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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.

411 comments:

1 – 200 of 411   Newer›   Newest»
Tinacious Me said...

How adorable!
http://www.Tinacious.Me

nicole said...

It's a sweet idea, but I would worry about rolling over a newborn (I don't think she addresses this enough in the post) and also a lack of intimacy with my significant other.

laurenfoode.com said...

I know this is a personal preference and I would never ever look down on someone for their choice, but definitely not for me. It was interesting to hear that Leigh also grew up in a family bed.

sian said...

the top photo is beautiful. co-sleeping wasn't for us but each to their own! x

Emily said...

I love this interview! We co-sleep with our 14 month old as well, and love the closeness. It's nice to hear of other families who bed share, because it's often "frowned upon" and not talked about openly. I love it when each family finds what works best for them and their kiddos!

newhouseproject.com said...

When I saw this post, I worried about what kind of comments I would see, but I am glad that Leigh is willing to talk about her experience. We have always co-slept with our daughter and it has felt natural and great. She is our only child and of course she wants to be with us, rather than all alone in a separate room. Of course there are families co-sleeping all around the world. Not everyone has a separate room, or even separate room for their kids!

Danhiskka said...

It looks so lovely! I will never be able to do it, because I'm a starfish sleeper myself and I need SPACE to be able to sleep well :(

Loved the top photo!

JessieRutland said...

My oldest son only slept with us until 3 months. He loves his crib! My youngest is still sleeping with us at 1 year. He doesn't sleep well in a crib and prefers to be in our bed. We will keep him sleeping with us until he enjoys having his own space. Leigh is right, they are only little for a short time, so we try to make that time as joyful and stress-free for us all as possible.

notabilia said...

Is it a Western thing to frown upon bedsharing? We grew up with it, it is a choice that many of my family members have made, etc.

Whitney Kaye said...

This is interesting and enjoyable to read. My husband and I do not let our 11 month old sleep in our bed only because we have designated our bed as OUR bed where OUR time can happen. Of course we will allow our children to sleep with us if they have a bad dream or one of us is away for a night or few traveling but overall we have decided to have them sleep in their own bed.

My question is, Leigh says that her time with her spouse is limited by the family bed. When and where does that intimate time get to happen when your children share a bed with you? This is a something I would like to understand better because when ever I heard of couples sleeping with their children I assumed they did not get to be intimate with one another that often.

Unknown said...

We partly coslept until about 5 months with both of our newborns, though we did have a cradle next to our bed. I loved that it let me nurse without majorly interrupting sleep. I also felt very aware of ow my baby was doing.

We moved them to their own rooms when they started to be aware of their surroundings and we found they slept better that way. We also didn't want to lose that private time as a couple. Pillow talk is such a bonding thing for us, as well as the freedom for... other activities. It is pretty important to us that we protect our marriage first, as the basis of our family unit.

I'm not saying that no one should cosleep longer than we did. Just that it doesn't have to be "all or nothing"... you can do it in a way and for a length of time that works for your family. As far as infant safety, there is a lot of research that indicates higher infant safety and parental awareness during cosleeping, if done properly.

Daniella C said...

Yikes. Definitely not for me. How would you ever have any personal time with your husband? I think kiddos should be in their own beds.

Mindy said...

I love the pictures of sleeping babies. If my son slept this well in our bed he would surely still be there. We co-slept for a long time and I quickly realized that I would not roll over on him although I did worry about my husband doing this. I read that women are so aware but dads are not so I'd have him between me and the edge of the bed rather than between me and my husband. At night it was easy to feed him.

Eventually, though, it became clear that my son was not getting a good night's sleep (and neither were we). He really needed his own space and a bedtime routine so we contacted a sleep expert who helped us with a plan for the transition to his own room and his own crib. He was about 17 months old when we did this and it was probably 4 months overdue.

I wish we could have co-slept longer but it just didn't work for us. I will co-sleep with our next child until it makes sense to move her.

My feeling after experiencing all of this is, do what works in the moment and change when it becomes apparent that what you are doing isn't working. And don't feel guilty about it, there is no "right" answer, every person and little being is different.

Courtney said...

We co-sleep with our son. It wasn't something we planned on, it just sort of happened. We definitely have rough nights, but snuggling with our sweet boy has really been an awesome gift. Soon he will want to sleep in his 'big boy bed' and I'll long for the nights with him starfished between us.

Preppy Pink Crocodile said...

I can't imagine co-sleeping. Ever. But then again, I also have trouble accepting that married people sleep in the same bed every night. Ha. I like my space when sleeping so having little people touching me all night, every night, would just not be my cup of tea. My grandparents had twin beds until the day they passed. And um...as an adult...I sort of get that.

KK
www.preppypinkcrocodile.com

anna said...

My husband and I share our king-size bed with our 27-month old daughter, who still nurses at night.

I'm pretty sure that a breastfeeding mother sleeping next to her newborn is so in tune with the cycles of her infant that overlaying ("rolling over") isn't a threat. That happens when it's someone else (even dad) or the mother is drinking or otherwise intoxicated, or if they're sharing an unsafe sleep surface (like a squishy couch). If I was every really, really exhausted or on medication, I'd sleep on my own for a while. Now there's no way that I could roll over on my toddler, haha!

Thanks for featuring such helpful information, Joanna! Especially since there is so very much misinformation on this subject. Good luck with your new baby :)

Mindy said...

I've also read that being so close to mom helps a baby regulate it's breathing and heartrate. I mean, what's better than that? I worried far less about co-sleeping after reading that.

S said...

I don't have a baby just yet but would worry about rolling over on the baby. I'm a very deep sleeper. Does that change when you have a baby? Do you have some kind of "don't roll" instinct with a little one beside you?

Is it hard to get an older baby to sleep in her own bed if she is used to co-sleeping in the first few months/year?

Abby said...

My husband and I planned to co-sleep, but our son wasn't having it! He's been addicted to his crib since he was one month old. We would try to lay down with him and he would wake right up. Only now, at 13 months, can we bring him in when he wakes up and have him sleep an hour or so with us in the morning.

Tornow Bing said...

My brother and I co-slept with our mother until we were probably 9-10 years old. I don't think it is the choice I would make for my future family, although I do like co-sleeping cribs for newborns.

Eleanor James said...

What a lovely post, Joanna and Leigh! I was so delighted to see you feature Leigh's experience. I also co-sleep, but it really happened unexpectedly as I hadn't purchased a crib before my baby was born. I was so fearful of rolling over my baby, even though I'm a pretty relaxed sleeper - I don't flail or move around a lot. I expressed my concern to my midwife and she asked me if I ever roll out of the bed. I said no and she said you'll never roll over your baby. As long as a woman or her partner are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, she'll have an innate response to her baby's needs, just as Leigh said. It's so much safer and healthier for mom and baby to sleep in close proximity to one another. Though I don't have the link, I read an article shortly after my little one was born that discusses how co-sleeping actually aids in preventing SIDS because IF a baby's heart stops, it immediately picks up the mother's rhythm instead of stopping permanently. The article was far more eloquent and certainly worth a read for any critic or skeptic. :)
xo
Eleanor

Andie said...

My goddaughter is still co-sleeping and she's 11. I think it depends on the child, but for them I think it's a bad thing because she has can't sleep on her own. She recently had a friend over come to spend the night and wanted her mother to sleep in the room with them. Her mother didn't want to and they ended up calling her friend's mom to have her picked up in the middle of the night! Maybe it works well for some people, but it definitely has the potential to be a negative.

Lindsey McLean said...

We do a combination. Our daughter starts the night in her crib, which is in our room, at 7pm. Then we go to bed around 10-11 ish. When she wakes in the night, one of us gets up and brings her in our bed. We sleep like that together until morning. If she sleeping really soundly, sometimes she doesn't come in until 5 or 6 am. Once we even woke up and she was still in her crib. Usually she comes in around 1, and often times, when I go in the room to go to sleep, I swear she smells me and wakes up and I bring her into bed then. As an infant, she slept solely with us and I was in the middle. Now that she's older, she sleeps in the middle. We LOVE having her in our room and in bed with us. I couldn't have any other way!

Chantelle {fat mum slim} said...

We co-sleep with our 5 year old, not as an empowered choice like Leigh - but as necessity {she just wouldn't sleep from the day she was born}.

Sometimes she'll sleep in her own bed {like last night} and it's like a miracle. I love not having someone kick me various times throughout the night, and having the space and time with my husband.

But co-sleeping is beautiful. Some of my favourite memories are of her sweet little newborn body laying beside me in those early days. I hope she makes the transition to her own bed for good soon. We have another baby on the way, and I will be trying to have him/her sleep in their own crib/bassinet for the most part, but I'll try and sneak in a delicious co-sleep every now and then. x

carolineroyce said...

"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."

This just strikes me as so cavalier and selfish. She speaks almost derisively about her husband's need for intimacy. She sounds distant from being a partner and more focused - in an almost unhealthy way - on her children being number 1.

Lindsey McLean said...

I would love to read the article. Do you have a link? :) I also agree that co-sleeping (and night nursing) with a newborn was absolute tops! So magical and lovely. xo

Lindsey McLean said...

I don't read it that way at all. She simply stating that she doesn't miss it as much because she's constantly being touched. I completely relate to what she's saying here! ;)

M said...

It's a nice idea, but I don't like the idea of sacrificing my close relationship with my husband more than you already do for your children. I'm also surprised sex wasn't discussed your questions! I would definitely think that would be a con.
Overall, I don't think the benefits outweigh the cons here.

lmc1971 said...

My son always slept very well and soundly in his crib up until he was a toddler...as soon as we switched him to a "big boy" bed he'd be gettting up regularly to come into our bed. He'll go to sleep in his own bed but 8 out of 10 nights, we wake up and he's "snuck" into our bed. I go back and forth on how I feel about it but really they're only babies for such a short time so we treasure these moments really. We miss when he doesn't "sneak" in in the middle of the night. He just turned 5 btw and is an only child. Soon enough he'll stop altogether I'm sure.
Best, L.

Stephanie McDonnell said...

I'm never against anything that helps a new mother sleep. I slept with each of my babes for the first month or so they were born, then weened them into their own cribs or cradles. While I found it easier during that initial rough patch for everyone, this mama needs her space. I need to be able to move in bed at any time. I grin and bear it at first, then as my babies each began to sleep through the night, I reveled in the glory of tossing and turning!

