's so interesting how cultural this sleep thing is. Here in Sweden, some form of co-sleeping is pretty much assumed, at least during the first baby year.

Anna with Altitude said...

2 very simple things: 1.) This is just how Leigh does it. It's not to say she is doing it right or wrong, just to show how we all do things a little differently than one another. Embrace that people! 2.) I miss Leigh and Marvelous Kiddo. Although, I fully understand that life goes on outside of the blogosphere. We are only here for a short time so do what feels right to you. That is the underlying theme of the post.

Anna with Altitude said...

2 very simple things: 1.) This is just how Leigh does it. It's not to say she is doing it right or wrong, just to show how we all do things a little differently than one another. Embrace that people! 2.) I miss Leigh and Marvelous Kiddo. Although, I fully understand that life goes on outside of the blogosphere. We are only here for a short time so do what feels right to you. That is the underlying theme of the post.

fawn said...

The commenter is suggesting a safer alternative. ?

Holly said...

loved this post! i miss leigh and her blog so this was lovely to ready. :)

MGasparian said...

Co-sleeping works for my family. My husband and I share our king size bed with our 19 month old. It's wonderful to be able to wake up next to your little guy. When he was a newborn we had him sleep in the Summer Infant Rest Assured Sleeper, just to be safe. It made things so much easier. I agree that you do have to make sure your intimacy doesn't suffer but it also makes your dates nights, etc., extra special. And like Leigh said, it isn't forever! I know it can be frowned upon but being a working mom limits the time I spend with my little guy, so I wouldn't change it for the world.

Kimberly said...

i know I'm a day late, but i found this so interesting. and after reading a lot of the posts i realized i kinda co-slept with my parents when i was younger! i don't think it was their intention, but almost every night when i was little i would end up either in my parents bed or on their floor next to them and in the morning my dad would pick me up and put me in my bed so i wouldn't get stepped on. i always let myself in or snuck into their bed-it was never their idea to have their kid sandwiching them in bed or sleeping directly underneath them. i don't know when it started but it went on for a long time, to the point where i had a hard time as a kid sleeping without them.

pros and cons to everything, but there has to be a cut off point if you let them continue this into childhood.

mary catherine hamelin {magical days} said...

LOL Inari! Yes!;)

Unknown said...

I was so happy to see this topic discussed, and to see Leigh! I have to say I miss her blog! We've co-slept with our twins since they were born (now 6) and it's been great! Now that they are older, it's reversed in that they fall asleep in their beds and migrate into ours during the night. More often than not, one stays in their bed all night... it's all about what's best for your family...

Jessica said...

megan - agreed. I'm a mother too, and a doctor.

Just to set the record straight, "Dr." James McKenna is an anthropologist, not a medical doctor. I haven't had the time to read his research papers, but his background alone points out that he approaches the issue from a different perspective than a physician who performs autopsies and sees the direct evidence that co-sleeping can result in infant deaths.

Organizations like the AAP make their recommendations based on the best evidence at the time, and advice changes as more studies are done and new associations are found (it doesn't mean that they were "dreadfully wrong" initially).

Unfortunately this issue is similar to the vaccine debate - the group mentality that "everyone needs to do what's right for their family" overrides any available scientific evidence. It's such an emotionally charged issue that it's hard to have a two-way discussion...as evidenced by the few people in this forum that have voiced concerns and received immediate (slightly nasty) retorts.

I completely sympathize with the common struggle of all parents to do what's best for their children and families, but I wish more people would carefully consider the pros (possible emotional and physical benefits) and cons (a small, but real and proven increased risk of infant death) of co-sleeping instead of just convincing themselves that they're invincible and taking everyone else's anecdotal advice as proof that nothing bad could ever happen.

Nancy Park said...

I think Taro may be one of the three men in the world least deserving of pity! I think he thinks so too.

boilingwok said...

This was a pretty interesting discussion and I had to comment.

It is interesting to see what is considered normal across cultures. In Asia (especially in South Asia), most children sleep with their parents. Parents are considered cruel and heartless if they let their babies sleep in another room. Add to that the fact that many people live in small houses and join family systems with little concern of private space. So, you would rarely hear a doctor advocating against co sleeping, in fact I have never heard of it myself.

I think, to each family their own. I do agree that intimacy does take a huge hit with kids in the same bed.

Beth E. said...

I truly had no idea this whole co-sleeping this was so popular. I do have to admit that I find it really strange. Obviously what goes on in your bed is your own business but it almost seems inappropriate to me. We need our sleep. Even when we had infants they were always in their own room. Now that they're older there is a no waking us up in the night unless you're ill rule. My husband deals with the stomach flu but they don't come in if they've had bad dreams. I definitely didn't with my parents. There are days when the only alone time I get with my husband is in bed. I can't imagine having my kids in there with me. They also have wildly different bedtimes than us. I always go and lie next to my kids before bed and chat with them about their day but I do that more so they're getting mommy time. I don't know how I feel about endorsing "intimacy" between parents and children. What does that even mean? I find it odd that someone could find their children replace their desire for time with their husband. I give plenty of hugs and kisses but I don't think my children are deprived because I don't spoon with them every night. I don't even do that with my husband most nights. It is easier to sleep on separate sides of the bed. Ahhh, I just find this so bizarre and it goes against all my mothering instincts and well as my instincts as a wife. I do want to be able to have sex in bed with my husband first thing in the morning on last thing at night even if I'm sneaking home from the office at 1am.

