If they’re still in my bed when it’s time to go to college, then I’ll start to worry.

There was an interesting conversation on Twitter yesterday about co-sleeping.  I just happened to hop on in the middle of the event, so I threw out a quick comment about how my kids often end up in bed with me, but as I watched the conversation unfold, I quietly backed away.

It seems that people have awfully strong feelings on the subject, and most participants (at least the ones I follow on Twitter) seemed to be in the “anti-co-sleeping” camp. I mean, I realize that everyone has an opinion about how it should be in THEIR house, but I was surprised at how many reasons were being batted around for why it shouldn’t be allowed in ANY house.

I dunno, I just don’t see this as a hill to die on, but maybe that’s just me.

Then again, I don’t really consider myself a co-sleeper, so I’m sort in between the two camps.  Maybe that’s why I don’t have strong feelings about it either way.  We started out with our kids in their cribs, but these days, our “tent” often ends up with another inhabitant by morning, and sometimes I even (*gasp*) let one or two of the kids start out the night in our bed.  We usually move them out when we come to bed, and they often migrate back at some point during the night, but not always.

My kids are older now, so I can tell them no when I’m not in the mood to share my bed, and they will go back to their own.  But oftentimes I welcome the middle of the night snuggles.  If that makes me selfish, so be it.

Last night, as this post was taking shape in my head, I was alone in my bed, nodding off to sleep when my littlest daughter cried out.  I went to her room and found her disoriented and upset.  She must have had a bad dream, and she was having a hard time waking up to realize she was okay.

She reached out to me so I picked her up and carried her to my bed where she snuggled up against me and slowly fell back asleep, her face buried against my chest, and my chin resting atop her silky hair.  I treasure those moments. She’s five.  They won’t last forever, and I’m quite sure that doesn’t make us co-dependent.

Sure, I could have stayed with her in her bed until she settled.  But it was cold in the house, and I was tired.  So I just brought her in with me ’cause I’m lazy like that.

I have no problem with parents who think that’s a habit they don’t want to start.  I get that.  I do. When I woke up in the night with a sturdy toddler leg flung over my hip and a sharp elbow in my back, I really got that perspective.

But to say it’s wrong?  I don’t get that.

I can see feeling strongly about issues like homeschooling and spanking (I don’t feel strongly about how other people handle those issues, but I can understand why some do), but I guess I file co-sleeping in the “live and let live” category of parenting debates.  What about you?

P.S. If this post sounds defensive, I didn’t intend it to.  I just found the whole Twitter conversation interesting and, I guess, enlightening.  I didn’t realize people had such strong opinions on this subject.

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78 Responses

  1. I’m with you. My 5 year old sometimes wanders in at 3:00 a.m. I secretly love snuggling him! It doesn’t last forever, and he is not in our bed every night, even every week.
    Now, my 7 month old- no way! I am afraid I will squish her!

  2. I agree with your “live and let live” remark. In our house we all get more sleep when the babies sleep with us. Roll over, nurse, fall back to sleep. There’s no getting out of bed, getting fully awake (on either of our parts), getting cold etc, etc. And therefore we are all much happier in the morning! Sure it’s tricky when they get older and it’s time to move them to their own beds but parenting is full of tricky moments. And if that’s the worst thing I have to deal with then I’ll be a happy camper. 🙂 But I’m not going to force my opinions on to anyone else – we all do what we have to do and not everything works for every family. (This is all very fresh for me as we have a new baby in the house again.)

  3. You know what? I think people should live and let live. My son turned 3 in August and he has slept with us from day 1. Not that I planned it that way but it happened. He slept in the crook for the entire first year of his life. No, I didn’t sleep well but I didn’t care. He had silent reflux and would quit breathing and aspirate. I did what any mother would do in that situation, I kept him elevated the best way I could to make sure he lived. I couldn’t put him beside me in a co-sleeper or bassinet because it was silent. You couldn’t hear a thing but I could feel him do it. So, if what I did was wrong then all the naysayers can bite me lol. My son is alive and well and I can honestly say he wouldn’t be if he had slept in a crib in his own room or even beside our bed. I would never have heard him stop breathing, monitor or not. Now, he is in his own bed, most of the time. He still sleeps with us sometimes, albeit much more uncomfortably. But we love to snuggle with him in these sweet times. And like you, i know these days will end all too soon and he will not want to snuggle anymore. I am eating it up while I can and couldn’t care less about what people say about it.

  4. I can’t stand co-sleeping. For us. But what anybody else wants to do in their bedroom is there business. I want our bed to be for my husband and I. Plus, I never get a second of sleep if my daughter is in our bed. Not a second. Just doesn’t work for us.

