Five Benefits to Cosleeping Past Infancy

Two of the three members of our family bed, sound asleep.

Cosleeping, also known as “sharing sleep” or having a “family bed,” is a parenting practice that still smacks of taboo in our Western culture. But recent scientific studies are building a much stronger argument for the benefits of sharing sleep with our children.1 Yet even with the scientific support and the changing cultural perception of cosleeping, the subject is typically constrained to parents of infants.

It is still socially taboo to admit that you share sleep with toddlers or older children, but research shows that the taboo is unfounded. Children who cosleep are generally more independent and secure, develop close and lasting bonds to their families, and report more happiness and general life satisfaction than children who sleep alone. There are many reasons that sharing sleep with your children is healthy and beneficial even after they’ve started walking, but below are five of the best reasons.

Five Reasons to Continue Cosleeping Past Infancy

  1. Cosleeping Can Further Both Trust and Independence

    One common argument against cosleeping is that it will create children who are more dependent on parents than children who sleep alone, or that cosleeping children will never learn to sleep alone. “But this is like saying that by putting a baby in diapers, she’ll be in diapers throughout her life, or that by using a stroller or carrying her, she’ll never learn to walk.”2

    As a matter of fact, the opposite is actually true: children who shared sleep with their parents are actually more independent than their solo sleeping peers. Recent research has shown:

    *Solitary sleepers have actually been found to be more dependent on their parents than co-sleepers.

    *Co-sleeping boys ages three and older were shown to have no greater difficulty separating from one or both parents than solitary sleeping boys. (In this study, girls were not observed for this trait.)

    *The majority of family bed graduates consider themselves more independent than their peers.3

    And why shouldn’t cosleepers be more independent?! They learned from infancy that they could trust their caregivers to quickly respond to their needs, no matter what time of day or night it was. “You are not encouraging dependency when you sleep with your baby. You are responding to a need and teaching your child about trust.”4 “Children, given time to learn to trust those around them, and thus learn that their own feelings and needs are legitimate, will develop a true, enduring sense of independence.”5

  2. Melissa of Simple Whimsy and her family snoozing peacefully.

  3. Parents Are the Ultimate Security Blankets

    The image of a child sucking his thumb or carrying around a treasured blanket or teddy is a very familiar one in our culture. Search the internet and you’ll find all kinds of advice columns and articles on how to transition children away from these practices. But research has revealed something very interesting: children who cosleep do not need replacement security figures. Children feel more secure as a result of being close to their caregivers.

    “When a child routinely goes to sleep in the presence of an adult, or with an adult holding her, it’s extremely rare to find thumb sucking or attachment to security objects.” In a study of children ages one to seven years old who all sucked their thumbs, 96% of them “had been left alone to fall asleep as infants. In stark contrast, there were no thumb suckers among a large group of children who had physical contact with an adult while falling asleep.” In a different study of children between three and five years old, researchers found “that solitary sleepers were far more likely to use a security object than co-sleepers. The researchers concluded that children use security objects as substitutes for nighttime human touch.”6

    Our culture emphasizes the desirability of teaching children to self-soothe, and parents are encouraged to introduce security objects to help in this process. But in the dark of the night, why not allow a child to experience the love and comfort of a parent? If we teach our children to rely on things for comfort, what effect will this have on them later in life during times of stress? Shouldn’t we be encouraging them to reach out to people?

  4. Cosleeping Can Have Positive Effects on Self-Esteem and Family Closeness

    As Dr. Sears says, welcoming children into the family bed sends incredible “I care” messages. It says “you are special to us, day and night.”7 A little one welcomed into the family bed receives “countless hours more tender snuggles, and more affection than if she were left alone to sleep. If she wakes up at night, all she has to do is see you or reach out and touch you to feel the world is safe and right.”8

    And parents who fall asleep and/or wake up next to their children know how sweet it can be in those sleepy twilight hours. With everyone relaxed and cuddled up, children feel peaceful and ready to share their thoughts and stories, things that you might never hear during the hustle and bustle of daily life. “[Y]ou can get to know a family bed child on a level you might not otherwise. In the words of Thomas Anders, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, and director of the school’s infant and family sleep laboratory: ‘Co-sleeping encourages family closeness.’” These sentiments have been reinforced by research: the “vast majority” of both family bed graduates and their parents report that they are incredibly close to their families.9

  5.  

  6. Children Who Cosleep May Be Easier to Get Along With and Better Adjusted Than Their Solo Sleeping Peers

    Psychologists in years past theorized that children in family beds were maladjusted, insecure, needy, and that their parents were languishing in bad marriages. Recent research blows the old theories out of the water. Here is a sample of what we’ve learned:

    *Children who never slept in their parents’ beds were harder to control, less happy, had more tantrums, handled stress less well, and were more fearful than routinely co-sleeping children.

    *Co-sleepers showed a feeling of general satisfaction with life.

    *Children who didn’t co-sleep end up getting more professional help with emotional and behavioral problems than co-sleepers.

    *Boys who slept in the family bed had increased self-esteem and less guilt and anxiety. Girls had more comfort with physical contact and affection.

    *Children who had co-slept felt they weren’t as prone to peer pressure as others their age.10

    Psychologists have long agreed “that children who have responsive, sensitive, accessible parents are much more likely to be happier later in life. It should come as no surprise, then, that children whose parents are there for them day and night turn out so well.”11

  7. Everyone Sleeps Better

    As long as cosleeping works for you12 and your child, why change it? If you can get past learning to nurse while sleeping and wild toddler sleeping arrangements,13 continuing to share sleep with your little one may help your whole family sleep better into your child’s preschool years and beyond.