Laurel said...

My husband and I have been sharing our bed with our 8 month old since she was born and we couldn't be happier about it. With the exception of a handful of nights (teething, fighting off a cold, etc), the three of us sleep so well together. Not having to get out of bed at night to nurse her has meant that I have continued to get plenty of sleep, even with a newborn, and I am so grateful for that! We rarely even fully wake up at night anymore...she will whimper and I half-asleep whip out a boob and we all go on sleeping peacefully. My husband has been fully on board since the beginning, although perhaps a little more nervous about it than I was. Now that we're "pros" he has gotten past the nervous feelings and I know that he has really come to love snuggling with his daughter. For us, the benefits of not having to get out of bed and all getting a good nights sleep far outweigh any drawbacks. I'm sure someday we'll be happy to have our bed back to ourselves, but meanwhile this just works so well for all three of us.

K. said...

Jen - I completely agree! As a pediatric nurse, I've seen and felt the incredible sadness that comes from a family losing a child because of unsafe sleep. You cannot count on being self-aware while you're sleeping. An accident can always happen. I can't imagine taking that much of a risk with someone who is so important.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no loose blankets, stuffed toys, pillows, or sleeping anywhere but a protected area until baby is one year old at least.

This article is a great reference on infant safety: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/5/e1341.full?sid=bd9574fb-4575-4d35-a46e-a63394e68331

Jessica @ Team Wiking said...

I co-slept with both of my babies and love it. My oldest is 9.5 now and has been in his own bed since he was 2. My youngest just turned 1 and is still in our bed. He usually falls asleep in our arms and then is in his crib until 12/1, which is when we usually go to bed. NEVER have I ever had a scary moment or feared that I'd roll over onto my babies. I'm a very self aware, light sleeper anyway. I've tried to sleep without him in bed and I just lay there wide awake thinking about him. I hate the thought of having to get up to go get him out of his mini-crib (at the foot of our bed) to feed or comfort him in the middle of the night. One day he too will sleep in his own bed. Sleeping with him in our bed has never interrupted our intimacy. We find other locations for our rendevouz. ;)

Lynford Rozario said...

Hey its so elegant and lovely idea..:)

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Elizabeth Sauvageot said...

The photos are adorable and it seems as though co-sleeping really works for many families. And I should start by saying that I am not a mother (yet) so I understand that my opinion might change ENTIRELY when I do have children. However, I am a NICU nurse and as such I just don't know how I could forget the large number of infants that are rushed to the ED, cold in their mothers arms after a case of SIDS that involved co-sleeping. I have had many mothers tell me that when their infant is sleeping with them they have this "sense" and could never roll over on them. But rolling over on them is not the only way to place an infant in danger when co-sleeping. Pillows, sheets, and blankets can smother an infant just as easily. I know my thoughts on this are probably skewed because I see mostly the bad side of co-sleeping, but to act like co-sleeping is a safe, preferable alternative to a crib is just false. Every mother has to do what is right for her family but no amount of extra sleep or bonding time will ever be worth losing my child to something that is absolutely preventable. With that said, maybe when I have children I will see things differently. :)

Rose said...

I don't have children- I used to love going to parents room but not sure how well that works for parents!

suzy said...

We co slept and i would do it again. This is a lovely story and I loved reading about such love and affection for babies/children. I believe co-sleeping gave my daughter independence and a confidence which only such bonding can give. Co-sleeping is normal and not 'questioned' in most EU and Asian countries so not sure why we have such a problem with it and it becomes such an issue? If you feel comfortable with them in your bed go ahead, you don't need anyone else's acceptance. And yes, you do find other ways/places to be intimate with your partner (it's not forever) and yes, your children are not children forever so cherish as much cuddle time as you can ;)

sk said...

I share a bed with my 8 month old and LOVE it. I work full time outside the home and I just can't image not snuggling next to her every night. I think we both benefit from the extra contact and bonding time. I never intended to co-sleep, and I do have her crib set up next to my bed, and I put her in that when I'm not sleeping with her (i.e. before I go to bed, or for naps on the weekends) but, honestly, I find that I do not sleep well unless she is in bed with me and I can just reach out and touch her and make sure she's breathing. Even when she was a newborn I just felt so much safer having her right next to me. Also, I can't imagine how breastfeeding moms DON'T co-sleep! I would be so exhausted if I had to get up during the night and walk down the hall. I am amazingly well-rested for having a baby that still nurses 2-3 times during the night.
With all that said, it's of course not for everyone! If you drink, smoke, use recreational drugs, are obese or take things like Ambien, bed sharing is not for you.
Thanks for the excellent post Leigh!

Ry Pepper - Arts and Dafts said...

This is very very sweet, but I have a genuine concern for this marriage. I hope she hears her husband when he says he wants to cuddle. How he feels really matters.

Also, I know a pair who coslept and the child had a horribly difficult time letting go when it came to going to school without mom.

I'm sure this works for some people, but there's definitely something to be said for learning to set and appreciate boundaries.

Julie D. said...

my husband and i co-slept with our daughter until she was 1. at that point we only had a full sized bed and it was just too small; none of us were sleeping well. she was just fine in her crib after that, but now at 3 1/2 she drags her pillow into our room in the early morning and cuddles up in between us. i wouldn't have done anything differently, i loved having her in our bed as an infant. and i wouldn't do anything differently now, because i love having her there in the morning.

