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January 23 2013

Co-Sleeping: How to Do It Safely

By Mark Sisson
243 Comments

Co-SleepingLast week, I broached the topic of co-sleeping. The reception was almost unanimously positive, with plenty of you chiming in with your own c0-sleeping success stories. Before you toss the crib, however, realize that co-sleeping isn’t as simple as flopping down in bed with your baby and drifting off to sleep. Co-sleeping is a healthy, effective, and arguably “natural” way to raise independent children, but it must be done safely. Remember those studies I cited last week where co-sleeping was associated with infant deaths? Yeah, when co-sleeping is done poorly or incorrectly or unsafely, it becomes an effective way to harm children. Sadly, most parents no longer have access to the “village,” that treasure trove of knowledge full of parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and infinite cousins with parenting advice for days, so we read books, and articles, and magazines, and blogs for tips and knowledge. These aren’t the same, sure, but they are helpful in their own way. Certainly better than left to fend for ourselves.

So, how does one co-sleep safely?

First off, let’s go over what not to do. Let’s identify unsafe co-sleeping. It may sound like a lot of don’ts, but c’mon – these are our kids!

Co-Sleeping DON’Ts

Do not smoke, drink, or use drugs that affect judgment and awareness (prescription, illegal, or over the counter – think Tylenol PM), especially before bed.

Overlaying (where a sleeping parent absentmindedly rolls over onto the child) is a rare occurrence that pretty much only happens when the parent is too messed up to wake up and realize they’ve just rolled over onto a small human. A sober, alert parent will wake up if it ever happens. Heck, I sometimes have to hide the ball from Buddha (my lab) in bed at night to keep him from pestering me to toss it, and if I roll over onto it, I wake up in a flash. A huge part of the benefit of co-sleeping is the increased awareness of the baby’s position and status, but being inebriated removes that entirely.

Avoid tobacco altogether. 

You know how when a smoker comes into the room, you know it just from sniffing? That smell only lingers because the smoke itself – with all the tars and toxins – lingers on the clothes, in the hair, and on the skin of the person who smokes. Now imagine how much of that smoke the baby will be ingesting, and just how little smoke is needed to hurt the little thing. This goes for mom, dad, and, you know what? Just make the entire house smoke-free and don’t let people smoke around the baby. They’re a lot more sensitive to the stuff than we are.

Don’t let babies sleep next to other children or pets.

As sensitive as your dog is, there’s a good chance he’ll think nothing of walking all over this strange new creature in the night, scratching its tender feet, or laying a fluffy tail across its nasal passageway. Toddlers, who are even less thoughtful than dogs and have opposable thumbs, are probably even worse.

Do not co-sleep on the couch, sofa, loveseat, or recliner.

Couches are plush and cushy, and they have cushions that infant heads slip between all too easily. They’re elevated off the ground and relatively narrow, meaning the baby can easily fall off and crack something. I’ll make an allowance for rickety wooden rocking chairs, but avoid doing so in a room full of cats.

Be careful with very small, very young infants.

By virtue of their diminutive size, very small infants are more susceptible to being smothered, crushed, or otherwise roughly manhandled. Plus, if this is your first kid, or your first attempt at co-sleeping, you’re already going to be nervous about what to do and how to do it and likely sleep-deprived. Consider room-sharing for the first few weeks to months, where the baby sleeps in an adjoining cot or mattress. You can still reach out and touch those cute puffy cheeks, but you won’t worry about making any catastrophic mistakes.

Don’t co-sleep if you’re a heavy sleeper, are excessively sleep deprived, are obese (disregard if you’re a bodybuilder with obese BMI; just cool it on the pec popping) and/or have sleep apnea.

These conditions will all reduce one’s ability to stay apprised of what’s going on in the bed. You need to be sensitive to your child if you’re going to share the bed safely. They may also make any mistakes made all the more damaging. If you’re severely sleep deprived – which will happen fairly often – consider keeping an adjoining cot/bed/crib in the room next to your bed so that you can still room share when necessary.

Don’t use thick bedding.

Huge frothy comforters full of imitation goose down are unnecessary for most people and downright dangerous (suffocation, smothering, overheating risk) for young babies. Even normal pillows and blankets can be excessive for infants; consider that most crib babies are bedded down with minimal bedding, a sheet or light blanket at most. That’s kinda what the adult co-sleeping bed should look like, too.

Don’t use overly soft mattresses.

Don’t use anything that you or the baby can “sink” into, like beanbag mattresses or those really soft beds that some people seem to like. Water beds are out, obviously, and not just because it’s no longer the 1980s.

Don’t co-sleep if not everyone is onboard. 

Co-sleeping is a family event. Both mom and dad need to be up for it for it to work. If there’s major anxiety about the method, I have to think it’s going to manifest as poor sleep (or worse).

Co-Sleeping DOs

Keep the bed low, preferably on the floor.

Make sure the bed is as low as you can manage it. This will make any falls less catastrophic, and as a bonus, it will force you to do more “floor living.” Those with carpeting can get away with higher beds, while those with hardwood flooring are advised to go a bit lower.

Use a firm mattress.

There should be minimal “give” to the sleeping surface. This will reduce the chance of suffocation.

Use a tight-fitting sheet.

Make sure the sheet fits well, without bunching up. Bunched up sheets can be a choking or suffocation hazard.

Breast feed.

Studies show that breast feeding makes for safe co-sleeping, while bottle feeding is associated with SIDS. According to James McKenna, the “breast feeding-bedsharing landscape is highly differentiated from the bottle feeding-bedsharing landscape.” (PDF) In his clinical experience, “breast feeding mothers typically keep their babies away from pillows, position their infants on their backs, placing them below their shoulders, while raising their arms above them,” and they “lay on their sides… in ways that can prevent accidental overlays.”

Put the kid next to mom, not wedged in between mom and dad.

By virtue of not having given birth, the dad is going to be less “connected” to the baby and possibly less aware during the night. Plus, a big advantage of co-sleeping is the ease of breast feeding, and you don’t want your baby getting confused in the middle of the night, reaching for the wrong breast, and ending up with a mouthful of hairy man nipple (although that would definitely establish a connection between father and child).

Place your baby on its back to sleep.

Sleeping in the supine position (on its back) is the safest way for a baby to sleep and reduces the risk of SIDS.

Eliminate any crevasses that the baby could fall into.

If the bed is up against a wall or headboard, make sure it is flush against the surface – no cracks or openings. Some people even pull their bed away from the wall to eliminate the possibility of getting stuck between the bed and the wall. If you can’t eliminate the crevasses, consider pulling the bed away from the wall. Products like these are also helpful for preventing falls or crevasse wedging.

Get a bigger bed.

When it comes to co-sleeping, bigger is usually better, particularly when you start introducing multiple co-sleepers.

Pay close attention to the list of don’ts up above.

Don’t do the don’ts.

I’d highly recommend picking up a copy of James McKenna’s book on the subject, Sleeping With Your Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Cosleeping. It’s under $10, it’s a quick read, and it’s written by the premier expert.

And whatever happens, don’t feel like you have to co-sleep. Try room sharing, perhaps, which offers most of the same benefits as bed sharing. Convert cribs into side-cars that sit alongside the adult bed, thereby making it bigger. Just do what works for you and your family.

Now let’s hear from you guys. Co-sleepers: how did you do it? What did you learn? What didn’t you do? How did you determine co-sleeping was right for you? Everyone else: what made you choose the methods you chose? Let’s get a good discussion going. Let’s get our own village established.

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243 thoughts on “Co-Sleeping: How to Do It Safely”

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  1. Babeeeeeez. Wonderful tips! Love the picture of the baby and mum at top. There’s a product called the Snuggle Nest that some couples might find useful, too, if they feel worried but want the baby in the bed.

    1. I looked up the snuggle nest. Not only can you sleep with your baby in the bed without worry, it apparently allows you to look like a model and sleep with flawless hair and makeup! 😉 joking aside, that looks like a good solution. Has anyone had experience just sharing rooms rather than beds? I’m kind of a roly poly sleeper… I would be anxious about flying squirreling it right over my baby. My hypothetical non-existent baby.

      1. We did a combination of bed-sharing and room-sharing with our twins. We had the Arms Reach Full sized co-sleeper and they shared that until about 9 months. One twin usually ended up in the big bed before the night was over. Because tey started to try to crawl out of the co-sleeper we transitioned them to their own cribs still in the same room for a few months. Around 11 months we moved them to their own room. We do not have good sleepers (they take after their Dad) and at 15 months I still wind up bed-sharing with one several times per week (more if they’re teething).

      2. We’ve mostly room-shared. i had her in a cradle next to my bed and would pull her in with me to nurse and then pop her back or keep her with me. now her crib is in our room and she’s over a year old. we actually moved it back from being in her own room more for my mommy anxiety and being able to respond to her quicker in the morning.

      3. We co-slept/room shared with both our boys. We each had our own beds- Mom and Dad in a queen, 6 year old in his twin, and 13 month old in his twin all laid side by side on the floor. It worked well as each mattress was just a couple inches taller/shorter than the one next to it so for the most part everyone stayed in their own beds.

      4. For the first year of my daughter’s life, we were in a studio apartment. For four months, she was in a bassinet right up against the bed (in a snuggle nest, too). We would have put her in the bed, but I was worried there wasn’t enough room for the three of us. After 4 months, she was put in a crib on the other side of the room (about 6 feet away). To be honest, I slept horribly through that first year because every sound she made woke me up. She was a great sleeper, but made lots of noise. When we moved in a house when she was a year old, she got her own room and I finally started sleeping again. However, now that she’s almost 3, when I do share a room with her (because she’s sick), I sleep better than usual. She doesn’t make noise in her sleep anymore and it feels very comforting to be so close to her.

      5. I have 16 month old twins (jake and june) who both have cribs in our room. June ALWAYS wakes us up to hop into bed with us but Jake stays in his bed usually and they are both happy, healthy, smart and surprisingly very well behaved. I don’t know if that has anything to do with them sleeping with us but that’s my observation.

      6. Susie, don’t you know that all first time and other time moms are supposed to look perfect and the parents are a total FAILURE if they do not.
        I sincerely think the most important thing parents can do is to make their decisions for the best good of the child AND to trust their decisions. (Especially of the other parent!)

      7. Yes! We love our Snuggle Nest! We tried the crib at first but I couldn’t bare to leave her all alone! My husband was reluctant at first but after 2 nights he loved it. Now we’re dreading when she outgrows it.

    2. The Snuggle Nest was great until my son figured out how to wiggle out of it and over to me. Then we had to worry about him wiggling off the bed. We have alternated between having him in the crib and in our bed. At nine months old, he still prefers to sleep touching me.

      We had our daughter in our room for three months, but she wouldn’t sleep unless she was alone. Some babies don’t take well to co-sleeping or room sharing.

      1. Thank you for saying this. I’ve been experiencing some mother-guilt over not co-sleeping with our kids, but none of them ever stopped moving, kicking, or screaming while in bed with us. Once in the crib, though, they settled and slept for hours at a stretch, waking enough to fuss for some food and then return to sleep.

        I breastfed all of them and thought co-sleeping would be best to help avoid sleep deprivation, but in our case it only made it worse. The best solution for us was baby in crib (but in our room until 9mo or so).

        1. Us moms feel guilty about some of the silliest things, don’t we? (I am right there with you when it comes to the mommy guilt – over other issues.) There are plenty of benefits for room sharing too. And if that didn’t work for you, then there would be nothing wrong with a crib in another room. As long as you went with the best solution for your family, which you did, you’re good. Even when you don’t just remember that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. We are going to make mistakes, but our children will be fine. And there is no “one size fits all” parenting technique, because every child is different. So go easy on yourself.

        2. I was told as a baby I was this way too. As an adult, I prefer having my own bed, so maybe it is just how some people are!

    3. You can also get a co-sleeper that attaches to the side of the bed. They keep baby at arms reach without actually having them in the bed

    4. My daughter, at 10 days, scooted out of the snuggle nest so she was lying right next to me–which is where she wanted to be! So, that was it for the snuggle nest!

      1. Same thing here. Not sure exactly how old but all of our kids snuggled up to us (mainly momma). Right out of the nest.

    5. Co-sleeping can be done safely with just the simple application of common sense. We co-slept with our two daughters for 5 years, and we gradually let them get accustomed to their own beds and now they sleep in their own beds as a preference. On weekends they both jump into our bed when they wake up in the morning. This time is very precious and they are never going to babies again so enjoy it while you can.

      1. Hi Gus-
        I’d love to hear more of your story. We’ve got a 2 1/2 year old who co sleeps with me. Mom sleeps in another room to get a full nights rest. santryrush@gmail.com I’d love some pointers moving into the next year or two

    6. sadly, my son who is a city police officer has been first on scene of 3 co-sleeping fatalities in the last 3 years! when they had their baby recently,they used a rock-n-play next to their bed….

    7. We co slept with all four of our children. They all weaned around 18 months to 2 years. My husband and I loved the bonding time and happy little face to wake up to.:)

  2. We used the Arm’s Reach co-sleeper, which is kind of like a mini-crib that sits alongside the bed. It was very useful when the kids were very small and waking frequently in the night. We did find that the kids outgrew it fairly quickly – probably 3-4 months old, if I remember correctly. After that we found that one of our kids actually slept better in a separate room, and the other didn’t sleep no matter what we did anyway. 🙂

    1. I thought of this when I read Mark’s DON’T regarding tiny babies – that’s exactly when cosleeping (with breastfeeding) offers the greatest benefits in protecting against sleep deprivation in the parents. By the motto ‘begin as you intend to continue’ it makes sense to work out how you’re going to sleep early on.
      Babies are so primal that feeling and smelling their parents is often key to relaxing enough to sleep. It felt unfair to me to spend all day building connections to my child, only to ask them to enter alone the most vulnerable state for the human body.