    1. “But what anybody else wants to do in their bedroom is there business. ” LOL. Amen! You know, within reason… 😉

  5. I personally think cCo-sleeping is fine. When I was little, my mom was schizophrenic (back in the day when it was even more taboo than it is now, and it was very difficult to get her a diagnosis.) Anyway, for safety reason, my brother and I slept in the same bed with my father (It was actually two beds pushed together because all we had were small beds.) Anyway, my mother slept in another bedroom, and we slept with my dad behind a locked door for safety reasons. My point is, once my mother was finally responding to treatment, my father never kicked us out of his room. We naturally, as we got older, wanted our own rooms. We wanted our own privacy. And since it was now safe, that was fine. So, from my own experience, I think children will naturally come to a point of wanting their own space and privacy. Perhaps there is a child out there who wouldn’t–I don’t know. But like I said, my brother and I both naturally wanted our own space. And as a side note: there was never anything sinister with my father. People ask me this all the time when I tell this story. But I can assure you, my brother and I were never treated with anything other than pure respect and love by my father, who was the kind of man who stayed with my mother, despite her illness, until the day he died.

    1. And people who automatically jump to the conclusion that there was something sinister about it should be ashamed. I’ve hate that we’ve become a culture where we second guess a parent’s love for his child and try to make it inappropriate.

      Sorry, soapbox issue.

      1. Thank you Jennifer! I agree with you. It’s sad we live in such a day and time that people tend to automatically gravitate towards such horrible thoughts. I mean, I realize it happens, and believe me, I truly hurt for those who have had to endure such things–I cannot even imagine it! But for me, this wasn’t the case. Thank you for your comment. 🙂

    2. God bless him. And your family. What a hard situation that had to have been for you all. I’m so glad that he had the strength to do what was right even when that wasn’t easy or popular “in that day and age”.

  6. I get tired of the parent nazi’s. Unless we’re dealing with abuse, I really don’t think there’s only one way to do something. We’re all DIFFERENT. God created us that way and we should celebrate the fact that there are so many way to raise children. I know I wouldn’t be happy having to fit my personality into one parenting slot.

  7. I’m with you. Before my son was born, it seemed obvious to me that he would sleep in his crib and that would be that. During his first days home, I stared at our video monitor all night long, but the crib is where I put him. And now at 15 months, he doesn’t think twice about going to bed in his own room. But when he just really wants to nap on Momma’s shoulder? I snuggle up with that adorable kiddo and enjoy these few precious moments before he’s 14 and “hates” me. To me, like so many aspects of parenting, sleeping is a go-with-the-flow issue. There’s no right or wrong. There’s only what works in the moment.

  8. I agree with you, this isn’t really a right or wrong issue, but something for every family to decide for themselves what is right for them and their own children. We did co-sleeping. My children are now 23 and 18 and are both very well-adjusted. My husband travled a lot and I was more comfortable and felt safer having them in the bed with me when he was out of town. Of course this meant that they slept in the bed with us some when he was in town too.

    I wouldn’t trade those morning wake-up snuggles and sweet talks for anything in this world. They are some of my most cherished memories.

  9. I’m with you, generally, although we really don’t share beds around here much. I’ve worked hard to grow independent children. 1) I’m a horrible, light sleeper. A child in my bed means I DON’T sleep. At. All. 2) I had a crib right by the bed when they were babies. We didn’t have the co-sleeper attachments then. 3) They never slept in the bed with us. We were both afraid of smothering/killing them. 4) I didn’t want 3 year olds in any way limiting our intimacy. I had friends who knew when their second baby was conceived b/c it was the ONLY night in the month they had sex. Their toddler slept with them all the time. 5) I don’t want to encourage the “family bed.” I don’t really get that concept.

    But I don’t see anything wrong with snuggling your child through a nightmare, or nursing in bed in the middle of the night, if you want to. My dad traveled for work, and I always slept with my mom as a teen, when he was gone. It was our “girl” time. We are both only daughters, and it was kind of fun to pretend to have a sister for a bit.

  10. *Sigh* This has been a debate in our household alot recently. A cannot go to bed independently. Since we started living with my parents, either my mom or TK has laid with her every single night until she falls asleep. She now wakes up screaming in the middle of the night and one of us has to go in and lay with her again. We typically don’t allow her in the bed with us, but almost every night one of us ends up in the bed with her. I am not sure how I am going to get both girls into bed by myself on the nights that TK has class when we move into our house next week. We need to teach A to fall asleep without one of us there {some nights, it literally takes two hours to get her asleep}. We need to teach her to self soothe herself back to sleep in the middle of the night. I am exhausted and cannot remember the last time I had a full night’s sleep.

    That being said, if cosleeping works in your home, have at it. As parents, we judge what others do way too harshly.

    1. Megan, that really is rough. I always nursed or rocked R to sleep, and then as she moved to a bed, Paul or I would lay with her, often till she fell asleep. We slowly weaned away from doing that, but sometimes it meant letting her cry for a bit. She was older than A, though, and it didn’t take 2 hours, OMG. I think it’s harder for you with the baby too. Our kids are all 3 years apart and by the time R came along, C was falling asleep on her own. I agree that every family has to figure out what works for the and their personalities and circumstances.

    2. Ah yes the bedtime routines I remember!

      Your kiddos are the about the same age apart as a my younger 3 are (26 and 22 months respectively). I honestly felt like the easiest thing to do was to do whatever was easiest. If that meant the older sibling starting out in my bed, sleeping on the floor of my room, or me or my hubby climbing into bed with them-so be it. They grow out of quickly though I know in the moment it seems to take forever.