    And when I say that everyone sleeps better, I really mean it. Scientific studies have shown that a family who sleeps together actually enters the different stages of sleep together almost simultaneously. Dr. Jay Gordon shared a beautiful illustration about the science behind this concept in his book, Good Nights: The Happy Parent’s Guide to the Family Bed (and a Peaceful Night’s Sleep!)14:

    Science is finally beginning to discover what babies have known all along: Babies are designed to sleep with their parents. And parents are designed to sleep with their babies.
    At the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame, anthropologist James McKenna, Ph.D., watches an intimate dance unfold. It’s a dance in which there’s no leader, no follower, and yet almost seamless choreography.
    A mother and father sleep with their baby between them in a large bed in the laboratory’s comfortable bedroom. It’s similar to the way they sleep at home, only with infrared video cameras monitoring their sleep stages, zooming in on every roll of an eyeball, every twitch of muscle, all night long.
    All is quiet and still, except for the rapidly moving, closed eyes of the baby, mother, and father. They’re all dreaming at the same time. Moments later they enter a stage of light sleep together: The mother stirs, awakens for just a moment, and drifts back to sleep, moving her head a little to the left, her arm to the right. The baby stirs, moves her head to the left, her arm to the right. Then the father follows with the same pattern. McKenna, director of the lab, smiles broadly and nods his head.
    “It’s incredible watching these sequences unfold,” says McKenna, acclaimed as the father of this type of sleep research and the world’s foremost authority on the biological basis of cosleeping. “The synchronization that happens when parents sleep beside their baby is remarkable.”
    Similar experiments in England find the same dance with family bedders. But place the baby in another room, and it’s like putting a wall between a pair of ballroom dancers. Everyone reverts to their own rhythms, their sleep cycles coinciding only by chance.15

Melissa of Simple Whimsy

Need More Reasons to Cosleep?

If you’re on the fence about continuing to share sleep with your little one past infancy, I’d highly suggest reading Dr. Gordon’s Good Nights. It is packed with both research and with testimonials from children who have “graduated” from the family bed. He also offers tips on dealing with criticism from friends and family who do not agree with the practice.

For more resources on cosleeping and nighttime parenting, check out Natural Parents Network’s “Ensure Safe Sleep” resource page. It has links to articles as well as additional book recommendations.

Did you share sleep with your child?

How long did your child stay in the family bed?

  1. For a review of some of these studies, check out Cosleeping at The Natural Child Project, Co-Sleeping Safety at PhD in Parenting (with more links at the end of the article), and Safe Sleeping with Your Baby at Dr. Sears. For more information on the research results discussed in this post, please see the studies cited in the original sources.
  2. Gordon, Good Nights: The Happy Parent’s Guide to the Family Bed (and a Peaceful Night’s Sleep!) at 24
  3. Good Nights at 25-26
  4. Sears, Nighttime Parenting: How to Get Your Baby and Child to Sleep at 35
  5. Good Nights at 24. A note to parents who do not share sleep with their little ones: please do not interpret this post to mean that if you do not cosleep, you are not teaching trust or responding to needs. I recognize the fact that cosleeping simply does not work for many babies.
  6. Good Nights at 19-20 (emphasis added).
  7. Nighttime Parenting at 52
  8. Good Nights at 20-21
  9. Good Nights at 21-22
  10. Good Nights at 23
  11. Good Nights at 23
  12. When I say “you,” I mean you in both the singular and the plural, depending on your parenting situation.
  13. What parent hasn’t woken up to a foot in the back/face/stomach from a sleeping toddler?!
  14. Good Nights at 3-4 (citations omitted, emphasis added).
  15. Good Nights at 3-4

About The Author: Dionna

Code Name: Mama CodeNameMama My NPN Posts

Dionna is co-founder of Natural Parents Network. She blogs about natural parenting and life with a toddler-almost-preschooler at Code Name: Mama. She also co-founded NursingFreedom.org, a site dedicated to normalizing breastfeeding anytime, anywhere.

320 Responses to Five Benefits to Cosleeping Past Infancy

  1. Melissa K.  

    Wow, Dionna – there is so much great information here! Thank you! I really had not considered continuing to co-sleep beyond infancy, though I had no plans to transition anytime soon. I may just continue a bit longer than I would have otherwise expected.

    Now I know why my ten month old has never sucked her thumb and has no interest in her “lovey” – she sleeps with us!

    • Dionna  

      Thanks Melissa! Cosleeping has continued to be natural with us – I don’t think any of us would have it any other way (most of the time ;)).

    • Melissa

      My children slept with me and my husband forever. Our son was around 11 & our daughter was almost 10 when they moved “permanently” to their own beds. Our son is now 19 and daughter is 17, once in a while, one of them might just want to sleep with mom & dad!! It’s ok. We have a great relationship and I think my kids are willing to tell me almost anything. Wouldn’t change a thing.

      • Jocy

        This is really true. My hubby is working abroad and we have two sons, ages 16 and 13 and they still sleep on our ‘family bed’. I just feel secured when they are with me at night. Staying in one bedroom is healthy; saves electricity too with just one aircon on at night! :-)

    • Jeanette Bradshaw

      I am 71-years-old and we have only one son. When he was little he mostly slept with us in our bed or his crib, which was in our bedroom. As he became older, his bedroom was always one room away from ours. During the summer between the 10th and 11th grades, we converted our basement to a bedroom for him. WRONG THING TO DO! Wisdom and maturity really came in retrospect for my husband and me. We isolated him from us and the results did not turn out well for him, or us, for a long time. He hid his teenage fears, insecurities, questions, secrets, friends, thoughts, and actions from us. He went from being a happy young person, to a teenager who no longer seemed truly happy. Being wiser as the years rolled by, I began to realize our mistake with our son when our grandchildren were living with us a good part of the time. Of course we let them sleep with us, and so enjoyed the laughter, the snuggling, the conversations again. I began to think of homes being built with a master bedroom on one end of the house and the children’s bedrooms on the other side of the house, or two story homes. Parents and children are isolated from each other! Too much time away from parents, too much time from parental supervision, too much time for them to “become independent too soon.” Problems in the making! Your article of family co-sleeping confirmed my personal belief that children do need to be close to their parents as children, and especially as teens. A teenager appears to carry an attitude of being tough on the outside, yet they are opposite on the inside until they really are adults and know the truth about themselves…I didn’t and I don’t know everything, I need help. Wisdom and maturity comes so slowly on one’s own. I am glad there are articles like yours being written to bring awareness to your readers to help them raise happy and well-adjusted children. It surely helps parents feel more confident in the decisions they make in raising their children. As a great-grandmother now, maybe my suggestions can help the younger generations I come in contact with make wise decisions, too.