      1. I agree with Mark on tiny babies. Mine was 5.5 lbs when she was born, I felt she was WAYYY too tiny for cosleeping. She slept in a crib beside my bed. Starting around 4 months I’d let her sleep with me after her early AM feeding, by 7 months we were cosleeping.

  3. We did not co-sleep with our kids. Nor did we sleep in the same room. When our kids were babies, they slept in a crib directly across the hall from our room. Both doors were left open, so they were at most 15 feet away and we could hear anything going on.

    We’re not opposed to co-sleeping in general, but it just wasn’t for us. My wife has a medical condition that requires prescription medication that can pass through breast milk, meaning we had no choice but to bottle feed. My wife also uses a CPAP machine. Finally, I’m a really light sleeper and I have trouble falling back asleep if I’m woken up.

    So unfortunately for us, we had to do the separate rooms thing. That said, our girls are well adjusted and healthy.

    1. Jon – It’s really okay. YMMV with co-sleeping and yours is one of those unique situations where co-sleeping is not the answer. I never bought into the idea that there’s some sort of “permanent” damage from co-sleeping or not. I still don’t. It’s about infants and parents getting enough sleep. If it’s happening, it’s all good. 🙂 (At least from my point of view.)

  4. We started with the arm’s reach cosleeper and managed to get our son into it a few times but usually he slept right next to me. As he’s gotten older we sidecarred crib to a queen sized bed and all of us have plenty of space.

  5. While he’s sleeping in his own room now (I can’t believe how LOUD babies are when they sleep), wee have co-slept with our 6-week old several times since he was born and slept with him in the same room for the first few weeks after he was born. I’m a fairly heavy sleeper, but I slept on my back with him in between my arm and my side and I felt like I was super aware of what I was doing and was never worried about rolling over on him. We still sometimes cuddle and doze together when he feeds at night, and there have been a few nights when we’ve brought him into our bed to sleep when he’s been fussy but not hungry or needing to be changed. In short, I LOVE co-sleeping and would do it every night if he didn’t make zoo noises when he sleeps, which disturbs Daddy.

  6. Mothers have hormones at the end of her pregnancy and following birth that make her a light sleeper. As mentioned above, this does not happen with dad.

    We got the snuggle nest (with the plastic looking family in it) and used it half the first night and once when I was over-tired. It’s nice to have, but it defeats the purpose of bed sharing. Having your newborn against you will do several things: regulate temperature, regulate breathing, and it is difficult to nurse in the snuggle nest.

    I highly recommend safely bedsharing if the parent feel comfortable doing so! Our 21 month daughter is still in bed with us, though sometimes she prefers her cot on the floor next to us.

    1. Yes, the hormones are crazy! I am 8 months pregnant and all of a sudden EVERYTHING wakes me up! I’m such a light sleeper now. Noises that normally don’t phase me (the heater turning on, wind, the dogs rustling) make me jump out of bed now!

      We have a white noise machine for when baby arrives but I’m going to try using it for myself tonight (to drown out the small noises that are waking me up too often). I remember being VERY easily woken when my son was an infant too… I would literally jump out of bed if he made the slightest peep while my husband didn’t hear a thing (or pretended not to!).

    2. Hormonal changes are amazing. I slept with my babies a lot but didn’t learn until I started having what I thought were hot flashes when my youngest (of four) was sick. Turns out the mother’s breast tissue will heat up as much as 4° (can’t remember where I read this) in response to a baby having a hard time staying warm enough. It would even happen when I had her in a bassinet next to the bed and had just a hand on her.

  7. I am still presently co-sleeping with my almost 1 yr. old son. It has been such a wonderful thing for us. Since I nurse him, its hard to imagine him sleeping anywhere else but next to me!! Great tips and co-sleep on!

  8. we’ve co-slept with all four of our children. i sleep better, they sleep through the night faster, it’s a win-win. we do have a crib for naps.
    a giant pool noodle under the bottom sheet is a far cheaper alternative to the amazon product linked above.
    yes, children adjust to sleeping alone, but we are the ONLY species that thinks that’s normal. animals ALWAYS sleep with their young, we should too.

  9. I co sleept with all of my children(3) I was always aware and noticed our breating was in sync so even a change would wake me.I slept lightly and never had any accidents.

    When the bed became too crowded eithr by the addition of a sibling or the child getting older they moved out,onto the floor or their own bed.

    Ok not to everyones taste but it worked for us

  10. We coslept with our babies and followed these same “rules” except we did have baby in the middle sometimes (reverse cyclers need to switch boobs in the night, so we flip flopped accordingly)but our bed is HUGE so it wasn’t an issue.

    1. Us too, Stacey. We always had our son in the middle – which I suppose could be considered a bad thing if you ignored any of the other precautions. But I wouldn’t have felt safe with him on the other side of me – at the time we lived in a beautiful *old* apartment on the east coast, with equally beautiful *hard*wood floors. I just wouldn’t have chanced it. Anyway he turns 10 at the end of this month, so we made it. 😉

    2. We also slept with our daughter in the middle, most of the time. It is a king size bed, which allowed us plenty of space, and she slept closer to me, since I was nursing. I’d move her to the other side whenever I switched breasts. The bed is in a corner, so there was no risk of her falling out, and we kept it snug against the wall.

      I did break the rule about OTC medication that can affect your awareness. My allergies were crazy bad, and are still problematic, so I took generic Benedryl (diphenhydramine HCl – which is the sleep aid in Tylenol PM and others) throughout my pregnancy and while nursing. Of course, I’d taken it for years, so it no longer made me sleepy and still doesn’t.

    3. I almost forgot, we broke the rule about letting animals sleep with the baby as well. Trying to keep the cats out of the bed was useless. During the day, when my daughter napped in her crib, it was not unusual to find a cat curled up in one or more corner of the crib (sometimes all 4). As she got bigger, they’d sleep closer to her, eventually snuggled up against her or laying on top of her.

  11. I coslept with both of my daughters for 4-6 months…usually after the first nightly waking they’d stay in bed thereafter and I’d periodically roll to the other side and give them the other boob each time they woke up. I only started after about 6 weeks because before that they sleep so easily on their own that they could go back into the crib without complaints. I tried the Snuggle Nest for a while, but you still have to take the baby out of it before feeding them (or, my boobs aren’t long enough – lol). So it was not as nice as letting them eat while I slept soundly next to them, but a good alternative indeed for the parents that are aprehensive. I do remember a couple of times rolling briefly onto my second daughter and I woke immediately (no drugs or smoking here). With my third, my son, he never slept in the bed because I heard too many SIDS stories by then and got the “tsk tsk” from a lot of people when I told them about my daughters sleeping in the bed with me. But, it was my choice and it felt so natural that it made sense for us.

  12. Very useful post!

    I think that the issue of infant sleeping position could be examined more closely. The medical institute might be mistaken regarding the added safety of the supine sleeping position.

    1. Back in the day when my kids were babies (30 to 40 years ago)the prevailing wisdom was to put the baby on its side, so if it vomited, it wouldn’t choke. Made sense to me then. Still does. I breastfed, but had a cradle next to the bed. When feeding, the baby’s head was on my arm, and I could doze. Later, the baby’s sucking in his/her sleep would wake me, and I’d put them in the cradle so I could go into deeper sleep.

  13. My daughter however did exactly the opposite her baby was left to cry itself to sleep in a separate room.

    My babies were content and happy,hers is a bit of a madam who knows if the sleeping affected anything

  14. Co-sleeping worked great for us for all sorts of reasons. Never any accidents or incidents. The big benefit now that he’s older is that he never went through the ‘nightmare/boogie man under the bed’ stage that so many children seem to go through. Sleep was always a safe, cozy experience for him, not one wraught with fear and feelings of being abandoned (when tiny). He’s got great sleep habits now. I’d say that’s a huge benefit right there. Thanks for this post – it’s an important one!

    1. I have never considered that complex developing from fears of being alone at night! Thank you for the insight

      1. We’ve gone from 4 billion people to 7 billion people in 40 years. How bout we cut way back on the kids so our planet can survive. If the earth is destroyed, there won’t be any kids to sleep, co-sleep, cuddle, etc. Another problem is they keep having shows on countries where there is famine, like Ethiopia…millions starving to death. It’s not that they don’t have lots of food production there, it’s because of way too many people. David Attenborough from England has some chilling info. on the world population.

        1. Well, to begin with I’m pretty sure the *planet* will survive most anything we throw at it. 🙂 There’s been life around for billions of years and it’s survived several catastrophes already (as far as we can tell). I think it’s a tad ego-centric to think we are the final Bringers of Doom for Planet Earth.

          So it’s really our bacon we need to worry about. As much as I love David Attenborough’s accent, I’m pretty sure that no one really knows what the carrying capacity of the Earth is. It’s all guess work and I betcha noone thought we’d get to this many people 300 or 400 hundred years ago. We don’t really know what’s sustainable until it well, stops.

          As it is, another black death like plague could decimate the Earth’s population pretty quickly. (That might perk up those who think there are “extra” humans, just like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.) Another 40 years from now, we could be looking back fondly on the golden years of high population.

          At any rate, fertility rates are dropping everywhere on the planet. Developed countries no longer replace themselves, developing countries are seeing their fertility rates drop as women become more educated and have more options with their lives. It’s unlikely that the next 100 years will bring problems of an over population; rather it will be what do with an aging population.

          Phew! The executive summary: have the number of children you feel that is responsible on a personal and environmental level. Any other future population considerations/predictions are quite like the weather — to be taken with hardy dose of pickle brine.

        2. Funny thing — to bring this back on topic — cosleeping increases the effect of lactational amenorrhea. That is to say, if you breastfeed and cosleep, your kids will naturally be spaced further apart. This may be way out in left field — I’ve never heard anyone say it before — but I wonder if the baby boom was caused/increased by people suddenly switching to bottle-feeding instead of breastfeeding and putting kids in cribs in a separate room on the advice of their doctors … both things that have been pretty much unknown for the rest of history. It’s pretty rare to exclusively breastfeed and cosleep and have a baby every year. Many hunter-gatherer tribes go three or four years without getting pregnant again, taking no other precautions.

        3. @Sheila,

          My parents subscribed to that theory of natural contraception and were still breastfeeding my brother, but I messed it up – there’s only 18 months between us 😉
          Clearly I just couldn’t wait that long.

    2. We did not co-sleep with our kids, and neither of them developed the ‘nightmare/boogie man under the bed’ stage either.

    3. My son has never slept well, with occasional night terrors and we co-slept and breastfed him. My eldest daughter falls asleep in 5 minutes flat, never wakes up and we co-slept and breastfed her.

      I have had a lot of good with parenting that had absolutely nothing to do with me. 😉

  15. I love the sidecar idea, and when wife and I bring our first child into the world, that’ll probably be the move for us as I think I’m too nervous to share the exact same bed 🙂
    This has been my favorite series by you, Mark.

    1. We co-slept in a king for the first two and we’re sidecarring a crib with a queen for the third. We all much prefer the sidecar arrangement. The adults keep the smaller bed, there’s always a “safe” adult free place to keep baby, and if Grandma wants to buy the crib she can do it. 🙂

  16. My daughter is 2 1/2, and we’ve been co-sleeping since day one. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach (each parent has a unique situation), but it has worked well for us. I read about it when I was pregnant and thought that I would be too nervous to do it, but once she was born it was the most natural way to go. I had one of those Arm’s Reach Co-sleepers, and I think they’re great, but my baby hated it. She preferred staying in bed with me. This made nighttime feedings a breeze. I was always so warm when she was an infant, so not having the blankets higher than my waist wasn’t a big deal.

  17. I resisted co-sleeping for a few weeks, because the pediatricians kept saying NO NO NO. We upgraded our bed and started co-sleeping. I got more rest than I ever did when we didn’t co-sleep.

    Just a tip, sleep with your arm tucked under your pillow or out, and with a pillow tucked between your legs, it’s almost impossible to roll over.

    Happy safe co-sleeping!

    1. That’s a good tip–you reminded me that this is what I used to do, too. The pillow between your legs and a rolled-up blanket in front of your legs can give you a little more peace of mind.

    2. I usually slept with one arm under my daughter’s head and shoulders. That is how I would position her so she could nurse, and since I often fell back asleep while she was nursing, she stayed there. My husband would sometimes awaken and find me more or less wrapped around my daughter. He said it looked like I was almost laying on her, but with her still laying on my arm, I was not. Sleeping with my arm under my pillow just means that later I will pull my arm out from under it. The pillow between my legs usually winds up on the floor. However, that does not negate the fact that for some people, those are excellent suggestions.

  18. We co-slept the first few days because we hadn’t thought about what else to do, but neither of us were feeling rested because we were afraid we’d hurt the baby. After that we had him sleep in a bassinet right next to the bed, and once he was sleeping through the night we moved him to his crib. If my husband or i take a daytime nap we’ll snuggle up with the baby in bed, but for overnight sleep we all do better with the baby in his crib.

