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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 17, 2013

Co-Sleeping: The Risks and the Benefits

By Mark Sisson
287 Comments

Co-SleepingCo-sleeping, bed sharing, or whatever else you want to call it – is an abomination of a behavior that no self-respecting mammal engages in. If you don’t believe me, consider how other mammals handle their kids. You know the old can and string phones we used to make as kids? New chimpanzee parents will string a vine between two empty coconut shell halves, placing one half in the baby chimp’s nest in the next tree over and the other half in the parents’ nest, allowing them to monitor the baby’s cries and activity during the night. If the baby wakes up, they’ll swing on over to the other tree and produce a hairy teat until the little chimp quiets down. Then it’s back to bed. The first thing female voles do after giving birth is dig a separate hole in the ground where the infants will sleep. Same with gophers. Kangaroos are famous for their pouches, which for years researchers assumed the mothers used to keep their infants safe, with easy access to the nipples. But in actuality, the kangaroo pouch is used to store shrubs, grasses, various other edible plants, and boxing gloves, as well as cover up their breasts (kangaroos are incredibly shy and modest creatures).

That’s all nonsense, of course, in case you couldn’t tell already. Mammals are huge co-sleepers and bed-sharers. Heck, they exclusively breastfeed, avoid epidurals, give birth at home, and, in the case of marine mammals, are totally into the whole water birth thing. And, from what I understand, the North American deer population is solely responsible for the petition to bring Mothering back to print form (their hooves preclude them from typing, or else they’d totally read the online version). You might say that mammals are the hippies of the animal kingdom. But wait – we’re mammals, too. Doesn’t it make sense for us to share beds with our young children, or maybe share bedrooms? At the very least, shouldn’t we explore the possibility that sleeping with our infants – a behavior that many new parents are drawn toward – is safe and maybe even beneficial?

I’m going to level with you guys before I write anything more: I’m a big proponent of co-sleeping. Carrie and I did it with our kids, and I’m convinced it was the right move. It brought us closer to our kids and to each other. It helped us sleep, when sleep was a hot commodity. I certainly understand why some folks are hesitant to promote or attempt it, but I’m pretty biased in favor of co-sleeping for obvious reasons (it just seems to work).

I gave this topic a brief mention in Monday’s post, and the reader response made me feel like writing a more comprehensive series of posts on the subject was in order. So let’s look at the possible risks and benefits.

Is co-sleeping safe?

First, let’s define co-sleeping. Co-sleeping can refer to three different practices:

  • Room-sharing, where the baby sleeps in the same room as the parents but in a separate bed/crib.
  • Bed-sharing, where the baby sleeps in the same bed as the parents.
  • Couch-sharing, where the baby sleeps with the parent(s) on the couch or sofa.

Are there risks associated with the various types of co-sleeping? Somewhat.

Room-sharing is strongly associated with a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and the American Academy of Pediatrics actually recommends that parents room-share early on. That’s a great start!

Couch-sharing is inherently dangerous, due to the increased chance of the baby falling between the cushions and being pushed up against the back to suffocate.

Bed-sharing is the controversial one. It can be dangerous, if certain precautions aren’t taken, but it also appears to have a host of benefits if done the right way (which I’ll discuss below). Unfortunately, little distinction is made between couch-sharing and bed-sharing when people talk about co-sleeping – even though the two are worlds apart. Even the purported links between bed-sharing and increased danger to the babies are tenuous and confounded by other variables, like drug and alcohol usage, smoking, and poverty. One study, in fact, found that when you control for maternal tobacco usage, the risk vanishes altogether, while a more recent meta-analysis concluded that “there may be an association between bed-sharing and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) among smokers (however defined), but the evidence is not as consistent among nonsmokers.” And other studies have found that “non-elective” bed-sharing, where parents (often impoverished single mothers) co-sleep because of circumstance (crib too expensive, tiny apartment, etc.) rather than choice, is a risk for infant death (PDF). But can the results of co-sleeping as it’s often practiced in impoverished, at-risk households where cribs are a luxury and education about safe bed-sharing is nonexistent serve as indictments of co-sleeping in general?

The fact remains that bed-sharing is the evolutionary norm for mammals, including humans. That can’t be argued. According to James McKenna, perhaps the most prolific co-sleeping researcher, “There exist no ethnographic examples outside of Western, industrialized countries of infants sleeping outside the mother’s room—away from her company.” (PDF) If anything, solitary sleeping is the global and historical aberration. Indeed, in many countries and regions where bed-sharing is prevalent and culturally ingrained, like Sweden, Japan, Hong Kong, and Beijing, SIDS rates are low.

If bed-sharing were always a dangerous behavior, I have to think the instinct to do so would have been weeded out and eradicated from most traditions, rather than solidified as a cultural mainstay. After all, killing the young is unequivocally bad for the fitness of a species.

Is co-sleeping worth any potential risks?

Well, let’s look at the benefits.

Co-sleeping makes breastfeeding easier. By now, we all know how hugely beneficial breastfeeding is to a child’s development and health. Breastmilk confers immunological benefits, transfers commensal gut bacteria, and promotes bonding and closeness between mother and child. It’s nutritious (especially if the mother’s diet is nutritious), and it’s the only food everyone agrees we’re designed to consume. Further, breastfeeding is strongly and consistently associated with a lack of SIDS, a link far more consistent than the unclear link between certain types of co-sleeping and SIDS. All signs point to breastfeeding being a good move for both mother and child, so we should promote behaviors that make it easier to do. Across multiple populations and countries, including Sweden, Malaysia, and Brazil, bed-sharing is consistently associated with higher rates of breastfeeding. It may be that women who breastfeed are more likely to co-sleep, but it’s pretty obvious that not having to get up and walk to another room to feed will make breastfeeding easier.

Co-sleeping, particularly bed-sharing, helps mother and child grow attuned to each other’s sleep and awakening patterns. In one study, researchers ran sleep studies on 20 habitual co-sleeping pairs and 15 habitual solitary sleeping pairs. The co-sleepers woke more frequently, but their awakenings tended to overlap (co-sleeping moms and babies woke up at the same time) and the total nocturnal wakefulness was not increased due to decreased duration of awakenings (co-sleeping moms and babies got back to sleep faster). This allowed co-sleeping moms to respond to their children’s cries more quickly and accurately, thereby enhancing their ability to monitor the status of their children and, the researchers suggest, improving their capacity for caregiving.

Co-sleeping improves sleep. Sure, as mentioned above, you might wake up more frequently, but each awakening is far less disruptive since you don’t have to stumble over to an entirely different room in the dark. You slip right back to sleep. Most successful co-sleepers cite “improved sleep” as an important factor in their decision to do it. One study even found that breastfeeding combined with bed-sharing allowed both mother and infant to get more sleep. Some researchers theorize that these “lighter” sleep periods are even protective against SIDS in their own right.

Co-sleeping modifies the parental response to night wakings. One study found that while co-sleepers saw night wakings as normal and nothing to freak out about, parents of solitary sleepers found night wakings to be highly disruptive. If a stressor doesn’t actually register as a stressor, is it stressful? Probably not.

Co-sleeping normalizes the stress response in children. For infants, cortisol regulation in response to physical stress should be “moderate,” rather than heightened. Babies who are solitary sleepers show greater sensitivity to mild stressors, like a bathing session. In response to a stressor, one study showed that the solitary sleepers secreted more cortisol than normal, while the co-slept child secreted the “right” amount. Another study found that co-sleeping had a positive effect on babies’ cortisol regulation at 12 months. Despite “common sense” claims that co-sleeping babies will become more dependent and unable to deal with stressors, the opposite appears to be true.

Co-sleeping facilitates the bond between parent and child. Skin-to-skin contact promotes the release of oxytocin, a powerful hormone and neurotransmitter that solidifies and strengthens the bond between people.

Co-sleeping may result in better-adjusted, more independent children and adults. While you might think that co-sleeping children grow up to be dependent and helpless, most research suggests this is not the case. Some studies even show that children who co-slept as infants grow up to be more self reliant and independent. Others suggest that co-sleeping reduces tantrums, produces less “fearful” children, boosts self-esteem later in life, and helps both males and females become comfortable with intimacy as adults (among many other possible psychological benefits). At the very least, co-sleeping doesn’t create needy, dependent kids.