      • jackie

        That was a beautiful response froman older mom…who has been there done that’s perspective! Thank you for sharing!

      • Linh

        Thank you so much for imparting your wisdom. I feel more secure about my convictions. My husband fought with me to force the children into their own beds even when I felt naturally inclined to listen to my childrens’ fears. It went on for years. My girls are now 7, 6, and 5; and I can say with confidence at all costs, I have strived with my every waking and sleeping moment to show them that their feelings, thoughts, and desires are important. To this day, I sleep with my girls every night. We have one queen size bed in the red bedroom and one bunk bed in the blue bedroom. We purchased this bunk when it began to get a bit too snuggly with all four of us in the queen bed. I had to explain to the girls that Mommy wasn’t getting a good nights sleep anymore when there wasn’t enough room. So, we created a calendar rotation for sleep sharing with Mommy. They are vigilant to secure their special evening with Mommy in bed. There are no hard rules for sleep sharing with Mommy, just an understanding that it’s important for all of us to get a good nights sleep so that we can be productive the next day. So more often than usual, one extra girl will be in bed even though its not her turn because I have acknowledged her deep conviction for a need to be with me.

      • diana

        Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom. I was all against cosleeping with my 18 month old. I had a few miscarriage before having him and when his finally arrived I was very protective of him but was set at 3 months in his crib he’ll go. My boyfriend was so against the crib and convinced me to cosleep. BEST discussion EVER!!!

  2. Rachael  

    I have clear memories of fear and loneliness while waiting for sleep alone in my bed at night. Fear, loneliness … and longing to be with my parents. (These memories are from when I was younger than five or six, but I don’t know how much younger.) Apparently I begged to sleep in their bed. And one night they granted my wish, and put me to bed in their bed … and left me there alone. I remember lying there and wondering why they hadn’t really understood my request, that it wasn’t about the BED, it was about THEM. When I was much older, my mother would wonder aloud what it might have been that I thought was so special about their bed. And I would wonder silently how it could possibly be so mysterious to her. It’s actually always puzzled me that we (not all of us, but most of us, maybe?), as adults, prefer to sleep with a partner, but then expect a little little child to sleep on his or her own.

    • Lauren  

      Oh, thank you! I have clear memories of sleeping in the hallway outside my parents’ closed door (at maybe 4 years old?), because I wanted to be in their room and they had clear boundaries for where children should and shouldn’t sleep. I seriously was happy to get to college and have a roommate finally — no kidding! I just prefer not to be lonely at night, so I totally understand why (some/many) children feel the same way.

      • An Qi

        That’s very sad and I apologize, if you were my kid you would’ve been in my bed all snuggled up with me. All three of my children were (or are) in bed with me. Right now just my 4 yr old is still in my bed, but the older ones are no longer. Our U.S. culture is so screwed up, the doctors at the hospital where my youngest was born did nothing but preach to me about the dangers of SIDS and co-sleeping (all of my kids are still alive). The constant fear mongering caused me to wake up five times a night to check on her breathing for the first three years. Now that she’ll be in kindergarten soon, I’m scared about a whole new whirlwind of co-sleeping phobias coming my way if teachers or classmates find out. Can’t wait for those comments and accusations. It’s a backwards society.

    • Jennifer

      Very well said!

    • Pam

      I love your statement! Especially the end part about we as adults prefer to sleep with a partner, but expect our small children to sleep alone! I second it!!!

    • karl

      it saddens me to hear your experience… it is not a wonder why when adults you would prefer to sleep and be dependent with a partner.. it is to offset the experience when you were a child.. that explains the unforeseen dependency and independence of an individual.

    • Bonni

      Awe that is sad, I remember having similar experiences though my mom knew it was them I wanted to sleep with. Instead she would come back to my bed with me and stay with me till i fell asleep. but I too remember lying awake for sometimes hours completely terrified of even breathing too loud incase there was something lurking. I now cosleep with my kids and every now and then I think i should stop but I find I suffer from the seperation just as much as they do!

  3. Melissa (MamaWhimsy)

    What a wonderful post, Dionna. Thank you for raising awareness on the benefits of cosleeping- especially with older children. So much of this rings true for our family. I have often resourced this http://www.thelaboroflove.com/forum/attachment/4.html
    and used her quote, “Weaning a child from a family bed is no more complicated than teaching her to use the toilet, or weaning her from the breast. Yet we don’t bottle feed and potty train at birth to avoid the hassle! Refraining from a loving, useful parenting technique because it will eventually have to end makes no sense. ” when talking to others about our family bed arrangement. Now I have another great resource to refer to. Thanks so much!

    • Dionna  

      I love that quote Melissa – thank you for sharing!

    • Heidi

      what a great article. It brought back memories for me. Thankfully, I was raised by a former “hippy” who gave me a firm foundation of attachment parenting before there was such a term…I was blessed to have many younger siblings and watched attachment in action…and took part, of course. When I was a teen, one of my younger brothers would crawl in with me in the early mornings when the next baby was born…so sweet! I slept with my babies until they didn’t want to sleep with me anymore. It is just a natural progression…and they are well-adjusted, secure, independent and kind young women now.

      • C. W. Huskonen

        We never let our children sleep with us, because of a family member who did and her child was 6-7 yrs of age when she attemped to get her to sleep in her own room and it was not a pretty sight. The little girl cried and screamed all night long it seemed so as a result of that we didnt do it. My husband was military and when he was deployed I let me daughter sleep with me here and there and she was 9 and I didnt do it for her I did it for me. I needed her in my bed because we were in a strange new town and didnt know the neighborhood so I just felt better having her with me for safety reasons. And how does a couple be intimate with kids in your bed?

  4. Kristina  

    Our oldest shared our bed until my twin pregnancy became too large for all of us to be comfortable, so around 18 months. The twins are 5 now and start the night in their own bed but they know they are welcome to crawl in with us if they wake during the night, or Daddy can go to them. We are now co-sleeping with baby #4, 3 months old. The three oldest kids share a room (their choice!) so we got a twin-over-double bunk and the twins sleep together. It is so sweet to go check on them before turning in and seeing that they are snuggled together.