      I would expect with a move things will be in upheaval for a bit, but it may be the right time to implement some new strategies like a CD player in her room to help her fall asleep to music or stories on CD, a special new nightlight, etc.

  11. Glad I wasn’t there.
    We co-slept with all 4 kids from day one. It was easier to sleep with a newborn who gets up every 2-3 hours that way. We eventually encouraged them to move out, but we still occasionally get an interloper. Usually in the morning, which is my favorite time to snuggle anyhow. 🙂

    Why were people so up in arms about co-sleeping?

  12. I’m with you. Live and let live. My two and three year old both often wind up coming to our bed by early morning, and though I don’t get the best sleep I’ve ever had when that happens, it’s not a hill I’m going to die on either. Everyone says kids grow up too fast, so for us, at least, we’re OK with it in this season. To each their own, right?

  13. I love the way Mary Kathyrn puts it. For me there is a huge difference between allowing your child into your bed over bad dreams, being sick or just bad night and co-sleeping with them all the time.

    My in-laws God love them co-sleep with my niece. She is now four and refuses what so ever to sleep on her own. We would love to have her up for a weekend in the summer to play with the girls but I am not sharing my bed with someone that kicks like a mule. (I have seen the bruises…girls she kicks hard!) I think when co-sleeping starts hendering a child’s natural independent development then it needs to be stopped.

    But at the same time not my house not my issue. If it works for my in-laws or anyone else then hey good for them.

    As far as the waking up with an extra person in bed, that happens a lot here. Some nights it starts out as a “I’ll put her back in bed in a few” then I pass out because I am so tired to awaken with a cramp and a dead arm three hours later. But the snuggles are so worth it. There is something to be said for watching your child doze off on your chest and their face relax in comfort and security because they know all powerful momma is there.

  14. I’ve come across these strong opinions before, mostly because I co-slept with mine when they were babies and I was never shy about it. They both sleep in their own beds now (4 and 2), but the little one comes in to our bed most every night. I figure, its my job to let them know that I am there for them all the time, no matter what. Night time is scary (sometimes even for adults) so if my presence makes it less scary for them, then I’m happy to oblige (even with those little flailing elbows). Its more that “live and let live;” to me its Do what works for your family . In my family, co-sleeping works.

  15. I co-slept with both of my children in the beginning, my 7 year old until she was almost 5. I didn’t have a husband to worry about back then and we only had one bed. It was much easier to nurse and go back to sleep if I had them in bed with me. I actually had an argument with the pediatrician about me co-sleeping, (he was very anti) I eventually just switch. I also noticed that when the bubs were in bed with me I naturally curled around them to protect them from being rolled over on. My son now 19 mo. is occasionally in our bed, mostly brought in after he wakes up in the middle of the night. It works for us and I won’t change that. But eventually they all end up in their own beds in the end so I figure whats the harm, especially if I get more sleep and am a happy Mumma.

  16. Well with your twitter tease, I just had to come see what your opinion was:) I think we’re actually very similar. It’s not something I encourage but there are definitely nights here & there that a little 5 year old ends up in our bed. I love the extra cuddles and know it will all be gone soon enough, so I just enjoy them on the few occasions they occur.

  17. I couldn’t have said it any better. I feel we are between two camps at our house too. I’m like you in the fact, they won’t be little forever and when I love to just drink them in when are snuggling with me. Even my oldest who is 10 still wants to camp out in my bed. And when they are older and this time has passed, I will have some pretty wonderful memories of our snuggle time.

    1. My 11-y/o never comes in our room anymore. He finally outgrew it. The girls, though, they are there as much as we allow it. Fortunately they will go back to their rooms when we kick them out. 🙂

  18. Hrmmm I do believe The Talk (show) is catching on. 😉 I love that show.

    I did the same thing as you J-L. I loved that time.

  19. I loved this article from salon.com: https://www.salon.com/life/feature/2010/11/17/problem_with_mothers_these_days

    Yes, we all have opinions. But I think social networking has led us to believe our opinions matter more than they do.

    I am kind of with you–it won’t last for long. Snuggles are sweet. We let my daughter co-sleep some when she was in infant. It meant I didn’t sleep, so we don’t do it much. If she ever decides she can sleep without kicking me in the belly, I’d let it happen more. When she’s sick or afraid, sometimes she just needs those extra cuddles.

    But do I think that should be everyone’s opinion? I really don’t care.


    1. When I co-slept with my now 12 year old when he was an infant we didn’t have social networking. We had moms groups, message boards, and family members who routinely told us their opinions overruled our own choices.

      I think there have always been people who will judge-what’s changed is where they do it. 😉

  20. If they have a bad dream and wander in, I let them. But they don’t have permanent residence in my bedroom. So, I’m in the middle like you.

    I remember having bad dreams, or being scared at night, and wishing I could crawl into my parents bed… they never let me.

    I see nothing wrong with allowing that level of comfort to your child, at any age. I also see nothing wrong with someone co-sleeping every night. It just wasn’t for me.