Next week, I’ll explain how to co-sleep the right, safe way. I’ll also tell you what not to do, along with a few alternatives to bed-sharing. Until then, do what feels right. If you’re intellectually convinced of the benefits of co-sleeping but can’t quite shake the feeling that you’re going to smother your child, don’t co-sleep. It should be a natural behavior that reduces stress, not a cortisol-laden one.

Thanks for reading folks! Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section; be civil. This can be a testy subject.

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287 Comments on "Co-Sleeping: The Risks and the Benefits"

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Logan
Logan
3 years 8 months ago

I remember reading a recent article where you mentioned co-sleeping and thinking: “get ready for some emails, Mark, you’ll be writing a post on this topic soon..” haha!

Kate L
Kate L
3 years 8 months ago
I co-slept with all three of my children and loved it. We shared a bed for about 6 months, then shared a room for several more months after that. I was never concerned about the safety aspect; however, my husband was and chose to sleep in a different bed while I bed-shared with two of my children. I don’t smoke, drink or use narcotics, so I was not concerned about being too deeply asleep to notice my babies were in distress. I don’t have my own anecdotal comparison for bed-sharing vs. not, but I know I did the best thing… Read more »
Wayne Atwell
3 years 8 months ago

Does having your husband in the bed while co-sleeping raise the risk? I would imagine that having two full grown people who could roll over on the baby is riskier than one.

Karen C.
3 years 8 months ago

Wayne, have you ever slept with a pet – a dog or a cat? Did you ever roll over on them?

I’m not sure where the belief comes from that sober people will roll over onto something and not notice. If there’s the smallest lump of lint in my bed, I notice!

My husband and I co-slept (bed sharing) with both our kids, taking into advisement all the ways to do it safely. I never once rolled into or over either of them.

Julia
3 years 8 months ago

I totally agree with Karen – it just won’t happen…I co-slept with husband and 2 kids and no one ever got crushed —

Wayne Atwell
3 years 8 months ago

No I have never slept with a pet so I don’t know what it is like.

quidam
quidam
3 years 8 months ago

I went on a camping trip once and woke up in the morning on the other side of the person I was sleeping next to. She told me that I had rolled right over her in the middle of the night. It woke her up, but not me. That was a full grown adult; much bigger than an infant.

When I have children I don’t think I’ll risk the same bed because of that incident. Some people are very heavy sleepers.

LisaL
LisaL
3 years 8 months ago

But the difference is is that a pet will move out of the way, while a baby can not if rolled on to.
We sleep with a dog and while I’m not a roller, I know my husband has often rolled on to our dog and not moved to roll back off. And when I say roll on to, it’s more like a lean on to w/ his arm across which would still be enough to harm a baby.

Mia
Mia
2 years 9 months ago

I have definitely rolled on to my cats. They just don’t care. And I was sober, don’t have apnea, am in great shape; I’ve just always been a heavy sleeper.

Joshua
Joshua
3 years 8 months ago
I worried about this same thing actually, especially as a dad that sleeps really soundly. However, it used to be normal for me to have my laptop in bed and rolling over that could have been bad. I never did. It’s almost as if going to sleep being aware of something makes it pretty easy to avoid. The biggies are don’t drink, don’t smoke and have no drugs (prescribed or otherwise) that will put you out in your system. We’ve had no close calls or anything resembling one in 9 months. Sometimes she scoots up on me and sometimes she… Read more »
Jenny
Jenny
3 years 8 months ago

When you become a parent your “spidie” senses go off when ever you move. When something is so precious to you you know it is there. Have you ever fell asleep holding something valuable? How deeply did you sleep? You baby is far more valuable.

Shary
Shary
3 years 8 months ago
I took my babies to bed with me long enough to nurse them, but then I always returned them to their crib. It was and still is my opinion that a very young infant sleeping in the same bed with two adults is a cozy-sounding bad idea that hasn’t been well thought out. Rolling on top of the baby is definitely a risk, but probably not as much as the possibility of blankets or quilts inadvertently being pulled up over the baby’s head, or the baby getting stuck under a pillow and not being able to breathe. Also, many people… Read more »
Joshua
Joshua
3 years 8 months ago
“Lastly, how are the parents going to get any quality sleep if they are trying to be careful of a vulnerable infant lying between them?” The same way I did before, as it turns out. There are plenty of options anyway. There are baby sleepers that go between the parents to prevent rolling and protect the baby if you think you need one. “And then later on, when you want the child to sleep in his own bed, you’re likely to have problems on your hands because you’ve established a bad habit early on.” I don’t have time to dig… Read more »
Michelle
Michelle
3 years 8 months ago
I guess you have to ask yourself, would you notice if you rolled over onto a pet, or a pillow, or a toy, or a book…if not, then you shouldn’t co-sleep. However, after co-sleeping with three babies, neither me or my husband ever came close to rolling over on any of them. There were never any blankets or pillows near their faces either. It’s something you have to do intentionally and responsibly. I’ve slept much better with a baby in my bed than with one in a crib…we tried that with my first because “that’s the way it’s done” and… Read more »
B.
B.
3 years 8 months ago
There is something instinctive about a mom (can’t speak for dads here, since I’m not one) sleeping with her infant. I coslept with both of my children, the first until he was 3, and the second until she was two before moving them to their own beds. Both times, especially when they were teeny tiny, I would curl myself around them in my sleep in a protective fetal position and NOT MOVE the entire night. We all got better sleep. Their dad was also in the bed, but I kept my infants between myself and a mesh bed rail with… Read more »
Amy
Amy
3 years 8 months ago
“I took my babies to bed with me long enough to nurse them, but then I always returned them to their crib” Push the crib up to the bed, put a connector over the bump in the mattress (like when you connect 2 twins to a king, using a towel or those foam things) and put the baby back in her crib an arm’s length away. No getting up in the night but no baby in the bed either. It works great for us. Mark is completely right — if rolling over a kid is going to freak you out,… Read more »
michael
michael
3 years 8 months ago

“a very young infant sleeping in the same bed with two adults is a cozy-sounding bad idea that hasn’t been well thought out.”

Apparently you missed the evidence to the contrary in the article above.

Whatever you do, never open your mind to things that might challenge your firmly held and incorrect beliefs. It might lead to something horrible, like *learning*.

lisainsouthernmaine
lisainsouthernmaine
3 years 8 months ago
I coslept with both of my children. My first son had sleep apnea. Even my sleeping brain was able to monitor his respiration’s and prod him into wakefulness when they became too slow or there was a gap. His pediatrician told me quite directly that a mothers brain is more accurate than any apnea monitor and to keep him next to me during sleep and trust my ability to do the protection work the mothers brain has done for eons. I have always felt it is probably an unhealthy habit for the human mammal to sleep away from its offspring.… Read more »
Kate L
Kate L
3 years 8 months ago
I’m not sure why my husband was nervous about it with our last child. We both shared a bed with our oldest, without incident. When our second child was born, my husband was suffering from a herniated disc. He slept in a separate bed at that time just because he didn’t need more interruptions to his sleep. With our third child, he just didn’t feel comfortable co-sleeping. He’s always been more of an alarmist than me anyway though (I also suspect it had something to do with his alarmist family–we lived far away from them with our first two children,… Read more »
Eliza
Eliza
3 years 8 months ago
My husband has sleeping apnea and he uses CPAP machine and his sleep is usually very, very deep, so I was afraid he might actually roll over our baby. In the beginning we had the baby’s crib next to our bed, BUT she never really slept in it – the crib was there simply so that she was able to sleep in our big bed between me and the crib, without the risk of falling from our bed, and I slept in the middle. Nowadays my hubby sleeps in a single bed next to us, so we all have plenty… Read more »
Wayne Atwell
3 years 8 months ago
I’m not a parent yet so this doesn’t affect me yet, but it does raise my curiosity about what was sleeping patterns and habits of couples. Personally I dislike sharing a bed with anyone because I always seem to get worse sleep. You stay up later talking and then if they are too close to me or touching me then I overheat and wake up sweaty and nasty. Yet all of the girls I have dated have really liked sleep overs and sharing a bed. Does anyone know what the primal sleeping patterns for couples are? I wonder if sleeping… Read more »
Michelle
Michelle
3 years 8 months ago
My husband and I like space between us when we sleep, and once we started co-sleeping we bought a king size bed. Even without a baby in our bed, we sleep on opposite sides. But even with a baby in the bed, he’s never come close to rolling over on them. I’d say it really just depends on the people. Honestly, most parents become hyperaware of the baby when they are in the bed. They wake right before the baby cries, they instinctively know where the baby is in the bed. However, if one parent sleeps extremely deeply and is… Read more »
Karen C.
3 years 8 months ago

+1!

