How Extended Co-Sleeping Happens

by Martha on November 21, 2012

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Extended co-sleeping seems to be one of those things most parents don’t really plan on. When I hear talk of co-sleeping, it’s usually about babies. But there is a large contingent of parents who co-sleep indefinitely with their children. It makes life so much easier. Research shows that extended co-sleeping is more common than many might suspect.

It’s funny. I never thought much about co-sleeping in terms of baby vs toddler vs preschooler. When Annika was an infant, I just assumed she would have moved to her own bed by now (age 4.5). I had no idea how it was going to happen, but in my head, it did.

Unfortunately, when it comes to parenting, it’s rarely that simple.

I tried to move Annika into her own bed off and on. Once around 4 months, we attempted to move her back into her crib, in my bedroom. She’d just stiffen up and scream bloody murder every time I tried to lay her down.

Again, around 8 months, I tried side-carring the crib against my bed. It worked. For one night. She slept for a heavenly six hours alone, and I stretched out luxuriously in my own bed inches away from her.

The second night, she was on to me, and refused to stay sleeping in the crib, waking after only about an hour and refusing to go back down without me close enough to touch.

The early events were traumatic enough on both of us that I gave up and realized I’d be sleeping with my babe for a while.

Around age 2, I made up a bed for her and pushed it up against my bed. She slept in twice sometime around age 2 or 3. At this point I don’t really remember when it happened. Because it hasn’t happened since.

Her dad (my ex) wishes I would harder at getting her in her own bed. As much as I’d like to sleep alone again, I don’t see any way to get her into her own bed. I’ve tried just about everything. We’ve had so many issues surrounding sleep, what with constant night wakings, all-night nursing marathons, night weaning, napping on me, nightmares, potty training, and missing me during overnights with dad.

And finally, finally, (knock on wood) we are finally at a place where we both get good enough sleep. I am finally able to put her to sleep in my bed, and get up for a few me-hours in the evening without screams of terror every 45 minutes.

I am not getting awoken throughout the night for feedings or linen changes. After four years of constant wakings at night, I’m sleeping very regularly now. Sure, with a gangly, long-legged 4.5 year old pushing up against me all night and using me as a body pillow. But still, it’s the best sleep I’ve had since I was pregnant. I thought that was bad. Boy was I wrong.

She has her own room, with her own bed. She’s even attempted to sleep in there a couple of times. But overall, she’s just not ready.

So, I’ll wait her out. And that’s how it happens.

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Martha (8 Posts)

Martha is an attached work-at-home mom in Austin, Tx. She blogs at

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim McCabe November 22, 2012 at 3:49 am

Our family bedroom is wall-to-wall bed! A super kingsize, alongside a single, alongside another single – enough for two adults and three children. The only way to enjoy extended co-sleeping is to make sure that there is enough room for everyone to sleep comfortably. Our children have their own rooms, they just don’t use them for sleeping in. We have private parental space, it just isn’t in the family bedroom. They naturally drift into their own rooms to sleep in their teens. No other animal sleeps away from it’s young. But as in everything, each family needs to find what works best for them. Our children are with us for such a short period of time (ask anyone whose children are grown) so I hope to find the happiest ways of sharing a home with them for those few years.


Martha November 22, 2012 at 9:38 am

In their teens eh? Well, I guess I should teach her how not to be a bed hog then! LOL Yeah, I really don’t mind if she sleeps with me for the long haul. I know that eventually she’ll be gone and will never return. It’s kind of sad to think about.


Danielle November 22, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Such a fan of co-sleeping, I’m a big advocate. It works wonders for my family. Everyone gets a great night’s sleep.


Michelle Dunne February 8, 2013 at 7:29 pm

So, what about those of us who are NOT sleeping well? My 6.5 year old runs full speed into ur bed in the middle of the night about five nights out of seven. He dives in and forms an H between his dad and me. We thoroughly enjoyed co-sleeping wth him until about a year ago, but he won’t go back to his own room without Daddy snuggling him back to sleep there. I think it is a result of Dad falling asleep with him most nights while he’s putting him to sleep. He is perfectly capable of having a story and a snuggle and then, half asleep, drifting off without me laying there. But Daddy can’t seem to help himself many nights and stays in our son’s room for an hour – snoring. 🙂 We still have a pretty good sense of humor about it, but the situation is less than ideal. All-around, he is a strong- willed -youngest -of -six who pushed the envelope on everything in life. I have been re-reading Jane Nelson’s Positive Discipline guidelines to remind me to be FIRM and loving. I just can’t figure out what to do when we say, “when you wake up in th enight, turn on your turtle light , or take some deep breaths and remember to stay in your bed.” and it doesn’t work.


Martha February 17, 2013 at 4:35 am

Hi there Michelle, since I’m not there yet, age 6, and a child who is more capable of sleeping alone, I’m afraid I probably can’t be much help. I’m guessing you’ve tried reasoning with him and it’s just not working. You’re tired and your husband is tired. So I’m sure it’s trying. But hang in there. I bet you’ll find an answer, or he will eventually get tired of bomb diving you in the middle of the night.


Teresa June 19, 2015 at 11:55 pm

Great idea. I am also a single mom. I found co sleeping with my young child is so comfortable for both of us. She is 10 now. I am working with her in getting her to sleep in her own bed. She has her own room and bed. I am doing it because the Western society seems to encourage this and most of her friends sleep in their own bed. I am open to occasional sleep sharing whenever she wants to sleep with me


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