  19. A few years back I saw some research done around co-sleeping that showed the risk of baby’s death during co-sleeping was far, far higher if the baby was formula-fed and/or slept with someone other than the mother. The researchers theorized that mothers who are breastfeeding are more attuned and sleeping less deeply, which provides an evolutionary instinct against rolling over or smothering one’s baby. I think the argument for co-sleeping would be much more solid if it included this variable (which certainly Dr. McKenna touches on in the link above). I work in a hospital where medical staff counsels families against co-sleeping due to some horrendous accidents that have come through here…I wish there was more information given like what’s outlined in this post about how to do it safely. We all know as parents you’re going to sleep in a way that everyone in the family gets the most sleep, so people are always going to co-sleep with babies. It seems like the smart move would be educating people on doing it safely.

    1. Well said. I had no intention of co-sleeping for fear of baby-slaughter, but it happened in spite of the fear and I’m so pleased it did.

      Waking every two to three hours to get up, take the baby from my husband and sit for five minutes till the baby slept again then staying wired awake in case baby woke again- often for three hours till he DID wake again- was literally killing me.
      The fatigue hit torture proportions, I remember it well and it hurt to live. The sweet baby hormones kept me going but what hell is sleep deprivation.

      One night I told my husband (sleeping in the spare room beside the baby in the crib) to put the baby in bed with me- I didn’t have the physical strength to get up.
      This was probably at the 2.5month period. We were the walking dead, so destroyed with sleep deprivation. He did, the baby fed and suddenly we all woke up relatively refreshed at a decent hour, nature had sorted us all out. It’s been like this ever since- 3.5 years.

      Mother nature knows best, it is my firm belief.

    2. totally agree. the idiots who tell everyone not to cosleep clearly didn’t have a baby screaming to be held all night or needing to nurse every hour. two months was all i could take of getting up to feed her, and i think that’s typical – the 2 month power plod, and then the hormones drop. how is it safer to be so sleep deprived you’re getting into car accidents??

  20. We had a full-sized (think playpen sized) arm’s reach cosleeper that we ended up not using as a cosleeper at all. My daughter coslept in our king sized bed with me and daddy, always next to me with her head and shoulders around my breast level, with me on my side facing towards her. We slept this way for the first several months of her life before her snoring and wiggling encouraged us to transition her to the cosleeper bassinet (used with the wall up as a crib). She shared our room for the first 8-9 months of her life but now has her own room because mommy wakes up every time she talks, whimpers, or laughs in her sleep.

    She is the most independent little girl, refuses my cuddles, and has no separation anxiety issues. I mention these things specifically because in any co-sleeping discussion I’ve ever participated in these are the issues people bring up as counter points. Do I think co-sleeping made her this way? No idea, but it certainly didn’t enforce the clinging, crying mess of baby that many people seem to think it does.

    1. Not disagreeing or disputing anything you said, but just to offer another personal story about co-sleeping and room sharing…

      My sister-in-law and husband had their second child share a room with them for the first two years of their son’s life. I believe he slept in a crib that was in their bedroom. Anyway, they decided it was time to transition him to his own bedroom. He literally screamed every night for one month straight. They got no sleep. I remember my brother-in-law telling me about how he’d go to his car on his lunch break and sleep for an hour, because that was often the only good sleep he’d get.

      I don’t know if they tried the transition too soon, or what could have been done differently in their case. I’m sure it could have been handled better somehow by the parents. Nonetheless, this is a true story that turned out badly, at least for them.

      PS. I think I would have gone crazy if that had happened to me!

      1. Jon, it sounds to me like it was just a really *abrupt* transition. I’m not sure why people come up with these strict deadlines for themselves – “Okay, at two years we’re moving him across the hall…”. I can understand how that would be sudden and scary for a tiny person who hasn’t known anything else up to that point. We coslept with our son, and it just kind of tapered off on its own. As it invariably will – they really *don’t* want to sleep with us forever. 😉

        1. Yeah, good point. Like I said, I’m sure they could have handled the situation better. They are great, loving parents that probably thought they were doing the right thing. As we parents know, just like everything else in life, hindsight is often 20/20. 🙂

        2. I don’t remember what triggered them to decide when to make the transition, but my “guess” is that it was time to move him from a crib to a bed. Without calling them up and asking, that’s just a guess, but it would make sense and at least explain their thought process.

  21. My hearing was really acute after the babies came home and sleep was a strange mix of listening but having my eyes closed. I barely slept post-partum and finally both boths moved out around five months. Every click, sigh or lip smack was enough to make me look around. But I can’t imagine not having the baby right there to touch – what an amazing reward after everything we had gone through. The picture above reminds me of the delicacy of those days.

  22. We are accidental cosleepers. We tried an Arm’s Reach sidecar but she couldn’t sleep unless she was right up against me. She’s now 2yo3mo and still sleeping with us, but usually only one of us because of space limits. Our “big” bed is only a queen size. The other parent sleeps alone in the spare room.

    I think cosleeping guidelines are good in general, but use your own judgement for your own situation as well. For example, my husband and I are both super-aware of her so we didn’t follow some of the guidelines exactly. We have always shared a blanket with her. She has always slept between us. Our mattress was elevated on the frame until recently. She often fell asleep on her side (after she finished nursing) and I never moved her onto to her back.

    That said I think there are some absolutely non-negotiable guidelines, such as no drinking/drugs/smoking, and that everyone has to be on board. Cosleeping cannot work well otherwise.

  23. Great article, great comments. I’m not a mother yet but am thinking about co-sleeping a lot. Really enjoyed all the info and stories!

  24. This article came just in time for us! We are getting ready to have our first little one, and I was looking into a co-sleeper bassinet that attaches to the side of the bed. Thanks for the tips.

  25. I had a co-sleeper that was attached to my bed. After two nights of waking up inside my sons co-sleeper (I was constantly worried if he was breathing – I think a common worry amongst first time mothers), I finally just pulled him in to bed with me, tucked him under my arm and finally slept. It was like second nature to me – to have him close. I would hear him wake and would roll him to his side while I was already on mine so he could nurse and we would both drift off back to sleep. It was wonderful. By age two he went from our bed to his own big boy bed and the transition was seamless. Now that I have baby number two on the way, I look forward to the co-sleeping again. It’s an amazing way to bond as a family. My son is now 4 and quite the hellion – but he is also the bestest snuggler.

  26. I co-slept and breastfeed my twin girls for about 18 months. They never slept for more than about 3-4 hours at a stretch, and people would always feel bad for me and would tell me I should have put them in a crib so I could sleep. What they didn’t realize is that I’d barely even notice that i woke up to feed them and feeding them took maybe 5 mins, so I was actually the most well rested mom I knew at the time!
    When they were 18 months, they stopped nursing, moved into their own beds and room and I never had an issue with them falling asleep, staying asleep, nightmares or anything. It worked out perfect for us.
    Now they are nearly 12 years old, fall asleep in 5-10 minutes, sleep 10 hours a night in their own room, and will occasionally ask if we can all sleep together on a weekend night for girls night… I really love it, and I know I won’t have too many more years of these times… wow they grow up fast! Enjoy them while you can. 🙂

    1. I have four month old twins and though we share a bed, I don’t know how I would do what you’re describing! When they wake it takes at least 30-40 mins to nurse, change diaper, re-swaddle and get back to sleep.
      We share a double bed pushed up against the wall; they’re swaddled and touching each other, I’m on my side facing them or sometimes on my back with an arm laid above their heads so the one nearest to me is close.
      It’s not ideal but I can’t figure out how else to do it!

  27. We tried co-sleeping and none of us slept! So sad…we all were sweaty and grumpy, so we went back to the crib. Maybe it will be different with our next little one, who knows! Props to everyone who does this successfully! Wish I was in the ranks with you 🙂

    1. I am a huge believer in doing what works for you. If co-sleeping did not work for you, then not doing it was the right move. I did not co-sleep with my oldest, which is probably for the best, since I owned a water bed.

      1. Co-sleeping didn’t work for us either. Everyone stayed awake. We have a Queen bed and I think it was too small. We went on an Alaskan cruise when my son was 7 months old. We had a King bed in our cabin and co-slept for 7 days. That time it worked out perfectly! Back home we tried to continue but our son just wasn’t having it again. He likes his space!

  28. We started out co-sleeping the day our first baby was born. No issues whatsoever. We kept our son to my side so that I could nurse throughout the night (in those early days, he would root while I was asleep and I would often wake up to find my boob in his mouth. Very strange).

    Around two months, my son started kicking and flailing his arms in his sleep. Active sleeper! And it became uncomfortable for us, so we moved him to a bassinet a few feet from our bed. We were very very lucky – he started sleeping 10-12 hours at night at that time, so it wasn’t too cumbersome. Around six months, he got his own room and crib, and now sleeps down the hall from our bedroom. He is back to waking up in the middle of the night to nurse or find comfort, so it’s tough – I can’t find a way to comfortably co-sleep with him without having my arm go limp. But I loved CSing. My husband was on board with it and I think we got much more sleep than other new parents as a result.

  29. Just be careful, it’s easy to get the kid into your bed, not so easy to get them to sleep in their own bed once they start to get bigger.

    1. We had zero issues transitioning our daughter to sleeping in her bassinet in-room with us, and then sleeping in her crib in her own room once I was too pregnancysleepdeprived to deal with her waking me up throughout the night. She has a very regular sleep/nap schedule and has been sleeping through the night since 2 weeks. I’m sorry you had a less enjoyable co sleeping experience than my family.

    2. I wonder where you get that from, since none of the successful co-sleepers on this forum mentioned having any problems moving their children to their own beds. Sometimes they make the move after less than a year, sometimes when they’re toddlers. They do whatever works for them and none of them have reported any problems getting the little one to move out.

      1. None of the co-sleepers have mentioned whether or not they have had trouble. Doesn’t mean they haven’t had trouble. If something you do works you’re very quick to tell everyone but if it fails spectacularly people tend to keep it to themselves. I work with families who go through hell trying to get children out of heir bed and into their own rooms. There are two sides to this- it works for skins but for many others it ends in tears and endless nights of no sleep for anyone.

        1. Having successfully transitioned children into their own bed beds, it’s shake the idea that it’s the approach to tapering off co-sleeping that’s the issue, not co-sleeping itself.

          Issues that come to mind with that will cause co-sleeping “weaning” –

          1) Artificial deadlines. The kid is 6 months, 18 months, 24 months or whatever and now it’s time to kick the kid out of bed lest they never leave home in another decade and 1/2. So the process is duely begun because someone looked at a calendar rather than what was best for the entire family.

          2)Expecting a mature reaction from children. Adults seem to forget that there’s a reason that it’s a 2 decade process to raise a child. It’s amazing to me how frustrated adults get when their 2 or 3 year old can’t be talked into reason. It’s a complete setup for failure if you’re not prepared for some emotional bumps along the way.

          3)Inconsistent and abrupt changes – Like Fido, young children thrive on routine. If all they have ever known is sleeping with their parents, then sticking them across the hall one random day is not going to work. Of course they are going to scream. In the worst case scenario, the adults let them “cry it out” for 2,3,4 hours, they relent and they come back to bed. Rinse and repeat for an endless power struggle.

          From the kid’s point of view, he or she successfully screamed his way back to routine.

          Adults need to be, well, the adults and consistently transition their child out. Start with putting their new bed on the floor of your room and lie down with them to get them to sleep. A month later, sit on the bed and get the child to sleep. In another month or so, sit nearby and get the child to sleep that way. Then move to another room, etc, etc. Slowly and gradually with respect for the child’s needs in mind.

          And yes, there will be the oddball very stubborn child that has none of it. But I find very often that the parents who ending up in tears about sleeping, eating, etc have refused to put the consistent time into make things successful.

        2. We did not try to get our kids to leave the family bed. They decided at age 6 for the boys and 3 for the girl. If my husband and I wanted to have sex we went someplace else. Now that my children are adults, I think co-sleeping is part of why they are so centered and why they take responsibility for their choices. We did not have problems with co-sleeping ever. Going through “hell” is what happens when you have an attitude about reality instead of adjusting to reality and making it work well. If any parenting situation feels like going through hell, then you’re not seeing all the alternatives. You can always find a strength to strengthen instead of a weakness to angst about.

        3. +1. Many of my friends co-slept with their babies and toddlers, all of them were happy they did it. Every single one of them had trouble transitioning the kid out of their bed until after age four or five.

    3. That’s ok, apparently I’ll still be wearing him in a sling and breastfeeding when he goes to university – so it’ll probably make everything easier 😉

      1. Ha Ha! I only stopped the sling (a Baby Bjorn) when they were physically too heavy for me to carry around. My kids are both bigger than me now, and they still try to sit on my lap. Thank goodness they are not still trying to nurse!

  30. We co-slept with both of our children. We tried a bassinet in the room with us at first with our older son, but noticed that after I nursed him to sleep he would wake up as I got up with him to put him back to bed. Putting him down for naps in it didn’t work any better. So we got rid of the bassinet and started co-sleeping with him, then put him in a small bed nestled between ours and the wall when his baby brother was born and co-slept with him. Their father was between both children.

    Now they’re both young adults starting to make their way in the world and doing well, having had a secure start with a breastfeeding mom, co-sleeping with their parents, and being held as much as they needed. I thank Dr. Sears and his books for the wonderful start we were able to give our children, rather than the horrific way our parents were taught by Dr. Spock.

