She’s Sleeping in Her Own Room Now

by Melissa on April 21, 2010

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My daughter is six and guess where she is sleeping now? In her own room. That’s right, babies who cosleep grow up into young children who cosleep but don’t always turn into high school students that still need the comfort provided by sleeping in your room.

When my son began cosleeping I heard many people caution me “He’s going to be in there forever.” I don’t recall any of my friends in college going home after classes to sleep in the family bed, do you? I threw caution to the wind and followed my son’s cues.

Between two and three he moved into his own bed in his own room. I think he moved out because baby sister moved in. We certainly didn’t force him but he made the choice and we followed his lead.

Like my son, my daughter moved into her own room sometime between two and three as well. However, she quickly moved right back in. Did I mind? No, I didn’t mind it one bit. Did I begin to hear more caution “If you let her back in your bed, she’s going to be in there forever”? You bet I heard that. Again, I threw caution to the wind and this time I followed my daughter’s cues.

For a while there both kiddos were in the family bed. I posted about it a couple of years ago – Nighttime Parenting and the Anxious Child. My son eventually moved back into his room and then my daughter moved into a bed in our room.

Well a few weeks back my daughter declared that she was ready for her own room. She’s been in there nearly every night since then. Sure she’ll stop by for a snuggle if she’s had a nightmare but her nighttime anxieties have basically resolved themselves. Do I miss her at night sometimes? You bet I do. Do I like seeing how she’s grown and moved on to a new stage in her development? Absolutely.

If your child has nighttime anxiety you may want to know how we did it. Simple, we followed her cues. I didn’t know if she’d be a 10 year-old child wanting to sleep in our room (which is fine by me) but I did know she wouldn’t be a 20 year-old college student coming home after class to hop in the family bed every night.

So what I’m trying to say, by sharing my story with you, is that it is okay to follow your cosleeping instincts despite what your friends or family may say. Your child will want to move out of the family bed one day, but it is okay to leave that decision to your child.

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Melissa (55 Posts)

Melissa has been involved with Attachment Parenting International since 2004. She is the mother of two children and blogs at Raising Them Green.


{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Amber April 21, 2010 at 11:48 am

My 5-year-old also sleeps in her own room. My 20-month-old son sleeps in his own room, but I sleep there with him pretty much all night, so that doesn’t really count. ;)

Anyways, what I really want to say is that posts like this can be so valuable, so thanks for sharing your story. I remember being afraid that my first child would never sleep in her own bed / wean / master the potty / etc. In her own time, she did all of those things. It’s good to hear that reminder and perspective from another mom who’s “been there, done that”.

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Veronica B April 21, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Thank you for posting this. I don’t co-sleep but I have been known to have my son sleep on my chest in the recliner. I also cuddle him to sleep every night despite advice that I should “sleep train”. Stories like yours make me feel like I am not that crazy for doing things the way that feels right to me. Thank you.

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emmegebe April 21, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Yes! I too met the nighttime needs of my three children through cosleeping. It was a lovely time in all our lives and I look back on it with fondness and NO regrets! Now they are all school age and sleeping — wonderfully I might add — in their own beds. I loved having my children close when they were little and I know they felt utterly secure having me nearby. We all got enough sleep then & now. They moved along when they were ready, around 3-4 years old. I believe this is one of the things that has helped them to be secure, confident, and (age-appropriately) independent young people.

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AmandaOlson April 21, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Hi- im having serious issues with co-sleeping! We have 5 children..our 4 yr old used to sleep in her bed..no hasnt since last August..she sleeps on the floor or trys to lay with us…not my 3 yr old has slept with us since the day she was born…now we have a 5 mth old sleeping with us ( breastfeeding ). My husband has been sleeping on the couch for the past two months because he’s repeatdly getting kicked in the privates by the 3 yr old. My 4 yr old sneaks in and we find her on the floor. THe 3yr old wont leave our bed on bit.
We need help! I miss my hubby..he misses me..but its not comfortable for him to sleep on the couch etc..HELP!
thanks
Olson Family

