Part-Time Co-Sleeping

by kayris on May 15, 2009

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In my almost five years as a mom, I’ve been lucky to avoid most of the controversial issues that pit parents against one another. I received mostly positive reinforcement and reactions over my decisions to breastfeed, stay at home, use discipline other than spanking, return to work part-time, wait an additional year to send my son to kindergarten and avoid processed foods.

Obviously, I’ve met those along the way that disagree with me and my methods, but for the most part, they’ve been respectful of our differences.

Respectful, that is, except for the issue of co-sleeping.

My husband and I have co-slept with both kids at some point. Our son and the two of us in our bed, or one of us and our son in his bed. Me on the couch with our daughter, or her in the bed with my husband, or even all three of us in our queen size bed when she was a days old newborn. My son was just two years old when my second baby was born, and had stopped napping. It took my daughter eight weeks to sort out the difference between night and day and she wanted to nurse approximately every 27 minutes. Having her in the bed with us was the only was I got any sleep.

It worked for us, but when people found out we were co-sleeping, the reactions were definitely negative. One person called it “unnatural.” Someone else said “weird.” I also heard “gross,” and “unacceptable.” One person went as far to tell my husband that under NO circumstances should our son be in our bed. Plenty of people have offered their advice for how to “get that kid out of your bed.”

They are two and four now and I’m still no closer to understanding why so many people have such a problem with co-sleeping, or why they think we do it reluctantly instead of purposely.

There’s more. I wish the detractors would understand one simple thing: co-sleeping doesn’t have to be an all or nothing deal.

My family are what I call part-time co-sleepers. We do it when it works for us, and we don’t do it when it doesn’t. If one of the kids is sick or not sleeping well or needs comforting, we share a bed. If my spouse or myself need some space or the kids are happy, healthy and sleeping well, they sleep in their own beds.

They do share a room, although they are in separate beds and I do feel that that has helped make our choice to part-time co-sleep easier. Room sharing has it’s pros and it’s cons, but that’s another post.

Each morning, when my son wakes up, he comes down the hall and if I’m still in bed, he climbs in with me and we snuggle. It’s my favorite part of the day.

More often than not, these days the kids sleep in their beds in their room, but the frequency of co-sleeping has waxed and waned over the years.

Part-time co-sleeping has been the perfect way for us to find balance between two extremes. On one hand, I like to sleep sometimes without little feet digging into my ribs and having the kids in the bed with us all the time is too intrusive. On the other hand, making my children always sleep away from us, in their own beds and ignoring the benefits of co-sleeping is an idea that makes me uncomfortable and isn’t the right choice for us either. By choosing the middle ground and doing a little of both, we’ve arranged things so our number one priority is met–everyone is happy.

How do you feel about part-time co-sleeping? Has it worked for you?

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kayris (29 Posts)


{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Megan May 15, 2009 at 7:37 am

Our 5 week old is a baby who likes to be worn, cuddled and fall asleep on someone’s chest/sleep next to us.

I was raised by homeschooling AP-style parents (way before ‘AP’ was a common term). There was so much joy and security in the way I was raised, it’s only natural to me to want to continue this with my daughter.

I was prepared for comments from other people about this choice… “you’ll spoil that baby,” “co-sleeping is dangerous,” etc. But not from my husband! I suspect this stems from lack of reference point/experience for this style of parenting rather that informed philosophical opposition. But it’s SO hard trying to find confidence and footing as a new (first time) parent without your partners support. I’ve tried to gently introduce AP concepts but I’m not sure I’m getting through. Meanwhile, I’m not about to leave our little one to ‘just cry it out’ and it’s creating major tension… especially at night.

Has anyone else dealt with this? I’d love some advice.

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RiverWed070707 May 15, 2009 at 7:52 am

My daughter is 8 months old and has slept in her crib less than a handful of times. The thing is, she sleeps great in our bed, I sleep great with her in our bed and I love the snuggle time since I’m a full-time working mama.

I didn’t realize until I had her people could be so nosey about what goes on in other people’s bedrooms, but boy have I gotten more than a few side-eye glares when I mention co-sleeping.

I say to each his (or her!) own. You know what’s right for your family, and nothing else matters.

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Vanderbilt Wife May 15, 2009 at 8:18 am

We are part-time co-sleepers too. I would not mind co-sleeping more, but I have a hard time getting comfortable when she is in the bed with us. It’s gotten easier to relax about it as she’s gotten older, though. I love the extra nighttime snuggles! And when she was a little bitty infant, she would sleep 5 hours in the bed with us as opposed to 2 hours in her crib.

If people ever give me dismay about it, I ask them how they think the entire third world sleeps. I’ve been there. I know. One big mattress for the whole family.

Our doctors here in the US just discourage it so much that it appalls people we would even consider it.