Much love, moms!
NewlyMynted

Cary said...

i have slept with all three of my children until over the age of one, when i moved them to their own bed (my third is 10 months and still in our bed). co-sleeping is a choice, just like putting your child to sleep in a bed. new parents must educate themselves about the safest way to do either. i hate ad campaigns against co-sleeping that just say don't do it, they are unrealistic and unfair. a lot of babies die in cribs also, sadly, that is why parents are taught to put kids to sleep safely in them... the proper kinds of cribs, no excess bedding, on the back, using monitors, etc. instead of educating parents about the safest way to co-sleep they are simply told it's dangerous. people co-sleep all over the world in many cultures and since the begiining of human time obviously! just falling asleep with a baby because you are overtired or putting a baby down alone on a bed or couch without being prepared is much different than choosing to share your sleep space in a safe and conscientious way. when you sleep with a small baby you are very much aware of their presence. you sleep differently and it does take some time to adjust to it, but i think it's much less tiring than waking up and getting out of bed to feed them. it is also a lovely bonding experience. we choose to put our matress on the floor when cosleeping. the baby sleeps next to me, not my husband who is less aware naturally. we are careful of heavy bedding or overdressing. she sleeps on the crook of my arm like Leigh talks about and even very small babies are very good at communicating discomfort. of course never drink or take medications that could interfere with your ability to be aware of your baby. co-sleeping isn't for everyone but if you choose to do it an be a wonderfully safe and loving choice.

Jen said...

As a pediatrician I cannot read this post without commenting. If you are lucky enough to have a healthy newborn baby, the biggest risk for death that they face is unsafe sleep!! I see it every year-sweet precious babes who suffocate/die from unsafe sleep. I am 100% pro-breastfeeding and pro-family. Our mattresses are too soft with too many blankets and pillows. There are safe alternatives-a little sleeper that attaches to our mattress and still allows mama to breastfeed in the night while babe has his own space. WHY would you even risk the life off our baby!? It is proven that the safest place for your baby is on their back in their own protected space without extra pillows/blankets

Laura Doherty said...

i agree with andie - i have been a nanny/babysitter/camp counselor and seen the opposite for some children. some children don't learn not to be afraid of the dark/monsters/or just how to sleep by themselves. it's a fundamental lesson of independence i think you learn as a child - that you will be fine alone; your parents are close by, but you can handle it!

i had kids/campers cry and cry and cry because they NEEDED their parents to sleep with them - that is so limiting and sad! i think co sleeping is great when children are young or nursing (if it works for the family) but sleeping in their own room gives children ownership over that part of their day, and independence.

i went to overnight camp for 5 days at 6, and had sleepovers with friends and family every weekend - i was never homesick or afraid to leave my parents. obviously that's not totally attributable to not co sleeping, but i don't think i would have been okay to do those things if my family co slept.

Maria said...

I really value my sleep. Sleeping is one of my favourite things to do and I sometimes love my bed more than my husband. I wouldn't want to impose the stress of not hurting my baby on this simple pleasure. Our 2 month old sleeps in a crib right next to me and this works just fine. I just have to reach over and he's in my arms.

I don't think it's particularly healthy for kids to be so attached to their parents at such an age (one of her children is 5yo). Especially in this way.

Maria xx
www.cheekypinktulip.blogspot.com

emmasfavouritethings said...

I'm glad co-sleeping is working for this family, but I agree with the other posters who are wondering how you can fit your marriage into your family bed. I treasure the time in bed alone with my husband - the late night chats, the early morning lounging, the spontaneous cuddles and goofiness. I think that intimacy is even more important to maintain when there are kids in the picture. As a woman, so much of your attention is naturally devoted to your children - so to me, the bed should be a place where you and your partner can focus solely on each other.


An interesting sidenote: I've read that some Orthodox Jewish households follow a bunch of religious requirements and rituals in their bedroom - one of which is that children aren't even allowed to be in the parents' room, let alone their beds! This is to preserve the room as a sacred spot for marriage, not family. I think it's so interesting how different families and cultures approach this issue.

Rebecca said...

Loved the photos and the interview. We had a gorgeous nursery all set up before my 1st was born. But once he was in my arms, the idea of this teeny baby who had just been part of my body for 42(!) weeks, all alone down the hall, hurt my heart. Cosleeping has been the right choice for our family. And Leigh is right- cosleeping is hugely helpful to the breastfeeding relationship. Babe #2 is now 26 months old and my current bedmate. For him we didn't even bother setting up a nursery. Just bought a bigger bed :).

art lover said...

I'm too paranoid and too much of a worry wart to cosleep. But that's just me! I'm all for the "do what works best for you" philosophy.

My baby is 8 months old and although he's always slept in a crib he still sleeps in our room. You'd be AMAZED how much grief and snide remarks I get from my family for not having him in his own room yet. It just makes me want to keep him close longer! I feel like I get the best of both worlds because he's super close by for any feeds or wake ups but I don't have to worry about rolling onto him in my sleep (I'm kind of an all-over-the-place sleeper!). I also dislike people complaining about something that they don't have to deal with. They aren't the ones getting up at 3am!

collette said...

As someone who spent the night involuntarily with her husband, kids 5 and 3, was kicked repeatedly and has had four caffeinated drinks already today...this was interesting.

Megan Kimmelshue said...

Gorgeous, just gorgeous. Love these photos and it brings back memories. My twins moved out of our bed at 8 months and I MISS it. I try to get them to cuddle with me in bed but now they just want to play.

Of course, like the above commenter mentioned, you don't sleep with heavy bedding/lots of pillows or anything that might be a suffocation hazard, and no thick sleepwear.

It truly is amazing how intuitive you are when you have a baby sleeping the crook of your arm, and once I got used to it, I never felt worried or scared...of course, if you've had one too many glasses of wine, it's probably not a good idea. Common sense.

jordyn said...

Lachlan is one now, but he slept in the bed with my husband and me for the first 8.5 months. I liked the idea of co-sleeping before we had him and I still honestly can't imagine getting up and walking to another room in the middle of the night to feed him, like Leigh addressed- I would never be able to get back to sleep!

Lachlan is so cuddly and would only sleep with me- he wouldn't sleep even in the Moses basket next to the bed. He slept between us for the first few months and at around 4 months I rolled a towel up under the sheet as a barrier and he slept on the outside, which meant my husband and I could snuggle again.

I think the family bed made our lives a million times easier because it was much more restful not having to really wake up to nurse him in the night. It was also so easy to travel- he slept perfectly fine anywhere we were and there were no extra beds to carry along! And the switch to a crib in his own room was not planned. He was a bit awake one night and a tad fussy in the bed, so I put him in the crib that my in-laws had bought us figuring he couldn't be fussier in there and he just went right to sleep and continues to sleep 13 hours at night straight through.

I'm honestly more tired now than I was when he was sleeping with us. He seems to feed much more during the day now since he's not sleep-feeding anymore. It's a trade-off, but he seems happy being able to roll all around now and it is nice to have a room to ourselves again.

Christina said...

Don't have kids just yet, but felt the need to say - I just love all the positivity I'm seeing in these comments. It is SO RARE to find a space on the internet where people can express different opinions in such a friendly and non-judgmental manner. We might not all agree, but it's ok! There's already enough negativity in the world. Joanna, you've really created such an amazing community for all your readers. Thank you.

xoxo
Christina

Kelli said...

My daughter and I co-sleep and she is 6. I LOVE having the extra time to cuddle and be close and we both sleep a million times better. She has her own room and her own bed and I know that she'll be transitioning into sleeping on her own soon, but I will always be thankful for co-sleeping. There are so many times that she will tell me something RIGHT before she drifts off to sleep about her day, or her friend or something she learned that I would otherwise miss. I understand some people are uncomfortable with it, but I think a lot of it is due to misinformation. In our house, it's never a reward and it's never taken away as a punishment...it's just the way we sleep. There's no crying to get into Mama's bed or drama or anything. :)

Thanks for the photos Leigh! Miss you on your blog.

spaceshipearth said...

I think many of the people who believe they could never co-sleep might find it preferable to pulling yourself out of and then back to bed several times a night. we've shared a bed with our girl from the beginning and I never feared for her safety. it just felt natural, like breast-feeding [something else that's sort of unfathomable before you do it]. now, at 4, she goes down in her own bed, but almost always joins us in the middle of the night. sleeping next to your child is wonderful and restorative in a very different way from spending time together during waking hours.

b. said...

We co-sleep with our daughter. It was not planned, happened this way, and I love it.

Amanda Billings said...

Please be aware that there are other places to become intimate with your partner besides the bed.

spaceshipearth said...

I think instinct is involved. I mean, this little creature that you've been wondering about and preparing for for the better part of a year is here! next to you! and wants midnight [and more] snacks! your sleep habits and patterns change along with the rest of your consciousness.

Amanda Phillips said...

I love this. We've always co-slept with our 15 month old. She's happier during the day and I feel significantly closer to her.

spaceshipearth said...

here's a similar article:

http://voices.yahoo.com/preventing-sids-connection-between-co-sleeping-6896784.html

"In countries where babies sleep with parents, the SIDS death rate is substantially lower."

tell Milwaukee!

Amy Mashburn said...

there are so many pro-family bed comments, and yet i do not see any of them addressing how you handle sexy time with your husband. i do not have kids yet. i understand the benefits of co-sleeping for the mother, but what about the father?

Alicia said...

This is probably my favorite post ever. I am so glad to see others talk about their co-sleeping experience. We co-slept with both of kids and I loved every minute of it.

Inari said...

I co-slept exclusively for the first five months of our son's life. It was the only way any of us could get any sound sleep and just felt so cozy and natural. A mother wolf does not, afterall, designate a partitioned off area of her den for her cubs. She lays right there with them.

I too wrote on this subject here: http://momnari.blogspot.com/2013/03/sleeping-on-babys-schedule.html

The experience for us has been rewarding and we have had zero problem getting our son to transition over into sleeping in his crib all by himself at six months. He sleeps pretty much through the night until 6:00AM everyday, when he joins us in bed again to nurse and doze until 8:00AM and we all get up.

la. said...