Wayne Atwell
3 years 8 months ago

A king size bed would be nice and helpful but I am still young and move apartments every year or two so it is a little impractical for me at the moment.

carla
carla
3 years 8 months ago

Right? My room can’t even FIT a king sized bed.

Kathy
3 years 8 months ago

Do you have kids? If not its kind of a moot point. Everything changes when it is real rather than theoretical.

Colleen
Colleen
3 years 8 months ago

Get a bigger bed.

Sarah
Sarah
3 years 8 months ago

Have you tried it long enough to get used to the specific other person? My partner and I have been together for about five years, and even though I found him really disruptive at first, now I find that I sleep much worse when he’s not there, because I’m used to his sleep patterns, breathing, etc.

I think it’s just another thing you adapt to, and it becomes normal. That said, I suspect innovations like bouncy mattresses that transfer movement, blankets that you share, and things like that make it a lot harder.

Joy Beer
Joy Beer
3 years 8 months ago

Sarah, I think you are so right! On the ground, with maybe just a skin over some leaves or grass, a person nearby might well be more of a comfort than a jarring presence in the night.

I relate to Wayne’s experience, though. I’m a hot sleeper.

Charles
Charles
3 years 8 months ago
I don’t think men have evolved to sleep all night in the same bedding as their mate and babe, but space limitations and the amount of recreational sex we have make it seem much more natural (both would increase oxytocin). Our ancestors would have never slept like we do, though, so unless you are willing to release a couple tigers in your neighborhood, sleep on the ground, and do it in the same room as a dozen or more of either your or her closest relatives (who will take turns talking all night), you aren’t getting the real primal sleep… Read more »
Madama Butterfry
Madama Butterfry
3 years 8 months ago

Wayne I’m like this too. Much prefer to sleep alone (unless I’ve just watched bloody ‘Prometheus’, jeeze what a creepy flick). I used to justify this ‘weirdness’ to CW types by saying, ‘In the pre-industrial days people would always have their own bedroom (in ye olde ‘class system’ of England that is). People started sharing beds for the space factor when they started being rounded up in to the cities.
For the record co-sleeping works wonderfully for me, but the husband has his own room.

Amy
Amy
3 years 8 months ago

” Much prefer to sleep alone…In the pre-industrial days people would always have their own bedroom

Absolutely. There’s something to be said for not being kicked in the middle of the night.Co-sleeping almost always works out for the kiddos because they aren’t the ones being kicked. Not always for the adults. Co-sleeping is totally a YMMV moment. The hard part only is when other people get weirded out by it because they are convinced you’re damaging (or going to damage) the shorter human.

Kristi
Kristi
3 years 8 months ago
My husband and I have our own rooms and we love it! I think that a lot of people worry that the intimacy will be lost if they sleep in separate beds, but we’ve found the opposite to be true. We have different work schedules (I’m up 4-5 hours earlier) and we both feel the same way about sharing a bed as you do. We just don’t sleep as well! We get to spend time together just before I go to bed. It’s nice because we never feel annoyed with each other for bumping elbows, we still get our snuggle… Read more »
Ozquoll
Ozquoll
3 years 8 months ago
My husband and I do not sleep in the same bedroom due to his incredibly loud snoring. It only took a night or two of bed-sharing early in the relationship for me to become a sleep-deprived zombie woman with homicidal intent ;-). The overheating thing was an issue for me too as hubby is a sleep-snuggler. We have been sleeping in separate rooms for four years now and we are still very much in love, and have plenty of…umm…physical contact 😉 Just not while we’re sleeping. It is true that cuddling is VERY important for most women, but as long… Read more »
NMCynthia
NMCynthia
3 years 8 months ago

Has your hubby been checked for sleep apnea? I was always a horrendous snorer, and it wasn’t until I was 65 with high blood pressure that my Primary Physician suggested that I have a sleep study done. I now require a CPAP machine, BUT am no longer on high blood pressure meds. Sleep apnea causes all sorts of horrible health problems like strokes and heart attacks, and sometimes the only clue is the loud snoring.

Kate
Kate
3 years 8 months ago
My husband and I now sleep quite comfortably together but it took awhile to work that out. We had issues with our first bed because he weighs about twice what I do. The mattress would slant towards him – and I’d find myself sleeping on an awkward angle & waking up with a sore back. Fixed that with firmer mattress. Heat was also an issue – but we found sheets that are made of fabric that doesn’t retain as much body heat, and we switched to using a couple of sheets on top rather than big heavy blankets. You gotta… Read more »
Mirah
Mirah
3 years 8 months ago
I don’t know of any scientific data involving the sleep patterns of couples but I do have personal experience. I remember the first night that I slept beside the father of my children. It wasn’t awkward but I was very aware that he was there. The second night it became second nature. It is so that neither of us can sleep at night with out the other. We also bedshare with our 3 month old as we did with our 2 year old. Our two year old now sleeps alone in her own bed that was originally pushed up beside… Read more »
Sunset G.
Sunset G.
3 years 8 months ago

Wayne,
In my experience, I put the baby on the outside of us on my side, not between us. My husband is a wild sleeper and sleeps deeply so it wasnt a good idea for baby to be between us. When you do have children, If you are afraid baby could fall off the bed without someone on the other side if him/her that could pose a problem but since babies naturally move toward their parents in bed, not away from them, it worked fine and safely for us. Just some suggestions 🙂

John D
John D
3 years 8 months ago

I almost killed my son by letting him sleep in our bed when he was little. I don’t know why I awoke in time to see that he was being smothered. No drugs, alcohol or anything else was involved. This is dangerous and stupid parenting. Don’t do it.

My son is now a fine 28 year old man. But I still feel the shame of doing something so stupid that put him at risk.

Michelle
Michelle
3 years 8 months ago

And what was smothering him?

Willy
Willy
3 years 8 months ago
“And what was smothering him?” Excellent point. You have to prepare a safe place particularly when they are under 6 months. If you are a hard sleeper, drink before bed or take sleeping pills you should consider a co-sleeper. Some common sense applies. That said my wife co slept with our daughter and son. Many parenting sources refer to “the 4th trimester” where an infant endures anxiety (sometimes extreme) anytime they are away from the mother especially in the first few months. Seriously, what mom put her child in a different part of the cave while she slept?? lol.
Kate L
Kate L
3 years 8 months ago

You woke in time to see that he was being smothered because you were so in tune to him. You do have to make a safe bed, but honestly I think your comment reinforces the point of bed-sharing.

michael
michael
3 years 8 months ago

So nothing bad happened as a result of co-sleeping, then? Thanks!

Jim
Jim
3 years 8 months ago

It takes a fairly conceited attitude to dismiss a child almost smothering as “nothing bad happening.” A child in danger is inherently bad a thing.

William
William
3 years 8 months ago

Bed sharing can become more problematic if done during cold weather. One can easily shrug a blanket over a baby’s face while sleeping in an effort to stay warm.

Michelle
Michelle
3 years 8 months ago

That is why you should always follow safe co-sleeping guidelines. Wear more layers instead of using covers, and if you cannot sleep without covers and tend to bury yourself into them, then don’t co-sleep.

My husband and I use separate bedding…he likes to cocoon himself in his comforter on the other side of the bed, and I only have mine over my hips, while the baby sleeps by my head. Neither of our blankets as ever come close to covering any of our kids.

Really, you just have to be smart and careful about it.

MJ
MJ
3 years 8 months ago

What kind of blankets do you have?

Ive co-slept with my children, as most people do in Sweden. They have slept under de cover hundreds of times without any problems.
Ive also slept with kittens and puppies witch have slept under the cover without problems.