    1. I was 18 when my son was born. (He’s a healthy 40 year old now). He was a smallish baby who seemed to get hungry every 3-5 hours and I was much too tired to get up and deal with bottles in the middle of the night, so it seemed natural to feed him myself. I slept on my right side with my son on his back next to me, my right arm sort of curled around behind the back of his head. He only had to turn slightly to his left to nurse whenever he wanted. I would wake up just enough to see that the whole procedure went smoothly and then we were both warm and soon fast asleep. My husband slept on the other side of us and of course, rarely woke up until time to get up for work. I didn’t study co-sleeping or look into it beforehand. I wasn’t nervous about it. Just seemed natural. My grandmothers had done the same and it seemed the easiest way for everyone, including baby to get enough sleep. What Mark said about being sober and smoke-free is paramount. Happy co-sleeping to all.
      ShaSha

  31. I work for a State Department that deals with infant deaths on a routine basis. Co-sleeping has proven to be very unsafe in many many situations. I agree with Mark that all the things he suggests are NECESSARY to make it safer, but I wouldn’t risk it with my own child after the things I’ve seen. Also be advised that, whether you agree with it or not, parents can be charged with child abuse/neglect if something happens to the child and they violated “safe sleep” guidelines, which is a nightmare no parent should have to face. I would just strongly caution people to be extremely careful with this.

    1. If you do the research, all the babies that sadly died when co-sleeping were fed formula in a bottle (Formula also causes baby to sleep deeper not waking when needed) Thus, the mothers propped baby on a pillow. In addition when co-sleeping and nursing, the mother is more aware/ baby is positioned correctly to nurse and is not at risk for smothering, rolling, etc. So, instead of harping on co-sleeping being unsafe let’s talk about how giving formula to a co-sleeping baby is dangerous.

      1. Getting huffy and turning a blind eye doesn’t change the facts. Also, your info regarding formula-fed babies is suspect. Where is the “research” you mention? Please provide references.

        1. PAEDIATRIC RESPIRATORY REVIEWS (2005) 6, 134–152
          REVIEW
          Why babies should never sleep alone: A review of the co-sleeping controversy in relation to SIDS, bedsharing and breast feeding
          James J. McKenna* and Thomas McDade University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, IN 46556, USA

    2. If you’ve never had kids, it’s hard to know it’s like to face months or even a year or two of midnight feedings and trying sooth a human that’s far more animal than rational. To ask most competent parents to face endless sleepless nights because you’ve seen many of the rare bad apples is not helpful.

      Lack of sleep also sets children up for other types of abuse or neglect other than smothering. An adult without enough sleep is far less rational and more prone to leaving infants in unsafe situations or outright abuse. An infant without enough rest is far more prone to screaming/crying and triggering the already sleep deprived adult.

      There is no one guaranteed “safe” way to raise a child. Risk is always with us, whether or not we follow the guidelines from a government agency who specialize in raising theoretical children. The absolute best way to negate risk is and will always be personal responsibility.

      1. Amy, Amy, Amy. Don’t you know that regulations are paramount to eliminating risks and hazards? I’m too stupid to think for myself and be responsible for my actions. I am extremely thankful for all the actions taken to eliminate illegal drugs, eliminate obesity, make real healthy foods more available, and the continual issuance of risk free treasury bonds that allows perpetual spending to support these lofty goals…

  32. I always did co-sleeping with my babies in the Arms Reach Co-Sleeper, which is a side car that attaches to the bed. Keeps the baby in a safe environment while still being close. There were times when I did fall asleep while feeding the babies while they were in bed with me, and this is certainly a nervous situation if you roll over in your sleep or your spouse does. I do have to say that around the 6 month mark when babies are more sensitive sleepers and if you have a spouse that snores it is usually more beneficial to have the children sleep in their own room at that time. But that’s just what worked for me!

  33. Our third baby just turned six months and we side car the crib to the bed. There is great tips online of how to do it. I am able to nurse whenever necessary during the night. For the flip flopper nursers a secret trick I picked up is to roll yourself more onto your stomach and offer the other breast. Granted my breast size allows for this and it may not work for others, but just a suggestion.
    We co-slept with the other two but my biggest struggle was my middle child not wanting to wean to her own bed at 2. It took over a year to move the mattress inch by inch to her own room. 🙂

  34. Another thought. My midwife asked me, “when’s the last time you fell out of bed? You’d know if you rolled on your babe.”

  35. Been co sleeping and exclusively Breastfeeding since our daughter was born (now 6 mos). She’s our first and at age 43 I don’t know if there will be more. I am sure i sleep better with her nearby. We do not drink, smoke or take any medication and my husband has been on board from the start. I work full time and if it weren’t for co sleeping I’d see and snuggle with my little girl a heck of a lot less. I love being close to her and I know she’s safe.

  36. I co-slept with my eldest son from day 1. I sort of instinctively developed a knack for not moving at all during the night! He moved into his own bed of his own accord when he was almost 3. I am now still co-sleeping every night (after the first wake up) with my 18 month old twin boys, and have done almost every night since they were born. We all sleep better, for longer, and nothing quite beats the bonding with your child through the night. It’s the most natural thing in the world, and I wouldn’t change it for anything 🙂

  37. Fully agree with Treespeed. Never a thought in my mind to have my children in my bed. That’s where Mom and Dad sleep. They slept through the night like champs pretty quickly (10 weeks and yes, I did breastfeed both kids) and they understand that they are not the center of the universe in this house. But then I’m not a fan of Dr. Sears.

  38. I co-slept with both my babies from hour one. I had the first in Northern California, where there’s a very baby-friendly culture. The hospital room had a double bed, so the baby slept between me and my husband. I watched the two of them with amazement about 12 hours after he was born – both were asleep, in the same position. When one would move an arm, the other would follow suit. Perfect unison for hours! The second was born in Southern California, but I brought all those crazy hippy Norcal ideas with me. I was one of those high-risk older mothers but I declined the scheduled C-section and then the pain meds for a 10 lb baby (that they predicted would be 12 or more pounds.) It was an easy labor. The doctor begrudgingly admitted that none of the problems he was afraid of had happened, and I wondered what on earth he was talking about. Baby and I then went and co-slept in recovery. I kept my babies out of those plastic boxes as much as I could. They still co-sleep with me, on on either side, at 2 1/2 and 4.

  39. I didn’t plan to co-sleep, but that was just how it played out. With my first child, a few months in, I tried using the crib and room-sharing (caving to outside pressure); I couldn’t sleep. I slept with the first child until the second was born, when my husband took over sleeping with the toddler and I started again with the newborn.
    I now have an 11-year-old and an 8-year-old, and our family sleeping arrangements remain “loose,” as I like to call them. We sleep in “musical beds,” depending on who feels like they might need company.
    For years, my husband traveled extensively, and our family bed was one tool to help maintain a sense of security in his absence and closeness when he was home.
    Husband comes from a traditional culture, and houses in his villages don’t have bedrooms. Co-sleeping is normal there and done by everyone most of their lives.

  40. HI! My three children always slept with us through out their early years, sometimes they seem to still want to stay there! ha ha

    I enjoyed it so much, you can’t get those years back, they stay little for such a short time.

    With my youngest, a daughter, she was only 6’8 when she was born, very cold natured. I would bundle her up and still under our covers, she slept well. As they got a little older they moved into the bassinet. Later a toddler bed, and yes still in our room. We didn’t ever push them out. They eventually did on their own.
    We tend to disconnect from our children a little too soon, but each there own.

    I only hope as they have their own, they too will treasure this.

    Thank you for all the wonderful information!

  41. Great tips! We followed the same dos & don’ts and successfully co-slept with our daughter. I miss those days!

    When we transitioned her to sleep on her own, it was a rough start but she’s sleeping great on her own now (she’s 18 months) and is a happy, healthy girl & we’re a happy family.

  42. I didn’t co sleep with my first but we shared a room. Unfortunately, it was still far enough from me where I had to get up to nurse and it wasn’t working for us. I was exhausted and non-functional. With my second, we co-slept. My husband slept in a different room so he could get enough rest for work. He is also a heavy sleeper and I didn’t want to have to worry about him and his whereabouts in the bed. Honestly, I felt like I slept so much better when I co-slept with my second because I was able to nurse through the night and not fully wake up. However, I believe when you breastfeed (and obviously not under the influence) you are more aware of your child’s location, breathing, and general well-being without sleeping too deeply. When I felt like I needed to really sleep, I placed my daughter in a pack-n-play nearby. I am due with number 3 here any day and plan to co-sleep and nurse through the night. I already have the pack-n-play setup just in case! The idea is to do it safely… no blankets, pillows, within your comfort zone. I always kept my arm around my child at all times and I am just not a deep sleeper by nature. I think that it’s quite amazing how the baby matches your breathing and even as a newborn can wiggle itself to your breast in the middle of the night. I whole-heartily believe it’s the way that it’s supposed to be done. We just need to make sure our modern equipment (pillows, mattress, etc) do not make it dangerous.

  43. I co-slept and breastfed all 3 of my babies.

    From what I understand, tragedies that happen during co-sleeping are almost always due to someone who co-sleeps *by accident.* Meaning, the sleep deprived mom who is up and down several times a night to feed her baby and put him back in the crib and then is so exhausted she falls asleep with him on the couch.

    When co-sleeping is done from day one, is intentional and the guidelines (no heavy bedding, mom not under the influence of medication, etc.) are followed, it is safe.

      1. Hi Megan, I’m genuinely curious as to how formula puts babies at higher risk? My babies were all formula fed due to severe supply issues on my part, but were successfully breastfed for 8 weeks (my eldest) and 6 weeks (my twins) respectively – do you believe that even such short periods of exclusive breastfeeding means they had a better chance as co-sleepers? Just a genuine question, I’ve often seen people mention that formula was problematic under the circumstances, but I’ve never heard why 🙂

        1. I believe someone else said in another comment that formula makes babies sleep deeper and they don’t wake up when they need to, which I assume puts them at higher risk for SIDS. Not vouching for the information, just passing along what someone else had said. =)

        2. i think it’s partly the instinct of a nursing mother and partly other factors. nursing mothers will naturally position baby at boob level whereas the bottle feeder might position at face level and then baby gets involved in the pillows. propping a bottle for a sleepy baby/mom is bad news too. we are now weaned but when she comes to bed with me for a short time she’s still at boob level and i’m watchful for her safety.

      2. The subtle knocks against those of us that have had problems and couldn’t breastfeed for long (I held on for 6 weeks, but my supply was too low, I was stressing, and my son was hungry!) always get my dander up. And I consider Megan’s constant harping on a point that hasn’t been validated by science a knock against us.

        Correlation does not equal causation.

        1. I don’t think it’s a knock against formula use in general. I think it’s more to do with those that argue against co-sleeping, suggesting that it’s dangerous – when formula-feeding has been shown to play a role in a few co-sleeping arrangements gone wrong. Co-sleeping isn’t inherently dangerous, just as formula-feeding isn’t inherently dangerous. We all do what can. =)

      3. propping bottles probably played a role there too. babies shouldn’t have a propped bottle, they can’t turn their head away, might choke, etc

        1. Hi Everyone,
          I apologize if it sounded like as I was harping about formula being bad and all. It was more to be aware of the difference between a breastfed and formula fed co-sleeping baby.
          I only mention formula in one comment if I recall correctly. The other comment was in regards to being more alert to my daughter breathing. With that being said…It’s exactly what Stacie, Kristin, and Hilary said. It’s that baby sleeps deeper, which is linked to SIDS. Also, the propping of baby with a bottle, that baby is usually positioned differently than a breastfed baby against the mother. I am not knocking on those who formula feed and didn’t ever say that those who formula fed their babies were bad.
          All us mamas have to stick together and encourage each other. In a Milwaukee study of co-sleeping deaths all the babies were bottle or formula fed. Please correct me if I am wrong. Breast is best, but I say do what is best for baby, you, and your family.

  44. Still co-sleep with my 20month old. She’s getting big enough now and only sleeping perpendicular to mom and dad that it is time to move to her own bed. She has her own bed for naps. She’ll get there eventually. I’m in no rush. I love having her there and don’t mind the occasional kidney kick in the middle of the night. All part of the magic, right? 😀

  45. We tried to get our first to sleep in her crib in her room since that was what we were “told” to do and that didn’t work for anyone. She cried all night and had her days and nights completely mixed around for several months. I read more about co-sleeping with my second pregnancy and chose to co-sleep with my son following much of the same advice you post above. It made such a difference and babysitters and visitors would remark at what a good sleeper he was as an infant and toddler. My third child was born this past spring and we also co-slept with him. I also agree that I felt completely well rested. Around 3 months we started putting him in the sidecar crib and now at 8 months he’s in his room in the crib and sleeps through the night. I didn’t want him in my bed for more than the first few months as a personal decision and found through my experience that moving them out around the 6-7 month mark provided a smooth transition. Another thing that’s not mentioned much is the huge benefits to wearing your baby. I haven’t seen an article here on it (maybe I missed it) but I would say that carrying my infants in a sling for the majority of my waking hours made the biggest impact in our bonding and their crying (or lack thereof).

  46. My husband and I just had our second baby in November. Our first child slept through the night at 7 weeks and still (at almost 2years old) sleeps about 12 hours in his crib. Our little girl is proving to be the opposite. We do not have any bad habits or risk factors that Mark describes as “don’ts” but my husband is an “Active” sleeper. He often acts out his dreams in the middle of the night (I have woken up to him standing on the bed, reaching for the ceiling fan or trying to pick me up out of bed). This factor makes me nervous to have the baby in bed with us (even though she seems to sleep better in this case). Just wondering if anyone has a similar situation. (Before you tell me that my husband should sleep in another room, that’s not an option).
    Thanks!