This might be too intimate of a question to ask, but what do you do about sex? Obviously she has three babes so its not an issue! Im more curious what to do if you get the feeling to have a go as you are falling asleep. Are you just quiet and try to not to wake the kids? Or, do you try to keep that separate from the family bed? Hope this isn't offensive!!

Raia said...

My husband and I co-sleep with our daughter who is 2.5 years old. She's been mostly in our bed since she was born. We had a co-sleeper attached to the bed when she was newborn. My sister and I slept in our parent's bed until we were 5 or so with no ill consequences. With my own daughter it's just nice to have her there near us, it feels safe and natural and allows all of us to get enough rest. I think it's funny that so many comments ask about where to have alone time as a couple, it seems like such a non-issue because as parents we've had to get creative about a lot of things, finding space & time for intimacy is just one of many!

spaceshipearth said...

sending your kids to camp isn't a very delicate way to end co-sleeping, if that's what those parents were doing! surely there are some kids who are just going to have a harder time than others adjusting from being away from home. we're all so different. I know kids who were ready for slumber parties at 3 and others who would have nothing to do with the idea until age 7 or later.

madiebaby said...

Yes, I am also impressed with the level of maturity and respect in the comments!

margaux said...

oh, the pictures are lovely, and they almost make me want to give it a shot, but it's definitely not for us. our bed is one of the few spaces left in our house that is solely for myself and my husband, and i like it that way. we bring our daughter into our room every morning for snuggles, and i love that, but preserving this space and by extension our relationship is just as important for our daughter as it is for us. i also want my daughter, for her sake, to know how to sleep on her own, so she can do fun things like go to sleepaway camp and slumber parties! i am happy it works for them though! proof, yet again, that there are MANY ways to raise happy and healthy kids!

Mommy Lauren said...

Im not surprised Leigh said she co-slept as a child. My friends that co sleep also always need someone else in the bed with them...their mothers, then their siblings, then girlfriends, then boyfiriends and husband and now their children.some people just like sleeping with others, some don't. I'm curious how she night weans and if her children that aren't night nursing wake often and need to be soothed back to sleep.

jule said...

I really admire your friend, but I would freak out with three little ones in the bed with me. And seriously, how on earth do you have sex with your husband under these circumstances?!

kelly : pinetothepacific said...

Fascinating to read all of these opinions - great interview and topic, Joanna!

It would be interesting for you to interview Leigh's husband about this - maybe something to consider? His "setup" seems less advantageous than Leigh's, sleeping on a twin mattress on the floor with a 5-year-old, and expressing that he misses the intimacy of their former married life. It would be really interesting to hear his perspective on it.

Hannah said...

I coslept as a child with my parents as did my younger siblings and I think it really fostered a wonderful love in my family. I was never left in the dark alone and I was never scared to go to bed when I slept with my parents. I'm so glad you are showing it here.

Sarah O. said...

Everyone is entitled to their own idea of what works for them, so if co-sleeping works for you that's great. We do not co-sleep as it is our opinion that our intimacy is important in maintaining our relationship, which we feel is the foundation of our family as a whole. That doesn't mean that our Munchkin doesn't get in bed with us sometimes to snuggle or even crash for an extra hour in the morning. It just means his own bed is his primary sleeping area. I feel like Dad's opinions are often lacking in this discussion and what we don't hear is what Dad really feels like. For the families we know that co-sleep, we often here Mom saying it's great and Dad quietly telling his buddies its not so great. To me, I feel like there is a bit of "read between the lines" re Dad's true feelings in this interview. Not to mention, the dude is sleeping on a twin mattress on the floor with another kid. That can't be comfortable....it just can't. The other part I don't understand is that in order for the kids to go to bed, the parents have to lay with them until they fall asleep. To me, at some point, this becomes unhealthy for a kid. This is just my opinion. I feel like a child should be able to feel comfortable enough to go to sleep on their own. What happens when they start doing sleep overs? What happens if they stay at their grandparents? As I said, whatever works for you is great. But I just can't help but wonder in some of these co-sleeping arrangements, is it "better for the child" as the parent might say, or is it truly for the parents own need, thus overriding what's really best for the kid?

Mommy Lauren said...

Why always the comparison to animals? We are not wolves or any other animals

Anonymous said...

Looks adorable in the photographs, but would never work for us. Our kids are twisters and starfish and I've been elbowed and kicked way too many nights when one has been sick or woken up restless and upset and crept into bed with my husband and i. Own rooms, own beds works just great for us.

la. said...

I asked this too, further below. I know there are lots of places to have sex outside of the bed (hello! its more fun that way sometimes!) but I will say that the majority of sex happens in our bed. Do you co-sleep Amanda? Would you mind explaining a bit more about this part?? Or maybe Leigh, if she is reading. Do you keep sex out of the family bed? Are you just quiet? If you co-sleep, where does the majority of sex happen for you?

Harmony said...

I was a very deep sleeper before kids as well. We didn't plan on co-sleeping with our first baby, but we realized that we all slept much better when we slept together. I was worried at first about us rolling over on our baby, but it never happened. We were always aware of where she was while we slept. It was amazing how in tune we all were with each other. Once when my daughter stopped breathing momentarily, I woke up immediately (and I was a "former" deep sleeper).

Something that I read that made a lot of sense to me, is that the same thing that keeps you from rolling off the bed at night, keeps you from rolling over on your baby. Even though you are asleep, you still know where the edge of your bed is. Now, if you are a person who does roll off the bed, then it's probably best not to co-sleep.

Meagan@Meagan Tells All said...

Co-sleeping is not for me, but this sounds so cozy! Those pictures are SOoo adorable and it makes me want to share those sleepy moments with my two girls more often. My 3 year old has only slept in a bed with my husband (sick and if we are traveling and don't have a "bed" for her to sleep in, they will share a queen) because he can sleep through her wild sleeping movements throughout the night. I appreciate this post because my perception and knowledge about co-sleeping was way opposite of this!

Sara said...

Funny thing is, I never see anyone comment on co-sleeping posts about the effect of snoring. My husband is quite the snore-er, and from the time she was tiny our baby girl would be awakened by the snoring. So, even when she was so tiny, she wouldn't sleep with us. She loved her crib/bassinet so much that I cant hardly remember her sleeping with me since she was under a month old. Now that she's bigger, though, she gets wiped out more often, so I get some of the shoulder naps I missed out on! I think kids are all different, and so are all families. So, as long as you do what works, I'm sure it's perfect for your family!

Colleen said...

I admire this woman, but I want a separate space from my (future) children at night. I would think there's no time to decompress and have a few moments to relax without the kids around.

Mommy Lauren said...

PS also curious how this affects their socializing...if Joanna comes over for dinner and wine, do the festivities stop because Leigh has to go lay in bed with her children till they fall asleep?

Kristin said...

I {LOVE} this post! We co-sleep and wouldn't have it any other way!! <3
Thank you!
Kristin

barbara said...

i co-slept for the first 4 months of our daughter's life and i loved it! easy for breastfeeding and important for bounding between daddy and baby. occasionally our daughter (now she's two) comes to sleep to our bed and i still love having her between us!! now i'm pregnant again and i don't know how to manage 4 persons in the same bed but the idea of my entire family waking in the same make me smile :)

Natalie - The Senses Five said...

I find it funny how many comments are listing cons as sex and intimacy. How many parents with three young children are actually going to bed at night and then having sex? Or even just couples for that matter? None that I know of. Not saying that everyone is in a sexless relationship, but I'm not aware of very many that have the conventional sexy bedtime that you see on t.v.

Donna Welch said...

I know someone who accidentally suffocated their baby. I would not recommend co sleeping under any circumstances.

Britt said...

Agree. I wouldn't begrudge someone else's choices, but man, I need my alone time/intimate time with my guy. What if they aren't ready to move into their own bed until they're 10 years old? Having a kid means you sacrifice so much already - I wouldn't be willing to give that up too.

Sarah D said...

I co-slept with both of my kids when they were babies. By 18 months they were in their own beds for at least the beginning of the night and by 4, they were in their beds all night. It definitely helped the whole family get more sleep in the early nights of frequent breastfeeding and waking. It does need to be done thoughtfully and safely. No blankets or pillows near baby, no feather beds or squishy bedding. I kept baby between me and an attached bassinet at the beginning (away from dad, men just don't have the same awareness at night from day one- and yes, I had a bassinet cosleeper and both kids thought it was a torture device! lol! It was a handy bedrail and diaper holder though.), and then they moved to the middle as they became more mobile.
As for sex... I don't think cosleeping had any more impact on that than the typical fatigue that most new parents experience. At least from my experience, I'd say that my husband and I have sex at least as often, if not more so, than my non-cosleeping friends. There are other rooms in the house, you know! :) No need to stick to just one location all the time. :) And, as for talking at night or in the morning- we just talked like we normally would. Baby slept through it, or didn't... wasn't a big issue.

Natalie - The Senses Five said...

Leigh also said they sometimes sneak out at night after the kids have fell asleep and stay up later. She didn't say they sat around reading books... ;)

la. said...

I actually jump my husband a lot at night after lights out! I dont know why, but that is the time I am normally in the mood. I also admit its kind of fun to surprise him as he is drifting!

Kid-Friendly Clayton said...

We also modified co-sleep. Our 2 yr. old goes to bed by himself, but when he wakes up (usually around 3-4 hours later) one of us will go sleep in his full-size bed with him. We didn't plan on being co-sleepers, and had the same feelings that many previous commenters do about it, but it just works for us. We tried sleep training more than a half dozen times, which resulted in many sleepless nights for all of us, not to mention all the tears (again, all of us!) and stress. Now my husband and I still get time together, and we also get cuddle time with our boy, which is so precious, because we both work outside of the house, and he's in daycare for nearly 10 hours a day. There are few things as sweet as being greeted with a smiley face and "hi Mommy!" in the morning.

emmasfavouritethings said...

I don't think it's all about the sex. It's about the intimacy - the words and touch that you and your partner share in bed.

KKat79 said...

We co-sleep with our two (ages 4 and 2) and wouldn't have it any other way. I agree with everything Leigh said. And for those who worry about rolling over on the infant (I did too before we did it), it is SO NOT an issue. I would love to know how may rollover infant deaths are due to drunk/drugged up parents. I'll bet nearly all of them.

