We have loved sharing a bed with our first son, Everett. The snuggles are an immediate reward, the attachment and sense of security in him is the long term reward. So when our second son, Kellan, was born, without a thought or doubt about it, he joined our bed every night. Since then, however, I’ve had friends and acquaintances ask how we handle bed sharing with two kids.
What our family bed looks like:
With creative arrangement, there are several options for bed sharing with more than one child. When it was just three of us, we had just a queen. It was cozy and just right. Then Everett grew bigger. Then I got pregnant, and I grew bigger. Everett also moved around a lot. So, after one too many nights of getting kicked in the kidneys, we had to expand. None of us wanted to give up bed sharing all together, so we pushed a slim twin bed up against our queen-sized bed. With the addition of Kellan in April, it was plenty close for snuggles but roomy enough for comfortable sleeping.
In September, however, we moved into a duplex with much smaller bedrooms and now we are back to square one- a single queen for all four of us. Everett does start in his own bed at bedtime, but always moves back to our family bed at some point during the night. He doesn’t move around as much anymore (probably because he can’t) so we don’t often get kicked, but it’s pretty tight.
In order to sleep safely with Kellan (about 9 months old now) I always have him between me and the guard at the edge of the bed. This way he won’t get squashed by his older brother, and I can keep the blankets down or off of him easily (for more on co-sleeping safely see here).
There are other arrangements possible that a family with a larger bedroom could manage. Aside from pushing beds together, a mattress or futon can be placed on the floor near the bed for a child or two to sleep on. For an infant joining the family bed, there are bassinets that attach to the side of the bed or instructions on how to side-car your own crib. Or, while the infant is younger, there are co-sleepers that lay on the family bed. When Kellan turns two, we will likely begin putting them to sleep in their own bed together. I love even the thought of those brotherly snuggles!
Bedtime routine with two (or more) children in a family bed:
Getting ready for bed has happened several different ways. As each of the kids’ nighttime needs have changed, our bedtime routine has changed, but maintaining the essential elements has created consistent care.
Shortly after Kellan was born, when we were settling into a “normal” looking routine, Kellan would go to bed really early so I nursed him to sleep and held him while my husband, Erik, got Everett dressed and teeth brushed. Then I would read books and snuggle with him in our family bed and lie down with him to sleep. When kellan napped later in the day and went to bed later, we reversed the routine, getting Everett ready for bed together, or just me (because he often requests it), then nursing Kellan to sleep.
I am most often in charge of getting the boys to bed because Everett always wants me to doit and Erik goes to school a couple nights a week. In this case, I have been getting the boys ready for bed simultaneously, with bath, pjs, teeth and books all together in Everett’s bed or our family bed. If it works out ideally, Kellan nurses and falls asleep while I read to Everett then snuggle with him until he falls asleep. Sometimes Kellan will not be interested in nursing and plays beside us while I read and snuggle. Sometimes, if Erik is at home, he will rock Kellan to sleep while I take care of Everett.
The situation and events of bed sharing with two children are constantly changing, just as they and we are. Setting up a calming routine that begins when they are growing tired, doing a lot of snuggling and/or nursing, and sleeping with them allows us to stay attuned to their changes while still meeting their needs for safe sleeping and consistent, loving care.
Acacia is a stay at home mama playing through life one moment at a time with her husband and two young sons. She is a natural parenting, cloth diapering, gentle disciplining, home schooling, wholesome foods eating, spiritually centered steward to this great Mother Earth.