Motherhood

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.

  1. Shelley says...

    Heck no!! It’s a recipe for disaster in so many ways! Sure it looks cute, comfy and snuggly but your kids should be learning to be independent as soon as possible. I know quite a few people who are experiencing difficulties with their kids because they let them sleep in the same bed with them until they were older. What’s wrong with giving them their own bed and their own room? Just like moms who want to continue breastfeeding until the kid is like 5! I think it’s more for the mother than the kid in that instance. Teach your kid independence so they can be confident and well rounded as they grow up not needy, clingy and dependent!

    • Rodrigo Garcez says...

      Shelley you sound like someone needs a hug urgently.

  2. Lindsey says...

    I need that pillow, “a Tres Tria pillow”! Seems to be sold out or no longer made via link above. Suggestions on something similar or where else to purchase. Is it that is in the photos above?

  3. So so in love with your blog and happy I found this post! It really is interesting to hear other perspectives. In Jamaica, it is very common to have children co-sleep with parents. No one worries about rolling over and crushing their baby. I have been co-sleeping with my daughter for a month now since returning to Jamaica and find it very very comforting… I can just pop my nipple in her mouth if she starts to fuss while half asleep and plus, she feels so warm and cuddly.

  4. Anne says...

    Thank you for sharing this. My husband and I have been co-sleeping with our daughter for 2 years and it has been great for us. Our son is due in June and I have been getting a ton of pressure from family members to get her in her own bed, but I’m not sure any of us are ready. It’s so comforting hearing other testimonies of what works (or not), because I’ve found co-sleeping generates a lot of judgement from those who are unfamiliar. Thank you again for sharing!

  5. Thank you for sharing thoughts and experiences of co-sleeping! My husband and me co-sleep with our two kids and for us it has been great. When my first daughter was born I planned for her to start sleeping in her own bed as soon as possible but then as time passed I started to get used to her company and now I realize I will miss having kids in bed when they start to sleep on their own. I have a blog where I write about bed sharing and other related subjects. For example I have written about some very common misunderstandings regarding co-sleeping:
    http://healthywhale.com/five-myths-about-co-sleeping/

    • Elisa Wood says...

      Cool article, I actually have some similar experiences :)

  6. Beautiful photos and great article. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Kristelle says...

    This is such a great article! Before our son was born, I had a really difficult time understanding co-sleeping families. Our son slept great, only waking up once or twice every night from 10 weeks until he hit a sleep regression at 4 months old. Out of a desperate need for sleep (we had agreed to not CIO) we brought him in bed with us one night and we all slept great. I began to research a lot about co-sleeping, I was afraid we were creating a sleep monster! But my findings lead us to see the amazing benefits of co-sleeping, how 85% of the world does it and it’s been the norm for thousands of years. I realized I slept so much better with our son next to us too. I wasn’t worried about SIDS anymore, or waiting for him to wake up all the time. I no longer had to get up and fully wake in the middle of the night, I just had to nurse in our sleep. I finally understood the secret to being a well rested new parent! My milk production also benefited as a result, since my son was nursing more frequently at night. My husband and I talked about it and decided to intentionally try it for a month and keep an open dialogue about it. The first two weeks were an adjustment, but we stuck it out because we had agreed to give it a fair try. A few days later, it got better. And now, my husband absolutely loves and advocates co-sleeping. What works for us is to nurse him to sleep and put him down in his room, then we spend time just my husband and I so it’s almost like a little date every night, and before we go to bed, one of us brings baby in bed with us. Our son sleeps on my side for easy nursing access and so my husband and I can still cuddle. The best and most surprising part is that our intimacy has truly gained from this sleeping arrangement. We have more energy for each other, have a higher quality sex life, and are intimate 4-6 times per week. So, for us, it has really worked out great and changed our views on nighttime parenting.

  8. I just found this blog post, and so happy I did. We have been co-sleeping with your daughter since she was born. I love how Leigh explains how she never had that mother sleep deprivation, because I certainly did not have it either. Co-sleeping is such a great thing, and I believe there are more people out there who do it then we realize. Thanks for this awesome candid interview! I love all the pictures too! (I know I’m a few years late to the party but I couldn’t resist to comment!!)

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  10. I co-sleep but never thought I would. I sleep just me and her in a double bed. I don’t think I would if there was another person in bed. I started because it was so hard to get her to sleep and have to keep putting a soother in her mouth and getting up constantly I just gave in.

  11. This is a great article. I have a 5 year old who co-sleeps with me and my husband. It is a bit crowded but I sleep better when my son is in the bed than when he is not. I have a lot of friends struggling with getting their kids out of their beds and I think it is so unnecessary, and may be causing unneeded stress. Seven sounds like a good year, but we’ll see how it goes. Thanks!

  12. T. says...

    I’m always intrigued by different family dynamics. It really does come down to finding what works for you. We have one son who is seven and he was in his crib from Day One. Had he been a bad sleeper, I suppose things might have been different. But we swaddled him up, put him in and he was off to dreamland. He slept through the night a month after he was born and still goes to bed easily.

    As a couple, our bedroom is our sanctuary, our private space to enjoy alone. The rest of the house is for the family. Our son is welcome to come in when he asks if he may, feels scared or is sick. But otherwise, it’s our haven in a busy world where we’re pulled in many different directions. If our child was in it every night, I don’t think we’d be able to function well as a couple.

    BUT that’s just our story. If the family bed works for you, vive la difference!

  13. Thanks for sharing great tips and thoughts. This a big help for parents who are going through issues like these.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    mamanverdant.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  41. sk says...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  52. 2 very simple things: 1.) This is just how Leigh does it. It’s not to say she is doing it right or wrong, just to show how we all do things a little differently than one another. Embrace that people! 2.) I miss Leigh and Marvelous Kiddo. Although, I fully understand that life goes on outside of the blogosphere. We are only here for a short time so do what feels right to you. That is the underlying theme of the post.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  63. EH says...

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

  64. This post actually made cosleeping easier last night.

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

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

    Looking back it breaks my heart.

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

    Here’s how we handle cosleeping right now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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