Debating the safety and feasibility of co-sleeping is sort of a first world problem, no?

spaceshipearth said...

sex? sex...... I don't mean to frighten anybody, but I don't quite remember how or where sex happened when our little one was tiny. we are lucky enough to have a guest bed, but having your bed occupied can be an opportunity to experiment with other locations. also you can put babies down to sleep in a moses basket or some such and then bring them to bed when you're done making 'Mommy-Daddy-sheet-monster'. thank you, Tina Fey, for that vivid euphemism.

Ruth Rosenblum said...

I was a young widow and my son slept with me until at the age of 10 declared he was sleeping in his bed. Just like the pediatrican said he would. That was thrity-eight years ago. Now with a family of his own I don't know if they have a family bed...I don't think it's my business. But I hope they do!

Christina said...

Ha! I thought the same thing! Good call.

Monica said...

I love this. We bed share as well here. My older two have long since moved into their own rooms, but our 1 year old is happily snuggled between me and my husband every night. She stills nurses several times during the night so it just makes more sense for her to be right there next to me.

Thanks for sharing, Leigh!

Lauren Covington said...

that first photograph is stunning! i could def see myself doing that while breastfeeding.

my younger brother slept in my parents bed until he was almost 10 years old. that was 12 years ago and my mom swears it wasn't until he was 10, but i remember thinking "double digits is ridiculous." my parents never planned for that to happen. he always had his own bedroom but would always get scared and sneak back into my parents room much to my father's chagrin. now 22, little brother is totally normal, but i think it took a toll on my parents' relationship with my mom feeling guilty about sending him away and my dad wanting his sex life back. ha!

.tif said...

We never planned on co-sleeping, but it just happened. We make cuddly babies. Our first slept with us until he was about 15-18 months old, and even until our newest was born would crawl into bed with us sometime after 4am. Now, my oldest is 3 and sleeps in his own bed but loves to come in and say good morning to his 4-month old brother who sleeps in his place in our bed instead. If we had a king-sized bed, I'm sure there would be nights all of us would crowd in there together, snuggling and happy and warm.

Intimacy is woven into our time together as husband and wife. We still find time to do all the fun things, but with two kids (instead of just one), making time for such moments is just different. As organically as our babes ended up in our bed, so has our adaptation of the definition of "opportune moments." There's a bouncy seat within arm's reach in our bedroom just in case. :)

Justine said...

The occidental way of sleeping without our kids is the exception. The world is doing co-sleeping :-) and it is for sure the easiest and most natural way to make independent and safe kids!

fancyalterego said...

Given I don't have kids yet, I still maintain the same position on anything kid-related: I'll cross that road when I get there. Co-sleeping isn't something I think I'll want to do, but as she pointed out, sometimes it just "happens," so I guess we'll see what happens in the future.

As for the intimacy issue, I'm glad to see that she and her husband are willing to admit that it's a struggle - especially her husband for being so candid about missing their own cuddle time. I hear a lot of women talk about how great it is to have that contact with their children, but husbands I think are sometimes pressured into staying quiet about how lonely they might feel (especially if they're relegated to the floor). Hopefully things will get back to normal for the two of them when their kids go to bed in their own rooms. :-)

So while I don't think it would work for me (I barely like my husband being in bed with me...snoring machine that he is), I can totally see how it does for others. It looks so...easy!

Lori said...
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Rebecca said...

Me too, Natalie. I'm impressed with the healthy libidos here! The adults in this house are dead tired most nights. But all the cosleepers I know do seem to have fun and creative ways to keep the romance alive, usually in another part of the house.

The Skeptical Mother said...

These photos are so beautiful and really capture the experience of co-sleeping well. There is no better feeling in this world than having my four month laying across my belly and chest, skin to skin, nursing throughout the night as he much wants, feeling my toddlers little hands reaching out for me as she sleeps or feeling her head and hair, as she nestles herself into my neck. Sometimes my husband and I will be awake with our children in between us and will stroke each other's arms and look down at them and smile, silently acknowledging how beautiful they are while they sleep. I love co-sleeping. I truly believes that it helps children feel a sense of safety, security and being deeply loved. No, it doesn't work for everyone, but when it works for your family it's wonderful. And I do want to add that I did not co-sleep as much with my first in the beginning and was exhausted all the time. With my son, who has co-slept since day one, I have never had one day where I was dead tired from lack of sleep; it truly can make your life much easier.

Heather Shoberg said...

We co-slept with my son until he was about 6 months old and then easily transitioned him to his crib. We still bring him into our bed fairly often (he's a year old), but for the most part, even with a king sized bed we don't always sleep well - including him. I do love co-sleeping, though, and we'll do so again for at least the same amount of time with our next baby. We never worried about rolling over and I actually slept much better in those beginning months because my son was right there. If I needed to check on him I could simply open my eyes or just listen to him breathe. I love that closeness and both my husband and I love those nights when he needs extra snuggling and ends up in our bed again.

Rose said...

Everyone's asking about intimacy... My daughter co- slept until she was 18 months old, and now at 3 and a half sometimes finds her way into my room around 4am. My son is 8 months old. We usually put him down in his room until his first wake up around midnight when he comes to our bed for the rest of the night. that gives us several hours of kids asleep and our bed to ourselves. Back when my daughter was co- sleeping I had to lay down with her in our bed, but we had a guest room, a couch, a shower etc. I saw Leigh said something about unused bunk beds... There are always ways to be spontaneous and intimate while still having a family bed. It seems like every co- sleeping family works it out differently.

parisbeekids said...

Really amazing post. Thank you so much of sharing your co-sleeping experience. Our baby still sleeps in our room at 8-months and I am so inspired to keep her with us as long as possible!!

xoxo PARIS BEE kids blog

Jennifer said...

we only have one right now, who is 2. but i remember going into the experience with a completely open and "whatever works" mentality. turns out, our little one was completely fine sleeping on his own. at 6 weeks he moved out of the cradle in our room and into his crib. but until he started sleeping through the night/not breastfeeding at night, at his first feeding of the night, I would bring him back to bed with me and we would both fall back asleep. sometimes for the rest of the night and sometimes i'd put him back into his crib. so i guess i'm not a co-sleeper in the true sense of the word, but it really is awesome to snuggle down with your little one every now and again.

Victoria Shutts said...

I'm not judging at all ... but for me there wasn't a reason to say "here's my boob" to my little ones after a year ... They don't need to eat in the middle of the night so it starts to feel like codependence and they don't learn to self sooth. I think maybe my 2 were both inherently more independent. When they are sick or have bad dreams our covers are always open, but we appreciate our space to kick and toss and turn. : )

ab_e said...

I think it's important to note that Milwaukee has a really high infant mortality rate compared to other cities in the US and they are launching a variety of campaigns to combat this. (http://www.jsonline.com/news/130456803.html)

I'm all for co-sleeping if it works for you, but it is important to be aware of the risks that alcohol and obesity can present.

Just as no one should judge co-sleepers for co-sleeping, no one should judge non-co-sleepers for not agreeing with the practice.

Nicole said...

We didn't plan it, exactly, but we did end up co-sleeping with our daughter. At about 16 mo we transitioned her to her own space but then at 19 mo she had a sleep regression and we are back to the family bed! It has worked amazingly well for us, but what is most surprising is all our family who were against it at first, have adopted it for naptime/nighttime when they watch our daughter. She sleeps better and we sleep better knowing she is safe and comfortable.

Victoria Shutts said...

I should also add that every Friday night is SLUMBER PARTY night ... where we watch a movie and then sleep together, with breakfasts in bed in the morning. It reminds us that we like our space the other 6 nights.

Patty said...

Best line " 'How can I make this work best for our family," instead of "My mother in law thinks I'm crazy…' "
Should be applied to all parenting decisions.

Abby said...

I was thinking the same thing. "Sexy time" after kids is few and far between, people!! I'm betting many with those worries aren't mothers.

And if you are moms, what's your secret? ;)

Amy said...

When my daughter was born I tried breastfeeding so we had a co-sleeper just so I could roll over and snuggle her close for feedings. Then eventually we got her into her own bed. My husband is military so when he deployed for a year (she was 8 months old) she ended up back in the bed with me. It has taken almost 4 years to get her back into her bed.

Co-sleeping was not for us. We had no "adult time" and since she & the hubby are rough sleepers I got very little sleep. Not to mention the pain & stiffness I had everyday. I enjoyed the snuggle time with her but I learned my lesson and had my son in his own bed from Day 1.

Erin said...

Oh shoot, every family is different and has different needs. Cosleeping wouldn't work as an all-the-time thing in my house, just because we're all three pretty light sleepers and I don't think it would allow enough time/energy/privacy to take care of my relationship with my husband. But it's always so lovely when my son does end up sleeping with us - I can absolutely see why some families wouldn't have it any other way. I also wonder - with another on the way - whether it might be a good way to buffer the transition of bringing another baby into the home while still staying close with the older child. Good to have options!

Emily said...

I completely thought the same thing, carolineroyce. Poor guy. :(

Carlyn Brody said...

I enjoyed reading this post and the following comments. When I was growing up, my brothers and I all co-slept with my parents until we reached school age. I think co-sleeping is fine as long as you take precautions to make sure your children are safe. I don't know if I would co-sleep with my future children. I'll just wait and see.

Emily said...

I believe the key to a happy, successful family starts with fostering a relationship with your SPOUSE first. Although this idea of co-sleeping is tender and seems to work for them, I can't help but feel it doesn't give space for mom and dad to have their own relationship.

When I read, "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." --- that is just so sad!

Outta Jo said...

Are you aware of Dr. James McKenna's research?

http://cosleeping.nd.edu/

Tens of thousands of people die in car accidents every year (including babies and children!), but we don't tell people, "Don't drive." We promote standards for safety ("always wear your seatbelt," "don't drive while under the influence") and require safety equipment for our youngest passengers, such as carseats.

People ARE going to cosleep and if done properly, it is safe. Unequivocally telling people "DON'T" and not providing them any information on how to make it safer is what puts babies at danger.

Unknown said...

I always found nursing while lying down extremely uncomfortable--am I the only one?

Katy DeBardelaben said...

My biggest curiosity is about the spousal intimacy - when and where do they "get busy"? I know you don't have to always have sex in bed, but I would hate to feel forced elsewhere because my kids are asleep in our bed. I wish she would have talked more about that and how they make it work.