    1. It sounds as if your husband has a form of sleep disorder classified as parasomnia, most specifically, an REM parasomnia, the most notable of which is REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD). (There are a bunch of non-REM [NREM] parasomnias.) In many other cases, there is no known cause; however it can be caused by prescription medication, most notably antidepressants, or alcohol consumption. My husband was watching a show about sleep disorders (I have a few NREM parasomnias) and it mentioned that poor sleep hygiene, sleep deprivation, and stress are all common triggers for parasomnias, though from what I could find, this is more associated with the NREM kinds. From what I could find about RBD, if it is not associated with medication or alcohol, then the most common treatment is medication.
      Here are some links you may find helpful
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasomnia
      http://www.sleepassociation.org/index.php?p=rembehaviourdisorder
      http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-related-problems/rem-behavior-disorder-and-sleep
      http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1188651-overview
      (This next one can overwhelm you with information and technical terms, so enter at your own risk.) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2902006/

    2. Google REM sleep behavior disorder. The standard treatment is melatonin and Clonazepam, but you might try just the melatonin and see if that helps. My husband once in his sleep took my hand, brought it to his mouth, and bit it.

  47. Also avoid too many clothes. Babies need only a thin cotton onesie when surrounded be body heat. Heavy pajamas cause heat exhaustion.

  48. As an experienced co-sleeping mom, I’ll point out a few observations.

    First, when you’re lying on your side, your legs are usually bent and drawn up. So, it’s physically impossible to roll forward with your legs in that position. (If I wanted to change sides in the night, I would scoot the baby over and get on her other side.)

    The very first night home with my son (3 days old), I was worried about co-sleeping and breastfeeding. That was until I saw how his flat little nose flared out to the side of the breast. No worries there.

    The last thing is that our co-sleeping children never learned to use a crib. They sleep in their own beds, but it’s a pain in the butt getting them to bed at night, because now they expect us to cuddle them to sleep (at 5 years and 2.5.) It’s not the worst thing ever, but we’ll have to figure out how to wean mom& dad out of THEIR bed.

    Yeah, kudos to Dr. Sears.

    1. Hi Laurel 🙂 We started slowly with our then-3 year old in bed, we’d read him his story and then say we were just going downstairs to cook, or wash the dishes, or whatever (and “we’re right downstairs if you need us”)… it didn’t work at first, but out of the blue one night my son said to my DH (who reads to him at night) after his story, “I’m going to sleep now dad, you can go and do the dishes, now”… we haven’t looked back since, going on a year now. Puts himself to sleep every night right after his story, like clockwork! I hope your little ones come around, soon, too! 🙂

    2. My parents never co-slept with my youngest brother, however once he was in a regular bed, one of them did lay down with him until he fell asleep. I moved out when he was 6, and he still wanted someone to lay down with him until he fell asleep. I have no idea how old he was when that stopped. My 10-yr-old still likes someone to snuggle with her until she falls asleep.

  49. Hehe I am passionate about this topic. I’ve done lots of research, talked to many mamas, and currently co-sleep with my baby (co-slept with all four of my kids). It saved our 4th Baby’s life because she had a difficult time breathing (nose was always stuffed etc.). I was very aware if her breathing pattern changed. In addition, when you co-sleep/wear baby it actually helps Baby regulate her breathing.
    My husband and I love our arms reach co-sleeper. The fear of Baby rolling off the bed was put to rest. Baby hardly sleeps in it at night, but if she rolls, it’s right into the co-sleeper. I slept better, well until Baby became more mobile.

  50. With both of our kids, we did a combination of cosleeping and bassinets and cribs. Some nights were crib nights and many nights were definitely cosleeping nights. Despite all the advice, I chuckle now to think about how my son coslept with me: we almost always ended up with me on my back and him lying on his tummy on my chest. It was simply how he slept best and it was very comfortable and felt natural. With both kids, it was so much easier to nurse them on co-sleeping nights – I slept right thru so many nursings – as did they!

  51. As a single mother I slept with my son from the time he was newborn to about 3 years old. Plan and simple it was easier for both of us. I was hyper aware of him and breast feeding was easier as well. When the time came for him to sleep on his own, it was an adjustment for him, but he loved having his own space. He’s 10 now and has been sleeping in his own bed since he was 3. I loved sleeping with him.

  52. Great post!

    Our sleeping arrangements evolved withnour kids and their ages and stages. Our newborns began in bedside cradles then into the Big bed with mom and dad. The sidecar crib was ideal for our daughter who rolled in and out for two years. Our son, however, really truly wanted his own space, something that took me by surprise. We all slept in our bedroom til the kids were 4 and 1 and they moved across the hall to a shared room.

    One of the best benefits of co-sleeping and family sleeping is how easy traveling and camping becomes with sleeping arrangements. We are all sleeping together already so being in a tent or a motel room is no bigger. My little ones slept well wherever we went since they were accustomed to sleeping with mom and dad. Plus, we didn’t have to pack a portable crib. One less piece of luggage to lug !

    Today, my kids are 15 and 18 an I can report that they both are sound, lone sleepers tho my daughter likes pillows nestled against her, just like ahe uses to nestle against me. 🙂

  53. I never really co-slept with my daughter as an infant because our bed situation was weird, and plus she was a teeny, tiny preemie, so I was doubly worried about smooshing her.

    I did co-sleep with my son almost exclusively til he was around 1. Finally, after 12 months of getting woken up multiple times a night to nurse, I tried to wean him off the nighttime breastfeeding. It was going terribly and we were having no luck, but then we finally tried putting his crib in his sister’s room, and he was perfect from day 1. No crying or anything.

    Now my son is 2 and big sis is 3. He sleeps like a champ. Goes down easily with no crying and sleeps the whole night with no issue. Since my daughter’s been in a big girl bed, she wakes up in the middle of the night and climbs into bed with us, so I guess you could say we’re co-sleeping now. My daughter is otherwise ULTRA-independent, but when it comes to bedtime, she gets very fussy and really needs Mommy. I have no idea if not co-sleeping with her early on had an impact, but I suspect it did.

    I’m personally all for it. Babies are so soft, and they smell good, and too soon they will start rejecting your hugs and kisses. Get the lovey time while you still can!

  54. I have a quick question that someone part of a co-sleeping couple could answer:

    How did co-sleeping affect intimacy with your partner?

    I’ve read all the comments so far and I understand all the benefits and possible risks but would like some insight on that subject, please.

    1. The pregnancy, birth, and hormone changes will effect intimacy far more than the co-sleeping. The baby sleeps a lot. All you need to do is either scoot over or move to another room if it weirds you out.

      1. +2 ditto what Amy said. It helps if you are not stuck on the idea that intimacy happens only at night, or only in *your* bed.

      1. This is where I think both partners need to be 100% on board with cosleeping, otherwise the intimacy will suffer.

        My husband and I had sex maybe 4 times during our daughter’s first year of life, but it wasn’t because of the cosleeping, it was the exhaustion. Personally I needed more time for myself before I could even think about wanting sex. Also, since pregnancy, my sex drive has been very low. But all that has nothing to do with cosleeping. My husband loves sharing a bed with our daughter (2yo), wants to keep her in our bed until she’s ready to go to her own space, and we are getting better at making time for ourselves and each other. I can see how sharing a bed only between partners makes it easier to have sex, however, it’s also easy to have sex anywhere else in the house while kids sleep. Plus, sex is not the only part of intimacy.

        1. Still sleeping with the boy, the man in the other room. When I want/need the man I pay a visit. It’s great fun.

    2. That’s where a bassinet or sidecar come in handy. I don’t think we ever had sex with a baby in the bed, but they were often only a few inches away.

  55. I would never, ever take such a chance, no matter how alert, healthy or how much of a light sleeper I usually was. I break out in a cold sweat just thinking of a parent taking such an easy to avoid tragedy with an infant. I always kept the bassinette right beside the bed so I could caress his/her head, hold their little hands, check on their breathing, etc. but could never take that chance, because I’ve never met a parent who wasn’t at least somewhat sleep deprived after having a baby. But to each his own, I guess…

  56. We had 9 children, and they all slept in our kingsize bed with us, sometimes until they were 2. Usually as an infant, the baby slept by me. I am a light sleeper and was “in tune”,so I was never afraid of rolling over on the baby. When they were very tiny, sometimes they would stop breathing, and I would wake up and shake them until they started again.

    Having a king-size bed is definitely important. I also had most of my babies at home and nursed them. 🙂

    I did try to have one sleep in a crib and tried to let her cry it out. She cried for an hour at a time. I had a lot of people telling me I needed to do this. For me it wasn’t a good experience and I don’t think it was good for her. I went against my gut feelings. That is just my experience.

  57. Cosleeping with your baby? That just seems normal to me. I am on baby number TWELVE of cosleeping and breastfeeding for 25 years now. We tried the crib thing with the first and it was awful! What a waste of time and energy. We just thougth that is was we were supposed to do until we learned about the family bed. We rushed out to get a king size then! We put our box spring right on the carpet.

  58. I thought this post was going to be about co-sleeping safely with your adult partner! lol I guess that’s on my mind because occasionally i get an elbow jab to the head and/or a swift kick to the shin depending on my partner;s dream activity. Perhaps a larger bed is the answer..

  59. I have been co-sleeping with my son for 18 months now. It has it’s benefits, but yes, it also has downfalls. We have a queen-sized bed but he’s 18 months now so I may need a bigger mattress because crowding is causing me lack of sleep. #2 My son breastfeeds 1-3 times a night, depending on the night. Sometimes I can’t go back to sleep. #3 It has somewhat gotten in the way of intimacy between my husband and I so we had to get creative and go home for lunch, leave work early, or get a babysitter for a few hours…

  60. I am loving these posts on co-sleeping!

    The only thing I may perhaps add to Mark’s list of “Co-sleeping DON’TS” is this: Don’t co-sleep when you don’t want to. We don’t force-feed our bodies plants and animals on days when we aren’t hungry or beat ourselves through vigorous work-outs when we sense something is “off” with our health or energy. In the same way, we should not commit to primal parenting habits (like co-sleeping) without engaging our powers of personal evaluation: “Is this good for my baby and me today?”

    This is, of course, just my two-cent’s worth of maternal opinion; but when my husband and I co-slept/room-shared with each of our three babies, I found so much freedom and refreshment in honoring my body and my baby above strict adherence to the co-sleeping philosophy. So I offer this as my contribution to the rest of “the village.” Moms, if you are exhausted and irritated with your precious little one and feel like the two of you need to take a breather from round-the-clock physical contact, please give yourself and your baby permission to do just that. If you need some personal space, your baby probably needs it as well. (Have you ever been offered physical comfort from someone who felt obligated and resentful? Wow is it stressful!) All relationships have ups and downs; gently acknowledging the “downs” that come and go between mother and child is no bad thing– it means you are developing a relationship! Try increasing the physical space between you and baby for a little while. (Maybe take a break from slings and “baby wearing” as well.) Do what you need to do to get some space and some sleep. It is beautiful and primal to allow yourself and your baby to warm-up to close physical contact once again.

    1. This ideas seems strange to me, but I guess it’s because I never bought that I was going to damage my children if I put them down for a while. My only goals are still to make us all safe and comfortable as possible.

      2 of my kids hated the sling. All of my babies were perfectly content to sleep in their car seat. Why fuss if they aren’t? I trusted them from day one to tell me where they were at emotionally.

  61. I was thinking about this topic some more. While we weren’t able to co-sleep with our daughters while they were babies, now that they’re a little older (ages 6 and 3), they absolutely LOVE sleeping with Daddy. My poor wife, but for whatever reason, they want to sleep with daddy instead of mommy. My wife is really good about it and once in a blue moon, she’ll let one of the girls sleep with me and she’ll go sleep in their room.

    Also, my wife routinely wakes up 1 hour before I do on weekdays. Sometimes, my 3 year old (who’s bedroom is across the hall from ours) will get up and crawl into bed with me to sleep together for that final hour. I’ll wake up to her sleeping in bed with me. I absolutely LOVE that! 🙂

  62. Mark, your next book should be about primal parenting! This information on co-sleeping has been really informative. Although, I have no children right now, my fiancee and I plan on having a family and we will co-sleeping with our infant. Thanks for the post(s)!

  63. I co slept with my 1st born almost 8 yrs ago, and she was perfect. She wouldn’t take to her bassinet (and I was soooo exhausted) and it was the best thing for us, and i breast fed her and put her to sleep next to me, never a problem with her. 5 yrs on, my 2nd daughter slept in her own cot majority of the time and right thru the night from 8 wks, she though was bottle fed majority of the time and was used to that routine until winter hit – and was too cold for her to sleep in her own bed, in she came with us. both girls now sleep on their own. although i find they often want to sleep with us from time to time. now, my 1 yr old son won’t sleep in a cot or anywhere away from mummy. we co’sleep and breast feed for what seems like all night long (for comfort more it seems). that for me is the down side, as i feel like i get little sleep some nights.
    I FIND IT IMPOSSIBLE TO ROLL OVER MY KIDS, AND HAVE NEVER DONE IT – always fully aware of them even in my sleep. it is sooo true re: the article. sure they’ve fallen off the edge of the bed a few times.. we now have a rail there lol. Fully support co’sleeping.. but also, whatever works best to produce happy parent/s and happy kids!