  21. Well, at my own risk, I’d like to add a couple of thoughts, after reading later comments. First, someone said “not, live and let live, but DO WHAT WORKS IN YOUR FAMILY.” I’d like to “unpack” that a little. What that means is this: do the type of child-rearing methods that produce the kind of child you want to create.” That’s essentially it. Now, we all want well-adjusted, confident, secure older children/adults. It’s just that we have different ideologies about how to achieve that end. I thoroughly disagree that regular co-sleeping produces this kind of child. Others think it does. It’s the underlying philosophies that really matter here, IMO, and this is the reason people are so heated over it. Co-sleeping is a “daughter” of the whole AP philosophy, which posits that a child who is kept physically close to his parents as much as the child wants, will be more secure. It also tells parents that they can assure children that they are fully protected by the parent’s physical presence, which I think is a dangerous assertion. I’d rather my kids learn that I can’t be with them all the time, I can’t protect them absolutely, and they’d better learn to trust God early for that kind of security, rather than me. I don’t think AP teaches that truth.

    1. Well seeing that I have a secure, confident, well adjusted child that I slept with until she was five, I would have to disagree with you. Not all kids are the same; just like not all parents are the same. My daughter has sleeping issues that she’ll eventually grow out of (night terrors and sleepwalking) and has from the time she was born. She sometimes needs me at night. I’m not going to turn her away.

      1. Like I said, we all disagree on how to get that result. And it’s just as likely that a secure, confident, well-adjusted child might be that way in spite of co-sleeping, as because of it. You can’t really argue the cause-effect very effectively either way. I agree that families, parents, and children are vastly diverse. I do think this is essentially a debate on philosophy and ideology, not on practice. I agree with the commenter who said there’s a huge difference in co-sleeping as a practice, and snuggling in bed with a baby occasionally. I also feel this is not a “hill to die on,” which is why it’s not that huge a deal to what others do. I feel very sorry for children who can’t go sleep at other homes, because they have such issues with sleeping. And in various conversations, it repeatedly seems evident to me that families who co-sleep tend to have children with sleep issues. Whatever — I have 4 kids, ages 11 – 19, and they all sleep securely & quietly, alone, and always have.

        1. I have to disagree as well. AP is not just a philosophy, there have been many research studies done that confirm that attachment parenting has many positive effects on children.

          I don’t think that mean parents who choose not to practice AP are to be judged, we all have our own circumstances, opinions and beliefs and I truly respect every parent’s choice, but to sum up co-sleeping and AP as being untrue is your opinion and not at all based on facts.

  22. I totally agree with you! I secretly LOVE to snuggle with my kids – they grow so fast and I want to cherish every little thing I can. I don’t encourage them and sometimes I do turn them away, but mostly I just enjoy it 🙂

  23. We don’t co-sleep (there’s a big difference, to me, between co-sleeping and snuggling–even frequent snuggling–it’s all about boundaries). To each their own,though; funny how parenting brings out the most heated debates, as if there were only ever one correct way of doing it. Anyhow, while we want our kids to be comfortable and happy in their own rooms, we are major snugglers and never deny a spot in the bed to a sleepy or scared child. The 8-year-old prefers her own space; we always snuggle and sing songs in her bed before she goes to sleep. She sleeps hard, and does not like to be crowded, but once in a while she’ll ask to sleep with me, and since the bed’s not big enough for her cover-stealing ways, my husband will graciously sleep on the guest bed. We do the same snuggles and songs for the 4-year-old at bedtime, and he always wants to snuggle first thing in the morning, which is fine with me! I’m a light sleeper, so I’ll hear him thump out of his bed and pitter patter down the hall to our room with his blankie and teddy. He’ll crawl in between my husband and me and just hunker down. We love it. They grow up way too fast, and I totally agree with the “if they’re still doing XYZ in college, then we’ll deal with it.”

  24. You’re right. It’s not really a hill to die on. 🙂 There are bigger issues in life right now, in MY opinion. 🙂 I have 3 kiddos & spent the last 7+ days sleeping basically sitting up & holding our 9 month old b/c he had 4 top teeth coming in and a double ear infection. In MY opinion it would have been cruel to let him just fuss/cry in his bed all night long. Not to mention NOBODY would have slept. Our 5 year old sneaks in sometimes in the middle of the night or early in the morning. It doesn’t bother me that much b/c she only does it when she has a bad dream. She is a snuggler & I think enjoys having us to herself. Our 2 year old has only slept with us a handful of times mostly because I think he likes his space. I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal as long as you & your kiddos know what the boundaries are.

  25. Sigh. I really dislike when people get defensive about each other’s parenting.

    I didn’t read anything on twitter nor did I read any of the comments above. But I am 100% in the same boat as you are. We were never religious co-sleepers but dear gawd do I love to snuggle with them all night long in my bed, on occasion. It’s THE best.

  26. I’m pretty much a live and let live parent when it comes to everything. Or maybe agree to disagree in some situations. As someone else said, unless it involves abuse then it really isn’t any of my business.