Michelle
Michelle
3 years 8 months ago

Co-slept with all three of my children and never even came close to smothering them. It’s not dangerous or stupid if you do it right. It’s the way it was meant to be…skin to skin, breast available for nursing, mom’s proximity helps baby’s breathing and temp regulate…there are so many positives. We never had any sleep issues like other parents complained of, and transitioning them to their own beds went smoothly when it was time.

Chantal
3 years 8 months ago

I’m big on co-sleeping. My baby, however, is not! She sleeps with us if she’s sick or needs us, but otherwise has to be in her own bed because now she thinks our bed means playtime.

Ulfric
Ulfric
3 years 8 months ago

Our boy is getting a bit huge and next month he’ll turn four years old.
I’m looking forward to making a bed for him in the spring … and get him out of ours. Bedsharing : the mere fact that there’s a ‘term’ for this normal behaviour, and whole cultures don’t have this as the default behaviour : bunch of freaks! Do they feed their babies some artificial crap instead of breastmilk too?
Get a grip, do it right. 🙂

BJML
BJML
3 years 8 months ago

One of the things I did when my boy was cosleeping with us was use a sound machine in the bedroom. It was the crickets setting. Then, when we got round to moving him into his own bed, we put the crickets noise machine in his room. It seemed to help with the transition.

Colleen
Colleen
3 years 8 months ago

I imagine softer beds and pillows increase the modern risk for infants. When my daughter was first born we room shared, but I woke up with every time she moved and so sadly moved her out at about 3 weeks. I could easily fall back to sleep so this did not disrupt breastfeeding. When she wakes on occasion (now 3) and comes to our room it’s nice to have her in bed.

Susie
3 years 8 months ago

I’m a few years out from having kids (thank goodness, I can barely manage taking care of myself) but I really love learning about all this now. It’s starting to shape my perspective well before actually having to do it. Pretty much everyone I know with infants does some form of co-sleeping anyway. That giant lazy boy recliner in the nursery? Totally used for co-sleeping.

Susie
3 years 8 months ago

The recliner is used for room-sharing, not sleeping in the recliner with the kid. That probably wouldn’t be safe. But I know moms that basically sleep in their kids’ rooms because it is so much easier. Why not bring the kid into your room and get to sleep in your own bed?

William
William
3 years 8 months ago

Co-sleeping does impede the return to a normal sex life, in my experience.
Just wanted to add another drawback.

Michelle
Michelle
3 years 8 months ago

Never had that problem ourselves…too many other places in the house to explore! 😀

Karen C.
3 years 8 months ago

Michelle, I like you more and more with every comment 🙂

And I couldn’t agree more. So many places in the house (and out!) can be used for sex.

Michelle
Michelle
3 years 8 months ago

Kindred spirits 🙂

B.
B.
3 years 8 months ago

Heck, have a couple bassinettes or pack’n’plays scattered throughout the house. Put one in the living room or a playroom. Not a big deal, really. It only impedes normal sex if you let it.

Kay
Kay
3 years 8 months ago

Totally agree…hasn’t affected our sex life at all. It’s actually kinda rejuvenated it because we use other rooms/furniture in the house….very reminiscent of the early days of our relationship when anywhere was game.

Amy
Amy
3 years 8 months ago

+1 On the the parts of the house to explore. 🙂 Also, if it doesn’t squiwk you out too much – the baby is a)unconscious and b)won’t remember anything anyway even if they do wake up.

If they are able to tell the other kids at pre-school/kindergarten what they woke up to last night; it’s probably time to find them another sleeping venue for the sake of your marriage anyway.

Lazurii
3 years 8 months ago

Seriously, the baby’s asleep. How do you think humans have been having sex/babies all this time? Hello, one room cabins.

carla
carla
3 years 8 months ago

Assuming you have a large space to begin with.

Susie
3 years 8 months ago

I wondered about that too! Has anyone seen the movie “Away We Go”? There’s a couple in that movie that are portrayed as total freaks and they practice “family bedding”. Another character asks them if they go to the car when they want to have sex. Priceless.

Michelle
Michelle
3 years 8 months ago
LOL, we’ve discussed the back porch 🙂 Kids in general can impede your sex life…and having a new baby for sure…but co-sleeping doesn’t have to be an issue unless you make it one. We’ve co-slept off and on for 9 years now…managed to make two more kids after our first. We don’t have as much sex as we’d like because there’s so much going on now with three boys running around the house and by the time we have time to ourselves, we’re just plain tired… but there’s always weekend mornings, and my husband comes home for lunch sometimes 😉
Karen C.
3 years 8 months ago

Totally! General exhaustion and hormonal issues played a far bigger role in our sex life than bed-sharing ever did.

Tina
Tina
3 years 8 months ago

The only time in the last 5 years of co-sleeping that we had issues with were to have sex was when we lived with my in-laws. Couldn’t exactly utilize the other rooms in the house when people might wander through them. Often times we would sneak off to our room when the kiddo and Gramma were busy elsewhere in the house. Or if we were really needy, we had a huge walk-in closet in our room with a pretty comfy floor, and a quiet door…

Tom B-D
Tom B-D
3 years 8 months ago

It turns out you can have sex not just at night, and anywhere in the house! But seriously, you’re right, it will impede nighttime spontaneity–but you can figure out ways to make “dates” in order to give your kids what they need for that short window of development time.

Dalton K.
Dalton K.
3 years 8 months ago
To be honest, the only reason that co-sleeping would impede a normal sex life is because of the stigma we as a society has placed on it. Do you think Grok and Madame Grok ever hid away from their children when they wanted to have sex? Everyone probably shared in every aspect of life because for Grok and his friends, every aspect of life was a matter of life and death. It was and in my opinion still should be a normal aspect of life that everyone should be able to share without fear of reprimand. Sorry I’m only 18… Read more »
Madama Butterfry
Madama Butterfry
3 years 8 months ago

Anyone read ‘Clan of the Cavebear’? I only remember the one scene by the river. Must have been about 16 when I got hold of a copy.

Ashley
Ashley
3 years 8 months ago

yes! The whole series is actually wonderful and very meaningful to me – stright-up feminist and emotionally moving. I read it when I was a teenager and the rape scene was all I remembered then, but it’s good enough to change as we get older. Also, are you an opera singer by any chance?

Alex
Alex
2 years 7 months ago

I was in 5th grade (10 yrs old) when we moved into a new house and I found the book in the basement. Read the whole thing in one sitting -.-‘ Did you know its the first part of a 6book series? It is a riveting look at what life might have been like. Its actually just how I imagine it!

Egglet
Egglet
3 years 8 months ago

I agree. My ex and I still had sex even though the baby was in the bed too. Like another poster mentioned: the baby is asleep and even if he woke up he wouldn’t know what he was seeing or remember it.

R-grok
R-grok
3 years 8 months ago

Nope, it doesn’t. We had a sleeping bed and a sex bed (in our guest room.) Once the kid falls asleep in the sleeping bed, make sure it can’t fall out. Then utilize the sexbed.

Arley
Arley
3 years 8 months ago
Sex bed, now that is AWESOME! We used to have a “love” seat that we used instead of the bed sometimes because we could. Oh, and after the first couple months, we move our babies from our bed to a crib in our room, and after baby was asleep, my husband and I would engage in relations. We figure a nine-month-old wouldn’t remember if he did happen to wake up (which none of them ever did, fortunately). Seriously, how much does anyone remember before 3 or 4 years? One more thing, we co-slept with all four until 4-6 months, and… Read more »
MJ
MJ
3 years 8 months ago

How?

Alyssa
3 years 8 months ago

I’m a long way off from having kids, but thinking about it evolutionarily, it seems as if the real danger lies in modern beds and other sleeping paraphernalia, rather than the practice itself. In the Paleo days, I’m guessing people just slept on the ground, and the likelihood of rolling over onto a baby next to you on the ground seems almost 0. As an above poster mentioned, the softer beds, pillows, and blankets are probably the real issue! Looking forward to the post on how to co-sleep properly.

Karen C.
3 years 8 months ago

Modern bedding actually plays a large role in SIDS, which is one reason they now recommend no blankets or stuffed animals in the crib with the baby. IMO, it plays less of a role in bed sharing.