Abby said...

I'm surprised at many of these comments. Sleeping in the same bad has NOTHING to do with the intamacy I feel towards my husband. I would take the mental intamacy we share over the "cuddle time" any day.

Abby said...

No, I'm with you. I could never get the positioning right.

Outta Jo said...

We are a cosleeping family, though it wasn't necessarily a plan when we had our first daughter. We quickly realized, however, that she and I both got more and better quality sleep when we shared space. She never had to cry and yell to be heard from another room when small and I didn't have to stand up bleary eyed and wander anywhere to get her when I'd much rather be sleeping. Our first was in our bed until I became pregnant with my second when she was ~20 months old. And although everyone warned us that she'd never leave our bed willingly, she did just that. We bought her a twin, tossed it on the floor at the other end of the room, and she got in it with hardly a glance back (aside from those one off nights when she's sick or lonely, of course, but that's true of any kid).

We intentionally brought our second daughter into the bed from her first night. We have a firm mattress (that we bought new when we realized #1 was in our bed for the long haul), each sleep with one pillow and dress warmly so that we can keep blankets to a minimum. I have a safety rail on my side of the bed to keep her from rolling off and it's been great. The other night, my husband came to bed after me and cracked up laughing. Apparently my daughter rolled over into me, fumbled with my shirt, latched on, and nursed and I didn't so much as flinch. This is exactly why I co-sleep ;)

And as far as intimacy goes, I believe all couples can have trouble with it, wherever their children sleep. Simply put, parenting small children is HARD and exhausting. I promise you, I know plenty of couples who don't share their bed and their "intimacy" is a mess.

My husband and I get our "pillow talk" curled up on the couch together post-bedtime, whispering in the dark. Because we found a sleep arrangement that works so well for the baby and me, I am generally very well-rested (all things considered) and far less cranky than I would be otherwise (I require sleep in order to function. REQUIRE.) Do my husband and I look forward to a time when our bed is kid-free and we have a large King bed to play in? Yes! But we're certainly not skipping out on sex in the meantime. Haven't you ever heard? Co-sleepers do it in the kitchen and the laundry room and on the couch and... ;)

She said...
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simone antoniazzi said...

Interesting post....particularly since I don't know anyone who co-sleeps, not one!!!

I feel sorry for Leigh's husband, like quite a few other posters here...and would bet that he's not quite as happy with the arrangement as she is....he's sleeping on the floor?!

On the one hand, I think whatever works for you personally is a good thing BUT I see no need whatsoever to have all of your children in the bed with you.

Both my children transitioned naturally to their own rooms, at slightly different times....they can come into our bed if they like, but they are very happy in their own rooms. I personally sleep much better without children in my bed....and yes, adults need that time together at night. I think the co-sleeping says much more about the parent's needs that the child's to be really honest with you.

Oath's mom said...

Humans are, in fact, animals. Pretty awesome animals, gifted with an extraordinary brain, but that doesn't make us so different as to belong to another type of being. Or, at least, that's my belief and what makes the animal comparison relevant.

But, even if we believe we are not animals but some other kind of being... we can't deny there's many childbearing related things that work the same for us and them: why should sleep be an exception? We are conceived and born the same way, feed the same way, why not sleep the same way too?

sumslay said...

Wow. This definitely confirms that I will NEVER have children. O_o. I mean, to each their own, but.... I just don't see how this can be healthy for a relationship (between the parents) as children already change the dynamic so much as it is (both positive and negative, no doubt). It seems to me that she has chosen her children over her husband. Am I wrong? I just don't believe in putting children at the center of the world. That is not reality, and they need to learn that at some point.

PS: I was raised co-sleeping too. I can't say if it's why my parents aren't as close, but I definitely think it was the beginning of my mother's helicopter parenting that came later (and still continues - I'm 30).

La said...

I have three young children (7, 5 and 1) and still like to have sex! No big mystery, I still enjoy my husband! Although I do feel like doing yoga a few times a week helps me stay in the mood.
I also work, drive carpool, keep the house mostly clean and am very involved in my church.
And personally, I like having our room to ourselves, cause lets face it, sexy time in other parts of the house aren't quite as sexy. (or comfortable!)
I also want to say I have complete respect for each family's way of doing things. We all raise our children how we feel best and I would never judge someone else on their methods!

Lindsay Himmer said...

Obviously, this is a very very personal choice and no one should get to tell you what to do, but I think if you choose to co-sleep you have to make sure your husband is 100% on board. My relationship with my husband is the most important thing in my life. We have so much going on during the day and sometimes the only alone time we get is at night. Getting ready for bed together and talking and snuggling together at night are so important for our relationship. I am not willing to sacrifice that for anything.

I love my daughter. She slept in our room in her own bassinet for the first 2 months and then we moved her to her own room once she consistently slept through the night. She sleeps so well and I think it's great that she can be independent (in a way) in that area. The few times we have let her sleep in our bed has been miserable for all of us.

This is what works for us.

simone antoniazzi said...

I totally agree with you.

~ Faith said...

I've been wondering the exact same thing!

Kim said...

My husband and I have two kids (6 and 3) and I'm expecting our third in a couple of months... and we do go to bed and have sex at least 2-3 times a week, if not more. And like the poster above said, the nights we do not have sex, it's a time for us to be close. Like many have said, I'm sure there are ways to do the exact same thing without co-sleeping, but I haven't actually tried it. :) I can't imagine not having that time alone with my husband in our bed.

Lolee F. said...

No offense to all the people who have been so honest and open here, but as an introvert who was also a very independent child, this disturbs me. I have always needed my own space to feel rested and relaxed. I loved having my own bed as a kid and used to only jump into my parents' bed on occasion, like the reader who mentioned her Friday night slumber parties. Even now, my boyfriend I and need a large enough bed that when we are done cuddling we can stretch out and each have our own space. So I would just like to voice a little concern for the children here. This obviously works for parents whose need for personal space is less pronounced, but what about a child who needs personal, quiet places in order to rest and recharge? I wonder at what age you might be able to detect psychological stress from having to sleep in such a chaotic environment.

Kim said...

as do i. :)

Glittergirl said...

Joanna - how is Leigh? Her blog was so wonderful and inspirational and I loved reading it. I was sad when she stopped (although happy for her and her reasons - glad to see her pop up here!

Kirsten said...

I think it is sweet to have parents lay with their kids while tucking them into their own beds or letting the kids in bed after a bad dream or during a storm (I remember waking my parents up after a dream or in a storm). However, it is so critical to keep the spouse before the children. I think co-sleeping is taking away from the time spouses need with each other.

madly said...

i applaud Leigh for her honest and inspiring share... It felt like i was "the only one" who had my kids in the bed back when my 3 were little(r) and it felt like a bit of a secret... not because i was ashamed but because i just didnt feel like explaining my family's choice to anyone especially when i was a new, vulnerable, sleepy momma. Those who knew my kids slept with us and nursed on demand seemed to have little sympathy if i was ever tired (and i was often tired as a mom of 3 including twins) -- it was YOUR choice to LET them in your bed and now YOU have to pay the price was the vibe i got a lot... or maybe i was just feeling insecure about my parenting.... either way, i was not a vocal advocate in the early days and it is incredibly giving of Leigh to share her truth... the good (so much good) and the not as good (a wee but less hubby snuggling)...
My 3 (9, 9 and 13) now sleep in their own beds and often they crawl into bed with one another! I miss their warm snuggles and sweet sleepy breath next to me.... there were some nights that it felt as if they would never ever be out of our bed (more of those nights for my husband i'm pretty sure) but now it feels like it was all over in the blink of an eye... my kids are good sleepers and they're still very snuggly with us on the couch (hooray)... i do not regret a single night spent with my kids in our bed... which is, after almost a decade, "our" bed once more... and our marriage is strong and our family the center of our crazy, busy lives.

Lindsay Himmer said...

The few times my daughter did sleep in our bed it was because I really wanted to snuggle with her. It was selfish on my part and none of us were happy so after an hour or so she was back in her room and we were all happier and able to sleep.

My personal parenting philosophy is that it is my job as a parent to help my children learn to be independent and meet their own needs. So for me it seems really counterintuitive to let my kids stay in my bed when they are capable of sleeping on their own and self soothing.

caitsheajones said...

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and obviously you must make the right decision for what works for your own family. If you read between the lines though with this interview, it sounds as if the husband has gotten the short end of the stick! Sleeping on the floor, on a twin bed, with a five year old sounds absolutely miserable. I would be uncomfortable in a twin bed by myself! He has obviously expressed his unhappiness with the arrangement and it seems that Leigh is rather flippant about his feelings. Getting touched by your children is completely different than getting touched by your husband. Does anyone else imagine him laying there thinking, "Really?? This is my life?"

Again, different things work for different families.

Julia C. said...

It's really *this* surprising that couples want to have sex? I get the whole idea of "you go through dry spells sometimes, especially just after having kids" but this comment is a little...frightening (as someone who does not yet have kids).

Stephanie Sabbe said...

Great post, but I was scrolling down waiting on you to ask bluntly about the sex! I have friends that co-sleep and that's what I always ask them. I actually do ask them sometimes and they laugh and shrug like maybe it's not happening!?! Where/when do co-sleepers have sex? They're not doing it next to their 5 year old kid are they?

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

I was just about to state I would never do this if we had children, but then I realized we allow our 95 lb lab, and our 23 lb french bulldog sleep with us happily every night, so....lol! I guess I can completely understand it :)

Lucy said...

This is almost exactly how it works for us. Boys (we have 18 month old twins) always go to sleep in their own beds, but one or, less often, both, often ends up in our bed. Sometimes it's around midnight, sometimes it's not until 5 or 6 am. There are many times I wouldn't have made it through the night having to get up so many times, and having one or both in bed saved me. I also diagnosed my son's sleep apnea when he was a tiny baby this way - if he hadn't been sleeping with me, I don't know if I'd have noticed his episodes so quickly. So it definitely works for us, though it wasn't planned - but I must admit I pulled Bobby into bed with me the first night in the hospital, only a few hours after he was born!

Kimberly said...

I don't really care if people do or don't co-sleep. People do what they need to do, and no one should really care what other parents do unless the child is being truly abused. Everyone does have feelings and has the right to share them.

