Should I Co Sleep With My Baby: Benefits & Dangers

Dear Family & Friends,

“Does your daughter sleep through the night?  You know, it might be time for her to sleep in her own bed. Why did you even buy a crib if you weren’t going to use it?” Robin was listening to her mother complain about where her grandbaby should be sleeping.

“No, I don’t know that,” Robin replied. “We’re still breastfeeding and it’s fine for Crystina to be sleeping with us. We will use the crib when we’re ready.”

Bed Sharing With Baby; Co Sleeping with Infants
OR —
Parents Sleeping With Children

Robin believed breastfeeding and co-sleeping is how to bond with your baby. She loved bonding with her baby and she knew co-sleeping made it easier to establish and maintain a successful breastfeeding relationship. Her mother didn’t breastfed any of her babies, so she didn’t understand how important this was to Robin.

Natalie was very vocal about her opinions. She believed there was a real danger of a mother rolling over and smothering her tiny infant, or that her Crystina is vulnerable to SIDS because they are co-sleeping, when doctors don’t even know the actual cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

“What about SIDS?” Natalie had quizzed Robin.

Robin understood the risks and reduced breathing hazards by keeping her baby on her back, lightly dressed and unswaddled. For the first several months, while Crystina was small, Robin also used a rolled up towel between them to keep from rolling over while she was asleep, and had removed all extra pillows and blankets. She knew about the dangers of co-sleeping with baby and was careful about keeping Crystina on her back, avoided soft bedding, and overheating.

“With preparation, bed sharing with baby has no greater risk of SIDS than sleeping alone in a crib,” Robin replied to her mom. (Actually, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, room sharing is recommended over bed sharing, an arrangement that decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%.)

“Most bed-sharing deaths happened when an adult sleeping with a baby has been drinking alcohol, smoking, or taking drugs (illegal or over-the-counter-medicines) that made them sleepy. Plus we don’t use a pacifier, Mom, and I never fall asleep on the sofa, I always take her to our nice, firm bed.”

“Besides, if Kevin doesn’t have a problem with it, why should you?”

“Well, if you never want to have sex again!” Natalie snapped back.

“Mom!” Robin was blushing now. “Sex doesn’t have to be in bed, and it doesn’t have to be in the middle of the night!”

Robin explained to her mom that, firstly, she was going to do things her way; and secondly, she was going to trust her intuition. Robin believed as long as she felt comfortable with it, then it was okay to do it. If she started to feel differently, then it would be time for a change.

So far, she didn’t feel the need to transition Crystina to her own bed. They were still breastfeeding, and her and Kevin were still in awe of their new, precious baby, and enjoyed watching her sleep. Her little cheeks would puff up, however slightly, and she looked like an angel.


I remember those days  all too well. My baby girls were only 14 months apart. Two sleeping angels. I enjoyed sleeping with them very much! I could fall asleep easily lying next to them, listening to the rhythm of their breathing. (I also knew they were not up to something if they were still in bed next to me.)

Their dad had to be away at basic training for the Army, so we made the decision to co-sleep while he was gone. We would let our toddler girls sleep with mom for a few months, and we can transition them back to their own bed later.

Sleeping arrangements was a minor detail while Dad was away. Why let the girls feel lonely trying to fall asleep when you know Dad is away and Mom is all alone… we might as well all stay safe and warm together in one bed. We were all going to end up in the same bed anyway!

Of course, the time would come when Dad would be back home and want to sleep in his own bed. Keeping this in mind, we had a plan.

The Transition-To-Your-Own-Bed Plan

First, we had a structured nap time with them napping in their own bed. Since I operated a small daycare out of our home at the time, we had a structured nap time. After lunchtime and a short playtime, we had story time and then nap time.

Comfortable In Your Own Bedroom

During the day, the other kids I cared for had their own beds in the spare bedroom, and my girls laid down for their naptime in their own beds in their bedroom. They played in there, they helped cleaned up toys in there, and they napped in their own room.

Pride In Your Own Bed

This really helped with the night-time sleeping transition since my girls were already comfortable in their bedroom. The other thing I did, a week before their dad came home, was go shopping. I encouraged them to take ownership of their bed by picking out their own sheets in their favorite color. They also picked a new comforter and a new pillow with their favorite character/design.

When we got home from the store, I had the girls help me wash & dry their new bedding. And then I had them help me make up their beds so they were excited about sleeping in their own beds. We even strung up some “fairy lights” for added ambiance to make it feel special.

Bedtime Routine

Then Dad came home. Their bedtime routine was the same; we would all go brush our teeth together and then get in bed for story time. But tonight, we had story time in their bedroom with the girls in their beds.