    I never intended to co-sleep with my daughter. Ever. But when she was an infant she would NOT sleep. I’m sure some people would shake their heads and think, “yeah but if you had tried….” No. She wouldn’t sleep unless I was holding her. Period. Until you’ve had one of those kids it is just not something you are going to understand.

    We moved her out of our bed this year and so far it has been very successful. Some nights she crawls in bed with us and when she does we decide is it because of the horrible nightmares she has (when my kid wakes up screaming and afraid I have no problem providing her with a feeling of security) or because she was sleepwalking or maybe she was just lonely. Depending on the reason we will either let her stay or take her back to her bed.

    I try really hard to not judge other parents’ actions because the truth of the matter is that you don’t know what you will do in a particular situation until you are in it. AND I feel like God gave me the kids he did because he knew I would parent them the way they needed, and He did the same for others too.

  27. I think there are so many ways to parent well. When a child’s safety is threatened, then it’s OK to tell someone else how to do it. Until then, whatever works for your family is what you should be doing. Personally, we’ve done it both ways, and continue to do so. At 7 & 9, my kids don’t expect to sleep in our bed, but they sometimes end up there. Sometimes it’s OK and sometimes it’s not. We work it out on a case by case basis. During a time when my younger one was having lots of nightmares, we put a sleeping bag and pillow in a recliner that sits in our room so she could climb in there if she needed to. She would come into our bed and snuggle until she felt better and then slip into the sleeping bag for the rest of the night. We all slept better having a little more space, and she still got the comfort she needed. Like I said, whatever works is what we do!

  28. Oh – that’s the other issue with AP; I forgot. AP advocates NEVER letting a child “cry it out,” for any reason. So, AP parents (as I understand it) can’t allow their kids to cry in their own cribs/beds/rooms. This leads to the whole co-sleeping situation, since apparently being with the parent in bed is the best way to keep them from crying.

    So, I don’t think AP folks are necessarily into co-sleeping for itself, as much as they are anti-crying. But that’s just my impression.

    I know folks who planned to co-sleep, but quickly gave it up when they discovered that “co-sleep” (for them) meant “no-sleep.”

    1. I think as westerners we read and research and analyze and judge. Looking at other cultures, they just do whatever they have to do…after the baby is born, he/she is with them most of the time, in some sort of sling and probably for practical purposes sleeps with them as well. They didn’t join an attachment parenting yahoo group or forum. They just function as needed and do what they do because that’s how it’s always been done. We have a myopic, western view of children and parenting that has nothing to do with the way most of the world functions. I don’t think it’s fair to make sweeping generalizations of AP. They don’t all hold to every single tenant of the philosophy. For as many “co-sleeping=no-sleeping” people, There are “co-sleeping= more sleeping.” As a sleep-deprived mother, myself, I would do what it takes to get more sleep so that I can serve my entire family better. I’ve never had a child in bed with us for an extended period of time, but I have a three-month old that is just plain needier. I’ve done this six times before and my other newborns were relatively the same…feed them place them in crib, they sleep for a couple of hours…repeat as necessary. This baby, however, is not like that. He has slept with us…a lot!! He’ll grow out of it and move to a crib soon enough, but for now, I’d rather just get more sleep and that only happens when he is with us in bed. I’m not a card-carrying AP person, but I get it. Some babies actually need to be close to the parent. Frankly, I didn’t get it until this baby but I get it now, after experiencing it and talking to others. Some parents want the baby close to them. Is that wrong? Not really. My friend has 12 children, they have all slept in bed with them, yet they are all incredibly independent. When her daughter was 3 she was making a pot of coffee for them in the morning. I am not kidding. They are all, well-adjusted, independent children ranging from age 6 months to 20. Sweeping generalizations don’t work. I don’t really want to end with that statement because it sounds mean so I’ll end with this sentence. 🙂

    2. Perhaps, but then I know lots of parents who say the opposite – that they finally WERE able to get sleep when they ‘gave up’ and let the child come in bed. I think it really does depend on the situation and the temperament of the child (and parent, lol.)

      1. Well, clearly, JL. There are folks on this thread who have said that — they sleep fine with kids’ feet in their knees, and wrapped around their children. But there are LOTS of people who can’t sleep at all that way. I’m talking about those people, and these are the people I’ve conversed with about co-sleeping, who’ve given it up.

        This thread has revealed to me, yet again, that whenever a person speaks against AP/co-sleeping/baby-wearing these days, she is attacked. It’s a very sensitive topic. JL, you asked for our opinions. I gave mine. I made many concessions about snuggling, etc. I just don’t agree with AP philosophy on this one, and whenever you speak out on ideology, that’s when the fangs come out. So sad. I’m not talking about your comment above, JL.

        I will add that those poor women overseas who strap their babies on all day, in the rice fields out of necessity — if they had the option, would they prefer to have a larger house, a separate bed, a sitter? You bet. The movie, “Babies,” showed the mom in Mongolia — did y’all notice how she left her baby in her tent, tied to the bed? That’s a bit far, even for me.