Elaine
Elaine
3 years 8 months ago

I am applying most of this (minus the breast-feeding for one) to my 2 dogs. We co-sleep and I feel we have many of the benefits in the article.

Jacob
Jacob
3 years 8 months ago

Do any of these benefits apply to children around the age of 12 months? It seems like a lot of this talk is based around 6 months or less. If so, are the benefits diminished in any capacity? Are the risks reduced?

I have an 11 month old child and am interested in having her sleep with us maybe a couple times a week to see how it works out.

Karen C.
3 years 8 months ago

Jacob, I think bed-sharing can be beneficial at any age. It may take some adjustment if you and your child aren’t used to it. There are few precautions needed with an older infant/toddler, since they are capable of moving things off their face!

We were still co-sleeping with my son when he unexpectedly vomited in his sleep, at about 15 months old. He was laying on his back, and if we hadn’t been RIGHT THERE, there’s a chance he could have aspirated some of the vomit.

Michelle
Michelle
3 years 8 months ago

I was always more afraid of aspiration than smothering…one of the many reasons we co-slept. IF something like that happened, I wanted to be right there. So scary!

Michelle
Michelle
3 years 8 months ago
We co-slept with our older two until they were 3 and 4…and our youngest is 21 months and still in our bed. As they get older the risks decrease. They roll over, turn their heads, sit up…they’re bigger and take up more space 🙂 And they kick and try to squirm their way as close to you as possible. Our current bed companion loves sleeping with us. If he doesn’t fall asleep early, we all go to bed together, and he lays down and babbles to us before falling asleep without tears or needing to nurse. Some nights he sleeps… Read more »
B.
B.
3 years 8 months ago

Haha, Michelle, the “toddler foot in my face” was the rule of thumb for “ready for their own beds”. Once I was waking with a toddler foot in my face more mornings than not, it was time to put them in their own rooms. They’re still contortionists at night, but at least they’re not kicking at me in the process 😉

And speaking of memories, what about lazy sunday mornings waking up slowly? Those are the best for me.

Joshua
Joshua
3 years 8 months ago
We have a 9-month-old and have been co-sleeping (same bed) for most of those 9 months. We did try moving our daughter to the crib in the same room for a few weeks, but I don’t think anyone was exceptionally happy with the results! So, we’re back. Frankly, I don’t think the trend will end for while. In my mind I see it evolving into her getting her own bed either when she wants one or we have a second kid. I figure her new bed will be in our room. At some point they’ll want their own rooms, but… Read more »
Michelle
Michelle
3 years 8 months ago
That’s how we did it… our first two were 19 months apart, so when we brought the younger one home, daddy and the older boy slept on a mattress on the floor, while me and the newborn slept on the bed. We only had a full size bed at the time. When the younger one was old enough to “fend” for himself and it was safer (and we bought a king size)…we co-slept with both boys in the bed with us. Then we moved them to their own bed in our room, and eventually to their own room. They would… Read more »
Anna
Anna
3 years 8 months ago

Jacob,
If your child sleeps alone already, then don’t bring them into your bed. Trust me you will have a hard time getting them out. A couple times a week becomes every day very quickly. If your child is not sleeping well through the night, then you may want to, but if they are self soothers and sleep alone, why ruin a good thing.

Jacob
Jacob
3 years 8 months ago

Well she sleeps well for the most part…mainly waking up to be fed (usually 2 times during the night). I was more wondering if it would help with tantrums and fostering independence and not gonna lie….I think we’d all like the bonding of snuggling up as a family.

Tina
Tina
3 years 8 months ago
Unfortunately I wasn’t smart or confident enough to trust my judgement when my daughter was an infant. We followed the “rules” and she slept in her own crib in her own room. It made for a rough first year. We didn’t start co-sleeping until she was 2, shortly after a big move. Our daughter just turned 7 and we still co-sleep, except for the past 2 months she sleeps on a mattress on the floor next to our bed instead of in bed. We always kept our bed against a wall (or heavy bookcase) cause she tends to roll out… Read more »
Dave Covington
Dave Covington
3 years 8 months ago
First let me say that co-sleeping is what led me to MDA over four years ago. We co-slept with our first child until he was about 11 months old. During that time we (dad and mom) only slept when the baby slept and ALWAYS slept when the baby slept. That was because he was up every 1.5 hours insisting on feeding, which typically took 30-45 minutes. So in the course of an average day of working, chores, baby duty, etc. I personally was getting about 5-6 hours of sporadic sleep per day. Going to the primal diet helped (thanks Mark)… Read more »
Tasha
3 years 8 months ago

Interesting topic. I don’t have kids (yet), but I think I would try co-sleeping. Baby would at least be in the same room for the first few months.

Karen C.
3 years 8 months ago
I remember reading a baby-oriented magazine at the pediatrician’s office when my daughter was a newborn. We had bed-shared with my son, and were bed sharing with the new baby. So, on page 12 of the magazine is an article citing statistics that 75% of parents bed-shared at least one night a week, even though most hadn’t planned on it. On page 15 was an article about how HORRIBLE it is to share a bed with your baby. I couldn’t help but think how much better served those parents would be if instead of an article condemning a practice of… Read more »
Oly
Oly
3 years 8 months ago
There is the history of children being nursed by their nurse maids and raised by nannies in the nursery. At some point it was encouraged as a sign of status to have a “nursery” instead of your kid in your bed — kind of like spending resources on having a green lawn that isn’t used for feeding animals. So consumerism has really encouraged some of this, helped along by an expert here or there to scare people. It’s really sad that people think they need to spend 5k in furniture and nursery renovations. Better to put that cash towards nutritious… Read more »
Joelle
Joelle
3 years 8 months ago

my twins (boy and girl) shared our room until about the age of three, where they spontaneously wanted to have their own room, which had been ready for a long time, at first they shared a room, then moved to separate rooms around age 6, although they had a few months phase at 7 where they shared the same room again. When they were sleeping with us, we had our matresses on the floor, one double and one single on each side, so falling off the bed wasn’t an issue.

SteveG
3 years 8 months ago
As practicing Catholics who eschew artificial birth control, my wife and I have discovered another closely related benefit. Extended, unscheduled breastfeeding usually causes an extended period of breastfeeding related amenorrhea, and consequent delay in return of fertility. However, the largest factor causing this is unscheduled breastfeeding during the overnight hours, which is difficult (if not impossible) without co-sleeping. In cultures where co-sleeping is the norm, along with unscheduled, extended, on-demand breastfeeding, the natural interval between children is between 3 and 4 years, due in large part to delayed return of fertility. In the case of our three children, we experienced… Read more »
Oly
Oly
3 years 8 months ago

Exactly. It’s the frequency that’s most important, but fertility has better odds of returning if there’s at least one 8 hour stretch with no nursing at some point. Depending on the goal, that’s the upside to being a human pacifier for the toddler.

jinushaun
jinushaun
3 years 8 months ago

It really speaks volumes about how messed up and far removed our society is from our natural instincts that co-sleeping is even a controversy.

Next thing you know, people are going to advocate the “dangers” of breast milk and how we should only feed babies manufactured formula.

Or the dangers of regular water, which lacks vitamins and added calcium. Everyone should drink Vitamin Water.

jinushaun
jinushaun
3 years 8 months ago

The human race didn’t get to nearly 7 billion people on modern American ideals of how people should live and raise their kids. This is especially true when you consider the population sizes of China and India with their lax sanitation policies and traditional conservative culture. America didn’t invent people having sex and raising healthy kids.

Michelle
Michelle
3 years 8 months ago
Oh I’ve already encountered plenty of people who think breastmilk is “dangerous” because of jet fuel and other chemicals being found in it, but also because they think it is lacking in nutrients and only formula can give the baby everything they need. One of my biggest pet peeves is the societal construct in the United States that insists we ignore almost every instinct mothers have in regards to their infants. We’ve let so-called experts tell us how to raise our children, nourish our bodies and a myriad of other things in ways that contradict nature and instinct. We were… Read more »
Cindy
Cindy
3 years 8 months ago

When my son was born, I actually had a male nurse try to help me with breastfeeding. He was uncomfortable, I was uncomfortable. After that incident, I gave up and bottle fed. I think things would have been different if I hadn’t had such a bad experience right off the bat.