My only two issues are:

1. When people act like they are better parents because they choose one thing over the other. It's a lie. I have an ex-friend who co-slept with her child and her child is awful and unhappy and she is very mean to him (I told her she was abusing her son and decided that she was no longer a friend for me.)She acted like she was so awesome because they coslept. I have another friend who does it and never really talks about it. Her kids are amazingly happy. Mine wouldn't co-sleep with me (she couldn't fall asleep/stay asleep) and she is happy as a kitten at 10. Co-sleeping, breast feeding, cloth diapering, slinging, etc... does not make you a good or bad parent. It's the love that you give, the lessons you teach, and the experiences you have with them, in total, that determine whether you are a good parent.

2. I have a huge issue with people not sleeping in the same bed as their spouses because of the kids. The marriage should never be about the children. The marriage came first and is the most important relationship you have. Even biblically so, you always put your spouse before your children. If your husband isn't in the same bed with you, then you are putting the children first. You must have intimacy with your spouse in order to have a good marriage. There is very little that makes me feel closer to my spouse than cuddling and sleeping them whether there is sex involved or not. I think that if your child is in the bed with you and the kids, fine. But if hubby gets booted out of the bed, there is a problem. The kids should be booted to the mattress on the floor if it is too crowded.

Lindsay Himmer said...

Abby, does your husband feel the same way? (please dont read this with a sarcastic tone, I mean this as an honest question)

thekatekeeper said...

My thoughts exactly! I kept scrolling and finally saw this comment. While I stand by the "to each their own" rule, I feel like alone time with a partner is so important and hard to find proper time for, and I imagine even more so when you're parents. I cherish the kisses and cuddles that come from going to bed each night and waking up each morning just the two of us. We don't have kids yet, but I hope when we do that we keep our bed just for us.

Kimberly said...

Mine wouldn't sleep so much as a night with us. She was the least fussy baby that you could ever imagine, but when we put her in bed with us, she was not happy. She did just fine in her bassinet next to my side of the bed. She did even better sleeping when we moved her across the room and she couldn't smell my milk or whatever. She was happy to be in her own room. She would go right down without any fuss. Occasionally she would be upset and I would rock her, but that was rare.

Kimberly said...

I asked on of my friends this and she told me that there were all kinds of places they were intimate. My husband is friends with hers, and it turns out that sex really wasn't happening very much, and he was not happy about that. She also told me that he loved co-sleeping. Turns out he loathed it. Their marriage has been awful since the co-sleeping started. The don't co-sleep anymore, bu their marriage was irreparably damaged.

I suspect that is the case with many, many men and that wives gloss over it because they really don't get how important sex and physical closeness are to men. My husband thinks that women are lying when they say that their husbands are on board, because no guy he knows likes it or is ever truly on board. Their wives just sort of railroad them with it and they don't get much of a choice.

Doe, a Dear said...

I can definitely understand that cosleeping isn't for everyone. I think the best sleeping arrangement is the one that allows the healthiest sleep for everyone in the house. For our family, that's cosleeping. I NEVER planned to cosleep, but it happened naturally with my first child and I've continued it through three children. Both of my older children transitioned to a mattress on my floor at age 2, then into their own bedroom right around their 3rd birthday. I'm a bit baffled by the idea that having a baby in the bed will lead to a 10-year-old in the bed (maybe you were joking?). As babies grow into toddlers, they manage to transition away from pacifiers, breast/bottle, diapers, cribs, and strollers just fine. We don't tell moms that letting a 1 year old pee in a diaper will lead to a 10 year old who's still in diapers. ;-) Cosleeping is no different. Most breastfeeding moms find that cosleeping allows them to get the maximum amount of sleep, and it helps support milk supply. Through 3 children I've never even sat up in bed for a feeding, much less dragged myself out of bed and trudged down the hall. Intimacy has never been an issue, if anything, it makes it more exciting (after 15 years together) because we're always finding different times/places to sneak it in. ;-) Cosleeping has been a lovely bonding experience with our littles, and this time goes SO fast.

Catie Beatty said...

This is a great post! I do wish she would have been a little more firm about how safe it is to sleep with your baby. This point of view can't be voiced enough! The idea that everyone just forgets about their child when they fall asleep is ridiculous and insulting. How do people think families slept for eons?? In the same bed, because the babies would have died without the warmth of their mothers! I come from a co-sleeping family and last I checked, my sisters and I had all survived to adulthood, haha

Thank you for posting this :)

Carol Rial said...

It was interesting reading comments from other moms that think co-sleeping is not for them. Always thought that all of us moms would co-sleep with our babies if husbands wouldn't exist. I wanted to do it. I still do. My son is two years-old now and I keep co-sleeping with him while my husband is on bussiness trips. I feel it organically , it's something just normal. I think Leigh is brave for telling, and lucky to have this husband to share her point of view with.

Great post, Joanna, as always. Thank you for sharing.

Kimberly said...

I don't know about the deep sleeping thing, but one good thing about it is that you won't automatically pop up and think the baby needs food at every whimper and stirring. Babies make noises between sleep cycles and sometimes cry but will go right back to sleep if you don't basically wake them up, because you are convinced they need to eat.I recommend the book, "Bringing up Bebe." It talks a lot about feedings and what not. It is really interesting on its own as a sociology/anthropology book. It talks about how the French raise their children. Basically French babies sleep through the night at 8 weeks and they eat anything as kids.

Outta Jo said...

I hope that I did not give the impression that I think cosleeping is "better" or that I believe I'm a "better" mom because of it. I do not believe that. AT ALL.

Cosleeping/bedsharing works for some. It does not work for others. And families should choose sleep arrangements that work for them and allow all members of their family the most/highest quality sleep possible.

For me, my husband, and two daughters, that means keeping our babies in our bed.

I shared my personal experience because there are so many comments here (and growing) that are criticizing parents who choose to share their beds. And SO many humongous assumptions about Leigh's marriage (and by default that of all other "bedsharers") that are just unfounded and uncalled for.

Cosleepers are selfish. Not helping their children be independent. Ruining their marriages. Etc. Etc.

My husband looks forward to the day that we can cuddle overnight unhindered by knobby baby elbows. And, you know what? SO DO I!

But that doesn't mean he's not on board with our current sleep arrangements. If he weren't, we'd have to talk it through and figure out a compromise. As it is, he's ready to move the baby to her big sister's room. I'm not *quite* there yet. But we're talking about it and planning and will likely make the move sooner rather than later because his voice and feelings matter as much as anyone else's in the family. We've got a team thing going on here.

>>"If your husband isn't in the same bed with you, then you are putting the children first. You must have intimacy with your spouse in order to have a good marriage. There is very little that makes me feel closer to my spouse than cuddling and sleeping them whether there is sex involved or not.<<

See, but here's the thing. That's what makes YOU feel closer to your spouse (and I'm assuming makes your spouse feel closer to you). I know people with really struggling relationships who sleep curled against each other every night. Simply sharing a bed does not cure marital problems. Nor does NOT sharing a bed necessarily cause them.

Every family and every couple is different. We should celebrate that and learn from it; not criticize it.

favourites said...

My husband and I bed share with our 12 month old and we love it, too. Everyone keeps assuming that dads can't possibly be on board but speaking from personal experience, my husband read all of the literature and the benefits are equally important to him as they are to me. We joke, we were so over having sex in our bed anyway and feel like it was time to change locations. Way less predictable and neither of us feel any loss of intimacy because we are all snuggled together all of the time. To each their own, but read about the benefits before you judge?

Doe, a Dear said...

Yes, since you know one person whose husband doesn't like cosleeping, this must be the case in every single marriage. It's best not to generalize on things with which you have no personal experience. My husband often tells friends/family who complain about getting up with their babies all night that they should try cosleeping. Cosleeping has helped our marriage because we're all getting sleep. And yes, we are regularly intimate in places outside the bed. There is no need to bash people who are making a choice that works for their family. To each their own. :-)

Kimberly said...

I find it incredibly sad that she is so dismissive of her husband's needs. Those are deep, deep needs for human beings. She is defiantly putting her children over her husband, which is wrong in so many ways. It's almost like her kids have become her surrogate spouse. It's very sad to me that she is ignoring her husband's desire for intimacy. I hope he doesn't choose to seek it elsewhere like my husband's friend did.

Joanna M said...

I coslept because for me it was safer, I nearly dropped my son trying to nurse in the middle of the night in a chair. After that I brought him into bed, he was there until he chose to leave which was about 20m and then he was in a bed next to us. He moved into his own room by choice at 2y. My daughter slept with us for a lot longer, but ultimately choose to move to her own bed in her own time too. She will come and sleep with us sometimes in the middle of the night when she is cold or had a bad dream. I actually sleep better with her in bed with me, I feel she is safe and hear her breathing.

I think for those who are looking for a way to do it that addresses their safety concerns a great book is: "Sleeping with your Baby" by James McKenna.

Samantha Scarlett Jessica said...

This is one of those posts that make me reminisce. I am not a mother yet, yet because I am still young but seeing mothers sleep with their children make me think about those times I used to sleep with my mother. Growing up as an only child, and my mother was a single-parents, we shared the same bed for nearly thirteen years. Even now that I am old enough, I still grab every opportunity to sleep on the same bed with my mother.. Some might think and say that it is a bit awkward and weird but seriously, it makes you bond and connect more. I am family-oriented person and I have no shame being proud of my attachment and my close bond with my family, especially with my mother.

Joanna, I love the photographs you have here. The exposure and lighting, especially in the second picture (Leigh's son's back) blended well which creates an interesting photograph.

http://scarlettscrollonfire.blogspot.ca

Kimberly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
megan said...

As a nurse and a mother of three I am finding it kind of appalling that the safety issue of this post is barely mentioned. Research after research by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the like have found co-sleeping is dangerous. I am wondering why more people are not citing true medical studies?

Kimberly said...

With that said, the author actually said that her husband complained about intimacy:

"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."

So, it isn't just my friend. The author's husband actually expressed to her that he wanted to sleep with just her. She is just choosing to ignore it because she gets all she needs from her kids. She is very much doing to each his own.She ignores her husband's needs just as I said I was sure happened to some couples.

mgn said...