  5. Eden

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve been getting a lot of slack from well meaning loved ones about my two and a half year old still sleeping in our bed. I thought about transitioning him while I was pregnant, but decided that it would help him into his transition of brotherhood than if he were on his own. Now I have him and our infant son in our bed, and though I wish for more room in bed, couldn’t be happier. Now I can have something to reference for those who struggle to accept my and my husband’s parenting choices.

  6. hjb

    Did they also research how this effects a marriage?

    • Dionna  

      The families they interviewed were, for the majority, all happier and closer than non-cosleeping families. I don’t have the book in front of me though (I checked it out from the library). Somehow I doubt that a few years of cosleeping is going to tip the scale more than any other marriage problem, but that is definitely my unfounded opinion!

      • Heather

        Our kids are 2 and 3 1/2. They have their own beds, and the older one usually sleeps all night in hers. We moved her into her own bed at 2 1/2, and the transition was very smooth–she was ready. Her brother just got his own bed a couple of months ago, and he still likes a middle of the night nursing, so he usually crawls in with us in the middle of the night. Sometimes, he does this so smoothly, that I don’t even wake up, even though he crawls in and nurses. We have another baby on the way, and I want to night-wean him soon, but there’s no need to push it yet. Both kids know they are welcome in our bed, and we do occasionally just all still sleep together–say, if we all piled into the big bed to watch a movie, or something.
        As for the marriage, well, we are planning to build ourselves a new bedframe, and I would like to have a mini-crib sized trundle under it, as a place to stow a sleeping little one for a little while when Daddy and Mommy have other plans for the bed! But the non-stress of happier kids more than makes up for the inconveniences of a crowded bed! This goes double when they are babies, ’cause a well-rested mama is _definitely_ a better mama–and wife!!

  7. Adina

    I have a one year old who has never slept with me but I am such a light sleeper I honestly can’t even comprehend a night with another body in my bed. If it were up to me the sleeping part of my night would be in a bed by myself. I toss and turn and like to move about the bed…it’s hard enough having to sleep with a partner. But a baby who might squirm around and start playing with things in the headboard or fall off…it is just completely unappealing. Well it’s appealing in the snuggly about-to-fall asleep part of the night…but not after. For myself, despite all that I’ve read about co-sleeping it is just not something that sounds doable to me or desireable. I can see how it would be for a lot of people, but the part about ‘better’ sleep for parents astounds me. How do parents even get to go to bed at ‘parent’ times vs. child bedtimes? What about sex between partners when a lot of people do this before sleep at night?

    • Dionna  

      Adina – you’re not alone! I’ve heard of many parents who can’t share sleep with a partner, much less a baby.
      Parent bed times v. child bed times isn’t a problem for us – I put him to sleep just like any parent would, then I get up and come out to the living room, then we go to bed whenever.
      And as far as intimacy, cosleeping couples just have fun being creative – heck, some of us might have healthier sex lives since we are forced to think outside the bed ;)

      • Adina

        Okay…so that answers the sleep time question. I assumed that cosleeping babies could not sleep on their own. A friend in child care told me that the kids she cares for that co sleep have a tough time napping alone when in daycare.

        But as for sex…of course it doesn’t have to happen in bed. But it’s the most private place in our house.

    • Lauren  

      Just to address your question about going to bed at “parent” times — I simply put my child down to sleep at his normal time, then leave and come back later at my bedtime — just as I would if he were in his own bed. It’s really not any more challenging than that!

      And we find plenty of places and times to have sex… :)

      • Adina

        How do you do put your child to bed before you go to bed without the child rolling around in bed and falling out of bed?

      • Dionna  

        Again, I think every child/situation is different. Some families use a cosleeper made for this purpose. We just used pillows when Kieran was still rolling. Once they are bigger, it is less of a concern – my child has never rolled out of the bed, with or without us there.

      • Becca @ The Earthlings Handbook

        It’s years later, but I’m answering this question for anyone who’s still reading…. We put a yoga mat on the floor alongside the low bed, put our baby to sleep on the side near the wall, but allowed him to have the possibility of rolling out of bed. We found that when he was awake on the bed, he was very aware of the edge and would not let himself fall. After a few months he did roll out when sleeping alone. He was upset but not really hurt. (I mean, it must have been painful, but there were no bruises.) It happened one other time, months later. From these learning experiences, he developed the sense of where the edge is, just as an older person would–it isn’t something babies are unable to learn until a certain age.

      • Linda

        First of all, thank you for writing this acticle. I was coslept as a child and now cosleep with my children. We have no problems putting them to sleep at their sleep times. What i do is put the extra pillows on the sideof the bed just in case one rolls off. This has not happened but once is 2 years but just in case the protection is there.

  8. Debi

    Thanks so much for posting this. I have gotten quite a bit of flack for continuing to co-sleep with my kids. My bed is not big enough for all 5 of them, but they take turns, and we love it. My 3 year old is with me every night, and everyone else(even my 13 yr old son) gets a turn in the family bed. I love being able to connect with them at night, we talk and often cuddle or hold hands as we drift off to sleep. What could be better, and who does it hurt? Certainly not any of us…

    • Dionna  

      Exactly – it isn’t hurting anyone. Thank you for sharing!

    • Chance

      My friend has a 12 year old son who till sleeps with her. Mostly just with her, sometimes between her and her husband. The boy has no confidence, is afraid to stay home alone during the day and still expects his mother to do everything for me. I believe that in this case co-sleeping has thwarted his development. At school he is called ‘gay’,faggot’,’ mama’s boy’ and the like. Sadly he has the maturity of a 6-7 year old.In this case I don’t believe co-sleeping has been positive at all for my friends son.

      • Dionna  

        I have more of a problem with a child being bullied at school and someone blaming it on said child’s sleeping arrangements. That’s pretty shameful. I’d wager that the real problem lies with the bullies.