        I don’t have any criticism for particular people’s sleeping needs, including co-sleeping, if it’s needed. That’s not my business. I think it’s important for everyone to evaluate as well the philosophies behind our practices. That’s all I’m saying. If you’re find with AP philosophy, that’s great!! Go for it!

        1. I don’t think anyone has been attacking anyone here; I’ve been watching the conversation carefully, afraid of that. But it IS natural to feel defensive when one’s own parenting practice is criticized, and of course people are going to want to articulate the reasons behind their choices.

          Evaluating the philosophy behind our practices is a good idea, although I have to say that I spent the first few years of my motherhood parenting by philosophy rather than my instincts, and I regret those years. When I gave up on the philosophy and just parented as my instincts dictated, motherhood suddenly got a lot more enjoyable and less stressful. So while we definitely need to evaluate our philosophies (and I’m not advocating ignoring the bigger picture), sometimes letting the practice happen naturally is the best way.

          That probably sounds vague. I’m speaking specifically of my following the Babywise parenting philosophy. I definitely consider my overall philosophy of parenting (parents need to be in charge, of course) but I think we too easily get caught up in a book or a style and should pay more attention to our children’s and families’ individual needs and how things work out best in our situations.

          But this comment is based on my personal experience of going down a road that I regret. I think in general, your point is valid, for sure.

          1. What I’m trying to say is this: When a thread like this opens up, everyone is fine with folks who say, “Whatever! Do what feels right! All options are equally fine! I’m not making any judgments at all! In fact, I barely have opinions!”

            I have not criticized anyone’s practice. I’ve not said that co-slept children are insecure, clingy or lack confidence. Yet some people have inferred that. Why? I don’t know. I think we MUST evaluate philosophies and underlying concepts from which we get our practice — this is just good sense. Then, after we evaluate, we can accept or reject as we see fit. 22 years ago, I learned a lot of Ezzo. I kept a little, rejected a lot.

            Personally, I’d prefer not to use instinct in my parenting. First, my instincts and my husband’s may differ widely. We need to agree on parenting; thus, we need to agree on philosophy. When we agree on the over-arching philosophy of parenting, oh it becomes SO much easier! We have consistency in our practice b/c it’s all under-girded by one core system of thought.

            That’s just how I think. I don’t like fuzzy thinking. So, when I see co-sleeping, the first thing I ask is, “What philosophy does this practice come from?” Then I ask if that philosophy is consistent with the one we’ve been crafting for 22 years. In this case, having a family bed is not consistent for me. It is very consistent with some families’ philosophies of parenting. I think their philosophy (and therefore their practice) is flawed. There is no malice in that assessment. It’s just an assessment.

            I’m tired of being told I live in a world where making reasonable judgments and assessments is unacceptable and wrong. It’s “myopic.” No, it’s not. It’s using the minds God gave us. Again — just my OPINION. If others choose not to use their minds, that’s fine.

            JL, I know this is probably not the direction you intended on this thread. I guess. You asked for opinions, right? Are only mushy, relativistic opinions welcome? I don’t think you’d say so.

    3. AP advocates responding to your child’s cues-including crying. That doesn’t mean my 4 AP raised children never cried-in fact they did a lot of it! It meant that when they cried I responded to them. As infants that could mean it was time to nurse, or they needed a diaper change, or they just needed the warmth and comfort of someone’s arms.

      I know a lot of AP parents who didn’t co-sleep, either because as you said no one slept (some babies like having space) or because of other circumstances (such as medications, desire for space in their own beds, etc.). I also know parents who aren’t AP who co-slept I don’t think co-sleeping equals AP.

  29. I was a single mom for many years and my “baby” slept in my bed until he was probably 8 or 9. He did have his own bed which I encouraged him to sleep in but hey if he wanted to sleep with his momma that was OK by me. My mother used to make me feel soooo bad about it – she used to say he would be wanting to sleep with his mommy when he was 16 and that it wasn’t healthy. Well – she was WRONG, he sure as heck didnt want to sleep with his mom when he was a teenager! He is now 20 years old and healthy and happy & I don’t think any prioblems arose from letting him sleep in my bed!

    1. Isn’t it funny how people are different? I was going to comment that the fact I’m a single mother was the deciding factor in why I didn’t co-sleep. I felt that my time in bed was my only alone time. I needed that time to get recharged for the next day. This is why we should never judge anyone else. We can be in the same situation and have totally different experiences. Somehow, our kids all turn out fine regardless of what we do/don’t do.

  30. People have strong opinions on every single thing having to do with parenting. And it seems most of the ones people argue about most strongly are just not worth it. Usually we’re all doing our best to raise our kids as well as possible. Unless we are talking about clear negligence there is usually no point to the debates, to me.

    As for co-sleeping, we are a lot like your family. We didn’t do it with the kids as babies every night, but we did sometimes have a kid or two in bed if it helped everyone get more sleep. I keep a pillow and blanket on the floor by my bed so that any kid can curl up in our room. My 2.5 yo daughter likes to get in bed with me, and I let her for a while and then eventually move her to the floor.

