Discussions about the pros and cons of co-sleeping.


As a PSP member asks the group:


"Our 2.5 week old daughter does not seem to like sleeping in the little cradle at the foot of our bed we used for her older brother (he liked it just fine!). Overall, she does not seem to be a fussy baby, but she does usually start to cry if we put her in the cradle (or moses basket). So, we are mostly carrying her around during the day in Bjorn/sling, and putting her in our bed at night - with this arrangement, she rarely cries.
I'm fine with this for now (esp since it makes nursing easier!), but do have some questions:
- how do people deal with bed safety? We have a duvet and several pillows, and really need them to sleep well ourselves - are these dangerous for the baby? (most books say no pillows, blankets, etc. but this seems a bit impractical for the parents!). Also, when her older brother was little and sleeping with us one night, he fell off our rather high bed -- do we need to get safety rails before 3-4 months?
- how hard will it be to transition her to crib later? I know this topic has come up before, and every kid is different, but I'm curious re: success stories. While we respect co-sleeping, it's not a long-term arrangement we want, so we hope to have her in her own crib by 4 months (and plan to keep her in our room til then, ideally in the cradle, but if now then in our bed).
- she's had a minor cold/congestion (caught from her brother) since she about 8-9 days old: could this be the reason she needs extra snuggling?
FYI, I night-nursed my son til he was 11-12 months old and was fine with that, and while he occasionally slept in our bed, he was primarily in his crib from 4 months onwards with no problem (and up to 4 months, he was in our room in the cradle)."




"We've co-slept with both children. I currently have my 5 month old in bed with us. She sleeps really well, and thankfully so do I! As far as safety, I wouldn't get a bed rail. Many people actually consider them more dangerous because the baby can get lodged between the bed and rail. I wouldn't worry about it until the baby starts crawling. If they roll around a lot before than you can keep them in the middle. We put our bed on the floor, only because we plan to co-sleep for awhile. It was never an issue with our son till he was much older and more mobile (and even then it was more when he was awake than asleep). I wouldn't worry too much about blankets. I usually make sure though not to pull them too high up, and keep her head below where the pillows are. She usually sleeps propped on my arm too. I'd wear more on top if you get cold. As the baby gets a little older it won't be such a big deal. I found even my two months she naturally puts her arm outside any covers and she squirms to let you know if they are too high. I found myself to be very awareof this when sleeping with my babies. The two things I would recommend is to be careful of how aware your husband is I've read men tend not to have the same awareness as women. I think this is especially true because they aren't waking up to breastfeed. I don't think it's a big deal as the baby gets past the newborn phase and can wiggle more, but I usually kept her on the outside when we were actually sleeping. Having her sleep in the crook of my arm also made me feel like she was more safe. The other thing to be careful of is not over dressing the baby. They don't need to wear as much because your body heat keeps them warmer. I can't give advice about transitioning to a crib. My son slept with us until 15 months, when he moved easily into a twin bed. I had a friend who co-slept until 4 months. She expected it be hard to move her but her daughter had no problem .I think each baby is different. You may also find that if your daughter sleeps better with you it would be worth it to keep her longer in bed with you! I can recommend some good books on co-sleeping if you are interested too."


"Not that this was so though out, but what we ended up doing with our daughter as a newborn was put her up at the top of our bed between our two foam pillows. This kind of created a little snuggle nest for her--like those barrier-type products they sell. That way there was no fear of rolling over and she was actually above the covers. We would dress her warmly and/or give her her own blanket (I know, not the absolute safest, but probably safer than having her under the duvet). We also have a solid wood headboard that fits pretty snugly against the mattress. Never used bedrails because they don't work so well with a platform bed. Don't ask me about transitioning to a crib, because we never had any success. She now sleeps on her  own mattress next to our bed, which is actually fine. The crib is our laundry hamper. Ah well..."


"We co-slept with our son for probably 8-10 months. What we did was make sure that he slept in the middle so that he couldn't fall out. We also, in the beginning used seperate blankets so that we wouldn't accidentally pull the covers up over his head at night. The same with pillows - and only had 2 on the bed as necessary. Re. men - I agree that they aren't as aware of where the baby is. But you are - so I found myself naturally waking up when he got too close to the baby in his sleep - which wasn't that often. But co-sleeping it really worked for us. I could nurse without really waking up, and the baby slept more through the night."


"I've also had great experiences with co-sleeping with both my daughters. The one thing I would add to the discussion is just the caveat that my first did in fact roll out of the bed when she was on my side, between me and the edge, at about 4 months, before I knew she could roll over. It was quite scary and though she wasn't hurt, the 2+ foot drop to the wood floor could easily have been dangerous. We did end up using a wooden slatted safety rail from then on, and that seemed to work fine. She was a little bigger at that point so I wasn't too anxious about her being caught between it and the bed. I liked being able to have her either in the middle or on my other side for nursing purposes."