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MommaDunne April 22, 2010 at 6:50 am

We have a similar issue. Our three+ 1/2 yearold wakes us in the night when he comes into our room. It woudln’t be an issue if he didin’t thrash so much getting comfortable, but he forms a H between my husband and me and kicks in his sleep. He wakes easily in the morning while my dh gets ready for work, so the little guy is not getting enough sleep. He fights sleep during the day and once a week or so he’ll fall asleep late in the afternoon in some strange spot. While this has been the source of lots of funny pictures, it isn’t optimal for restful sleep for any of us. My husband and I are exhausted and I cannot get up before the 3 1/2yr old in the morning for any quiet hubby conversation or prayerful reflection. We call him 98.6* because he craves skin to skin touch and likes to sleep nuzzled under Daddy’s neck. Sweet. Endearing. NOT restful. We recently moved his older brother in to his room thinking company would help. The 10 yr old is not willing to sleep with the 3 1/2 yr old in his bed. Co-sleeping has been a great bonding time, but we are very tired and my dh and I need some time together – tough to find with 6 kids,tots to teens.

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Angie April 30, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Thank you both for expressing your frustrations. DH and I only have 1 child – she’s 3. She too sleeps skin-to-skin contact, typically on DH’s throat with her feet in my side. Not only does that prevent bonding time for DH & I, no one is getting enough sleep. DH is a lot less concerned about the amount of sleep and is more concerned about her need to be close to us. We’ve tried having her in a toddler bed next to our bed, lying with her until she falls asleep in her room, among other things (which don’t pop readily to mind right now) and inevitably she wakes in the night and either cries until we bring her into our bed or she crawls into bed with us. How can we meet the needs of our child while meeting everyone’s sleep requirements as well?

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Patricia Wood April 21, 2010 at 4:17 pm

I do not think you have to worry about a 20 year coming home and wanting to sleep in bed with you. People that say that are silly. You will be lucky if they even hug you by that point. Between 16-20, you are basically uncool in the eyes of your child, but that is natural and completely seems to turn around by the time they are 21-23. I have seen this happen over and over again. So for someone to tell you that you are doing the wrong thing by letting your child sleep near you is silly. Enjoy them while you can :)

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Jamie April 21, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Ha! I loved this!!! I have been subjected to others’ (mostly men) opinions about me still breastfeeding at 1-1/2 yrs and having my daughter still sleeping with me. Usually I am accused of “spoiling” her. When I receive these unwelcome comments, I say the same thing. I have never heard of an 18 year old breastfeeding or demanding to sleep in Moms bed forever. I have been following my daughter’s cues and I see small steps toward independence on her part. I LOVE this special time with her. I feel very confident that she will grow to be a secure child and an independent young woman.

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katepickle April 21, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Great post… letting it happen when the child is ready seems to me to be the best way to have success.

My twins moved into their own room at around 2 years of age – when we moved house. They’ve been together ever since, though even at 6 if someone is scared or worried or unwell or whatever there is still room in our bed for them.

Our almost three year old still sleeps in our room, though in his own bed. He needs me a lot more than his sisters ever did (they had each other) and I am ok with that. We are about to welcome our fourth child and everyone is telling me how I must move the Small Boy out of our room before the baby is born…. regardless of the fact we don’t have any other bedrooms to put him in, he is not ready, so he stays, the baby arrives and we make it work for all of us!

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Clara April 22, 2010 at 2:14 am

Love this !!!!!!!!!

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Michele April 22, 2010 at 2:34 am

So nice to hear. I just wish I could bottle you and bring you with me when _I_ have to deal with those conversations where people expect me to resolve the situation by immediately agreeing – and complying – with their wishes that I kick my son out of our room! Like my Dad! And for a while, my Husband! It is so tough to not be on the same page. It is even tougher to have both conversations that basically are on OPPOSITE sides of the fence with your own co-caregiver for your children, and expectations that go with them!

I know my son will not be there forever. I’m still trying to figure out where baby #2 is going to fit in with bedsharing, because he is not ready to give up proximity to Mom.