      • Elena

        I’d guess there are more factors in the situation than co-sleeping. A mom or a child may have developmental issues. Bullying certainly makes it more difficult. If you are concerned, talk with the mom or dad about it.

      • Dianne

        Based on all of the above information, it sounds like cosleeping is not a causational variable but correlational variable. It’s like the age old example of Icecream sales and murders. Both increase at the same time, but Icecream isn’t causing murders to happen. The Summer season increases Icecream sales and also human to human interaction, leading to more crime. In this case, you’re allowing your biases against cosleeping to play a factor In determining what is causing this boy’s vast and sad circumstances. Something else is like “summer” – the hidden variable. He may have other issues that cause all of those issues and sleeping with his parents is his only way to cope. Praise God that he had parents who will meet his needs and validate him; he is clearly at risk and needs loving human interaction.

      • Alison Looker

        Sounds to me like this boy has bigger issues (my 8 year old has Autism). I fiercely feel that home needs to be a sanctuary where you can relax, be yourself and understood. It seems to me that co-sleeping is an important oasis in a life that is otherwise a struggle.

      • An Qi

        If that boy has social and developmental problems, they probably aren’t attributed to co-sleeping. They are either biological, or environmental in some other way. Something else is going on with him. It’s not the co-sleeping in and of itself. The bullying could be affecting him. He could have a learning disability. He could be somewhere or on the autism spectrum. His parents or someone else could be abusing him or bullying him psychologically, physically, or sexually. Again, it’s not very likely his problems are stemming from co-sleeping by itself. There is something else happening.

      • Steven

        I was bullied as a child. called faggot, gay, stephanie instead of steven. i slept in my own room, in gate classes. i was picked on because i was smaller and fatter. in 6th grade i was 5’2 130 pounds. where as kids around me were 5’6 or taller. i kept it all from my parents. they never knew. Perhaps if i did sleep with my parents I would have told them and they could have stopped it or made me feel secure. As it was i stopped being bullied in middle school when i grew 8 inches. i was no longer the small one. It seems to me that you should support the family who has this child who is having issues. i bet you if they kicked that child out their bed and wasn’t nurtured he would get so jaded he would either kill himself or someone else out of anger and desperation for his situation. I dont know why in school it is socially acceptable to pick on someone yet if you did the same thing as an adult you could end up in jail. Some kids honestly dont fit in with their peer group. they like younger or older people. i honestly see this as a school issue not a sleeping with my parents issue.

  9. Sarah

    We still sleep with both of our kids who are 2 and 6. It is a little cozy at times but we are all happy and rested.

  10. Danielle

    This is a very lovely post! My son who is 13 months still co-sleeps with us! He has slept with us since he was 4 days old. I had so many people including DRs telling my to not Co-Sleep just because it causes them to be so dependent and they will not learn to sleep on their own. I can’t imagine not having my son in our bed. The only time I wish he wasn’t was when me and hubby want our cuddling time.. Usually lil man beats us with a ball or something because we aren’t cuddling with him.. so we bring him between us. But its still nice. I love how attached he is to us. Wouldn’t change it for the world. Thanks for the great post!!

    • Dionna  

      Thank you, Danielle, I feel the same way! And I have had the same thing happen with toddlers not wanting to let mama and papa cuddle alone – but that’s any time – standing in the kitchen, the living room, etc. ;)

      • Petrina

        Hi Dionna,
        I have this problem about jealousy between my 34mth son & husband..
        My son doesn’t like me to cuddle my husband. He doesn’t like my husband to touch me. He feels that I’m his property.
        How do I get past this issue?

        I love co sleeping with him, esp when my husband is on trips. But recently, he crosses the boundries by sleeping ON me instead. I am having slight trouble getting my bones moving in the morning because of this.

      • Dionna  

        Petrina, I am SO not the person to ask about sleeping on mama – Kieran slept on my chest for . . . a year? (I just asked my husband, he said “a year and a half?”)
        He still goes to sleep nursing practically on me, then I roll him off. I commented somewhere that the sleeping on me was almost a deal breaker for me after he weighed more than 13 or 14 lbs, but he would have never gone for that ;)
        As far as the jealous kiddo, I think that is COMPLETELY normal. In our family, we turned affection into “family hugs” when Kieran was in the room (we’d scoop him up for a big group hug/snuggle/kiss) – that way it wasn’t a power struggle. I think that removing that friction made it easier for him to accept hugs/kisses between me and my hubby. If you’d like, I’m happy to pose your question to our Facebook readers!

      • Petrina

        haha! my boy’s like 15kg?? I thought he stopped doing that at ard 2years old. but recently he’d fond of using my boobs as thirst quencher! so he’ll literally slp on me till I wake up to slide him back down.
        I’m just ranting… no worries about the answer part.. i resign myself to fate a long time ago. hahaha.

      • Dionna  

        I wonder if it’s a function of the fact that they’re not nursing as much during the day – Kieran rarely nurses unless he’s going down to sleep (or is sleeping). And I feel the same way – resigned to my fate ;)

  11. Jamie

    I did co-sleep with my first two children for a little less than a year. They happily settled down in their beds after that. They always napped in their beds, so they were fine, especially since they’ve always had each other. My third refused to co-sleep from the beginning(clawing and screaming! “put me down!” was the message), and she has always been happy to breastfeed and then sleep in her crib. She was born after I hosted an Attachment Parenting info meeting at Notre Dame with Dr. McKenna as our guest speaker. He’s a tremendous help to those who practice natural parenting.

  12. Matt

    And they wonder why so many people have marriage problems! Just because people have children doesn’t mean their lives should revolve around the kids while they neglect their spouse. Get your kids out of your bed and in their own. Our 3 month old sleeps in his own crib 12 hrs a night and is one of the happiest babies I’ve ever seen. And we’re happy too because our free time with each other doesn’t suffer.

    • Dionna  

      Matt, I went ahead and edited your comment so it wasn’t disrespectful.
      You can see our comment policy here, but this is the relevant portion applicable to your comment: We encourage thoughtful, mature debate on everything we post. That does not include profanity, poor spelling and grammar, personal attacks, off-topic comments, hostility disguised by sarcasm, and spam.