"We co-slept with our 22 month-old until he was four months old and are currently co-sleeping with our one month old. Regarding safety and blankets, we slept on top of the covers as the weather was warm enough. Currently, the baby sleeps on top of the covers in footed pjs and is covered with a receiving blanket, pulled up to his waist, his arms resting on top. We also started sleeping with our own blankets to avoid a tug-o-war in the middle of the night. We were both aware of our son in the middle, although I was extra sensitive. Sometimes, I'd sleep with an arm around-top the baby to make sure my husband couldn't accidentally roll into the middle of the bed. It made and makes nursing so much easier at night."


"I am new to the board and have been reading the posts about co-sleeping with much interest. My suggestion to those of you who co-sleep is to ask your doctor (or ANY healthcare provider) the following question: "What is the SAFEST way to sleep my baby?" Invariably, you will hear the same thing over and over again: It is safest for your baby to sleep alone in a crib with a firm mattress, on her back with no blankets, pillows or stuffed animals. I know that besides being convenient, co-sleeping is the trendy, "Park Slope" thing to do, so this may not be a popular view-point. But really, wouldn't you agree that doing what is safest for your child is more important than doing what's most convenient for YOU? Just my two cents!"


"Unfortunately, it sounds like you have some misunderstandings about is not something that is done purely out of convenience, with a disregard for the safety of one's child - on the contrary, there is plenty of evidence supporting co-sleeping as the SAFER option... (in addition to lots of other advantages). The headlines you read that claim that co-sleeping is dangerous are based on studies that lump together families who smoke and do drugs with families who do neither, families who follow safe co-sleeping practices and those who don't, etc. oh, and the crib industry is involved in getting this information out there:

"The crib industry has gotten in bed with the CPSC to announce dramatically that 60 babies per year die from accidents in adult beds. They plan a large campaign to educate doctors and retailers about the supposed danger. One detail they seem to leave out is that a baby sleeping in a safe adult bed next to their aware and protective mom, (co-sleeping), actually has a decrease in his risk of SIDS. Sleeping in a crib in another room of the house is the greatest risk factor for SIDS -- 10 times the risk of sleeping in the same room as the parents" (source)"
mothers sharing a bed with their babies is not a "trend." on the contrary, it has been done all over the world throughout history, and is still the norm in many cultures.
"Solitary infant sleeping is a principally western practice which is quite young in terms of human history. The practice of training children to sleep alone through the night is approximately two centuries old. Prior to the late 1700s co-sleeping was the norm in all societies (Davies, 1995). Today in many cultures the practice of co-sleeping continues, with babies seen as natural extensions of their mothers for the first one or two years of life, spending both waking and sleeping hours by her side. Co-sleeping is taken for granted in such cultures as best for both babies and mothers, and the western pattern of placing small infants alone in rooms of their own is seen as aberrant (Thevenin, 1987)"
"Anthropological evidence of cosleeping societies is abundant. In reviews of literature on cosleeping societies Thevenin (1987) and Lozoff and Brittenham (1979) noted classic studies which included nearly 200 cultures, all of which practiced mother-infant cosleeping even if in some cultures the sleeping location of the father was separate."
(both quotes from here) in cultures where cosleeping is the norm, the rates of sids are far lower - check out this chart.
"Studies reveal that after leaving the womb there is an important continuum of mother-provided regulation. While asleep, parental warmth, heartbeat, and breathing help to regulate proper body temperature and oxygenation in baby. Co-sleeping also encourages natural breast feeding and comforting, adding important hormonal and immune regulation." (source)
Dr.sears started out his research on the subject by studying his own daugher, as described here:
"Our study revealed that Lauren breathed better when sleeping next to Martha than when sleeping alone. Her breathing and her heart rate were more regular during shared sleep, and there were fewer "dips," low points in respiration and blood oxygen from stop-breathing episodes. On the night Lauren slept with Martha, there were no dips in her blood oxygen. On the night Lauren slept alone, there were 132 dips. The results were similar in a second infant, whose parents generously allowed us into their bedroom."
(fromDr Sears - this website also has findings of his follow up studies with other mother-baby pairs.) in addition to the benefit of having mom's breathing acting as a breathing pacemaker, co-sleeping also helps to reduce the risk of sids by encouraging breastfeeding. breastfed babies have 1/5 the risk of sids as formula fed babies
often when moms work or when kids become active and curious and therefore too busy to nurse much in the daytime, those nighttime nursings provide a good percentage of a child's milk intake.
of course, just as you have to take precautions in cribs, there are safety guidelines to follow when cosleeping. some biggies - don't smoke or take drugs that have sedative properties, be cautious with pillows and blankets, etc.
(see more here)

Besides the decreased sids rate, the convenience and breastfeeding issues, it's just a great thing. i can't imagine not being able to roll over and look at my son, or him having to cry loudly to get his needs met, thus fully waking all three of us. i love seeing him wake up cheerful and playing. ps - i don't need to ask my ped's opinion on co-sleeping - i already know he's all for it."