I just look at people (who I am slow-to-stopped to respond to with veiled information vs the gut-wrenching honesty I usually respond with) who insist that children need to be controlled and Stop and Thank my God who meddles in all my affairs for giving me children later in life, because I _KNOW_ I would have blindly followed anywhere I was told when I was 20. And my children and my life and my husband would hall have suffered SO much. and we would be statistics instead of happy.

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Miriam April 22, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Wonderful post! I get a lot of those comments too especially from the multiple community. The idea of not putting three different human beings onto an arbitrary schedule shocks most of them. My girls just turned four and one has declared that she wants her own room. Another has decided that my bed is hers and I should sleep wherever i can find room. The third one sleeps with her sister for a bit and then comes to sleep with me.

I figure it is like potty learning, sitting up, walking, etc. They’ll do it when they are ready.

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Melissa April 22, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Wow thank you all for your comments and sharing your experiences. As I was tucking my daughter in to bed last night she said “I feel like a big girl now.” We don’t use the terms “big girl” and “big boy” but she definitely felt proud of her new accomplishment. It warmed my heart!

Amanda – We have had merry go round of sleep spaces during those years. Sometimes my husband and a kid would be on the couch and the other kiddo and myself would be in my room (when the kids were toddlers and older so couch sleeping wasn’t a safety issue). We definitely all want to get sleep and so we had some creative sleeping arrangements. I’d recommend putting a mattress on the floor in your room and see how that works out.

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Miranda April 22, 2010 at 7:52 pm

My husband has been sleeping with my son (almost 3) in the kids room on a queen bed, since my daughter was born, now 14 months. So each patent cosleeps with one kid in separate rooms. My daughter still wakes and nurses often and I need the space to cosleep with her so I’m in no rush to change anything. But I’m hoping my son will outgrow this need soon, or maybe the kids can sleep together? Going on holiday is getting mote difficult as we need 2 big beds, or even 2 rooms.

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FB April 23, 2010 at 11:36 am

Having seen this in practice and having read up about it I think it is the biggest load of cr@p – sorry to offend but most AP children I have seen are clingy to the point that the mother can’t/won’t leave the child without the child having a complete meltdown.

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Melissa April 23, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Really FB? My children aren’t clingy. Neither are any of the same children that I know of in the local AP circles. Sure, children go through clingy stages and some are even developmentally appropriate. To be honest, the children that are more likely to go out and explore the world, at least among the children that I know, were all raised with attachment parenting principles. Not just young children, but teens and even young adults.

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Alessandra - Italy April 23, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Melissa, thanks for the great post.
My son is almost 3 and still sleeping with me and I cuddle him to sleep each night and when people bore me with those stories about not becoming independent I always say exactly what you do: no worries, at 13 he won’t be certainly sleeping in our bed!

FB, sorry but I totally agree with Melissa. 1) some “clingy” stages are not only natural, but a sign of a proper attachment to Mom.
2) children raised with API appraoch are those with a better self esteem and emotional development and become by no means fragile adults, in fact just the opposite.
3) parenting style opposed to API forms individuals who apparently may seem “strong”, but are often simply people who uselessly suffered as children and still have self esteem and emotional problems, which negatively influence their own life and others’ ; especially if they don’t realize they have these issues and don’t overcome them.

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MammyJulie April 27, 2010 at 12:20 pm

My eldest son asked to be in his own room shortly after turning 2 but would call to be in our bed shortly after we went to bed. For extra space we had a single bed beside our double. We moved shortly before he turned 3 and unfortunetly there wasnt room for a single beside our bed. By this point he would stay in his own bed for most of the night but would come in on his own at about 3am. A year after moving ds2 came along and although we had a cosleeping cot the baby wasnt keen so most nights we would end up with 4 of us in the bed (although if this got too much dp would just go sleep in ds bed lol). Now ds1 is 5 and still makes occasional visits to our bed and ds2 sleeps with us all night everynight. We’ve recently moved to a bigger house with bigger bedrooms so once again have the luxury of a single by our bed. As I’m pregnant again we’ll no doubt need this extra space although I suspect the kids will be in the double with me whilst dp sleeps in the single. I’m confident that my children will all sleep independently in their own time but for now if they need me in the night I’m happy to be there for them. You don’t stop being a parent just because the sun goes down. I asked ds1 iuf he would rather have his own room when he gets older or share with ds2 and the baby have her own room and he suggested that the 3 of them share so he can comfort them if they need it in the night :-).