33348328-2e8f-11e2-ae96-000bcdcb471e said...

First of all, those photos are adorable! And she seems like a devoted, happy mom, so for that she gets snaps from me. For our family, though, this wouldn't fly. My almost 3-year-old does climb into bed with us sometimes when he's scared/sick/etc. and I love it, but I usually end up with his chubby little feet in my face or something. Family bed: Nice place to visit. Wouldn't want to live there.

Also, I know I'm late to the party here, but I am kind of surprised that nobody has drawn the distinction between sleeping with a baby who is nursing at night and sleeping with an older child. For nursing babies, I can totally see why it's great for sleep to have them nearby. I couldn't have my son in our room when he was a newborn because my husband and I slept in the living room, but I wished I did, and plan to with our second child, although I think I'd use a co-sleeper. But once a child is sleeping through the night and no longer feeding (this happened for us within the first year), this benefit wouldn't apply anymore. At that point it seems like it would be a hindrance to sleep, rather than a help. I'm curious to know, what are the benefits of an older child sleeping in the bed?

And as far as intimacy--I do get that there are other places in the house to get it on but there is a big difference between doing it in the kitchen for fun one night to change it up and doing it there because you CAN'T do it in your bed. I'm as big a fan of changing it up as the next person, but some nights there really is nothing like your bed for that! Obviously you do what you have to do while your baby is young, but this mom has a five-year-old kid in her bed, plus two more kids, so she and her husband could be looking at 10 plus years of being sexiled.

Nataliya said...

We have a 4 year old and another one on the way in a few months. From the day the 4 year old was born she slept in her own "space", a bassinette, crib, toddler bed, until about 2.5 when she went to daycare. We missed each other so much, and there's not much time in the day for that "touch" so we let her come to our bed at night when she asked for it in the middle of the night (only after she properly = on her own = fell asleep in her own bed).

This arrangement seems to work really well for us. I foresee her sleeping in our bed much more once the baby is here, because she will want to be with everyone else. And I'm all for supporting her emotional comfort. However, the baby will sleep on his/her own to learn how to fall asleep on his/her own.

I guess what I"m trying to say is that for us, sleeping together is awesome. But I still want to make sure my kid doesn't need me next to him/her to fall asleep. Not to mention the fact that, kid touch is great and all, and I cherish it like the next mom; but as a woman, I also need the husband's touch. Just as much as kid touch, if not sometimes more, he he :)

Nataliya said...

does this mean that for some families it's the parents' need to co-sleep that leads to the arrangement vs. the child's need??

Karina Cifuentes said...

I completely agree with @ Emma. Although a well intentioned practice, I feel like this type of coddling or attempt to be exceptionally close is no better than letting your kids sleep in their own beds. I worry that this type of parenting could lead to needy children or those who are not aware of social boundaries. Also, it's best to not sideline your marriage and let parenthood become all encompassing. Parents, especially new ones, need their own, private time.

cinnamonstixx said...

My husband's ex wife co-sleeps with their daughter, she's 8 and will be 9 this fall. His daughter has terrible anxiety issues being away from her mother and doesn't like staying at other people's homes. I personally feel that she's a little too old to co-sleep and it's heartbreaking to see her throw a tantrum when she has to stay at our house. And then my husband must sleep with her when she's over which we find disruptive. I know this is a way of life but I very much enjoy the fact that our bedroom is a private place.

Mina said...

Great to hear a husband's perspective!

I think it's interesting that all the "I feel sorry for her husband" comments assume that co-sleeping has been the mother's choice entirely and something that the father has just been forced to accept. In our family, we parents make important decisions like this together, and I think the same goes for most families out there!

Autumn Smith said...

I'm curious about how Leigh and her husband get adult time together outside of the house. I realize that childcare is a luxury not available to everyone regularly, but how do you have evenings out or overnights if their kids only go to sleep with them?

Amanda said...

No thank you. It's interesting to read about other people who do this and get their perspective but even though we don't have kids yet, my husband and I have already talked about this and both agree 100% that it's not for us. I can see maybe in the first couple of months possibly, but even then, I'd prefer to have a bassinet right beside the bed or something like that.

Some friends of ours whose baby is about to turn one have been cosleeping, and I know for a fact that he hates it. Every time we hang out with them, they argue about the baby being in their bed. Seriously, every. single. time.

Christina said...

We've been co sleeping with our 5 yr old and 3 yr old since day one for both kids.

My husband and I are intimate pretty much exclusively on the weekends because we both WOHM f/t and the week is just nutty... but, basically we put the kids to sleep in our bed... go hang out, watch tv or whatever and then get our groove on in the guest bedroom. Then we cuddle until we're ready for sleep... AND we switch off nights -- one person gets to stay in the guest bedroom one night and the other the next night so we each get a weekend morning to sleep in. i think it's working for us just fine. i know my husband is good with the amount we have sex (two - three times a week) and he is totally ok with the co sleeping and i know this because we have an open line of communication, so he isn't saying one thing to my face and then another behind my back. i'm lucky i guess.

Sabriel said...

Kimberly, how can you ever say that anything is ever one way? We don't know this relationship and since it seems that you haven't experienced this yourself, I think you should probably read something less threatening to you. People have been co-sleeping, literally, forever. It's not for everyone, but that doesn't mean that it's for no one. Women are not always steam rolling their men and not all men are sexually starved adolescents. Your friends had a bad experience and Leigh mentioned ONE tiny element. Don't say you know anyone's relationship, not even your friends! Travel a bit before you judge maybe?

jmcr foundation said...