I was worried about that until I co-slept with my infant the first time, I simply could not roll on him, I am way too aware of his presence. My husband is a very deep sleeper though, the the baby is never next to him, just in case. I would never recommend co-sleeping to someone who wasn't self aware about this. Also, some people are so aware of the baby's presence that they don't sleep well. I think it's a very individual experience. For me it's great though!

Roxarita said...

In my marriage the benefits up co-sleeping aren't just for mom - we are equal partners as parents and both enjoy cuddling with our young son.

We also have sex regularly, after the baby goes to bed (hours before we do!). We just do it ... in other rooms. And now that the pattern of our sex life is not bed-centered, it means we can have nap time sex, and evening sex and anytime the baby isn't around sex without it seeming odd.

I am so surprised by the number of comments that are so worried about the poor hypothetical father's sex life, as if it is only the man's desires that cause anyone to ever have sex. And/or that it is some responsibility of a wife/partner to make herself available for her husband/boyfriend even if her preference might be family bed.

The dynamics of such an unbalanced relationship are alien to me, and I am grateful.

simone antoniazzi said...

Kimberly, it doesn't sound to me as though you are "bashing" anyone....I completely agree with your comments above. I think it says a great deal about the mother's needs....not the child's or the father's, to be honest.

Roxarita said...

Do people not talk to their husbands? Is that, like, a thing?

Vivian Kelly said...

i like the idea of co-sleeping, but it wasn't for us. just having our LO in our room in a bassinet didn't seem to work, because i think we woke up our LO more! the second night we moved her to her own room, she slept through the night! however, every night when i'm in bed watching tv or on the computer, my husband and i sometimes wish she was with us in bed to cuddle.

Anna said...

This is definitely a "different strokes for different folks" kind of discussion. But, from my perspective, (I'm also a mom of 3), I'm not just a parent, I'm also a woman. My life is not 100% about my kids, nor is my marriage. As a person, woman, human being, I need to nourish my life outside of my relationships with my children. At the end of the day, personal space goes a long way. My bedroom is my place to be alone, to wear lingerie, to read a book, to listen to music, to do activities that have nothing to do with my children and everything to do with me as a human being- not just a parent.

And as far as intimacy goes, I don't want to have to sneak off to the living room or another area of the house to spend intimate time with my husband! Why don't he and I, as sexual beings, as individual people outside of our role as parents, deserve our own space?

My personal life and marriage are just as much as priority as my children; my kids don't automatically take precedence over everything, which has lead to a long, loving marriage, 3 happy and wonderful children, and a fulfilling life with plenty of friendships and activities of my own. And the 3 children who sleep in their own beds and respect our space as we respect theirs. They don't come running into our room when they don't feel well... we come to them, soothe them, and put them back to sleep...in their own beds.

It's very interesting to read other's perspectives. Leigh seems happy and very devoted to her children. Certainly, parents are entitled to make the choices that they think are best for their family.

Lauren Hildreth said...

I am so bothered that everyone here says, "to each their own," when the phrase is "to each his own." You're welcome to say "to each her own," if it makes you feel less sexist/more inclusive, but "their" is a plural pronoun (not a neuter singular pronoun!) and is not grammatically correct in this context.

I don't know why grammar has to suffer for the sake of feminism and equality.

kristen said...

Love that you have shed a positive light on co-sleep! Bravo.
Thanks you!

kristen said...

Love that you have shed a positive light on co-sleep! Bravo.
Thanks you!

Anna said...

I'm a mom of 3 busy and energetic kiddos and have sex more nights than not (5x-ish a week) I've always been a sexual person, but how I've kept it up after kids is by not making my life entirely about the kids and setting aside time and energy for myself - to do the same types of things that I did pre-kids. It keeps me interesting, multi-faceted and dynamic and keeps our marriage spicy and fun! :)

pammihearts.com said...

thanks so much for this post! i've co-slept with each one of my kids. no one i know personally does this. the only downside i've experienced is that the kids just wake up so early. i have to remind myself that they love waking up to a new day. it's sad how it changes when we enter adulthood.

Nora N said...

I remember being pregnant and being totally against co-sleeping. i didn't want to get my baby used to it, and we had never done it in our family, you were together for a couple months and that's it. When my Oliver was born I couldn't bring myself to part with him, and he was nursing to it was so nice to just pop it out. I loved sleeping with him and he would sleep between my husband and I, but when he was about 5 or 6 months he started getting really cranky in the middle of the night and I discovered he didn't want to sleep with us anymore. I moved his toddler bed (a hand me down from his older step brother) and he's been sleeping on it since. He's 14 months and sleeps next to our bed, and I can't seem to bring myself to move him to his room..Sadly my child hates cuddling, he pushes you away, so I still haven't gotten my fill lol

marooska said...

it may sound naive, but i don't see the long-term benefits of this. do toddlers remember this? or is it just something special for the mother?

i slept with my parents and i don't think it did anything for me. it didn't make my relationship with them any stronger. i think i love them as much as my sister does - who didn't sleep with them. i have bonds with my parents, sure, absolutely. but none of that has to do with sleeping in their bed growing up.

jen said...

I wanted to comment and leave my story of co-sleeping, not co-sleeping and how the experience worked out for us, but then I read through and it really makes me uncomfortable. Why do women do this to each other? Why do mothers do this to each other? Parenting is as personal as what you like for breakfast. You try a variety, find some things that work and go with what feels right as often as you can. Just because you like oats and I like toast don't tell me that I'm morally corrupt or shouldn't be eating breakfast at all.

Leigh, thanks for your story. It looks like a beautiful experience for everyone in your family.

Lindsay Himmer said...

I totally agree!

Melissa said...

I don't know how the parents who have accidentally rolled onto their babies and tragically killed them would feel about all these women saying that "they're so in tune with their their babies that it just wouldn't happen" etc. I'm sure they had all said that at one point too. It's fine to say that it's working for your family and you've chosen to co sleep despite the risk, but to act like the risk just isn't there for you is a bit concerning. It happens. And it happens to people who have co slept through two, three, four babies. Maybe you shouldn't be so quick to say it can't happen to you.

Lindsay Himmer said...

I think for the most part the comments have been really civil. Joanna asked what people do and what works for them and for the most part thats all people are saying. There will always be a few thoughtless and mean comments though no matter what.

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

"What could possibly be safer than having your baby that close to you?"

The answer: Being awake when your baby is that close to you.

No one has full control of whether or not they'll roll when they're sleeping, even if their intentions are the best. No one thinks that they'll be "that" family, or else they wouldn't do it. That's why we listen to health professionals who see the overall picture, not just the "well, it worked for me" case.

Emma said...

I've read all of the comments above and don't see anyone calling anyone else "morally corrupt" or telling them that they shouldn't be parents at all. I don't even see any examples of "women doing this to each other." I see a variety of opinions and perspectives that don't all agree... and as we're all adults, we can handle some healthy disagreement.

emily said...

We coslept for the first 14 months, and had plenty of time together as a couple in that stage, but around that time we found the balance weighed in favor of having our bed to ourselves again, so we transitioned out of cosleeping. We really liked it, and then we were done. There are lots of different ways to figure out sleep, but it's good to remember that all parents and children have different sensitivities and tendencies, and what you expect to work might not work. It helps to be aware of everyone's needs and not dogmatic.

Emma said...

What a great perspective! This jibes a lot more with the European moms that I know- there's a lot more focus on the woman as a whole, sexual woman who is also a mother, rather than a 24/7 mommy. Thank you for bringing this up!

Justimaginetherest.tumblr.com said...

I've read so many comments from mothers concerning their experience with co-sleeping and I'd like to share my experiences as a child who co-slept with my parents.

I was the youngest of four and very attached to my parents. I slept with them until I was almost eight and then transitioned to the floor next to their bed until I was around 12. (They used to joke about me getting married and come back home to sleep next to them (ha-ha)). I remember going through many phases where my parents tried to make me sleep in my own room & I just couldn't do it. It didn't feel natural or right at the time. None of my other siblings co-slept so it's not as if I got the idea from them.

Long story short, I eventually moved into my own room when it was right for me. Moved away to college & now live in another city than my parents... I do feel closer to my mom than my other siblings but that mainly has to do with my being the 'baby' of the family, but maybe co-sleeping also had something to do with it.

Rach said...

Thank you so much Leigh for sharing how co-sleeping works in your family! When our first (now 5) was born, the only thing I heard from anyone, anywhere was that this was a dangerous practice... so we didn't do it. What a huge disservice these "warnings" have been for so many families, including our own. The fear was embedded in me so strongly that in the instances where our daughter was in bed with us, I would tense up so badly that I couldn't sleep. Finally, when we moved out of state when she was about 2 and we were all completely out of sorts, we started a family bed and pretty much haven't looked back. Doing this truly helped us get through an extremely destabilizing and difficult transition in our life and we all started sleeping better. When our second daughter was born last fall, she's pretty much mostly slept with us in the bed and we do not fear having her there with us at all. It has made so many aspects of our lives better and easier to have her in bed with us, including when we travel. What I like about this interview is that it helps me sort through our next transition for an in-town move to more space. I keep wondering if we need to further embrace our family bed, but still keep a bed ready in another room, or what? So thankful for this information!

emily said...

To be fair, Leigh's husband said it was a con, not the sum of his entire feelings about the experience. For me, that lack of private space and personal time is a con, too, but my husband and I still believe it's important to try and co-sleep for a time anyhow, because there are also a lot of pros, and we are adults and thus can manage to be flexible for a time for the sake of other values (and lest you worry, my husband's not lying about valuing cosleeping. If anything, I'm the one who misses in-bed intimacy most. He truly believes in the value of cosleeping, and has the capacity and maturity to balance that with his other needs).

Lan said...

We both enjoy cosleeping. As Leigh says it won't last forever.

emily said...

We found that our child transitioned beautifully to her own room/bed at 14 months. There really was no issue at all (I've heard the same from other cosleeping families, but it of course depends on the child and what else is going on in the family's life). She also moved right into a twin bed, and b/c she was already familiar with bed sleeping, there was no dealing with a crib to bed transition.

Kimberley, as for popping up, that can be an issue with cosleeping, but I think most families learn what cries are sleep-cries and what cries are hunger or comfort cries. You learn to distinguish like any other parent and respond accordingly. I myself am skeptical about the French-parenting-love/Bringing Up Bebe phenomenon (living in a French culture myself and seeing some of the negative outcomes of these supposedly marvelous parenting skills), and I do wonder if one did similar studies of children growing up in other traditional societies that do choose to cosleep if they wouldn't have similar findings. In other words, I'm not sure it's the specifics so much as the weight that tradition and culture give to one's parenting and natural authority and instincts.

emily said...