      My response is simply this: every baby, every family is different. My marriage hasn’t suffered the least from cosleeping, and I’m sure many parents would say the same thing. We are creative enough to have marital fun in more places than the bed, and we’re definitely not neglecting each other by sleeping with our child.

      • Ashley

        I would have to agree, our relationship and sex life have not been hurt in any way by co sleeping. Having a new baby is certainly stressful and brings about relationship strains, but co sleeping hasn’t contributed to that. On to my first sentence, I would have to argue that our “private, personal” time has become much more fun and wholesome because we’re forced to find new and creative ways to enjoy each other.

    • Ness

      Novel alert. Matt, I’m sure you’re a great dad, but there is more to parenting than keeping your child alive, feeding and clothing him, keeping him clean and making sure he`s well behaved so that others can comment on what a good parent you are. Connecting with your child on a personal level and being in tune with his emotional needs are just as important. It doesn`t mean you are spoiling your child. It also doesn`t mean your spouse has to get neglected. Parenting your child on this level also isn`t something that your wife does on her own while the husband sits sulking on the sidelines whining about how little attention he gets. It`s a partnership where both parents have a common vision to see everyone in the family thrive.

      Parenthood isn`t something you do on the side when it`s convenient. Life doesn`t stay the same when you`re a parent. You make sacrifices and adjustments in a relationship with your child the same as you do with your spouse. It, like marriage is a process that should help you grow as a person and comes with growing pains because, I think, many of us enter marriage and parenthood with lots of selfish ideas about how this is all going to revolve around us and how our spouse or child is here simply to add to this perfect life we have envisioned for ourselves. This can sometimes be a problem when it turns out that hey, our spouse and child are actually people who may have different opinions and feelings from ours that we`re supposed to respect and okay, it`s a pain that you have to do it with your spouse but you may attempt to muddle through it anyway for the sake of keeping the peace. Then this child comes along (or two or three), each an individual with various emotional needs that may not coincide with the way you like to do things and you`re supposed to respect all of these needs? Alot of people don’t have the maturity or patience to deal with all of that or go through the growing process that will provide them with the maturity or patience so they say “Forget that. Conventional parenting methods it is.”

      Right now you are fortunate enough that your son’s contentment to sleep alone is coupled with your desire for him to sleep alone, but things do not always work out so neatly. Attending to his needs may sometimes require a break from conventional parenting methods, which often have no scientific basis. They are often just meant to make parenting as convenient as possible for the adults while relegating children to second class citizens in the household. Sucks for you when you’re the child but many still cling to it because when they are adults it means it gets to be all about them. I feel there are many adult babies out there who are now seeking to have their emotional needs met and instead of seeing their child as a human being full of promise who is designed to have his needs met by his parents, who simply wants to love and be loved, they see the child as competition who had better get with the program because now it’s ALL about parent.

      None of us are perfect, but whatever problems come in parenting are compounded when we refuse to see our child as an individual and refusing to learn and grow up on the journey of parenthood. Sadly, when problems come in marriages, people blame the poor defenseless child.

      • Whitney

        Amazing, beautiful reply. I agree 100% with every word.

      • Amy

        I also agree (with the part I read as it was very long)

        You have a child and that makes you more of a whole family not just a couple..

        I do not mean to cause offence by this but thats like why people who choose to feed up their child do so that they sleep ALL night from being very very young, my son wasnt sleeping 12hours but I ddnt suffer in the slightest, I co-slept which therefot meant when he needed fed his milk was right there on tap so to speak.

        I hate how looked down I feel for allowing my son to sleep with me (he’s 3 and a half) when because I cosleep most of the time I am getting a great sleep, we are incredibly bonded and both feel happy..
        I will always do what works best for me, breastfeeding, cosleeping. And this time round i’m going to try baby wearing as my son had so many tantrums growing up going in the pushchair because he wanted the closeness instead.of this alien object.. Taking a ‘hippy’ go at things this time.. Cause it makes a happy united family..

        I also learned because of this post, why my son didnt need to attach himself to a manmade object like dummy or blanket etc.. :) he had me to furfil hia needs in every way

    • Ana

      Marital dysfunction, marriage problems, divorce–all of this is because of the couple, not the children and certainly not co-sleeping.

    • jay

      I have a 9 month old who loves his own bed. we’ve tried to bring him in ours on occasion (mostly laziness on my part) and he tolerates but doesn’t sleep as well . He is happy, independent and my husband and I have a great relationship. Good for those that get better sleep but knowing my son is in dreamland and I can have access to my whole bed is a benefit you may not know for the next decade or whatever this article is trying to promote.

  13. Sonia

    Hello

    I’m a single mum, co-sleeper of a 3 yr old. I wondered if you could point me in any direction of learning to sleep better. since having my daughter I sleep incredibly lightly and everything wakes me, if she moves I wake, if she speaks I wake, if an animal walks past the house I wake! I feel shattered, but dont want to stop co-sleeping. Sorry to use you as agony aunt! Am out of ideas!

    Thanks for a lovely post

    • Dionna  

      Sonia – I’m going to post your question on our Facebook page, hopefully our community will have some input for you!

    • Taylor  

      Sonia -
      I was amazed at how my sleep patterns changed when I became a mom! Prior to my son’s birth I was a heavy sleeper. Now everything wakes me. This is how our mama bear is protecting our kids. It happens far more to moms than to dads – my husband actually did some research into this.

      What I have found is I need to relax into it and change my mind set. When something passing by outside wakes me I take that moment to check that everyone in my bed is fine, ascertain that whatever woke me was momentary, say a grateful prayer that we ARE all fine and that I WOULD wake if something wasn’t fine. Then I drift back to sleep… most of the time. When I changed my attitude from letting the constant interruptions bother me and focused on it being a opportunity to be in touch and grateful, my quality of sleep changed completely.

      Just my experience.

  14. Heidi

    Wow, thank you! wonderful information. I sleep with our 15m/o in his room, until he was 11months he slept with us in our bed. he became such a roller it was too much for 3 people in the bed so we transitioned a bit. But I love sleeping with my baby and I’ll be posting this article everywhere! My hubby will be getting a read as well!