Hey your child look so cute in pictures..muahhhh...:)

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marijamarija said...

What a lovely post! I co-sleep with my 2.5 year old but have another baby on the way in the fall and am not sure how to integrate the newborn? Would love some suggestions.

Katie said...

We co-sleep with our 3.5 year old and have a baby on the way. I would have NEVER dreamed we would do it, but it just happened organically. Our daughter has her own room and a lovely bed (where she starts out every evening). When she wakes around midnight she comes to be with us. It is honestly so much sweetness, and I have much better sleep than my friends who STRUGGLE to keep their children in individual beds.

When baby arrives she will sleep in her crib until about 6 months, and then if she feels the need, she can certainly join us in co-sleeping. It's really a special time in the life of a family.

Peter Engel said...

My daughter slept in between my wife and I for her first 5 months, then to a co-sleeper until she was 11 months old. It's been a crib in her own room ever since, though I usually bring her in the bed with us about 2 hours before the alarm so her mother can nurse her and we all snoozle off.

For me, co-sleeping has been a great experience. I got over any reservations about sleeping next to an infant very quickly. Doing it really gives you a sense of intimacy and bonding that rushing a baby to a crib can't duplicate.

My own feeling is that I wouldn't be OK with having a 7-year-old in bed with parents except BEFORE bedtime, after waking up, or as a "special treat." I do think it's better for the little ones to be in their own beds at 1-2 years, both to develop some of their autonomy and restore their parents' intimacy. But overall, I recommend co-sleeping highly.

OC wanderer said...

I am taking an anthropology class, and it shows how language can change due to differences in culture and society. Due to the new changes in our overview of equality, more people will change their wordings in order to not sound sexist. If everyone starts doing it, then language changes. Language will always change. Have you read King James bible? Language is certainly different.

OC wanderer said...

I am currently taking an anthropology course. Interestingly, the course shows that language will change with time and changes in culture. With our current culture more in tune with equality, these forms of language like the one you noted will be the norm. Obviously, the majority of people that have posted here believe it is the correct way of saying this because it is gender neutral. Have you ever read King James bible? Very different grammar, however correct it was at the time.

cora said...

The pictures that go with this story are breathtaking. The second one really just screams family and love.

Txgrrl said...

Additionally, you could also say "to each her own." Likewise, saying "to everyone their own" would also work.

Txgrrl said...

Additionally, it could also be "to each her own." Likewise, "to everyone their own" would work. It also has the added benefit of making the phrase more accurate to the gender and/or plurality of the person/people about which it is being made.

Nancy Cavillones said...

Some, meaning not all? Poor analogy, I think. If you are saying that you think humans are not animals in some ways, I think you need a brush-up in Biology and Human Evolution... Just because we are supposedly highly evolved doesn't mean that we've lost our primal nature entirely. And no one is saying that everyone must co-sleep. All Leigh and others are saying is that co-sleeping is perfectly natural but it's also not for everyone, just like unmedicated birth is not for everyone and breastfeeding is not for everyone.

Vixenlibra said...

We Co sleep and my baby is now 14 months old. My husband has always been more of a daytime person as it relates to being intimate. Even before baby girl arrived. When he gets in the bed it is to fall asleep and stay asleep. But when we need that time we have to be creative and use other rooms. The baby monitors are indeed very helpful. Overall it works out well for us. I appreciate this article and thecomments about every ones Co sleeping experience.

Vixenlibra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vixenlibra said...

We Co sleep and my baby is now 14 months old. My husband has always been more of a daytime person as it relates to being intimate. Even before baby girl arrived. When he gets in the bed it is to fall asleep and stay asleep. But when we need that time we have to be creative and use other rooms. The baby monitors are indeed very helpful. Overall it works out well for us. I appreciate this article and thecomments about every ones Co sleeping experience.

Vixenlibra said...

We Co sleep and my baby is now 14 months old. My husband has always been more of a daytime person as it relates to being intimate. Even before baby girl arrived. When he gets in the bed it is to fall asleep and stay asleep. But when we need that time we have to be creative and use other rooms. The baby monitors are indeed very helpful. Overall it works out well for us. I appreciate this article and thecomments about every ones Co sleeping experience.

Unknown said...

I am a nurse and sadly I too have seen too many deaths from co-sleeping. Mothers who never meant any harm to their baby wake up and are faced with the worst situation imaginable. There are devastating risks associated with co-sleeping, you can't ignore it. I hated seeing the look on those mothers faces when they had to say goodbye to their baby in the ER. It is just too sad.

Kara Love said...

I just can not take it. Those pictures are absolutely adorable. It makes me want to reintroduce the family bed.

My girls each slept with us until they were about 3 or 4 months. With the first one I was paranoid because of the warnings. With the second one I just wanted to sleep, so I made the decision early on that she would sleep in our bed.

But the truth is both girls sleep better in their own space. They love to be in our bed but they just don't sleep through the night. There is a lot of tossing and turning, kicking and just overall curiosity. My husband would prefer that the kids stayed in our bed forever. He's from a big, close family.

R.L. said...