Amy
Amy
3 years 8 months ago

Yuck and triple yuck. When mothers give up it’s almost always because stories like this. 🙁 The better hospitals/birthing centers/pediatricians have lactation consultants (every one female that I’ve met). It won’t help your past, but if you have any more children ask for a lactation specialist for help.

Madama Butterfry
Madama Butterfry
3 years 8 months ago

I was furious with the tired woman nurse who grabbed my breast, grabbed my newborns head, then jammed them together. She backed off at my growl and said, ‘I’m just doing my job’. I said thank you, but don’t touch me.

Michelle
Michelle
3 years 8 months ago
Madama…I had the same thing happen to me with my third! I’d breastfed my two previous children to age three (and had told her this). He had been suckling, but at the moment she came in he was comfort nursing and she got all upset telling me he wasn’t suckling right. He had lost a normal amount of weight, but she tried scaring me with the whole “if he loses any more weight, we’re going to have to give him formula” and then she grabbed my breast without permission and began squeezing it saying I needed to stimulate them more.… Read more »
B.
B.
3 years 8 months ago

From my understanding, back in the 70s, because breastmilk was so mistrusted as infant nourishment, pediatricians would routinely check moms and babies for ‘deficiencies’.

Ridiculous.

Carolyn
Carolyn
3 years 8 months ago

They did push formula for “health reasons” in the 70s.

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 8 months ago

I do not have kids so the only risk to co-sleeping I forsee is if my girlfriend catches me. (Johnny Carson golf swing)

Beth
Beth
3 years 8 months ago

We co-slept with a cradle by my side of the bed. Worked great w/ my daughter, but my son was too noisy for me to get much sleep.
Jokes on me, though. As soon as my son was big enough to get out of the crib for himself he wandered into our bedroom. I have been co-sleeping almost nightly ever since, whether we go to bed that way or not! 🙂

Sally
Sally
3 years 8 months ago

I really enjoyed this well research post. Related to this, I would be very interested to see something about infant sleep patterns and sleep training tactics such as “cry it out”/extinction. I’ve not applied these methods to my little ones because they make no evolutionary sense to me, but it’s incredible how widely applied they are in our culture. How did we ever think it was acceptable to teach our babies to cry to sleep?

Danielle
3 years 8 months ago

This train of thought is the main reason I never let my kids cry it out (they are great sleepers now). Can you imagine the tribe all being kept awake for hours on end while a distraught mother ignores her screaming baby? Ridiculous! The fact that we have huge McHouses where you can isolate screaming babies at one end, close the door, then retreat to the other end so they don’t bother you doesn’t mean it’s okay to do!

B.
B.
3 years 8 months ago

Massive levels of cortisol in both infants and mothers with ‘cry it out’. I can’t handle it.

It’s one thing to hear a post-1 year old throw a fit and scream relentlessly, it’s another thing to hear an infant. I can’t ignore strangers’ babies crying like that, without some sort of anxious response, let alone my own.

No issues with toddler fits though 😉 Scream all you want dear, you’re not getting that cookie!

Charles
Charles
3 years 8 months ago

In the hunter/gatherer societies that still exist, infants spend the majority of the day and night physically touching a relative, whether by being held in the arms or held against the body with a type of sling. As toddlers they’d have more independence, but, if I remember correctly, the average amount of time it takes before someone would respond to a crying child was about 10 seconds (the benefits of living with extended family). I’d laugh if someone told me that letting a baby cry themselves to sleep was healthy for them.

Madama Butterfry
Madama Butterfry
3 years 8 months ago
Sally I remember being some sort of tiny, maybe ten months, and seeing my mothers shadow on the wall outside my bedroom. I cried and screamed forever and she occasionally shifted but never came to me. I remember it really clearly, felt emotionally shattered as I fell asleep looking at the ceiling with subsiding sobs. Been quite a while since then! But the strange thing is, it set the theme for the rest of our relationship. I don’t hate her for it, but I don’t trust her at all and never really have. She was only doing what she was… Read more »
Kris
Kris
3 years 8 months ago
Taking the opposite viewpoint here. For the first 6 weeks, each of my children shared our bedroom (in a bassinet right next to the bed). We ended up with an entire family of sleepless people. Babies make a bunch of noises that do not necessarily mean they are waking up but an anxious mom with super hearing will instantly wake up and try to tend to the baby. I could never distinguish between the noises and ended up not sleeping a single wink all night. My husband removed our first child from our room at 6 weeks as I cried.… Read more »
Karen C.
3 years 8 months ago

6 week olds should not be sleeping a 6 hour stretch!

But, yes, every family needs to decide what works best for them. But with condemnation of bed sharing/co-sleeping and a lack of education on how to do it safely, that choice is taken away from a lot of people before they even know it exists.

Meagan
Meagan
3 years 8 months ago
One of my babies did start sleeping six hour stretches at six weeks. One at eight weeks, and another not until six months. Every baby is different. I was not going to wake my kids every two to four hours to feed them because the doctor said so. I fed them when they were hungry. None of them starved or had any signs of malnutrition. Although, like Kris, I am a super light sleeper and woke at every little move and noise. Both the babies and I slept better in other rooms. I still always woke a few seconds before… Read more »
Doctor Ethan
5 months 5 days ago

Over Right ButCo-sleeping makes nighttime breastfeeding more convenient.
Makes it easier for a nursing mother to be on the same schedule as her child.
Helps babies fall asleep more easily, and stay asleep, because they awaken more often, with a shorter feeding time.
Helps parents gain closeness to their infant.
But despite these pros, various medical groups and doctors warn parents that co-sleeping is dangerous, and should not be done. Co-sleeping puts babies at risk of suffocation, strangulation, and sudden-infant death syndrome (SIDS). Adult beds have many safety risks for children

Shary
Shary
3 years 8 months ago

I agree that room sharing with an infant during the early weeks is a must. After that, space permitting, the baby should be allowed to sleep in his own room.

Miki
Miki
3 years 8 months ago

I could not agree more with your take on this. Exactly our experience. I felt like I could be a much better mom if I was well rested. Plenty of time to bond while we were awake. I know other moms actually slept better with their children in their beds, however.

Amy
Amy
3 years 8 months ago
I will say that a bassinet does not confer all the advantages of co-sleeping as you still need to get up to attend to the baby. It’s better than a separate room, but it’s really room sharing rather than doing the “lazy mom gets to stay mostly unconscious while feeding the baby” thing. You *may* have been less freaked out by the random noises if the baby actually slept near you. That said, the point of co-sleeping (for me anyway) is to make sure everyone is getting enough sleep. If baby in a crib elsewhere gets that accomplished, seems to… Read more »
mims
mims
3 years 8 months ago
I coslpet with our sone (now 14) for the first 18 mos. 6 months in a family bed, then a year in a futon on the floor in anohter room becaue my husband needed more sapce as teh baby got bigger and more active. I woudl do it agian in ahearbeat. Also, I want ed to plug childwearing. I feel so sad for those young moms struggling with those combo carseat/baby carriers. SO ergonomically nasty. I would transfer my son to a sling once we got anywhere and wear him. It facilitated nursing in public. I carried him in a… Read more »
ingvildr
ingvildr
3 years 8 months ago
I was unable to baby wear with my kids due to arthritis in my lower back-it made the last trimester pure misery. With my youngest(son) my younger teenaged daughter did a lot of the packing around of her little brother, mostly because she wanted to. Enough so that I got my son an “I love my big sister bib” to keep people from glaring at my 14 year old daughter thinking she was mommy. I was happy for a good stroller and I did do the leash thing when they got to feeling independent. The girls were 13 months apart… Read more »
Amy
Amy
3 years 8 months ago

Slings are awesome if you can do it and the baby likes it. My eldest loved a sling, the younger 2 were not been impressed.