  64. Well, I always thought you were smart. I now see that you’re frigging brilliant. Thank you for this common sense advice. I co-slept with my three sons from birth. Of course, three healthy full term births, no prescription drugs or alcohol were ever used, and I breastfed exclusively for at least the first 6 months. We had a firm mattress that was on the floor for a while then very low the the floor. I’ve had only two sleepless nights in my children’s upbringing. (Ear infection once and teething the second time.) Other than that WE ALL SLEPT! No getting out of bed multiple times a night. Just put the baby to the breast if they awakening and boom, back to sleep in no time. And it is one of the sweetest experiences. The added time you have one on one with your child is great.

  65. I was 18 when my son was born. (He’s a healthy 40 year old now). He was a smallish baby who seemed to get hungry every 3-5 hours and I was much too tired to get up and deal with bottles in the middle of the night, so it seemed natural to feed him myself. I slept on my right side with my son on his back next to me, my right arm sort of curled around behind the back of his head. He only had to turn slightly to his left to nurse whenever he wanted. I would wake up just enough to see that the whole procedure went smoothly and then we were both warm and soon fast asleep. My husband slept on the other side of us and of course, rarely woke up until time to get up for work. I didn’t study co-sleeping or look into it beforehand. I wasn’t nervous about it. Just seemed natural. My grandmothers had done the same and it seemed the easiest way for everyone, including baby to get enough sleep. What Mark said about being sober and smoke-free is paramount. Happy co-sleeping to all.
    ShaSha

  66. My son coslept for two years and on his second birthday we gave him an awesome “big boy” room, and weaned (with months of lead-up talks). I expected a long transition to his new room, especially in light of the weaning, but he was so excited about it he slept there right away. I wasn’t ready! I cried so hard the first night. A vacation got him used to sleeping with us again, so now he wants me to sleep in his room with him – we’re still working on the total transition. We coslept because we couldn’t bear to put him down. The first week of his life, he slept on my chest and I stayed awake all night watching him breathe (with the TV on close-caption). Never used the cosleeper once.

  67. I too read Dr. Sears with our first after trying to get her to sleep on her own. I felt so relieved to hear that it was ok to co-sleep and even healthy. I think it saved me from exhaustion and depression because all our girls had varying degrees of reflux and it woke them constantly. I always slept with them on my arm and moved them from side to side to breast feed during the night. My arm about them ensured that it was impossible to roll on them, for my husband to do so, and that I was immediately aware of their stirring. I got a lot of flack from my family and fellow healthcare workers but it worked for us and it was a very special time we shared with them.

    Also I want to mention that they transitioned beautifully from our bed to their “big girl beds” when the time came and we now enjoy kids that are excellent sleepers.

  68. It just doesn’t work for us. Tried it with our last and i never slept. I would love to do it but now that they are 1 & 2 yrs old they think its play time. . This was a great article and I hope more people try it!

  69. We coslept until our daughters were 10 months and 7 months old….at which point they became such windmills in bed that no one was getting any sleep. The first transitioned into a full sized bed (once we realized she was claustrophobic in the crib) and the second easily went into the crib. It was a fantastic experience, but it cannot be stressed enough that it only works if its working for everyone involved. We feel like we got the best of both worlds….all of the benefits of cosleeping when it worked, but a happy transition into separate beds/rooms when it was time for change.

  70. I -wish- I could sleep with my son (he’s currently 2-and-a-half) but I’m a horribly light sleeper and he thrashes around all night long! Getting constantly woken up is like shock treatment. I’m wondering if it’s possible to “learn” how to be a heavy sleeper. Any advice?

    1. A white noise machine might help, or would if your son was a noisy sleeper… It’ll take a few days to get used to it, but once you do, it will muffle many noises. Unfortunately, your son “thrashes around all night long,” so a white noise machine will not help you. You may have to accept the fact that with your situation, co-sleeping is not an option, and move on. (Not as easy as it sounds, but possible.) You may consider snuggling with him until he falls asleep, maybe a little longer, which will give you some of the feel of co-sleeping without being woken up all night long! We transitioned my daughter to her own bed when she began turning sideways and kicking her dad all night. I was the lucky one; I was used as a pillow. 🙂

  71. We co-slept with 2 of our 3 kids. I had child #3 when my middle was 2yo. We already had our mattress on the floor to co-sleep with her so we moved another twin sized mattress next to ours and she moved onto that when her little brother was born. She chose to move to her own bedroom around 3-4 years old. Youngest slept on the mattress beside us or the floor until he was 5. We loved it! My husband always had a good night’s sleep and I would wake up long enough to reposition and nurse and we all slept so well.

  72. Had all 4 kids in the bed with us…would breast feed in middle of night( much cosier on those cold winter nights) and either they would stay there or would be in a cot in our room….made for a much bett nights sleep for everyone! Now they’re productive and independent adults…..loving and nurturing never oily anyone!

  73. I’m a big fan of co-sleeping – I was terrified of it in the beginning. We lost our first child full term, during birth, and my anxiety with our second little one was an all time high. I did a lot of research and there were two important things I learned.
    1) There was a study in Michigan done on 100 infant deaths due to co-sleeping and 100% of those deaths were bottle fed babies. In other words, breast feeding mums have a “sixth sense” that non-bf’s don’t have. So be extra cautious.
    2) NEVER cosleep on the sofa. 🙂

    Good luck mummies – love those babies!

  74. Thanks for this helpful article. I am an advocate of co-sleeping as I did it with all 5 of my children. I breasted and it seemed like the most reasonable thing to do. I would wake up with a very soggy baby and sometimes be a bit soggy myself. I never thought about the possibility of rolling on the baby because baby was nestled in my arm on his/her side when nursing and then back to back when through. I never worried about being tired from waking being up all night with a crying infant
    because it just never happened. At about 6 mos of age they were sleeping in their cribs alone, some were ok with that, others needed more reassurance. It seemed like a natural thing to do and I don’t think t was called “co-sleeping” back then…we just did it because it seemed natural.

  75. Both of my children were co-sleepers. It was the easiest way to get a good night sleep for both of us, if they woke up hungry, I was right there to breast feed them back to sleep. I had zero issues with this practice & would do it again if I were to ever have another child.

  76. I breastfed and co-slept with both of my babies, now 17 and 11. I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. To me, it seemed the most natural thing to do. I am so glad to see more and more people making the decision to sleep with their baby, and I definitely agree with the safety list above. At the time, I was given so much grief about it from just about everyone that knew. Although I put them to sleep on their back, as soon as they could turn over they always slept on their stomach. They were both very happy and content babies. I attribute that partly due to the fact that they were able to sleep through the night without too much distraction. I still like being able to curl up next to them, even though it does not happen very often.

  77. My tiny son slept in the crook of my arm from when he was born and I was totally aware of him at all times. One real benefit was that I was the least tired of all the new Mums in our baby group. My husband got up to change his nappy once in the night. Otherwise we all slept right through.

  78. Well, we used an arms reach co-sleeper for both our kids when they were babies; son learned to crawl at 10 mos, so we transitioned him into his crib (in his own room) at that time. He had already been taking naps there so the transition was pretty smooth.
    However… at age 3, when baby sister came along, he gradually started not sleeping through the night on his own, until last summer (age 4 1/2) we finally stopped the battles and said okay, he’s going to co-sleep. So, maybe he’ll transition back to his own bed (in our room first, perhaps) this summer before kindergarten, or else… whenever he’s ready. He’s adopted, so the attachment piece is pretty important, and while we don’t love the bed-sharing, it generally works okay — except when 2-yr old sister wakes in the middle of the night and needs company too, which does happen about once a week or so. I never thought i’d be sharing my bed w/a preschooler, but i also think it’s what he needs right now.

  79. It seems harmless enough to have your baby sleep with you in your bed but when do you stop? My wife still sleeps in my 7 year old sons bed half of the time!

    1. It depends on the family. At 7, you can start to reason with them about it. It’s your wife that you may need to work on.

  80. I didn’t co-sleep with my first 2 sons (they are adults now) because I listened to the doctor abaout how “bad” it was. I now have a 2 yr old who has a seizure disorder and he has always been with me, first in the same room and now in my bed. I feel better knowing he is close in case he seizes during the night

  81. We co-slept for 18 months and at 3 years my son decides which bed to sleep in at night. Once a week (or less!) he picks our bed, the rest it’s his bed. Naps were done in his crib, unless I wanted a nap too! It was easy to transition him to his room, since his naps had mostly been there. I still love our co-sleep nights and love lying down with him as he falls asleep. I picture him in 3rd grade not wanting hugs and kisses in public, and treasure our snuggling time now.

  82. My first child slept with me sporratically. She just fell asleep best on her own. Probably because she was in NICU for the first week. Idk. My second almost always slept in a crib in the room next to me. And my last one coslept for about six months, when he liked the crib better. The first two slept in a bassinet in my room until they became too big to fit in it. They all used a crib in their own room for naps and that may have made the transition easier for them. They all still come in to sleep with me from whenever my husband travels-which is often. Btw they are now 15, 10, and 8. All are independent, smart, well adjusted kids.

  83. Hi!
    Interesting to see this on my email listing from MDA!
    We are currently co-sleeping with our fourth child (going on our 10th year of co-sleeping with baby or toddler!). All these are great rec’s. I would also say that using that body pillow we all got when pregnant or forgoing a pillow altogether when they are teeny tiny works great for us too. We sleep on a queen sized bed that is about four inches off the floor. I keep a pillow on the floor ‘just in case’ that actually is used when my current toddler wants to get up before her mother is ready to roll out of bed.
    Be smart and enjoy it! They grow up quickly!

  84. Twin girls, queen-sized mattress on hardwood floor, cheap and VERY effective.

  85. We did co-sleeping with all 3 children, ending up at one point with five in the futon. It was VERY good as a family bonding experience. We all felt quite snuggly with each other. I later found that 2 of my 3 kids had high-functioning autism, which explained a lot. Without co-sleeping I think they would have been much less socially adept and much colder as human beings. They weren’t ready to leave the family bed until age 6, which seemed late at the time but knowing about their autism now seems about right. I’m glad we welcomed them until they were ready to leave. Really, really glad.

  86. Good lord, you need to read a book about co-sleeping? We called it the family bed in 1990 when our daughter was born. We had a platform bed with a futon, she slept between us on a baby blanket, with another over her, no pillow. We nursed whenever she needed to and I always woke up if she needed something. When we moved when she was 4, she moved to her own futon bed in our room and then when she was 7 she moved into her own room. She thrived and is an intelligent, independent young woman.

  87. I love bed-sharing with my children. Co-sleeping with my first was the only thing that calmed my son. We all slept better and had a wonderful breastfeeding relationship. When I went back to work, having that connection in the night really helped him. My first son who is 3 now still comes into bed with us in the night when he wakes up. We have an open door for him anytime he wants and he can choose when he is ready to sleep in his own room all night (he starts the night off in his own room no problem).
    We now have a 6 month old who has been room sharing with us only because my 3 year old still comes to bed in the middle of the night. I agree it’s too dangerous to let them sleep together at this point because he rolls all over the place. I would love for my 6 month old to bed share with us but I’m not sure how to do it safely or what age would be more safe. I do lay down to nurse in the night with him but my husband will move him after an hour or so to his cradle which is next to the bed.
    If anyone has any experiences with siblings co-sleeping in the family bed that would be appreciated.

  88. I love this. I’m 11 weeks pregnant with my first and we are planning to use the Arm’s Reach co-sleeper bassinet. I don’t sleep well when I have someone else in the bed with me (I “lovingly tolerate” my husband in bed with me, but I don’t rest as well as when I’m sleeping in it alone!), and I’m a mega-sprawler and love being entombed in lots of covers, so our bed isn’t a good environment for an infant. I love the concept of the co-sleeper so I can soothe and nurse my baby in the middle of the night without getting out of bed or worrying about suffocating my child or losing rest because I’m overly conscious (read: tension) of someone else in bed with me.

  89. We tried co-sleeping and room sharing with our son, and it didn’t work for us. I’m such a light sleeper that I would instantly wake up at the slightest little sniff or wimper. I was not getting any sleep until he went into his own crib in his room across the hall where I could hear him if he needed me, but not so close that I was constantly waking up all night long. A well-rested mama is crucial to a happy baby!

  90. We co-slept with all three of our boys and are so glad we did. It was a wonderful experience for all of us.

  91. i have to say I grow more and more impressed by MDA each time I pop in for a visit! It’s not JUST a ‘diet” site but encompasses a whole way of looking at how we approach living, activity, work, rest and even parenting through an evolutionary lens.
    I co-slept with all four of my now adult children ( don’t worry , although plenty of fears are thrown at you they will do so into their university years, they do just move on when THEY are ready!)and breastfeed them into toddlerhood. They are very even tempered, well adjusted, great to be around people! I am glad I listened to my own instincts and tuned out conventional parenting wisdom at the time. As a a nurse who co-ordinates prenatal nutrition programs now I really try to de-stigmatize extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping. We are after all mammals, everything in our biology and hormonal response is hard wired for keeping baby close. The saber-toothed tiger may not be lurking in the dark any longer but our biology hasn’t really caught up to that yet!