I would worry that this may enhance attachment issues down the line. I never co-slept with my mother, but we did lots of snuggling and napping together when watching TV as I grew up. But I experienced separation anxiety when I was 7. I felt it would have been even harder to get over had I co-slept. Something to consider for kids with separation anxiety.

Emily said...

There's a lot of talk about marriage coming first, or kids coming first, or kid cuddles "replacing" husband/wife cuddles. But I think many families who co-sleep don't make these divisions and distinctions. One bed, one family. You are all sharing a space, sleep, cuddles, love--it doesn't seem to be about prioritizing one thing over another, but about sharing everything.

Erica Marie said...

My fear with co-sleeping is struggling to get the kid into their own bed. I would only do this is my baby/child had a nightmare. Co-sleeping isn't for me however, if it works for someone else good for them.

M-J Obsessions said...

Thank you Joanna! My family also cosleep with our kids 6 and 2.5. I try not to tell people this, as most people will judge me, and when they find out, i just say:"yeah, i am probably a bad parent, but i love it." That usually shuts people up. I don't really care what other people think of my situation, it was our choice, we all love it, we love the closeness, and i think my husband loves it just as much.

Now, on to the intimacy - yes, you don't get to the privacy whenever you want, but that's the case with having children in general, you have to find time for it whether they sleep in your bed or not. And NO, you can not blame fail marriage on co-sleeping, you blame on both partners not working on the marriage enough.

Risk of SID, we just put a mini cosleeper bed in our bed or next to ours when they were infants. I can still breastfeed lying down in such case, then when they grow big enough, we just let them sleep on our bed, they wouldn't have it anyway.

bajantomorrow said...

What a beautiful post and beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing this lovely story.

Unknown said...

As a cosleeping family, I'd like to chime into a few questions/concerns brought up:

1. Husband's Choice -- we decided together to try cosleeping and then, if it didn't work, we'd move onto other arrangements. we discovered that it was *great* for our family, and so we still continue to the present. Our son is 5.

2. Intimacy -- intimacy was defined in one of the comments as time together talking, cuddling, holding hands, etc. we are just as physical and spend time talking now as we did before. we do this in our living room on the sofa, cuddled up together, and we do it in our bed while our son sleeps (he is a heavy sleeper).

3. sex -- we have sex as much as we want, which is to say frequently! we have sex in our bed when our son is out at sleep-overs with friends or out at play dates, etc. when he's sleeping in the bed, we have sex somewhere else in the house. it includes all kinds of fun things like lingerie.

4. our son -- he has no trouble sleeping on his own. we put him to bed in our family bed like a parent puts a child to bed in their own bed. Stories, snuggles, kiss goodnight, and out we go. He goes to sleep on his own. as i said above, he spends the night over at friend's houses with no trouble getting to sleep, either.

likewise, he has a healthy attachment, clear boundaries, as well as being well mannered, friendly, and independent. sure, he's also a normal 5 yr old who gets under the skin now and again.

we have opted to have just one child. this time with him is fleeting. i feel that I will blink and he'll be a grown man.

today, tonight even, I will hold him close to me, and enjoy this moment that we have together. and my husband will lean over and do the same. and we will gaze upon our little boy -- and see his great sleeping beauty -- and smile at each other, sharing the intimacy of knowing that his is the great little miracle of our marriage.

and that builds us up even more, as a couple, that today we are this, and tomorrow we will be wise and old, and our son healthy and srtong in the world -- with his own family of his own making. And we will have years and years and years of our own bed, our own room, our own home.

but now, and for this very short time, we will share it with him. and for us, that is a blessed, small grace.

Tuilie said...

I don't think co-sleeping is such a good idea. It might sound good when you're still breastfeeding, but I still think it's better for the baby to sleep in his or her own bed.
My sister started co-sleeping with her 2nd kid. This kid is 14 years old now and still sleeping in a big bed together with his mommy. And her husband had to move to a couch. Nobody can persuade me of this being normal.

Tuilie said...

I don't think co-sleeping is such a good idea. It might sound good when you're still breastfeeding, but I still think it's better for the baby to sleep in his or her own bed.
My sister started co-sleeping with her 2nd kid. This kid is 14 years old now and still sleeping in a big bed together with his mommy. And her husband had to move to a couch. Nobody can persuade me of this being normal.

Eleanor Davis said...

"A man typically wants intimacy every night, so to deprive him of such a thing, I don't think that's exactly fair."

whoa whoa whoa. Maybe it's just because I've read so many early modern primary sources, but this screams "women always have to be at their husbands beck and call, whenever they want it, regardless!" Sure, both partners in the couple should have their needs relatively met-emotional and physical, but to say that it's unfair to not be intimate every night is a little over the top.

Eleanor Davis said...

oh my gosh, thank you, I thought I was the only one in the world bothered by the "their" phenomenon. Strunk and White are probably rolling in their graves...

Jennifer said...

Before having children, I would have read this and thought, "that's just weird." My daughter is six months old and she's never slept through the night in our bed, but I will purposely bring her into bed to nap together. I've never experienced something so sweet and loving as watching my baby sleep so close to me, hearing and feeling her little breath on me. Cosleeping is not a regular practice for us because I do not get good rest. I am very aware that she is in bed with us. I also agree that having your boob readily available to a nursing baby is wonderful. It's right there! You don't have to get out of bed to make a bottle and its always the right temp. Baby loves it too!

Jennifer said...