  31. I don’t have kiddos, so I don’t have an awful lot to offer on the subject, but I’ve talked with a lot of the women in my church whom I consider to be mentors, and the overwhelming answer seems to be “NO WAY, Jose!” It’s not so much because of the affect on the parent/child relationship as it is about the parent/parent relationship. The general concensus seems to be that mom & dad’s bed is for mom & dad and kids aren’t welcome there. There are exceptions: nightmares & illness seem to be the only ones I can remember, and, from what I remember from my childhood, those were the only times I was allowed in my parents’ bed as well. Since my hubby feels SUPER-strongly about NO kids in the bed, I imagine that’ll be the route we take. Interesting topic though.

  32. Co-sleeping by accident (lol) made breastfeeding much easier for me. Other than that, a child in my bed was a rare happening, and usually only because they were sick. I never really gave it much thought other than wanting to know my baby/child could fall asleep and stay asleep on their own. Once they were used to that routine (by 4-5M), sleeping in our bed never came up. I greatly value my quiet time alone or with hubby once they kiddos are tucked in. Since I home school and am with my kids all day, I don’t feel like we’re missing out on anything =D I know us moms are often much more in tune to our kids needs than daddies are, sometimes Daddy can feel left out for a while, like right after a new baby. I think it’s natural. But, I’ve wondered how often a marriage suffers to some extent with co-sleeping that goes on for months or years…. Thoughts?

    1. I’ve only known 2 couples who practiced co-sleeping/kids in the bed every night, whose marital situation I can closely evaluate. One is divorcing, and one is on very rocky terrain. However, I can’t say that it has anything to do with the co-sleeping. However, I will add that both couples struggle very much over how to raise their kids, and the parents disagree over whether to be lenient, or more disciplined. This factor is dividing the marriages. The failing of the marriage is certainly related directly to their attitudes toward the children.

    2. For my family co-sleeping for years only brought us all closer. My husband loved having the babies in bed (most of the time) so he could connect with them after being at work all day. Snuggling, or getting up to change diapers, etc allowed him to feel like he was just as involved as I was even if he couldn’t be with them all day.

      I personally don’t think co-sleeping makes a marriage suffer, I think if there are issues in the marriage (even small ones) often having children brings them to a head.

  33. My daughter is in college now. She comes home on the weekends sometimes and her favorite place is still snuggled in our bed. She doesn’t sleep with us of course but that is where she shares her struggles and joys. She feels safe.

  34. My little girl (5 in Aug.) sleeps with me everynight, Daddy works third shift and I welcome the company. We read her bedtime stories in bed then lights out. Daddy’s nights off she is moved to her own room/bed by him. I see no harm in it, I have two older children 20 & 17, same thing with them and they have turned out amazing 🙂

  35. I say “to each his own”. We’ve never co-slept here, not because I’m completely against it, just that it worked best for us as a family to have our children in their own cribs/beds. And people who attack others for choosing to co-sleep need to get a life. I mean really?? There are so many BIGGER things in this life to debate than parents choosing to co-sleep with their children. Geez.

  36. I agree with your “live and let live”. I sometimes co-sleep with my daughter in her bed or ours when she cries for us at night. She’s 2 years old and in a blink of an eye she will be all grown up and off to college. There are so many other things in life to debate about.

  37. I am in the ‘live and live’ category, though we have never co-slept. My husband and have difficulty even sleeping together! My son seems to have inherited this from us, and the few times we’ve co-slept out of necessity (visiting relatives) did not go well. Having said that, if it works for you, by all means, GO for it.
    However, we have some relatives who have co-slept with their children since birth. These people do nothing but complain about their lack of sleep, and the fact that their almost five year old still wakes up at the same intervals, hungry, as he did as an infant. They are grouchy, impatient parents by day, and everyone including the kids is tired. I ask myself WHY? If you are tired and irritable all the time, maybe co-sleeping isn’t for your family. Also, not only are they and the kids paying the price for an arrangement they all (2 different families) agree isn’t working, I pay the price every time I have to hear them whine about it. It’s all they talk about at times. And I know it’s like this all the time, because I see them nearly every day. Just something for the co-sleepers out there to think about. Of course we know many other families who love it, and at times, I actually envy their ability to do it. Time does slip away so quickly!

  38. Not right for me, but I am so fine with people making theor own decisions. I got caught up on a facebook debate about peanut butter at school. Talk about having opinions! It was fun to watch that one unfold

    1. Peanut butter at school? Is there anything people will NOT get upset about? Let’s eliminate all the food allergens from schools. Perhaps we should start with GLUTEN! lol

  39. Wow – great post and quite thought-provoking comments. We don’t have a family bed, but I do lay with my little girl each night until she falls asleep. I cherish that time, that is, when I don’t fall asleep in her little twin bed, only to be awakened by my husband and pointed towards my bed. 🙂 She sleeps fine when I’m not around, so I know she doesn’t require my presence. She enjoys it and I enjoy hers. Soon enough she will want her space and I will (sadly) give it to her. Some of our best conversations come laying in the dark, talking about our day.

    My son (2), however, wants to be left alone to fall asleep, even though he is my snuggle bug. Clearly it is not one-size fits all, as you’ve said.