  92. My husband and I slept with all 3 of our children. We never bought a crib. So easy to breastfeed them. We put a King and Double bed together when all three of them were with us. On their own they just decided to sleep in their own rooms. I slept lightly and my husband learned to. I am very happy we did it but acknowledge it’s not for everyone. They are now 19,17 and 14 and have never had sleeping issues, fears or bedwetting. Who knows if co-sleeping attributed to that. My advice to new moms is to do what makes you feel good. There is so much guilt going around and it doesn’t help anyone.

  93. Our daughter was a preemie, and came home the day after her due date at 77 days of age (yes, 77 days hospitalized, it was very stressful, but she’s FABULOUS now)

    We did a lot of co sleeping the first year. During the day, she napped with me in a recliner, or while I wore her. At night, she usually slept on Daddy’s chest, although we would move her to her bassinet some nights. Moving her to her bassinet actually gave me the most scares – I would feel around for her in bed, when I was half asleep, and panic when I couldn’t find her!

    She woke up nightly, at 3am, hungry. I had to use a shield to nurse, so we’d go to her bedroom, sit in the glider together, and then I’d doze with her til 5am ish.

    Cosleeping ended for us when Daddy had to leave the house and move to the other end of the province for his Army position. My mom stayed with us, and generally did the 3am feed at that point (by then, we were feeding only formula, an allergic reaction to poison ivy killed my supply), and I *really* needed to have good sleep. So I started with getting her used to her crib for naps, and eventually, did CIO with her after my mom moved back home.

    Every family needs to figure out what works safely for them, and just roll with it. I hope that we won’t be in the same set of circumstances with future kids, and we’ll probably handle sleep differently then!

  94. I tried both co-sleeping and having my baby sleep in a bassinet in the same room and neither worked. In both cases the baby got plenty of sleep and me none. I was so supersensitive to any movement by the baby, I barely slept. Also, my second newborn made a barking noise when he slept and there was no way I could get any sleep with that next to me. In the end, both my babies slept in basinettes either one closed door or two closed doors away from me, and I was still awake in a flash when they made the slightest murmur. In fact with my younger son, I used to wake into silence, and think: “he’s about to cry” and sure enough, he did.

  95. I’d be really interested to see how people think co-sleeping affected their relationship with their partner. Obviously the sleeping situation isn’t just about the baby – after all there are two other people in the bed!

    1. Near as I can tell, having a baby in the house had a much greater impact on my relationship with my husband, than a baby in our bed did. Babies sleep through just about anything, once they are asleep. Neither of us was weirded out by having sex with a sleeping baby in the bed, so that was a non-issue. And we had a crib that was used when she slept during the day, so we could have moved her to the crib during sex if we wanted too. Besides, there are other rooms in the house. My husband is a very warm person, and snuggling up to him at night resulted in me being too hot and both of us being sweaty, so we didn’t snuggle together in our sleep before the baby. Heck, we have separate sheets and blankets.

    2. It is all about the baby in my opinion. When you have a child you are sacrificing some things: time, money, food, material possessions, and yes part of the bed if you co-sleep. I have always thought of our family as 1 unit. We co-slept with our first two, and now with our newest addition. It’s been a great experience for everyone.

  96. I have five grown kids. The oldest didn’t like being closed in, and slept mostly in a cradle next to our bed…. but I’d just pick her up and took her to bed to breast feed her and then (if I woke up) put her back into the cradle.
    But the more kids I had, the harder it was to get enough sleep….. and I’d usually end up going to sleep while nursing. Several hours later I’d wake up, turn around and switched the baby to the other side, and went back to sleep. It worked great.
    Somehow baby noises, or the slightest whimper will wake me…. even now, if grandchildren are visiting, a baby’s cry in the night will wake me up instantly… so, there was never any danger of me rolling onto a baby.

  97. I’ve performed CPR, twice in my career, on babies who have died from co-sleeping. In both cases, the father accidentally suffocated the child. For very young children and infants, I don’t think it is worth the risk.

  98. I don’t know if it was already mentioned, but those that bed share with an infant, should only do so if they are actually breastfeeding. A mother who is breastfeeding matches her sleep cycle with her child. Even if a mother is pumping and giving a bottle, it’s unsafe to sleep with an infant if it’s only fed from a bottle. Toddlers are fine, but not little babies.

  99. My question is : if you choose to co sleep
    How do you have mommy and daddy time / interaction . Especially if you work outside the home and are dog tired .

  100. I originally got a co-sleeper crib hoping to have the best of both worlds. It didn’t work out. When Matt would wake, I’d be so groggy that on numerous occasions I hit his head lifting him out.

    We were also having an obnoxious time getting comfortable breast feeding. If I was comfortable, he wasn’t and vice versa.

    What finally ended up working was having me and Matt on the futon together while dad was sleeping the the main bedroom. Nap nursing ended up being the best solution. I roll over and give him boob.

  101. I feed homemade formula and co sleep with my adopted daughter. She is thriving! I know exactly where she is, we have a queen bed and three of us sleep blissfully together every night. My 16yo slept with us until she was almost five, 12yo for about nine months, 10yo for four years. This one is welcome as long as she wants!
    Just enjoy your babies people!

  102. I have slept with my son every single night since he was born. He is now 16.5 months and I cannot imagine him not being in bed with us. We have an Arm’s Reach Co Sleeper, but have rarely used it. When he was very small I kept all the blankets at my waist and below and off him completely. I would wear a cardigan at night to keep my arms warm and allow easy access to breast feeding. I also think you have to find what works for you…my son and I are very comfortable with our arraignment. I have no intentions of putting him in his won bed until he chooses.

  103. We co-slept with both of our babies and it made the sleepless nights easier. I’m a midwife and lactation consultant and know personally and professionally the benefits of co-sleeping. Thank you for writing about this- I love finding positive references to breastfeeding in the most unlikely places!

  104. In regards to supine sleeping position, I would like to say if parents are not sure whether infant burp or not, there would be a chance of aspiration pneumonia due to spit-up or reflux. Babies sleeping on their back are more prone to aspiration pneumonia. Therefore, we always kept them on their right side for sometime after feed.

  105. There was nothing more beautiful then co-sleeping with your children, My husband & I did it with our first and found it so rewarding, comforting, easy that both of us were able to bond with our children from day dot.

    I personally found it easy to breast feed and could do it with ease from our bed without having to get up and change rooms. So when our next baby arrived it was a natural that he was in the bed with us from day dot, the only thing we did differently was that we placed him in a toddler bed next to ours which gave us more room. Now both children are in the their own rooms and beds with no problems and sleeping soundly.

    The closeness we all share is just pure bliss and have no qualms that this is what we all should be doing with our newborns.

  106. My parents coslept with me, so it all seems normal to me! They broke the “rules”, though. They had me in the middle, and (although I don’t rmember, of course) I did experience the “hairy man boob” once, haha! I was a very clingy child, but I might have been that way anyways, who knows!

  107. Well done, Mark! Give the babies their primal sleep bonding benefits!!! Yes, this is crucial for so many benefits listed; inner security for life & that sense of being connected starting when we need it most. For 2 years I wrote articles & edited a magazine on birth, breastfeeding, baby development, bonding & attachment parenting. I loved learning how all research pointed to our first and true nature being all about loving, touching, breastfeeding, skin-to-skin, heart-to-heart and face-to face, breath-to-breath contact. Excellent to raise awareness on co-sleeping being primal, baby! Blessings, Claire

  108. I must say, after years of agreeing with most things that you post, I heavily disagree with this post.

    I am a pediatric emergency medicine doctor. I have, unfortunately had to pronounce many a child dead after being in the same bed as their parents.

    Your comment about overlaying “pretty much only happens when the parent is too messed up to wake up” is absolutely, completely, 100% wrong. I would say that most deaths that I’ve had to take care of were completely sober, non-obese, well meaning parents.

    Yes, there are thousands of people who have coslept without issue. All it takes is one death however to make it not worthwhile, in my opinion, to recommend.

    I STRONGLY suggest that you retract this post. This really is a cause of death that can easily be avoided. Please don’t advocate for this on your website as it potentially could lead to more infants dying. From someone who is on the front lines and has had to tell many a parent that I was sorry I couldn’t save their baby, there is nothing worse than seeing the grief and guilt in a parents eyes that rolled over onto their child and caused their death.

    1. I have a question… how many children do you see that have been injured in car crashes? Do you also go on forums about cars and post about their horrors? What about alcohol? Lots of children are injured by drunk parents, drunk drivers? Do you post like this on Bacardi’s website? How many children die from co-sleeping each year vs car crashes vs alcohol related abuse, vs abuse in general, vs accidents of other kinds (such as the playground)? I’m willing to bet it’s not a heck of a lot but I don’t know, I’m genuinely curious. I also believer that there are benefits to sleeping with your child, like increased empathy, that could be huge, especially for boys who will spend the rest of their lives being told to suck it up and tough it by every other male they meet. A little tenderness can go a long way, how long? We don’t really know, but I’m curious about that too.

      -Tim

    2. Just devil’s advocate, what do you tell people that had children die in cribs? I personally know a couple of parents that pulled a cold child out of a crib. If you research this you’ll find research that supports co-sleeping, and also research that condemns it. Same with cribs. The American Academy of Pediatrics (status quo) advises to not co-sleep. For that matter, the same applies with Paleo/Primal lifestyles.
      I’ve yet to see pamphlets on how eating large amounts of meat and fat is good for you and fasting recommendations at my doctor’s office. I think most of contributing to this site are people trying to the best for ourselves and our families. Anything that happens accidental in the way of people trying to do the right thing (within reason)is unfornunate, but it happens.

    3. You did not indicate how many of those cases, where a child died after being in the same bed were due to overlays. Or did you just assume that, since they were sleeping with their parents, that it was an overlay? In the cases where asphyxiation was the cause, how many were due to a parent accidentally rolling on the child? Or did the parents violate one of the don’ts listed in this article? Without that information, your post doesn’t carry much weight. We are aware that sometimes children and babies die after sleeping in the same bed as their parents. We are also aware that sometimes children and babies die when sleeping in their own beds and cribs.

  109. Both of our daughters insisted on sleeping with us when they were younger. Now 22 and 10 years old, each kept sleeping in our bed until they were about 7-8 at which time they naturally decided they wanted their own bed. I used to worry that having them sleep with us was somehow ‘wrong’, although i culdn’t really think why – just dogma I suppose. Reading that co-sleeping is a natural phenomenon, and is actually beneficial for everyone (children and parents), makes a lot of sense and lets me feel better about not insisting they take to their own bed earlier. Thankfully, they like their own beds now, as it would be a bit of a squeeze otherwise.

  110. I’m gong to have to call BS on don’t co sllep if your obease or have sleep Alena. I am technically obese not supersoze or anything like that and I have sleep Alena and we safely cosleep and have been doing so for almost 5 years. I think that your comment is unfounded der and rude.

  111. This article goes completely against the American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendations on Infant Safe Sleep. There is NO way to safely co-sleep with your infant. Why risk it? Put the baby in a safe crib and room share!

    1. And much of the dietary advice on this site goes against the American Heart Association recommendations. They seem to think we should eat a variety of grain products and eat foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol. So what’s your point?

      Given that countries where bed sharing is common, SIDS rates are extremely low, and that in Japan, a decrease in SIDS and overall infant mortality rates parallel an increase in bed sharing, I’m willing to believe that there is a safe way to bed share with an infant. That, among impoverished communities, where there are a bunch of other risk factors – many of the don’ts listed in this post, there is a positive correlation between bed sharing and infant deaths from SIDS or accidental asphyxiation. This, however, is not enough to convince me that bed sharing, in and of itself, is inherently dangerous, any more than I believe that eating red meat, in and of itself, is inherently dangerous.

  112. We co-slept with both of our boys after I took a masters level anthropology class with a professor who was adamantly for it (as well as breast feeding). If I remember correctly her position was that (this is the late 1990s) co-sleeping deaths were caused by alcohol, or obesity and she felt we westerners were missing out on an empathy/bonding generating experience that was largely safe. I figured we’d give it a shot in part because I loved that professor and in part because I am a nut who’s always up for something odd/new/different.

    That said, I’m pretty sensitive person and my wife is a very light sleeper, and we had an enormous king size bed where the baby essentially had its own zip code to frolic around in. Plus neither of us smoke or drink to excess, though we were obese by the time the second child came around and that didn’t go away until we went primal/paleo two years ago. Today the boys are 12 and almost 10 and both are well adjusted young men with straight A’s, one is passionate about math and the other loves stories/acting.

    -Tim

  113. We threw out our box spring and put our queen mattress on the floor. Next to it we put a twin size mattress where my now 4y old daughter sleeps. This works best for us. Of course it took me 18m from the day she was born to realize this was the only way that would make waking up 5 times a night stop. I am from Southern Europe where cosleeping is the norm. Had I known before I wouldn’t have bought a crib at all. When we switched from a crib to co sleeping on the floor we could finally get a good nights sleep. She kept breast feeding and nobody had to get up.

  114. I co-slept with my son until he was 8 months old. It was a wonderful experience, and made it easier on me since my son was up every 2-4 hours to nurse. My son is now 4 and he is a definite independent little man, but still wants his hugs:)

  115. I reallywas enjoyed this article, thank you. I shared a room with my daughter and son when they were born and nursed them both. If they slept in the bed with me it was in my arms and I was only half asleep. It worked for my daughter. My son on the other hand sleeps better by himself. We transitioned him to his own room at 10 months and we all get a good night’s rest now. He only wakes up to nurse, around the same time every night, then it’s back to sleep.