Before having children, I would have read this and thought, "that's just weird." My daughter is six months old and she's never slept through the night in our bed, but I will purposely bring her into bed to nap together. I've never experienced something so sweet and loving as watching my baby sleep so close to me, hearing and feeling her little breath on me. Cosleeping is not a regular practice for us because I do not get good rest. I am very aware that she is in bed with us. I also agree that having your boob readily available to a nursing baby is wonderful. It's right there! You don't have to get out of bed to make a bottle and its always the right temp. Baby loves it too!

ErinMarirWatson said...

I find the above comments so judgemental, it's fair enough if you don't agree with co sleeping but making a personal attack on someone you don't know and writing about her marriage in such a derogatory fashion, solely based on one interview is absurd.

ErinMarirWatson said...

I read an interesting article in The Gardian recently that pointed at children being more independent if they had a really close bond with their parents as an infant. I think it was something to do with them knowing that had a strong family bond to fall back on if they needed it, which in turn gave them more confidence and making them more independent. So maybe co sleeping rather then controlled crying is the way to go if you want independent children.

But what do any of us really know! I'm more a horses for courses kind of girl, as a parent you've got to do what's right for you.

ErinMarirWatson said...

It was my health professional showed me how to breast feed in bed and told me that as it was fine to co sleep. Another midwife also told me that there has been medically studies showing that mothers who breastfeeding and cosleep are unlikely to roll on there children unless affected by drugs or alcohol. It was when they stopped breast feeding that it was dangerouse.

Marcela said...

I am a co-sleeping mom of three. Our oldest slept with us till he was 6, he is 12 now. Our two youngest are in bed with us at the moment. A 4 year old and 9 month old. We wouldn't have it any other way. It's true at night we have less time to snuggle but we make up for it by snuggling together on the sofa or kissing each other when the other walks by. As far as sex...we just improvise...mid day when the kids are watching a movie and when baby is taking a nap, early morning when kids get up before us and are having breakfast...really whenever, it's not as hard as you think, might just be a quickie sometimes...but it's still time together(:
Both husband and I agree that getting in bed with the kids at night and all of us hugging on each other is the best part of the day and the part we most look forward to...all of us being together.
Co-sleeping is so much easier for breastfeeding and kids are little for such a short period of time... although our oldest is still very sweet he likes his privacy now that he is becoming a teenager and I miss those days when he always needed me near by...
I say whatever works for your family....(:

Teghan said...

Such a beautiful post, I love Marvelous Kiddo . . . we coslept for most of the first year, then at my husbands request we moved Doiron to his own room the transition was easier than I expected but looking at these photos makes me miss my baby cuddles. But I'll admit I love having my space again and Doiron comes to my bed every morning for cuddles and milk.

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Fousty said...

What I think is really interesting about the intimacy comments, is thinking about my life before I had a child.

My husband and I would get into bed, to go to sleep, talk a little while, and we would... sleep. We needed to sleep at night, we had to wake up in the morning. We had plenty of sex, but it was never at bed time.

I don't really know what other couples are doing at night, in bed, but it seems so strange to me to think that bedtime = sexy time.

Roxarita, I am also surprised by the comments that are worried about the hypothetical father's sex life. It's very hard not to read them as if they're saying the woman needs to be constantly available, and the poor man is suffering if she's not.

When we have children, men and women both sacrifice intimate times, whether they're in bed with the kids at night or not. There are also couples without children that sacrifice their desires for the sake of their partner, when their partner isn't feeling up to it, or if their partner is sick, or busy. This kind of sacrifice is just part of any relationship.

Sure, there's more sacrificing when you have a child, and there's more planning involved, but you can get babysitters, and family members can take the kids. There's nap time, and the fact that the kid probably goes to bed earlier than the parents.

Sometimes, it's really exciting to get my sister-in-law to come by for a few hours, and go to a hotel. Those moments are so much more memorable and worth so much more to us now. In my home, beds, bedrooms, they're for sleep. And if it so happens that when we're in bed at night, and we want to have sex... we don't, and we survive it, and usually have time together the following day or the following week - whenever it makes sense for us.

Also, the idea that co-sleeping doesn't benefit the dad is a strange one for me.

I have a 2 year old daughter that has slept in bed with us from the beginning. Like many commenters, I didn't plan to co-sleep. I thought it was just too much, I needed my space - I'm an extremely introverted individual. But it was the only thing that made sense to me and my husband once our daughter was here. It wasn't a decision I made on my own.

My husband has questioned why anyone would be against co-sleeping. He relishes this time, when she can sleep in the bed and we can all be close. One day, she wont turn to him for comfort anymore. One day, she wont be able to talk to him about things that bother her. This is a very special time that is going to be over so soon. But that's not why we began co-sleeping, that's just a benefit. We began, because I was waking up at 3 am to go to work, and I would not have gotten any sleep if I had to get up and out of bed to tend to the baby while she was nursing.

He also often discusses the fact that this is a very Western ideal - to put the babies away so that the adults can have their own space. But we all make certain sacrifices, and have individual priorities. I tend to go to bed before them, because unless I'm totally exhausted, I can't get to sleep easily when there are other people around - especially if they're touching me. Also, when the baby was super tiny, my husband slept on the couch often, because he couldn't get to sleep due to anxiety about harming her, and that was okay with him. We all find what works for us.