One of the reasons I’m so confident my children will learn to sleep independently is I shared a room with my parents till I was 4 and was welcome to co-sleep with them if I needed too. I then went on to share a double bed with my 2 older sisters. I never had sleep issues as a child and I’ve always slept soundly. I think one of the biggest bonuses of co-sleeping as a child is how easy sharing a bed with dp as an adult has been. In contrast for dp (who always slept alone) its been a bigger adjustment and he finds sharing his bedspace harder. Great article by the way.

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carolb April 27, 2010 at 4:06 pm

I love the fact that our children really know what they want and when they want it – we strive to be led by our daughter in all aspects of her development…despite all the advice from well-meaning family and friends who often bring up the ‘spoiling her’ card.
Co-sleeping is just one part of this for us.
Thanks for sharing your story, it is always good to hear stories that reinforce our beliefs when the nay-sayers voices get a bit too loud!

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melissa aka equidae April 29, 2010 at 4:57 am

Its a great post and I concur with you. At one point I thought of trying to get my son to sleep in his own room and bed at 1 years old but after more reading and thinking I realised that first I wasnt ready to let go of him and second neither was he. Since he doesnt bother us sleeping with us at all and sleeps pretty much all night most nights I figured that when I feel its time or when he feels its time to move that will be good. But so far we still enjoy the cuddling a lot! as for clingy? well he has his clingy moments but most of the time he is confident and independent more than ever!

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Sarah April 29, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Thanks for this article. I am struggling greatly with what to do about my 6 month old and cosleeping. I personally love having him in bed with me and am so grateful for a husband that supports cosleeping. However, I’m a little confused about what to do with nap times during the day. He doesn’t sleep longer than 30 minutes or so unless I lay down with him in bed and take a nap too. Any suggestions??

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Manon Gauthier May 2, 2010 at 9:50 pm

I will try to be short: I don’t want you suffer from my poor english !!! But I want to share you a message of hope.

I slept with my 2 kids for a long time. I recover more space in my bed when I put them in the same bed. They were sleeping togetter most of the time for many years (about 8 and 9 years old). The were so cute togetter ! My son was a little bit more anxious, so he went in my bed time to time, especialy when he had difficulties with relationship, or other stress of life. When he was 12, he had a very bad mood at school. For a few weeks, I let him in my bed for the last few hours of the night. But I finally felt it was not good for him to be dependant like that. I did’nt decide that, and I did’nt felt stress about that. But I really felt it was not helping him at this stage. So, after we found some technics to help him to be more confident like visualisation, breething, etc, we decide togetter that he can sleep only on a matress on my floor, or talk with me for 5 minutes and then go back to his bed, and come back later if he need it. He felt more confident day to day and stop to come in my room a few weeks later. He was 13. And at 14, he decided to go 3 weeks in a friend’s family, ALONE ! He took airplane alone and spent the 3 weeks without suffering on any anxiety !!! Now, he is strong, confident and feel powerfull. So, be confident: with love, patience and intuition, your kids will develop autonomy !

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Cheri K May 6, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Wonderful post! We also enjoy a family bedroom and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. We started out with twins in our king-sized bed. They got their own beds at the grandparents insistence (and expense!) when they turned 2 – those were great fun for jumping and pretend slumber parties and as storage for stuffed animals and dolls. But they never slept in them. Did it bother me? Sometimes, yes. I wanted space. I wanted an uninterrupted night with no one touching me. Well, I too didn’t believe they’d still be in our bed at 20. I do remember my husband saying at one point that “they’ll be out by 8, right?” Truer words. . .