  116. In the early 80s I slept with my baby on a futon on the floor, just as you recommend here. It was perfectly safe, and I got more sleep nursing him in bed rather than getting up three times at night to feed him. He grew up to be a very secure and sociable and successful man.

  117. The bed on the floor is important because babies do roll out of bed. If they roll onto the floor two inches below, no problem.
    I also noticed that even as a small infant, my son could scoot himself up the bed if he wanted to, for example if his head got under the blanket. This made me less worried about suffocation. He rarely slept between me and his dad; usually he slept between me and the edge of the futon (again, only a few inches from the floor).
    The one downside was that when we traveled and occasionally slept on a “real bed,” he often rolled out of it! But even kids who sleep in cribs do this.

  118. I can see how you could roll over onto a baby and smother him if you were in a very soft (normal) bed, but if you are on a hard bed on the floor, this would seem very unlikely.

    Regular beds with springs are too soft for me anyway.

  119. Good message. I always had my kids sleep with me & only breast fed. No problems whatsoever. Did it with 4 kids. They sort of didn`t want to get out of my bed though so getting them into theirs took longer than usual but I slept great all those years with babies. Glad to see this information. They preach against it now. Renee

  120. “Don’t co-sleep if you’re a heavy sleeper, are excessively sleep deprived….”

    What parent with an infant isn’t sleep deprived”

  121. I like to keep my newborn perpendicular to me, as an added protection, so that if I somehow rolled onto her it would be on to her feet. It hasn’t happened yet.

    Also, on the rare nights I have taken melatonin I have pulled out a drawer for her to sleep in on the bed next to me. 🙂

  122. We co-slept with our first born. It was great at first, but it was extremely difficult transitioning her to her own room and bed. She is now 10 years old and still fights everynight going to bed. She always waits till her siblings are asleep and then crawls into bed with them. Co-sleeping with her was a huge mistake!

  123. I did co-sleeping 24 years ago, when some people were telling me what a horrible mother I was for doing it! She was with me in the same bed for about 2 years, then went to her own bed in the same room until she was 9 and was ready to move into her own space. I now have a beautiful, highly independent, secure, responsible 24 year old daughter, whose experience of co-sleeping, in my view, had only positive results.

  124. Co-sleeping and breast feeding are a great combination, when it suits both Mom and baby. I had three babies all breast fed for over a year each. I would bring each baby to bed at times but our youngest was a full time co-sleeper. It was relaxing to just turn to nurse a fussing baby instead of getting up and stumbling about half asleep to try tend to a hungry infant. It was easier on me because I would go back to sleep even when baby was nursing. Papa wouldn`t be wakened nor would sleeping sisters. It actually made for restful sleep for the whole household. I would recommend it, with the precautions Mark has listed.
    I was a light sleeper and we had a king size bed, making plenty of room for baby, mom & dad.

  125. Slept with my now 20-something sons for several years each. Best thing we ever did! I was told, among other things, I was making them “dependent.” Both of them chose to go to college on the East coast; we’re from IL. I think meeting their dependency needs allowed them to become independent as they became ready. Western/ American culture seems to have such a problem with the idea of families sleeping together. I always like to say that Jesus did not have a Better Homes and Garden nursery to sleep in!!

  126. Co-sleeping still pretty much standard practice in Japan. Usually the mother and baby, plus other children. Dad often luckily gets pass to sleep alone, in a separate room. As most of us in the Ancestral health world now the value of sleep, co sleeping is roughest on dads in the room, so getting a pass to sleep soundly alone is a great compromise – the mother having the convenience of co-sleeping dad sleeps soundly in his pitch black room (co -sleeping ideally mums need some minor light, for safety and feeding.)

  127. I’m so glad to see these two positive, sensible articles about bed sharing, thank you Mark. Living in a country where half the population seems to get their info from the Daily Mail, it’s refreshing to read something non-alarmist!

    However, I want to take issue with two points. It makes me extremely angry to constantly be told breast feeding mothers are so much more attuned. I failed to produce enough milk for my babies, to the point of exhaustion on my daughter’s part, & ended up having to formula feed.

    I heard every movement. I woke up instantly whenever needed. I woke up a few minutes before they starting asking for milk. My instincts were perfectly intact thank you very much. Yes, breast milk is best & it kills me inside to this day that I couldn’t provide that for them (I was I tears at the first FF, because I was convinced I was poisoning my tiny baby). Those of us who do FF do not need this constant added guilt about how much better attuned BF mothers are. It’s about your instincts, attitude & I would say bed sharing as much as FF or BF. (And yes, I clearly have guilt & anger issues about this. Don’t get all psychological on me 😉

    Second, please don’t discount Dad’s instincts as well. The first night home with both if ours, I was exhausted – not safe to sleep with babies. My husband held them tummy-down on his chest, elbows on the bed, hands on their waists All. Night. Long. When he woke up, neither he nor they had moved an inch. We always slept with baby on my dude for the beginning of the night, Daddy’s side after the first feed. If anything he was even more attuned than me at that point because he was worried that he was supposedly unsafe compared to me.

  128. These are great tips! When my son was born my husband and I had no intention of cosleeping but my son had other plans! A couple of weeks of getting no sleep were enough to get us to start using a cosleeper. Now, 19 months later, I wouldn’t change it for the world…even if he does deliver some well-placed kicks to the ribs nightly. He spend so much of his time at day care during the day that snuggling up together as a family at night let’s us spend some time with him that we wouldn’t otherwise have. I only wish that the stigma would be removed. I can’t tell you how many times someone has clucked to me, “You’ll never get him out of your bed!”

  129. Also very important is where the baby is positioned with respect to your own body… hold your baby in kissing position by your face, not in sling position down by your gut. There is not the slightest chance of smothering if you don’t allow the baby to sleep low down your trunk. Falling asleep with your baby high on your chest near your neck is the most relaxing thing in the world. And don’t worry about baby’s comfort… you’re the world’s best pillow and your baby will instinctively nuzzle in until he or she is fully comfortable.

  130. Still cosleeping with our breastfed 12-month-old. There are definitely times I wish he were in his own bed already,but there are also some perks. Biggest is that I get more/better sleep. He still needs a diaper change and a nurse 1-3 times a night, and if I have to get up out of bed, change him, nurse him back to sleep, and put him back in his own bed without waking him… that means I’m awake for like an hour every time he squirms. That almost guarantees me a monster migraine the following 2-3 days, so cosleeping lets me be functional and human.

    But it also means fewer wet diapers. My son squirms in his sleep when he has to pee, so we keep a training potty by the bed and when he starts squirming, I just strip off his diaper and set him on the potty, he pees (mostly, he doesn’t even wake up!), and then I re-diaper him and we both go back to sleep after a brief nurse. I’m hoping this will make the “real” potty training easier later. I’m a light sleeper, but I don’t think I’d catch that cue fast enough if he were not sleeping right next to me.

  131. We used a combination of bassinet next to the bed (where baby was put to sleep) and baby in the bed (for night nursing). Every night was a little different. When the baby was in our bed, I always slept on my side with baby facing me. We definitely had a structure/schedule about bedtime, and I was pretty insistent that they learn to go to sleep in their own beds as babies, even if they ended up in our bed later. Both babies moved into their own rooms around 4 months, when they were too large for the bassinet, and when they could easily fall asleep by themselves, but naps together were still common until 3-4 years. Many other family members have remarked throughout the years how easily my kids went to bed. I think you just have to trust your gut from day to day and do what feels right at the time. But anyone considering co-sleeping definitely need to follow the safety guidelines!

  132. I LOVE THIS POST!!! And the baby wearing one. ROCK ON.

    Do a natural birth series!!!! (if you have I’ve just been too swamped with a newborn to get to it)

    I’ve read to not do it, but I thought it was all hogwash. She’s happier and we both get more sleep.

  133. We began co-sleep with our first because a cesarean, not taking pain meds, and frequent breast-feedings were too painful the first few weeks. With our second even though we had a VBAC we had learned that co-sleeping was just easier and didn’t interrupt our sleep as much (and the extra cuddle time was very precious to us. Each of our kiddos slept with us full time for the first 1 1/2 to 2 years. Part time for comforting for a bit after. I wouldn’t have changed it for anything!

  134. I’m a deep sleeper and a co-sleeping breast feeder on a really high bed. Works for us! I fantasize that I look like a Klimt painting, the way I often sleep with one arm up under my ear and over the baby’s head. We say we’re sleeping “like a moon and a star” (because “spooning” sounded creepy when applied to babies). My daughter moved out – a whole 4 yards away – at 4 months largely because it was annoying to have her between us but necessary for safety, but we have a sidecar bed for my son (which we use more as a backstop that lets him sleep on the outside rather than in the middle) and I can’t see him going anywhere until he needs something with higher sides. At which point I’ll put both kids on a double mattress on the floor to avoid the shock of suddenly sleeping alone.

    You know what I’m still not sure of though? Sleeping bags are best for babies, sure. But those are babies sleeping by themselves. My child spends half the night in his sidecar bed and half under the covers with me. So how should I bundle him? At this stage we’ve settled on thin PJs, no sleeping bag and a relatively heavy blanket on his bed to match ours (we live in the Alps and this is February)

  135. I’m not sure that the SIDS research that you link to is the most relevant. It says that ” infants placed in the prone position or in the side position are no more likely to experience an extreme cardiorespiratory event compared with infants placed in the supine position”.

    This might be more helpful:

    Changing Concepts of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Implications for Infant Sleeping Environment and Sleep Position
    Task Force on Infant Sleep Position and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
    Pediatrics 2000;105;650

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/105/3/650.full.pdf

  136. I really have to thank you for these co-sleeping articles you wrote. It REALLY opened my eyes. I have 16 month old twins and my daughter especially wants to get in our bed everynight and I always let her but I’ve been feeling stressed about it. I’m very new to the paleo lifestyle and am ingrained with American ideals about how to promote independence and the most well rounded behavior in children so this really helped me to let go of my ideals and just enjoy snuggling with my little scoobies which has actually been helping me sleep better and rise a little more naturally since my daughter is totally an alarm clock… about 8am she starts playing with my hair and putting her little fingers all over my face 😀 haha.. i’m literally LOLing thinking about it.

  137. I love the Arm’s Reach. It ties to my bed and adjusts to the perfect level. It’s an extension of my own bed but completely separate sleeping space for baby. Rollovers and drops, I think, are impossible. I don’t have to stumble out of bed. Baby can hear and see me because I’m that close. And, yes, when my babies grew, we converted these perfect cosleepers to casual furniture and no one knows they used to be baby beds. They also have great resale value if you don’t want to keep it in the family for next generation.

  138. Another tip: If baby’s in the bed with you (and others), then place baby at your head/shoulder or higher. Rolling is side to side. Who rolls UP, to the head of the bed? Scooch yourself down. Keep baby close to your senses.

  139. My son just turned 8 yrs old and isn’t very keen on sleeping on his own at all. For a while, me, my husband and my son all slept together, but since my husband sometimes has to rise extremely early to travel, he found it more convenient to sleep in my son’s room, in my son’s bed. Especially since my son tends to move around a lot while he’s asleep. I’m hoping that my son (who’s nearly as big as I am now but I’m a small person) will want to move back to his own bed on his own. But I’m not sure how or when or even if that will happen. I don’t want to set up a deadline because he’s a very sensitive only child. Sigh.

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  141. When the child is an infant is the time it MOST needs to be sleeping with its mother. Children naturally feed every two hours and the skin-to-skin contact is critical.

    (Actually for an interesting review of prenatal/birth/postbirth science that impacts on who we become, see the {depressing, considering our cultural habits} book “Evolution’s End” by Joseph Chilton Pearce.)

    You sleep lightly in initial concern and one entrains themselves in a few days to sleep without any danger to the child. There is something seriously wrong with the health of any mother who cannot do this. Mothers have been doing this as the norm since the dawn of time.

  142. I weighed 300# when I had my infant. I had no problem whatsoever sleeping safely with her. The reality is that a 160# person could suffocate a child just as much as a 300# person could — the REAL issue is solely whether the person is able to adapt their sleeping position/habits. In fact the heavier someone is, the less likely they are to move around in their sleep, because it just isn’t that easy, and often I literally had to wake up in order to even turn on my side.

  143. I bed shared with my first child and am doing the same with my second child. It’s amazing how in tune a mother can be to her child. I always wake before the baby begins to stir, so baby loses less sleep (as do I). I will fall asleep in the exact same position in which I wake. I cradle the baby on his back in my arm to my side while I lie on my back. This allows my son to be elevated slightly at about a 45 degree angle, which helps with gas and reflux. It makes him more comfortable and I know he cannot roll or slip away somewhere unsafe. I don’t have to worry about him rolling or getting stuck in the dip created by my body settling into the mattress. I still keep an Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper attached to the bed so I can put him there if I need to move around or if I feel like I’m too sleepy (which is rare). It also keeps a safe place so he can’t roll off the bed and I’m able to keep diaper changing items in it. Baby sleeps much, much better when he’s constantly touching Mama. It also makes breastfeeding so much easier. My first son slept through the night beginning at age 3 weeks and I believe that was in great part to safe bed sharing. My new baby is only 2 weeks at this time but he’s already sleeping so well during the night.

    I would also recommend a bed bassinet that you can put in the bed. It keeps Daddy from being able to roll over on baby while that’s not usually a concern for Mommy. Baby can still be extremely physically close to both Mom and Dad but will have firm walls around him to prevent injury.