The thing I miss most is our talks before sleeping - in bed, lights out, no electronics or books or anything to distract us. But now, we go on drives. We put our daughter in the back seat, and we just drive. That's where we get our intimacy - not sexual intimacy, but we can hold hands or put a hand on a shoulder or neck, and just talk. Then, we stop for milkshakes or something and everyone has a great time.

Kiana said...

We co sleep with our eleven month old, and like many people have said, it was not planned. It just happened. My husband was anti co-sleeping in the beginning because he thought he'd roll over the baby. Now he´s a bigger fan of it than I am. He loves having our little one between us and a lot of mornings I wake up to find them snuggled next to each other or with the baby on top of him fast asleep. I think it´s a bit odd that people worry about Leigh´'s sex life. She has many children so I´m pretty sure she's not abstaining. My husband and I also have sex whenever the baby naps or when he goes down for the night in the second bedroom or in the living room. He does not feel stripped of intimacy and neither do I. Seriously.

Pop Wahm Buzz said...

Hmmmm - I wonder about the quality of a relationship where a partner is so easily " railroaded" in a parenting decision. If this is indeed the case then I think the possibility of missed sexy time due to bed-sharing is the least of that partnership's issues.

Eastofeden said...

Interesting.
My own experience with co-sleeping is this:
I tried not to let my kids sleep with me, but then relented. They both slept in the family bed most nights. It is way easier because at night I read to them and snuggled and then we all just went to sleep. So sweet and wonderful. When they were babies, nursing was easier, sleep was easier. Little cute conversations and hugs, hugs, hugs.

The downside: Notice that the focus is all on the kids at night. Instead of reading to them in their own beds, having private conversations with each child individually, then tucking them in with kisses, and going into my own room to attend to my husband, all the focus was on them, and also on the easiness of it all made it so appealing. Making them sleep in their own beds was at least an hour long process before I cold get in bed. But, yes, my husband did mind, even though he also encouraged it because it was cute and easier, he missed being with solely me. I thought I didn't mind so much, but also missed my husband's attention to me. Yes, you can have sex quietly; yes, you can have sex other places. But really, two working parents, with all the activities of the day, and let me tell you, there are not a whole lot of "Let's do it on the kitchen counter" or "how about a nooner" moments, who are we kidding here?

The other odd thing for me it the statement: How long do the kids co-sleep? Until they are ready to sleep in their own room. I think maybe for the first few years, that is fine, but not until the kid feels like it.

I ended up divorced and with a 12 year old still sleeping with me years later. My other friend (not divorced) still had a 12 year old son sleeping in her bed with her husband, and they started to get concerned. My experience has been that my own children and my few friends who have allowed co-sleeping have had: 1) real problems with their sex life 2) children who would like to sleep with them until they are teens. That is a LONG time for parents to NOT have a normal sex life in their own beds.

Now I have remarried. I sleep naked snuggled with my husband every night. My nine year old son gets occasional "sleep-overs" that are planned so that he can have some extra snuggle time. My children understand that mommy and daddy have private time. This has been a happy family experience for me. Everyone has different things that work for them, but I do believe that when you are married with children, you must put a priority on loving, private moments with your husband, then the children second. You have to make your husband the priority and he has to make you the priority. Then both parents feel loved and supported and that makes them better parents. If your children see the love of the parents, that is healthy for them. If you can do that with a family bed, and your husband is truly number one and he feels that way, and the sex life is still good, that is great.

Phil said...

OK here is an actual "male" point of view. I truly enjoy that we are bedsharing. I built a co-sleeper that I hope someday will get some use, but for now bedsharing works for us. I enjoy knowing that when I stir feeling like I need to check on our son that he is basically within arms reach and I can quickly fall back to sleep knowing he is safe. I feel like we actually sleep in longer blocks because there isn't that big production of getting woken up by screaming into a monitor and then wandering into another part of the house taking time to settle him down and then trying to get back to sleep before the next round starts. As for my needs the number one I have is to make sure the family is safe and happy and bedsharing fulfill that need for me.

As for the intimacy part- our son is still young so we can leave him safely sleeping or put him in baby jail (his play pen) and steal 30 minutes for ourselves in another room. As he gets older we will just need to get more creative in our endeavors. Everyone tell you "Once you have a kid, your life really changes..." your life doesn't change it just forces you to be more creative in your routines.

Phil said...

OK here is an actual "male" point of view. I truly enjoy that we are bedsharing. I built a co-sleeper that I hope someday will get some use, but for now bedsharing works for us. I enjoy knowing that when I stir feeling like I need to check on our son that he is basically within arms reach and I can quickly fall back to sleep knowing he is safe. I feel like we actually sleep in longer blocks because there isn't that big production of getting woken up by screaming into a monitor and then wandering into another part of the house taking time to settle him down and then trying to get back to sleep before the next round starts. As for my needs the number one I have is to make sure the family is safe and happy and bedsharing fulfill that need for me.

As for the intimacy part- our son is still young so we can leave him safely sleeping or put him in baby jail (his play pen) and steal 30 minutes for ourselves in another room. As he gets older we will just need to get more creative in our endeavors. Everyone tell you "Once you have a kid, your life really changes..." your life doesn't change it just forces you to be more creative in your routines.