I'm happy to address some of that, too! My husband's relationship to our child is incredibly close. She's equally attached to both of us, and that isn't something we see often in the family dynamics of others we know (which isn't a judgement, simply the way it often works, and one reason why cosleeping has benefitted my husband). She no longer cosleeps with us, but if she has a nightmare or gets sick at night, she equally accepts either of us as a comforter. In the early days, we were also able to share caring for her at night without either of us having to get up and go to another room, meaning more sleep for everyone. As for the bed being the sacred space, well... I do like being alone with my husband in bed, but at the same time, bed has never been our primary place for intimacy. We've often (even before kids) gone to bed at different times, we wake up at different times. I think it helps, too, to view parenting as a stage of life, and to view life in stages. Your relationship with your spouse won't be the same when you have kids, and it won't be the same when you are middle-aged, and then old. One of the very difficult but also very beautiful things about a marriage is that you adapt to these changes together. Sometimes it's painful or frustrating and it takes a lot of communication and kindness, but you become this deeper, stronger person (and couple) because you open yourself to the differences and challenges and beauties of each stage. To risk being cheesy, it's like trees, which undergo beautiful summers, droughts, windstorms, and so on, and can be shaped and strengthened by adapting to these experiences. It's when we assume we should experience no discomforts, no sacrifices, no unmet needs, in marriage or parenthood or whatever, that we stunt ourselves, men and women. Sex is a need, but it's not the only need. It's a desire, but that doesn't mean it has to be perfectly met all the time. It would be great if it could be, but then of course we'd miss out on other things, like waking up to a child's smiling face and hand on your cheek, or smiling into your spouse's eyes over the top of your child's sleeping head, remembering this ground of their being. Those aren't just benefits for me, my husband also finds those things invaluable, and also fleeting (though it doesn't always feel that way, and there's nothing wrong with admitting that, either!)

emily said...

I should say, given that, that I don't believe cosleeping is for everyone (and sometimes it works great for the child but not the parent, or vice-versa), and it isn't for everyone as an extended choice (it wasn't for us! We're good for about 6mos to a year, and then I don't want to share the bed anymore, except for special circumstances). But just because there are cons doesn't mean one shouldn't embrace it. There are cons to everything. C'est la vie.

emily said...

that's a good question! Though my guess is that it doesn't take any more time than it takes to put any kid to bed if they fall asleep decently quickly, and if the parents (as most do, I think) have a bedtime ritual. Or maybe they just plan things for before or after bedtime?

Kami Lou with Mama Roo said...

We have co-slept since day one. I love this post. As always, there are many aspects to consider. In our house, no one smokes or takes ANY kind of medication or mind altering substance(including allergy med, pain med, cannabis, alcohol, and blood thinners). Any medication can alter your sleep cycles which could make you susceptible to co-sleeping accidents.
Another thing, in our house, we have 3 beds total. One is my 2 year old daughter's queen size bed, one is my husbands king size bed, and one is the California King guest bed. We have more intimate time than before I was pregnant. For us, and I suspect many couples, it's about communication. We play musical beds. When we need to cuddle and catch up as a couple, we can do it while she is sleeping next to us or go in another room. Sometimes I lay next to our daughter until she falls asleep, then go and lay next to my husband. Sometimes I stay half the night in each room. Sometimes, we all sleep together. Lots of options make it more fun. We can adapt to our needs of that day/hour.
Getting intimate time is very important, but you might have to change your expectations. Cuddle time on the couch while the kids are all still awake can go toward your intimate time. You should be kissing in front of your kids anyway. Every couple, regardless of where kids sleep have trouble with this. Kids can possibly wake up, walk in, have a bad dream....you never know what will come up. You might not get to have 4 hours to yourselves for private intimate actions anymore. It might be 30 minutes or 10.
Co-sleeping, breastfeeding, or the baby itself sometimes gets blamed for lack of intimacy, when really the problem is lack of communication.

Inari said...

Precisely so.

Humans are animals. If for some reason you dislike or disagree with that, then think of it this way instead: humans throughout history have always co-slept.First because it was simply the natural order of things, later due to convenience (many people did not have the resources, funds, or space for a whole separate sleeping arrangement for babies). This worked out fine.

Comparatively, cribs are a rather modern invention. Isolating young babies from their parents in the first few months seems to me more dangerous than keeping them close. At no point in time, even when I'm completely asleep, am I unaware of my baby in relation to myself. I'm also constantly aware of his breathing -- pretty important difference right there.

I am not saying crib sleeping is bad or wrong, mind you. I'm simply saying both have risks. Both have their pros and their cons. Let's not kid ourselves into thinking the crib is some magical safe haven for infants where no harm will come to them.

Inari said...

At least in our home, once baby has fallen asleep, sneaking away for a bit is no problem. You make sure your co-sleepig arrangements are up to standard with crib sleeping arrangements so baby is in no danger of becoming tangled up, stuck, or falling out of course. As with all things baby-related you exercise judgment and caution. :)

Inari said...

I never co-slept as a child. I co-sleep with our child. It's not always the case.

emily said...

Lolee, I think the key is being attentive to your child's needs and reactions. Most caring parents that I know are aware when something is causing their child distress and will look for ways to help them, like rearranging the sleep environment. I think you could detect distress right from the start (as you can see from parents who tried co-sleeping and noticed that it just wasn't working for their even very new babies). For some kids, it will be the other way around - sleeping alone will stress them out.

Inari said...

I co-slept with our first born until he was five months old, at which point I transitioned him to sleeping in his crib for the majority of the night with no friction. He went easily from sleeping alongside me and Daddy to sleeping all by himself. I cuddle with him before bedtime until he's sleepy or asleep then place him in the crib. Usually if he wakes during the night he falls back asleep all by himself unless he's actually hungry.

I chose co-sleeping not only because it seemed natural but because studies have shown using the Cry it Out method before 5 months has been shown to raise baby's cortisol levels considerably for three whole days after the event. If baby doesn't take to sleeping on his or her own quickly, as most newborns do not, this means your baby spends the first year of his life in a state of constant stress. So my choice was largely for his sake rather than my own.

Inari said...

Sometimes Daddy's snoring manages to wake our bay even now that he's sleeping on his own in his nursery! So really it made little difference for us, in the bed or not in the bed. Haha.

emily said...

There are "true medical studies" supporting co-sleeping (done safely and intelligently) as possibly even safer than not co-sleeping. Have you seen Dr. James McKenna's work? And the AAP... they have been known to be dreadfully wrong in the past, like completely changing their advice on how and when to introduce solids to babies. Often their research does not distinguish between unsafe co-sleeping with safe co-sleeping. I'd take them with a grain of salt.

Emma said...

Just a personal note, we have a six year old and we have always locked our bedroom door! (When he was a toddler, there was an external lock on his bedroom door as well as a video monitor.) There is no walking in on us or into our room...He knocks if he needs something. He's been in our room a few times in his whole life... it's our space. Giving up personal privacy doesn't make someone a better parent! I understand and appreciate that not everyone feels this way, and I respect differences. But I credit us not letting our son diffuse into every area of our lives for us having a fun, sexy and youthful marriage and a life that is fairly similar to pre-kid in a lot of ways. And yet, when it is family time, our son gets lots of love and attention, but we don't entertain or attend to him constantly, and he's better behaved and more self-aware for it.

emily said...

does not distinguish between unsafe co-sleeping *and* safe co-sleeping

Inari said...

I know someone whose baby accidentally suffocated in a crib that was, by definition, up to all current safety standards. So, this isn't saying a whole lot.

katie said...

I didn't plan on co-sleeping but when we brought our little newborn home from the hospital it was the only thing that made sense to me. I felt instinctively aware of baby and we both loved nursing lying down- a win win! we would both drowse in and out of feedings and it was wonderful sleep for both of us. He "asked" in his own way to sleep on his own at 3 months and I think co-sleeping laid the groundwork for his great sleeping habits. I'll be interested in what baby #2 is like for us!

Kendriana said...

Yes, I'd love to know how her husband TRULY feels about this. A man typically wants intimacy every night, so to deprive him of such a thing, I don't think that's exactly fair.

Inari said...

They have a bed room set up for the children, who sleep there by choice when they want to but choose the family bed, she said.

Inari said...

If you only ever have sex in bed, I feel a little sorry for you. ;)

Inari said...

There is a difference between safe co-sleeping and not. Just as there is a difference between safe crib sleeping and not.

Let's not forget they AAP also wanted all babies to sleep on their tummies for the longest time only to realize this increased the risk of SIDS exponentially.

Fashionista Extraordinaire said...

Thank you so much for this post, Joanna! Such an important message for new moms to hear. I am a co-sleeping mom of two. My husband and I co-sleep with our 4 and 19 month-old son and yes, snuggle time has become a wee-bit more challenging, but I dont think either of us would have it any other way. I can say before I was a mom I would have had a baby who slept all night in there crib, much to my surprise, baby's have a mind of their own and parents pretty much follow their lead. Co-sleeping saved me when it came time to nurse both of my always hungry and ready to eat boys. It was so much easier to be able to roll-over and nurse, rather than sleep walking and potentially injuring us both! Also our pediatrician was also a huge supporter of co-sleeping so that was quite reassuring. I totally support the idea and am happy to share my story with others. Thank you again for sharing this.

Lauren Knight said...

I have to say, many of my young mama friends co-sleep, and not one of them did so as a baby... myself included. I was a crib baby, but chose to co-sleep with each of my babies. It was a wonderful, fleeting experience, and I already miss it.

Inari said...

The long term benefits are mostly for babies who don't sleep well on their own as Cry it Out raises cortisol levels and keeps them elevated for days. If your baby adjusts to Crying it Out quickly or has always been an independent sleeper, it's really not a big deal.

Inari said...

I imagine they feel the same as those whose babies have died safely tucked into their cribs at night. There is no 100% safe method of putting baby to bed. Reputable studies have been conducted that show both options safe so long as you exercise good judgment and caution. Let's not kid ourselves, a baby on its own can be in just as much danger as a baby with its mother.

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