    Now I’m sleepy. All this talk of sleeping is getting to me….

  40. I absolutely agree with you, although I think it might be pushing it if they are still in their mid-teens and doing it. We had a few children and even around 12 and 13 they sometimes spent the night in our cozy california king. 😀

    Great blog, by the way. Found you on Google 🙂 Bookmarked

    1. Yeah, that part about college was kind of a joke. 😉

      My 11 year old NEVER comes in our bed anymore, so I’m sure they will all outgrow it soon enough. He does sit on my lap sometimes for a snuggle, when I’m at the computer. I love that.

  41. We ar the same way here. We don’t make co-sleeping a habit every night. But I usually wake up with one or two in our bed. Some times our 6 yr. old daughter gets in our bed at bed time, but not every night. I don’t get much sleep when she in our bed. Our 4 yr. old we tend not to let go to sleep in our bed unless he wakes up and comes in there. He likes to kick and whine if we get to close or touch him after he falls alseep. So to his bed he goes at night! lol
    I would not want to co-sleep every night for the fact that after all four kiddo’s are in bed that’s mine and hubby’s time together. I really cherish just our couple of hous alone at night!

    1. Yeah, see, we never go to bed at the same time, so that’s not an issue with us. And we boot ’em when we, ahem, NEED the bed. 😉

  42. I completely agree with you. My son will not be little forever and it touches my heart that he even wants to be around us. I teach high school and I see how things turn around, so if once a week our son cries and ends up using as a support to get back to sleep, I say, “Let it be” because it will not be this way forever. He’s three – when he is 13 I may no longer even get a hello or friendly dinner chatter.

  43. We didn’t co-sleep strictly with Boo, but we did have her with us many nights. It would have been more if I had sole choice, but I didn’t. Boo had chronic ear infections as an infant, so her sleeping on us was the only way any of us would get more then 3 hours of sleep in a strectch. Even now, at 8 I do not mind her climbing into bed with us, I love hearing her sleep. It is calming.

  44. I’m a moderate on this one too, probably, having practiced both co-sleeping and not dependent upon the particular child’s situation. I’m more of a principle and methods type mom. Meaning if the principle is feed the baby, then the method may have some flexibility. I’ve breastfed, bottle fed and tube fed my various sons dependent upon their situation. If the principle is healthy sleeping for the household, then the method may again vary. The son with night terrors keeping his brother up needs a little extra some nights but that doesn’t mean that he will always. My first son who was in the hospital for 2 years we co-slept as many nights as we could, both needing the comfort. My son who sleeps like a Cirque de Soleil artist, maybe once he stayed all night but now he’s so big he sprawls across a queen size bed. This is not my hill to die upon either. I’d like to think that if I’m going to feel guilt for parenting choices that it was over something bigger than this.

  45. I’m a co-sleeping mom of 3 boys. I have an 11 year old, 6 year old and an 8 month old. My 11 year old was a crib child who didn’t sleep well… when he was 2-3 he’d do the wandering into my room where I’d scoop him up and we’d snuggle. I cherish those memories. My 6 year old co-slept with me until he was about… 7-8 months and I transitioned him to his crib… his room was upstairs, mine was downstairs, I was still nursing…it was a matter of convenience. This little guy… he’s been beside me since day one and again, while I’m nursing, he IS sleeping through the night now and could go to his crib but I absolutely adore having him near me… it’s a comfort. This is the last time I’ll ever share my bed with my little baby wanting nothing more than to fall asleep feeling safe and secure and warm next to me. These moments are fleeting…. so I cherish them. Yeah, sometimes, it’s a pain — I won’t lie. I certainly don’t expect to have a 6 year old in my bed every night… it doesn’t last… and I can’t see how it hurts… people are so passionate about such menial things… I wonder what the world would be like if they took that energy to a topic that truly MATTERED!

  46. I didn’t take the time to read the other comments but on quick pass by they look interesting.
    For the past few nights I’ve ended up wedged between my 2.5 yr old and 4.5 yr old. It’s cozy. The only problem is when I have to dewedge myself to go nurse the baby. Hum, bit ironic that the only nursing child is in his own bed.

  47. I’m an accidental co-sleeper. Little Miss was a terrible night time sleeper for the first 51 weeks of her life. Out of desperation I brought her into bed with me to nurse & soon realised that if I didn’t have to get up and go into another room I could basically feed her in my sleep. We heard lots of tutting and “now you’ll never get her out of your bed” comments but as soon as she started sleeping through the night she did so in her own bed.

    I’m a card carrying member of the “Good Enough Mommy Club” so I think that none of us are ever going to be a perfect parent (what is that anyway?) so its important for us to do the best WE can for OUR family. Who cares how everyone else is raising their kids – spend less time keeping score & more time with your kids!

  48. Just had this conversation tonight with my sister in law (new mom of 3 months). I believe Moms (parents) are all just trying to do the best job they know how. Each and every child is different, each family is different and each mom is different. Parenting is a passionate undertaking and I think that is why some people aren’t able to see other opinions/methods regarding parenting choices. I do wish more parents would share my attitude of each parent knows what is best for their own child.

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