Diane said...

great interview! I co-sleep with my 4 month old daughter and my husband too. I always thought that I was going to be the type of mother that would send her baby to the crib but once I became a mom my views changed so much. I can't imagine not being close to my baby at night and feel her breath and hearing her. It helps me sleep better knowing that she is OK and close to me. When she was a newborn I started with a bed side sleeper (a baby bed in my bed) that way I knew I couldn't roll over her and at the same time she was right next to me. The plus side is also feeding is quicker and easier when you are co-sleeping and breastfeeding.

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joannabanana said...

Loved reading this post. I never thought I would choose to co-sleep. My background is as a behavioral consultant and I was critically thinking about how I would sleep train when I was pregnant. Now that I am actually a Mommy, our daughter has slept in our bed ever since we brought her home. At 10 months, I still can't imagine separating from her at night. Fortunately my husband feels the same. My most treasured moments are when my daughter is sleeping, my husband and I crawl into bed on either side and hold hands around her. The most surprising for me as a co-sleeping parent is that my intimate moments with my husband are better than ever. I think that even if she was not in our bed, we would still have to do a bit of planning ahead to enjoy each others company;) Thanks for the post!

Iza naslova said...

I'd have to say I know a mother, a Serbian actress named Djurdjija Cvijetic, who rolled over her newborn and killed him... She is easilly to be found on internet, I didn't made this up, so there is a possibility, even if it is a small one. Her case made me never wanna risk co-sleeping...

Christina Willis said...

I'm only 19 and don't have any kids, but honestly, I slept with my mom until I was 10. She was a single mom for the majority of my life, because my dad was kind of in and out, so it just felt right for us to sleep together. I didn't like being alone, and we always enjoyed our cuddle time together. Even now, I still like cuddling with my mommy, and we have a great relationship. She's my best friend, and I think a lot of that has to do with being so close when I was younger.

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jaci kennedy said...

My boyfriend and I cosleep with our 3 year old and both find comfort in it,we never planned to. Our baby wouldn't sleep without being physically near us. I got so sleep deprived I got pnd and our oldest girl got crumbs for quality time.once we gave in to co-sleeping the whole family slept a lot better. I love love love sleep and find it easier to get up in the morning when I feel my little one getting up. With pnd I didn't feel bonded to my youngest until we had slept near each other for a little while. My boyfriend andi have been together near 12 years and don't do 'it' as often as we used to but it does make it a little exciting to sneak it in. We still have plenty of time to have for us once our girls are sleeping,we find life easier when you meet your kids needs. I must say though a king size bed is much better than a double when ur co-sleeping

jaci kennedy said...

My boyfriend and I cosleep with our 3 year old and both find comfort in it,we never planned to. Our baby wouldn't sleep without being physically near us. I got so sleep deprived I got pnd and our oldest girl got crumbs for quality time.once we gave in to co-sleeping the whole family slept a lot better. I love love love sleep and find it easier to get up in the morning when I feel my little one getting up. With pnd I didn't feel bonded to my youngest until we had slept near each other for a little while. My boyfriend andi have been together near 12 years and don't do 'it' as often as we used to but it does make it a little exciting to sneak it in. We still have plenty of time to have for us once our girls are sleeping,we find life easier when you meet your kids needs. I must say though a king size bed is much better than a double when ur co-sleeping

Grown Up Mom said...

Oh, boy, I know what Dr. Laura would say about this idea. While it is very sweet to sleep with your children, and to be close to them, I think her husband's comments are kind of a quiet plea to have his intimacy needs met too. He's definitely low man on the totem pole in this situation.

Reila said...

i love this. we coslept with our son until he was 3 1/2 and then our daughter was born. we are no cosleeping with her. it is a very natural feeling for us and love the closeness. our son now sleeps in a toddler bed at the food of our bed. thank you for the wonderful piece.

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Kristina Stevens said...

I'm a single mom and I co-sleep with my 3-year-old son. For the first two months of his life, I slept with him on a twin-sized mattress, then gradually moved him to the big bed with my (now ex). After awhile, he got the hang of sleeping on his own. But the moment I was separated, my son and I went back to sleeping in the same bed at the new apartment. It's great for us. I've never once rolled over on him or worried about that. When he was around 1, he fell out of bed once when we were sleeping at a friend's house, but it's easy to prevent that. Put the bed against the wall and have the child sleep near the wall, or get the special pillows that Joanne mentioned. I find that when I try to put him into his own bed (where he takes his naps during the day), I can't sleep on my own at night. Also, sleeping through the night is guaranteed now for both of us. There's something very reassuring about having your child near you during the vulnerable night. And really, have you ever stopped to think, "How on earth does it make sense that I'm going to share a bed with another adult but think it's weird to keep a tiny child safe, secure and close to me at night?" It's just natural. And normal in SO many cultures.

thebeanhouse said...

What an interesting article (filled with really lovely pictures!). As a mother of 2, I've always encouraged my littles to sleep in their own beds, but they're always welcome in our bed if they have a bad dream, need some closeness or what have you. We're getting to a point where a king bed is definitely going to be necessary to continue doing so though :) Thank you for sharing this with us!

djm said...

Thank you for this Joanna...your words reached out and grabbed my heart strings (I actually teared up and laughed at the same time when reading about your husband spoon feeding you ice cream to subdue the torture of listening to your baby cry!). My daughter is 7 months old and has been co-sleeping with us since we brought her home. It's time for her to move into her crib. Both my husband and I know this. It's been me dragging my feet to sleep train her. Your words help me realize I am not alone in this journey. Thank you for your honesty. Here goes our journey to more restful nights and awake days! XXOO

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