    • Dionna  

      Thanks Heidi! It does take some adjusting to those toddler wild sleep patterns, but if you decide you want to continue, your little one might settle down after awhile. Ours was pretty wild for . . . maybe 8 months? But he’s much less all-over-the-bed now.

  15. Monica

    I’m sorry but this is ridiculous. I love my baby- but my HUSBAND is the #1 priority. People putting their children above their spouse is one reason marriages fail.
    Also- I slept with my parents until I was 8 years old. HUGE MISTAKE! My younger sister slept with my parents until she was 8- again- HUGE MISTAKE! My parents have marital problems and this is one of the causes.
    Lastly…what if you have 4 kids? How on earth are you and your husband going to get good sleep at night with so many children in your bed? I feel that I need my sleep so that I can wake up and be the best parent that day. I don’t know many people who function well on little sleep!

    • Dionna  

      Hi Monica – cosleeping doesn’t work for everyone. If my husband wasn’t on board with it, then our situation might be different. Thanks for reading!

      • Beth

        How about having a cosleeping room for family, and a separate bed for parents to ‘use’ at will?

    • Nicole

      Excuse me for being rude but my baby comes first in my life. My husband is my husband because of a piece of paper and a ring, my baby is my blood. I love my hubby with all my heart and would do anything for him, but would do much more for my child. If it came down to it I’d pick my baby over my husband any day. My husband feels the same, he’d pick our son over me in a heartbeat. Also not all families choose to sleep with all their kids in the bed. If a couple has 4 kids, I’m sure the older ones would eventually transition out when the time was right.

      • Tina

        Why does anyone have to come first??? I just don’t understand the priority list. I don’t have one an neither does my husband we are a family!! To me it’s like choosing a favorite parent…how are they not equal? I don’t think personally it should ever be spouse vs child.

      • Amanda

        I agree children come first.

    • Dani

      Monica, I call BS on your parents marital problems being a cause of cosleeping.

      It sounds as if your parents weren’t on the same communication page, and someone (your father most likely) didn’t feel like they were getting enough attention. That is an entirely different matter.

      And I love your make it seem like you parent during daylight hours only- I guess at night, it’s every baby to themselves huh?

      • Francesca

        Nicole,
        After your kids grow up all you have is your husband. Proclaiming that your kids come first before anything else is a red flag. I would not be surprised if you have marital problems one day and children who expect more from you than what is normal and healthy. Family is a unit, with each member taking care of each other. No one should be left to feel that they are second or that because they are not ‘blood’ than they are not as important. Resentment will grow.

        Co-sleeping is a completely safe and wonderful thing IF both parents are in agreement. Thank you Dionna for a wonderful article.

    • Ness

      Monica, every situation is different. If co-sleeping doesn’t work for you and your family, that’s fine. I’m going to say that I don’t think putting your spouse first is the solution to keeping your family together. Both you and your spouse should be putting the family as a whole as your first priority. Your husband is not a big baby or a child for you to take care of. You and your husband should be working together to see to the needs of your children and each other.

      I hope you can let go of any idea that you or your sister caused your parents marital problems. When spouses are committed to each other and to the important role of parenthood that is entrusted to them, a simple and beneficial matter like co-sleeping with their children is not going to cause a marital downfall. There were problems outside of co-sleeping that is the source of your parents’ marital discord. Any difficulties that arose over co-sleeping was just a symptom. How long have you been out of your parents’ bed now? Are they still having marital issues? It’s not the co-sleeping.

    • sarrah

      Im sorry to say monica that your husband at this point isnt number one the child is and for me and my husband this is something we both agree on. I love my husband but my daughter will always be number one. I will choose nothing but my daughter to be first. Me and my husband have had our share of arguements but never about our daughter sleeping with us. I believe cosleeping is great my daughter looks forward to cuddling and honestly it scares me half to death to not have her in bed with us. There has been to many crims of people steeling children from there rooms at night. No thank you i want to protect my child and when she feels ready to leave our bed i will let her but i do know it will be a sad day when shr does decide too.

      • Emily

        I’d be interested to know how many of these posters are of Catholic religion. As a follower of Catholicism, we are taught that the marriage should be treated as a priority ABOVE children. If you don’t have a healthy marriage, what are you teaching your children? I’m not saying co-sleeping is a sole CAUSE of unhealthy marriages, but it certainly doesn’t help it. There needs to be a separation! The marital bed is just that- a marital bed. Parents need a place that is all their own. It is sacred. Goodness. And for those of you that find ‘other places’ to have your fun- well, I just hope kids don’t walk in on you—-awkward!

      • Crunchy Con Mom  

        Emily-we are Catholic (and attend Mass regularly and are faithful to the Magisterium, etc) as are all the families I know in real life who co-sleep!
        Have you read “Parenting with Grace” by Popcak? While I don’t agree with every single thing he says, overall he does a wonderful job in his book of showing how perfectly attachment parenting can fit with Catholic theology.
        On the sacredness of the marriage bed, he is surprisingly harsh! He said “if your bed is only open to the ‘celebrating love’ (I.e. lovemaking) part of that equation and not open to the life that lovemaking creates (by being open to having your child share that bed with you) then that bed is not so much sacred as it is contraceptive in that it squeezes children out of the picture simply for the sake of pleasure and convenience.”! I think he overlooks that there are many other, legitimate reasons families choose not to co-sleep, but I do agree with him that there is nothing un-sacred about co-sleeping.
        As far as privacy/discretion goes, it isn’t really any different than if you weren’t co-sleeping. You find a time and a place when your children won’t intrude. When my sons are asleep, they aren’t any more likely to come into the hallway or the spare bedroom or the living room than they are to come into my bedroom! The specific logistics will be different for each family of course, but any couple who *wants* to make it work certainly can.