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Kimberly May 15, 2009 at 11:21 am

We part-time cosleep in a different way. Our 7 month old goes to bed in his crib, and when he wakes up (which he always does) he comes to bed with us for the rest of the night. Some nights we get him at 11pm, others not until 4am. But it means that most nights, my husband and I can go to sleep alone, but we can wake up with our son. It works for us. I am sure it will change (and change again) as he grows up and we have more children, but for now, it works.

I don’t know where you live, but I get negative comments on cosleeping (we’ll spoil him), breastfeeding (he’s too old – yes at 7 months; he needs to be eating solids for at least 3 meals a day), not using Cry it Out (again, we’ll spoil him), etc.

The only people who haven’t argued are my paternal grandparents – they raised their children in the 40s and 50s and were too poor to afford formula, separate beds, etc. And they think that children grew up more loved, happier and kinder then than ever since when parents “toughened up”.

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Tamara Morales May 16, 2009 at 12:16 am

Thank you for this article! Our girls recently moved to their own beds in their own room, but morning time often finds us moving our six month old in to snuggle with us. Then shortly after our three year old will stumble in, and soon our bed is full of our sleeping little family getting some more shut eye before the alarm goes off. We also have found it a flexible thing that works for us and we enjoy. I just wish more people understood that it is safe, natural, and can be adjusted to fit your family’s lifestyle.

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Annie @ PhD in Parenting May 16, 2009 at 9:55 pm

Great post! We play musical beds in our house. There is a king-sized bed in our room and a double bed in my son’s room. Sometimes the two kids sleep together, sometimes it is one parent-one kid, sometimes my son sleeps along and my daughter and husband and I sleep in the king. Depends on needs and desires and evolves over time.

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Tiffany May 17, 2009 at 8:44 am

I guess you could say we part-time co-sleep. My son has his own bed. He naps in it, and starts the night there (most nights). In the middle of the night he comes across the hall and gets in bed with us. It works, so why change it? Now that I’m days away from having our next baby, we co-sleep full time. It’s just too much on me to get him down for naps (so he usually falls asleep on the couch)..and since everyone is so tired at night the three of us just go to bed together in the same bed, at the same time.

But you’re right..so many people are against co-sleeping, and I just don’t understand why. Don’t they know how much MORE sleep everyone could get? :-)

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Mary Ann May 17, 2009 at 12:06 pm

We co-sleep with our 11-month-old boy. He likes it and mamma gets sleep, as does daddy. I’m a first-time mom at 43 and really don’t care what other people think or say. It’s my life and I/we get to choose what we do. It’s that simple.

Americans, I believe, are hung up with breasts and beds…think it all has to do with sexuality. It’s too bad.

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Denise Varela, LMHC, NCC May 17, 2009 at 6:55 pm

I love this post! I do exactly what you are doing. I put my kids to sleep in their room and I or dad lays down with them, and I get up when they fall asleep and go to my bed. I tell them if they need a hug and a kiss in the middle of the night, they can come get it. If there is a need to let them sleep in the bed, i.e. illness or any other perceived need, we let them. They both slept in our bed until the age of 2 and I loved it. I worked, so the night became an extension of our shortened day. What a blessing to hear another mama doing the same thing!

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Stacy (mama-om) May 20, 2009 at 5:54 pm

We play musical beds too (my kids are 5 3/4 and 2 1/2 now). Sometimes the older boy and my DH sleep in one bed and the younger one and I are together in another. Sometimes it’s me and the kids and my DH is on his own. I hope to someday have the kids sleep together on on their own when my youngest is weaned.

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Rita May 22, 2009 at 8:10 pm

My husband and I love to share a bed with our two daughters, ages 3 and 19 months, but our full-size bed isn’t big enough for all of us to sleep without the fear of someone getting pushed off the side. So, what we opt to do is to begin the night cosleeping and then carry one or both of the girls to their beds after a few hours. Neither kid protests this arrangement.

I think cosleeping is great, and if we had a better arrangement — which, frankly, isn’t able to fit in our finances — we’d cosleep through the night. It’s so nice to go visit friends and family who do have a queen-size to sleep in — and we do get to sleep together all night.

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Jessica May 23, 2009 at 8:30 am

I couldn’t agree with you more. DS is almost 1 year and always starts in his crib, but usually ends up in our bed in the middle of the night. It keeps us connected as I am a busy full time working mom. I wish people had a different oulook on cosleeping and realized there were major benefits to it. I love waking up next to DS. Recently he has beeing sleeping through the night in his crib and I can’t wait until he wakes up in the morning so I can bring him into bed to nurse.