The best thing we got for number 3 was a “frame” stroller where the car seat snaps into it. ($50 new, not one of those “travel” systems) We never needed to disturb baby naps or struggle carrying a seat designed to withstand an impact at 65 MPH. Just snap the seat in and go.

ingvildr
ingvildr
3 years 8 months ago
With all three of my kids we had a bassinet next to the bed within arms reach. It made nursing in the middle of the night a lot easier and I could calm their fussing before they got really wound up. I had diaper supplies and changing pad next to the bed as well so I could change them without getting out of bed. I also had what is called a TV pillow on the head of the bed that I would lean on while nursing. With my third child I had a nursing pillow which was really nice to… Read more »
Erika
3 years 8 months ago

Just yesterday I was explaining cosleeping to my now 9-year old daughter and why we did this with her when she was a baby. I found myself thinking how sad it is that the distinctions and safety precautions you just described are not shared more often. Safely cosleeping with my daughter when she was a baby was a great joy to me and I think it worked out quite well for her as well. Thank you so much for this article!

Caitlin
Caitlin
3 years 8 months ago

Thanks for this post! Very interesting stuff. In addition to the topics you say will be discussed next week, I would also be interested in transitioning the child & parent for that matter out of co-sleeping.

When do you have the child sleep alone & how do you accomplish it in a non-stressful way?

Thanks!

BJML
BJML
3 years 8 months ago

My son was exceptionally big ( my hubby is 6’7″) and we moved him out when he got too big for us all to sleep easily. That was our criteria.

Irma
Irma
3 years 8 months ago
“When do you have the child sleep alone & how do you accomplish it in a non-stressful way?” As an experienced co-sleeping family that has now moved on, I’d like to reassure you that in time your kids will want to have their own bed/room. It is such a natural process! Our eldest son (now 14) moved into his own room when he was 8 and our two daughters moved together into a different room when they were 6 & 8. No issues, no trauma, they were all just ready. Looking back on it, I am soooo happy we had… Read more »
Karen C.
3 years 8 months ago

I moved both kids fairly easily into their own beds between 18 months and 2yo. There was a bit of transition time when I would need to lie down with them until they fell asleep, but my 2y2m daughter can now be put to bed with simply a pat and a kiss.

Bed-sharing/co-sleeping teaches a child that you will always be there for them, and that feeling of comfort and security transfers to their own bed/room when the family is ready.

Karen C.
3 years 8 months ago

Meant to also recommend the book “Good Nights” by Jay Gordon – it’s all about bed-sharing and ways to make it work safely for your family, including transitioning kids to their own bed(s).

ragwort
ragwort
3 years 8 months ago

We co-slept with both daughters, no problems. We were sensible; a very low pillow and a light duvet and no alcohol etc. It was so much better for breastfeeding at night, which I learnt to do in the dark! Here in the UK it is also frowned on, but I now have 2 well adjusted independent young women. I think they started with a strong physical basis of knowing how much they were loved and cared for. I just felt right for us, but we didn’t shout about it.

Kathy S.
3 years 8 months ago
I’m convinced co-sleeping saved my daughter’s life. She was very mucusy as a newborn and there were times when she would struggle to breathe because her airway was blocked. I slept with her on my chest and a bulb aspirator in my hand for her first month of life and there were many times I would wake suddenly to find her squirming and struggling — completely silently. I never would have heard that on a baby monitor and she would have suffocated on her own fluids. She continued to share a bed with my husband and me until she was… Read more »
Dalton K.
Dalton K.
3 years 8 months ago

Is it possible that the the entire Grok family co-slept until it was time for the children to have their own families?

Rob R.
Rob R.
3 years 8 months ago
I think something that’s important to remember is that regardless of what studies say, you’ll always wind up doing what your little study of N=1 (i.e. yourself) is comfortable with. My wife and I were pretty firm that we’d co-sleep up to a point and then transition the kids. Well, then our 1st was in the NICU and got used to sleeping on her own. The 2nd needed co-sleeping badly. My wife has night terrors and wakes up twice a night and THROWS the blankets, jumps up, and sprints for another room before she stops herself (not a good time… Read more »
Paul
Paul
3 years 8 months ago

+1, exactly.

sara
sara
3 years 8 months ago
I think co-sleeping is great (and just as safe as non-co-sleeping when done correctly). They even make those cool co-sleepers that attach to the bed now (great for small beds & those concerned with rolling over). My personal issue with co-sleeping is that even while I nursed in bed with baby next to me I still got up afterwards to change his diaper! It wasn’t like I could just stay half-asleep the whole time. I wonder if some co-sleeping (& nursing) parents don’t do night-time diaper changes?? I was always worried about the diaper leaking or baby getting diaper rash… Read more »
MathTeacher
MathTeacher
3 years 8 months ago
We co-slept with both of our boys and I very quickly gave up on the night time diaper change. Since I was exclusively breastfeeding for at least 5 months, neither got diaper rash even from night poops. I think breastmilk has the perfect composition for the babies to use almost all of the nutrients and not leave much to be excreted. I had a waterproof mattress pad under our regular mattress pad in case of leaks, but leaks were very uncommon. Just make sure the mattress pad and sheet are VERY tight fitting so that no lumps or wrinkles can… Read more »
Stef
Stef
3 years 8 months ago

I honestly only change maybe 2-3 X a night but we also cloth diaper and with 2-3 soakers inside the diaper the part that she sits on doesn’t really get soaking but more damp and during the day we practice elimination communication so no diaper rash here.

Madama Butterfry
Madama Butterfry
3 years 8 months ago

How about baby Grok never wearing nappies? (Diapers). Just got my 3yr old potty trained, what a ‘mare. There are whole societies who never touch the things right?
Anyone?

Amy
Amy
3 years 8 months ago
That’s true that other modern cultures don’t have diapers and I’m sure Grokette didn’t either. I’m also sure that dirt floors help. 🙂 We did some experimenting with #3 going diaper free. Our results were that we didn’t have the time to as a family to attend her at the level that would make it work. Diapers allow time shifting when lots of things are going on. Learning her signals meant a lot of mess initially (which is okay), but it was just too much with the other children. We just didn’t want to spend cumulative hours chasing after accidents,… Read more »
Sheila
3 years 8 months ago
We did regular potty training with my older son and it was a nightmare. Took over a year and he still has accidents. I figured it would be just as much work whenever we did it, so why not do it sooner. We started elimination communication with #2 at six weeks. Really, it’s much less work than I expected. Especially with cloth diapers, it saves on the laundry every time you get a pee in the potty. And don’t get me started on NOT having to clean sticky yellow poo off of, well, everything. Having hardwood floors does help with… Read more »
Diane
Diane
3 years 8 months ago
We have a family bed made up of a king and queen mattress on the floor. We sleep with our 6 year old and 2.5 year old. We have always co-slept and I am confident that when my kids are ready they will ask for their own bed. In the meantime there is nothing so wonderful as snuggling with both my babies. And I am right there for the vomit, nightmares, potty breaks! Going to bed is never a struggle for us since we all just cuddle in together. The cry that babies make when left alone in a crib… Read more »
Pure Hapa
Pure Hapa
3 years 8 months ago

Amen.

And as a culture we continue to separate ourselves from each other physically and emotionally until we die.

R-grok
R-grok
3 years 8 months ago

We co-slept with both baby groks. Older BG moved to a twin bed in our room when younger BG was born and came into our king bed. Then both moved to a bunk-bed in the same room when the youngest turned three. That absolutely got us the best sleep any if us could have at that stage.

Katie
Katie
3 years 8 months ago

We had twins so co sleeping in a queen bed just wasn’t an option but my twins co slept (with eachother)until almost 6 months old . With just one baby I imagine it would be easier but I still think it would disrupt my sleep. I don’t believe that humans co slept in the past but would have room shared. This is what bassinets are for and they’ve been around a long time. Safer and still keeps baby close.

Michelle
Michelle
3 years 8 months ago

“I don’t believe that humans co slept in the past but would have room shared.”

Sorry, I am fascinated by the history of mothering and have looked into this several times in the past. It absolutely was the way it was done in the past. AND The majority of the world STILL co-sleeps. Separate sleeping is a relatively new idea and found mostly in Western culture.