    • Jen H

      Monica, I think you are spot on!!! Everyones situation is different, everyone has different parenting ways… But I will say that marital problems do arise from people putting to much focus on the kids, and not eachother… What happens after 18 years of focusing completely on your children, they go off to college, and you are left married to a stranger who you have been cohabitating with for the past 18 years…. I truly believe in God, Spouse, Child. In that order… That does not mean ignore your child and put them in harms way.. but let them grow up and be independent. Be there to guide them, not smother them. Be there to support them, so they know they can count on you, but let them make mistakes, and let them be INDEPENDENT. An 11 year old still sleeping with mommy and daddy is not an idependent child.. While they may not suffer from lost love as a child… they will suffer from other issues that will follow them WELL into their adulthood and could hinder their own relationships. Please stop ignoring your spouse, unless you want to better your chance at start over in the dating world when your in your 40′s!

  16. teresa  

    I love this post! Thank you. We’ve been co-sleeping with our daughter since birth (she’s 3 1/2 now). I really agree with all the points in your post and believe this is best for her. Even so, it’s nice to read things like this to feel the support for this choice.
    I’m so tired of answering the question, “is she in her own bed yet?” Though it just occurs to me right this minute that I should just say, “yes, she is in her own bed. We all are!”
    Thank you. I’m so glad I found this site.

    • Dionna  

      “I’m so tired of answering the question, “is she in her own bed yet?” Though it just occurs to me right this minute that I should just say, “yes, she is in her own bed. We all are!””

      What a GREAT quote Teresa! I’m reposting this on our Facebook page :)

      • shannon

        I love that response!! I’m definitely going to use it the next time I’m asked if my 2 1/2 yr old is “in his own bed” yet. And it makes me think that the general premise of the question is so deeply ingrained in my subconscious, since I think about the fact that he doesn’t even HAVE (let alone sleep in) his “own bed”. I need to remind myself that he does have a bed – our family bed. And that he’ll get a bed in another room when we’re all good and ready for that.

  17. Sara

    Our daughter (4) slept fine in her own room from 2 months on. She has always been freakishly independent. Her brother (20m) did not wean until 14m and slept in our bed until 17m. They are polar opposites. She slept better alone, and he couldn’t sleep without us. You have to do what feels right with each kid. I encourage friends and family with new babies, struggling to get sleep, to cosleep if that is what will work for them and give them enough sleep to be able to function.

  18. Erin@MultipleMusings  

    I love this post, thanks. I still co-sleep with my 4 year old twin girls. I have to admit I’ve had some frustrating moments, but they mostly have to do with life with nursing newborn, infant and toddler twins. Ultimately, we all get a good sleep now and we are all happy with the arrangement. I wouldn’t change it for anything.

    As long as people know how to do it safely, I think it is very beneficial for all.

    I’ve been noticing quite a few co-sleeping posts lately and I think it’s time I wrote one about co-sleeping with twins, as it has its own challenges.

    • Dionna  

      That’s a great idea, Erin! I’d love to read it – be sure to post a link on our FB page.

      • Donna Bruschi  

        Co-sleeping twins does have it’s own challenges! When they are infants, there’s no ‘safe side’ and then there’s ‘my side/your side’ bickering at a surprisingly early age. Eventually, they took turns being the singleton co-sleeper.

        Who could forget the twin who likes to roll up in the whole blanket just to be mean? The ‘dogpile’ was hard on my body. I woke up stiff every day.

        What I loved most was lying on my back, one arm under each kid and a third on my tummy, reading story after story until I fell asleep, still reading out loud. If they didn’t fall asleep before me, they would soon after. In later years, I had to make the rounds…getting all warm in one bed, then cold, then warm, then cold, then warm, as I went to the next bed. Often, falling asleep and being roused by the next kid who was waiting his turn.

  19. Nadia

    The information here is wonderful. I completely agree about the ‘everyone sleeps better’ part. I even wrote a post about this same thing recently…
    http://redwhiteandgreenmom.blogspot.com/2011/01/our-family-bed.html

  20. Jen

    Our daughter co-slept with us for 6 months. At that point, she would wake or want to play at every little noise. We did a trial where we put her in her own bed and she slept much better! She would still wake to nurse once or twice a night and at that point we would bring her into our bed. At 9 months she decided to start sleeping through the night. I miss the days of cuddling her, but I know that she actually made the choice so I am OK with it. I had the opportunity to co-sleep with her on a vacation and I truly enjoyed it, but she definitely slept better when we got home and she was back in her own bed. Each kid is different. Each family is different and I think people need to remember that in general. :-) I really did enjoy this article. I wish co-sleeping had worked out longer for us…we shall see if that is the case when our little boy is born in a couple of months!

    • Dionna  

      Absolutely! If Kieran would have shown signs of wanting to be in his own bed, I would have missed his presence, but I would have moved him if he was ready. Just like some adults can’t handle cosleeping, some babes can’t either!
      Congrats on your new little one!

    • Ashley  

      THIS. Well, for us it didn’t happen until Miles was 20 months, but we hit a point where none of the three of us were sleeping well. He didn’t like going to bed on his own, but once he as asleep he was sleeping longer and waking calmer. Now he loves the bedtime routine, rarely fusses, and sleeps through the night — mostly.

      He still comes to our bed sometime between 4 and 5 AM to nurse, so we’ve got a great balance between having our own space again (something we were really ready for) and getting to have a family snuggle.

    • suzanne

      hi im a mom of 2 boys 8yrs old and 2 1/2 yrs old.my 2 1/2 sleeps in my room.it’s great.but also the reason is also because my 8yr old has adhd and mood disorder.and likes to bully his little brother and when his little brother had his own room my 8yr olld would sneak into his room and wake him up for no reason..so i made the decison to put him back in my room..i have my own bed and he has his own twin size bed mine is a queen size.i just put both beds together side by side like 1 big bed so that my 2 1/2 yr old acutaly has his own bed right next too me..this works out great because he’s a “go with the flow kind of boy.meaning that he is happy either in a room on his own or in my room..but the set up right now is better and he feels more comfortable too.. thank you because too many people are against this co-sleeping thing.i think it’s wonderful and there is nothing wrong with it at all..as long as everyone is happy..and i will continue to do it…thanks!

Leave a Comment

Send me an email when additional comments are made on this post.

All comments are subject to moderation, please see the comment policy for more information.