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Donnarae May 27, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Isn’t it wonderful to have somewhere to go where we aren’t “wierd”. I often get the feeling that people think my husband and I are lazy or just prefer doing things the easy way instead of the “right way” since we let our 1 1/2 year old sleep w/ us. We also are part-time co-sleepers, right now full-time. My son has slept very well during certain stages in his own crib but, when I found out I was pregnant when he was a year old I had to stop nursing (he has food allergies that limited what I could eat and I wasn’t able to ingest enough “rounded” calories a day to sustain all 3 of us) he got very nervous and clingy and bedtime was torture so after 3 days my husband suggested changing our entire bedtime routine. Our baby was one that would only go to sleep while nursing and rocking or bouncing him. So, instead I started an hour before I even attempted to put him to bed, bath, when he got out all of the lights in the house were turned down, soft music playing. When it was time to go to bed we would lay down in my bed and read a book, cuddle, daddy would get up turn the lights off he would drink some rice milk out of his sippy to settle down, when he was ready to sleep he now gets on my belly and falls asleep. It works well for all of us.

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Kim June 1, 2009 at 3:56 pm

We are in the same boat. We pt co-sleep and I just regret that we didn’t start it sooner. We put him to sleep in his crib every night, and when he wakes up to nurse I bring him to my bed. It works well and I can’t think if a better way to sleep. I love cuddling my son.

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Cindy June 9, 2009 at 6:33 am

Great article. My husband and I are part time co-sleepers with our 6 month old baby girl. The way we look at it, is, we are doing what feels right to us and it’s no one else’s business what or how we do it in our own home.
Sleeping with baby makes my life a lot easier since she is excl. bf.
We do get many negative comments too, who cares what other people think. They are not the ones who are here at 3am.
The best part, is having her wake us up with a little scratch, a kick, or a yelling smile!

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Sade July 13, 2009 at 6:07 pm

I feel so much better reading all of these posts. I have had so many people say that it is wrong or dangerous. I was starting to feel like a bad Mom with all of the comments people would make. I think everyone has there own way of raising their children and this is what works for our family. I have a 5 month old little boy, he loves to snuggle he has been this way since birth. He will fall asleep on his own for about 3-6 hrs depending on the night and then wake up and breastfeed in bed with me and my husband if I try and put him back in his crib he will only sleep about an hour, but if he co-sleeps with us he will sleep the rest of the night. He feels security when he sleep close to us. My parents co-slept with all 5 of us until we reached a certain age it just seems so natural to me. I love waking up with my son he is so happy and sweet in the morning. I’m glad to find others that feel the same way I do. Thank you all for sharing.

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lucy August 12, 2009 at 5:29 pm

I feel the same way. We part time co sleep with our five month old. He starts the night out in the cosleeper and then around 4 or 5 am or so he’s in bed with us. It’s the most amazing thing to have him wake up next to us so peacefully and with the most beautiful smile on his face. I would co sleep full time but I feel a little more comfortable in the morning, when I’m more awake and can keep a better eye on him. I know I’m probably just paranoid, but it makes me feel more comfortable. Either way we are so happy with this choice and feel so glad we never had the heart to let him CIO.

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Krissy March 15, 2010 at 9:05 am

Great post. Part-time cosleeping works great for me. My 4 month old usually sleeps 4-7 hours for the first stretch, but then after that first stretch, he doesn’t sleep as well. I bring him into bed early in the morning and I find we both sleep best that way. I don’t get into a deep sleep with him in the bed, so by having him start out in his crib I can get a chunk of deep sleep. But since he doesn’t sleep as well for the second half of the night, it’s better for both of us for him to be closer to me so I can comfort and nurse him if necessary.

Some nights he doesn’t last in the crib very long at all. Last night I had to go back in after a half hour, and I brought him into bed with me. I figure that if he can’t sleep in his crib, he needs his mama, and I’m not going to battle with a little 4-month old baby over that.

I think part-time cosleeping is the perfect balance.

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ABigail Hector-Taylor November 4, 2012 at 4:53 pm

hi there, thank you for sharing this wonderful account of cosleeping :) I’d love to share this on my blog that is a collection of stories on cosleeping. its a new blog so its a bit sparse at the moment. let me know if you’d be happy for me to post your writing and i can include a link to your blog too
http://cosleepingstorycollective.blogspot.com.au/
kind wishes, abi

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Zoe March 22, 2013 at 2:02 am

Hi, I love the idea of co-sleeping I think I will definitely trying it much more with my next child, I have a little boy who is 7 months and he’s not a very good sleeper during the day, but lately when I am just so exhausted I Have fed him lying down in our bed and we both napped for 2 hours, he barely even moved! When he’s in his cot he sleeps on his tummy and wiggles about and doesn’t usually sleep for as long during the day. When he was newborn and woke early in the morn I would bring him into bed with me and he would sleep very calmly. Who cares what anyone else thinks, it’s completely loving and natural and most certainly my favourite!

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