I was worried there would be a scene at bedtime, but I was mistaken. Both girls were eager to please their dad since he was finally home; they fell asleep during story time. And they stayed in bed all night.

That only worked one night. Like any toddler, they would find reasons to get up. I’m scared. There’s something under the bed. I need a drink of water. I missed you.

We would put them to bed again. Good night. I love you. Sweet Dreams.

My good night hugs and kisses turned into a typical pattern where I would try to convince them that everything will be okay and I will still be here when you wake up…

“Good night. I love you. Sweet Dreams. See you in the morning!”

The emphasis was on See YOU in the MORNING!  Subtle hint to STAY in bed until MORNING! (Toddlers don’t get subtle hints.)

And Repeat

However, we didn’t give up. It was only two weeks to make a complete transition. If they came into our room at night, we gently coaxed them back into their own bed. We didn’t force it, but took the time to console them and find out what happened that caused them to get up.

We did not let them fall asleep in our bed, and then move them back to their bed; that would cause hysteria when they wake up confused. Instead, we let them know as they were climbing into our bed, they can stay for a few minutes. Then you are going back to your own bed. They would agree, so they knew they were still going back to sleep in their own bed, and we would walk them back to their bed and tuck them in.

“Good night. I love you. Sweet dreams. See YOU in the MORNING!”

Keep the same routine. Keep firm. Toddlers are notorious for crossing the line, they have to test your limits to find out where their boundaries are…  Once you let them stay and sleep in your bed again, you’ve lost. They know you don’t mean what you say, and they will keep trying to push the boundary. You have to stay strong and remain consistent if you expect results.


Parents co-sleeping with children

Parents have the right to decide what is best for them and their baby. There are many other cultures to consider as far as family bed sharing goes. As long as both parents are in agreement, a family’s co-sleeping arrangement is their business. It is not up to society to judge or control what happens in other people’s homes, especially in their bedrooms.

Experts say children may naturally develop the desire for their own room and sleeping space by age 13, whether or not they sleep alone or share a bed.

However, how can you expect your young child to cope away from you at school if they haven’t yet learned to cope with you sleeping in a different room? If you teach your child how to cope with separation anxiety before kindergarten comes, they might not be so clingy when it comes time to enter a classroom. Just a thought.


Consequences

Should I co-sleep with my baby?  Do the benefits outweigh the dangers? How old should my child be when I transition them to their own bed? Every family is different. Every story is different. You get to write your own experiences.

Will your kids be intelligent and independent because you managed to get them in their own bed by the time the started school? Will your kids be clingy because you let them sleep in your bed too long?

Like Robin said, she was going to trust her intuition.  There’s no right or wrong answer here. Whatever you decide for your situation, each parent lives with the consequences of their actions, their decisions, and their weaknesses.

Kevin and Robin continued co-sleeping with their baby for a few more months. By the time Crystina reached 18 months old, she was more active in her sleep, and was taking up more and more space in the bed. Family bed sharing was no longer practical.

Natalie needn’t worry, time would take care of everything. And eventually, Kevin and Robin could have some time in their own bed by themselves.

Smile! It’s all good!

P.S. I welcome your comments, please post below.

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2 thoughts on “Should I Co Sleep With My Baby: Benefits & Dangers

  • February 18, 2018 at 1:52 am
    Permalink

    Darla, you say it well. It is nobody else’s business. Approaching the co habitation smartly, no bad results should follow (excepting the odd uncontrollable situation).

    You know, when I was growing up (long ago) the trend was for babies to be on their stomachs in the crib. This was supposed to help strengthen the back muscles. Well, I can recall no cases of SIDs!

    We did get into the parents’ bed but in the morning for a wake up visit. (Except Sundays as that was discouraged from the start.) I was 4 years older than my next sibling. By then, via my parents reading to me all the time and encouraging me to explore, I had a good imagination.

    When my sisters and brother got old enough for their non-crib beds, the three of them would come into my bed and we would play make believe games. At times the folks couldn’t get us out of bed. And none of us had trouble starting school.

    I think your method is a great independence creator for kids. Keep up the well written articles.

    Ciao,
    Helen

    Reply
    • February 27, 2018 at 5:28 am
      Permalink

      Too many people want their say when it comes to topics they are passionate about… but it would be better for them to mind their own business. They can have their opinions and know how their choices effected their family, but ultimately parents have to do what is right and comfortable for them and their children. As you pointed out, bed time isn’t always about sleeping, but cuddling and connecting, too. Thanks for your comments. Love, Darla

      Reply

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