Stefanie L.
Stefanie L.
3 years 8 months ago
I think it is really a choice every family needs to make. My son went in his own room at about 2 months, because I just couldn’t sleep with him right next to me. He made so many little noises and I would instantly wake up at the slightest noise, so it worked better to have him in another room. My daughter stayed in a crib in our room for a little longer, but is now in her own room and doing well. Again, I think it is choice everyone needs to make depending on what works best for them.… Read more »
sara
sara
3 years 8 months ago
One more thing – I have just started reading your new book, Mark! Something struck me about following our instincts – totally agree that we need to do this more often! It just feels right. I never realized the important of “instincts” until being a mother. Man, those motherly instincts are strong (I’m sure fatherly ones are too). Anyway, I think a lot of new moms are somewhat unhappy because on the one hand they are trying to conform to societal norms (raising & teaching an “independent baby”) while on the other hand they have very strong instincts to do… Read more »
Jeremy
Jeremy
3 years 8 months ago

We co-slept with all four babies. They all turned out like brats, but don’t know if co-sleeping had anything to do with it…

Sarah
Sarah
3 years 8 months ago

I slept with my little ones in the crook of my arm, and that way I never lost track of where they were or what was near their face, plus that put them right by their food source, so to speak.

Joshua
Joshua
3 years 8 months ago
We might try this with our next one. Mostly because it would be our fourth child in a three bedroom house. So either we co-sleep or the other kids co-sleep. But not because of the “animals do it” argument. Animals also eat their young as often as not. Animals desert their young at early ages. Animals let their pack raise their young. Animals don’t make BA salads for their young. Etc. What about when the wife and I would like a little skin on skin ourselves? What about when the baby needs to go to sleep at 8 but we… Read more »
Sheila
3 years 8 months ago

I start the baby off in his bedside crib and bring him into bed once he wakes up during the night. It’s much easier for me to wind down in the evening if it’s just us parents in the bed at first. And that makes the transition easy — as he starts sleeping longer and longer stretches, he spends less and less time in our bed. We moved my first son out at about a year and he was fine because he was already sleeping through the night in the bedside crib.

Dan Halli
Dan Halli
3 years 8 months ago
We’re now co-sleeping (bed sharing) with child #4. Child #3 still spends most of the night in our bed as well. Really- it’s great. It may not be for everyone… I was hesitant at first. After the first night, I was won over. I believe not only does it promote better sleep for both the parent(s) and child(ren), but it helps create a closeness. Our 7 year old decided on her own at 3 years old to sleep in her own bed, in our bedroom. At 6 years old she decided to move into her own room. Our 3 year… Read more »
K
K
3 years 8 months ago
This was wonderful to read. I have a 9 week old that I have been fighting the co-sleeping phenomenon with; resulting in tears, frustration and poor sleep for both of us, simply because I felt guilty that it was not the ‘right’ thing to do. Upon reading this I feel it’s ‘right’ for us, and won’t fight it anymore. I usually prop myself up in a semi reclining position with pillows and have the lil princess lay on her belly on my chest with my arms around her. There’s no danger involved- I woke up this morning with my arms… Read more »
Karen C.
3 years 8 months ago

Please look into safe co-sleeping practices. Soft pillows can be a no-no depending on the set up.

“Good Nights” by Jay Gordon is one book that has a lot of good info. Good info can also be found on mothering.com

Kathy
3 years 8 months ago

I slept that way a lot with both of my girls when they were really young. I couldn’t put them down without them waking up. Glad it’s working for you.

jj
jj
3 years 8 months ago
I’ll pipe in here to say that no arrangement is perfect for all families. I’m a big advocate of room sharing when babies are young because it helped me get more sleep, but bed sharing actually didn’t work for us. The combination of being large chested with a very small baby (<10th percentile) meant that in order to breastfeed I had to actually sit up to nurse every time, even in the middle of the night. It was actually easier to accomplish with my son in his own space than it was when he shared a bed with me, since… Read more »
Diane
Diane
3 years 8 months ago

Actually I am a 32g and you don’t have to nurse sitting up. Nursing lying den takes some practice but is awesome. And bing so large cheated I never have to physically move my baby to the other breast because it reached the baby!

ADJ
ADJ
3 years 8 months ago

I’m a step Mom to an 8 year old girl. She’s with us 3 nights and week and with her Mom 4 nights. Since their divorce, my step daughter has slept in the bed with her mom, naked. She has always slept in her own room, in her own bed at our house. I’m hoping for some feedback to suggest that continuing co-sleeping until the time the child is in 2nd grade is inappropriate. Not that I can change the situation, just looking for validation!

Michelle
Michelle
3 years 8 months ago

Unless there is something else going on besides sleeping, there’s nothing inappropriate about it.

Stef
Stef
3 years 8 months ago

I was still going into my parents bedroom,naked at that age. Is it the nakedness or the cosleeping that makes you feel is inappropriate?

erikaS
erikaS
3 years 8 months ago

Why would this be inappropriate? Her mother is her mother. I don’t think how they sleep is any of your business to be honest. I would say keep your opinion out of this very personal situation.

Naked does not mean perverted. It is your issue with nakedness that is the problem, not your husband’s ex wife.

ADJ
ADJ
3 years 8 months ago

BTW they have been divorced since she was 2 1/2…

Megan
Megan
3 years 8 months ago
I think this post is useful because it presents a new light on a practice that is often portrayed negatively in today’s society, yet it is certainly a valid option for parents. However, posts like these are tough because most of us are here trying to learn about optimal health and what is most “natural” for our bodies. So when a practice (such as co-sleeping)is presented, it’s basically considered the “right” thing to do. Thus those who have chosen not to do so are left defending their decision against the majority. I think in general people should be left to… Read more »
Amy
Amy
3 years 8 months ago
” Thus those who have chosen not to do so are left defending their decision against the majority.” No, you’re not. The best advise I ever got regarding well thought out personal decisions was: “don’t apologize and don’t explain”. When I hang out with vegans/vegetarians I feel no particular need to defend or apologize for my carnivorous side. If they have a problem, they need to speak up so we can come up with mutual solution. Social empathy yes, is an important skill, but telepathy, alas, was is not something I can ever hope to acquire. What I like about… Read more »
William
William
3 years 8 months ago

For those of you asking what would the real Grok family do….well Grok would have raised children with the extended family. Most primitive cultures today (and many all over the world) heavily involve Aunts and Grandmothers in baby care. Truly, it would be rare for a mother to do more than 75% of the work in a real “Grok” situation. There would even be shared breast feeding amongst lactating mothers.

Pure Hapa
Pure Hapa
3 years 8 months ago

Yes. In Asia, we slept on the heated floor on large futon-type mattresses. During the day, when I wasn’t strapped on my mother’s back, I was strapped to Grandma or someone else. We no longer have the extended family/village life that others have. Sadly, Asians are now adopting Western ideals of living in separate homes away from extended family, and buying Western-style beds.

Amy
Amy
3 years 8 months ago
“Truly, it would be rare for a mother to do more than 75% of the work in a real “Grok” situation.” Maybe, maybe not. This is the idealized version of an extended family. Let me tell you about mine… Out of our parents, my father is hands down the most awesome of all them. However he is very uncomfortable with anything to with infants because, well, he just nervous and doesn’t want to be wrong. My FIL is sweet guy but he defaults completely to my MIL’s opinions on almost everything. My MIL is woman with serious control and emotional… Read more »
ponymama
ponymama
3 years 8 months ago

I am a 10 1/2 year old girl(on my moms e-mail). I co-slept tell about 3 years old . And if i am sick or upset still do.

Rhonda the Red
Rhonda the Red
3 years 8 months ago

It is awesome that you are reading Marks’ Daily Apple! My daughter also co-slept with us until she was six. Now she is 18 and a very happy, independent young lady. You got a great start! Keep it up!

Kathy
3 years 8 months ago

This just reminded me… I slept with my parents off and on til at least 6. But the last time slept with them I was home from college, about 19, and there was a small earthquake (large enough to wake us up). My dad came into my room and invited me into their bed, where I slept comfortably between my parents, and we were all together in case of another earthquake!

Anna
Anna
3 years 8 months ago
I co-slept with my older daughter out of necessity, to get some sleep. I said I’d never do it again, and here I am 2.5yrs into it with my second one. Once again out of necessity, to get sleep. Some nights are good, some nights I want her to wean & learn to sleep on her own. I sleep in my kids room & sneak off to see my dh for alone time. I don’t have the heart to cry my toddler out. I do enjoy the special bond with my children and I know one day soon they will… Read more »
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