When they were 6 and I was expecting our third child, we added a twin next to the king. Our bedroom is now mostly bed, with a narrow space between the bed and the closet, and just enough room for a dresser/changing space and walkway to the bathroom. DD moved to the twin, a welcome relief as she was the H-sleeper in our family. DS stayed between my his father and me; the day before their 7th birthday our new DD slept on my other side for the first time.

When they turned 8, we realized that they truly needed their own space. Not for sleep, by this point any doubts and concerns I’d harbored about sharing sleep had faded completely. This is what our family does. This is what feels right and works. After all, throughout recorded history (and of course long before!) families shared sleep. But for play, for being alone, and for space from their siblings, they need their own space. So we reorganized our small house, turning “their” room (aka the toy and clothes storage) into DD’s room, and the den/play room into DS’s room. And they moved out. Just like that. It wasn’t even the goal of the rearrangement, but they asked for loft beds, got them thanks to Freecycle, and wanted that thrill. Now they go to bed at night (not without some noise and complaints, and a last jab at twin sibling, of course) and read themselves to sleep.

I miss them. There were times, like when they were still-nursing 2 year olds that I wondered why in the world we’d signed up for this. But the most wonderful thing happened as they grew older. Bedtime meant talk time. As their bodies relaxed and drifted toward sleep, their minds relaxed and opened. I heard about the events of the day that I hadn’t been present for, the excitements and joys, the little hurts and fears that otherwise would have been lost in daily life. Questions that they hadn’t had a chance to ask during the day were voiced, and answered. Their creativitly and imagination came to life, with vivid stories that sometimes kept me awake long after I wanted (desperately at times) to SLEEP, but couldn’t stifle because their excitement and wonder was so clear. Even when I wanted them to be quiet and go to sleep, I knew that someday I would miss this special time.

Now we share a wide bed with only one toddler, who is learning how to sleep sideways to take up maximum space. But she already plays “bed” in the twin, and sometimes wants to nurse to sleep there. Contrary to the criticism expressed by one poster, she is securely attached and in no way clingy – her favorite thing to do is go “BYE”, with any of her people. I know she’ll move onto her own bed, probably in big sister’s room, long before I’m ready to see her go. And I know I’ll honor her ability to choose when she’s ready.

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Leslie October 13, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Our son co-slept until he was 14 months old. I remember him taking most of his naps past 8 months of age in his crib (located in our room). We weaned shortly after his first birthday following a series of nursing strikes, and as much as I missed those night time feedings, I enjoyed this new concept of sleeping through the night with my child and Husband on either side of me. A friend gave me a toddler bed right around that 14 month mark and we decided to put it in his bedroom (mainly used as storage for toys and the abandoned crib). He was so excited about this tiny boy sized bed that he begged to sleep in it. My husband encouraged me to let him try, he’d be in our room by midnight anyhow, if he fell asleep in there at all. He slept the whole night in there, and I lost more sleep checking on him then when he’d nurse six times at night as a newborn! We opened that baby monitor that was a shower gift for the first time, and of his own accord, he has slept in his room since. He is four now, and sleeps with us when he is sick, and with us when we are out of town. I wasn’t ready to let go yet, but my husband was really good at reading our son’s cues and encouraging me to trust my son telling me he was ready to move to his own bed. We had never heard of co-sleeping until around the time our son turned three. I thought we were weird or something. After four years of infertility, number two was naturally conceived and is on the way! I am looking forward to co-sleeping again, but not as much as my husband. He donated the crib a week after the positive pregnancy test and is in process of buying a bigger bed! Having my husband support co-sleeping to the degree he does makes the whole experience that much more special. That and knowing others do it and its normal.
*We were both raised by “cry it out” parenting. Our families did not know we co-slept our son, and we get so many compliments on his mild nature and good behavior! All of his cousins were raised by the “cry it out” method until i shared with one of my siblings our experience, and she decided to try CS with her 6th (and last) and is now more of an advocate than i am! She says this was her easiest baby by far!

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