"I agree to a large extent with the previous poster - from what I've read, co- sleeping is the norm throughout much of the world (including in Japan and many European countries), and there is plenty of data to suggest that co-sleeping actually can be a negative risk factor for SIDS (due to synchronized breathing between mother and infant, I think). I co-sleeping can be a good thing when practiced with caution and awareness, but of course it's not for everyone. It can be great for a working parent who is nursing, since it can allow for more sleeping on the part of the parent (which can be critical when there's no ability to nap during business hours to catch up, plus there's the bonus of more time/closeness with baby). for our part, we chose a partial co-sleeping option: we would put our son to bed in his crib, then when he woke up hungry (e.g., at 3), I would usually take him into a guest bed and nurse, then we'd fall back asleep, he'd nurse once more at, say, 5, then I'd put him back in the crib and head back to bed for another hour of sleep. When I tried to sit up and nurse him at 3, then just go back to bed, I was so much more tired the next day – and fatigue is definitely a risk factor for accidents on the parenting job. So it kept me saner and probably kept our son a bit safer."


"Wow, that's a very strong opinion and you of course are entitled to it. I think it is a little unfair and presumptuous to assume that because someone makes different choices, no matter how well thought out or informed, it must be wrong or selfish. Co-sleeping is not "trendy". It is something that is practiced around the world, in many different ways, and in many cultures. Even in our country statistics for co-sleeping (especially when including those who do so occasionally or part of the night) show the numbers are quite high. It's just not something people often talk about. I can see why-- for fear of being labeled a bad parent. It is also presumptuous to assume any Dr. would be against co-sleeping. Mine isn't. There are many Dr's who have written on the benefits of co-sleeping. Despite that, I consider myself to be intelligent enough and educated enough to make informed choices about my child. Ultimately I am the one responsible for them. I do think it's interesting that many studies and "safe sleeping" campaigns like the one that occurred recently in New York, are funded by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). Essentially, the people who make cribs are the ones telling us they are safest. Believe me, I love my children just as much as you love yours and I always put their safety first."


"Co-sleeping is trendy? Unsafe? LOL ­ well then apparently my fellow Koreans have been doing it all wrong for two thousand years. Not to mention the rest of Asia, and Africa for that matter. Did I mention the thousands of years? Asian parents view co-sleeping as the basic bond between parents and child, it's a no brainer for us. One Japanese mom described it as the parents are mountains, and the child, a valley between them. My mom calls it giving safety to the child, so he doesn't grow up with anxiety. Children are expected to leave the bed when they are ready, and our sense of time regarding this is very different, we don't expect this to happen until children are at least three. And in any situation, for as long as the children are in the house, the parents bed is always an option for refuge, for play, for extra snuggles ­ and this seems also to be considered more acceptable among conventional American parenting. That being said, I don't think separate sleeping is bad or a less healthy parenting option. I've seen a number of American babies who have on their own, happily slept in their own cribs. It's the utter anxiety and judgment surrounding this issue, and all the sleep-training obsessing that I find harmful to the children. As for science, well pediatricians are not trained in sleep. Ask your doctor, he/she will confirm this. In fact, the whole science of sleep, especially geared toward infants, is very very new and if you have the latest Weissbluth or Ferber book, well you know almost as much as they do. And if you read these books critically, you should be able to separate out the science from the opinion, and then you will see the data, like much of scientific data, can support almost any stance, including co-sleeping. Separate sleeping in the States is in fact a recent development, only gaining in popularity in the last fifty years due to scientists findings, and then mostly in upper and middle class families."


"Hey hey ... fellow parents, remember to try not to fight about co-sleeping too! :-) This forum is getting scary... I can't believe people cannot respect parents who co-sleep without fear and the ones who prefer to use cribs (they are thousands of years old too!!!) and viceversa! I ALWAYS fell asleep while nursing my son at night, and having him sleep next to me was wonderful (for both of us, I believe...) until he kicked me out of bed! He is very territorial (and big!), he likes to have his space and would simply push me out of my own bed. He still does, when I occasionally have him sleep with me (if he has a cold, or if he wakes up at night ... it's rare, but it happens) he pushes me away, and I fell badly a couple of times. I wish I could co-sleep with my little angel, all I can do is sometimes enjoy naps, if he accidentally falls asleep next to me! I guess some kids do like to sleep on their own, just like some parents!"


"I co-slept with each of my two children for more than a year and I never considered it unsafe (we had a king size bed). I think it created a special bond between us, that, added to the fact that I nursed them for over two years (each). I also never asked my doctors for their opinion, our choice was personal Saying co-sleeping is a "trendy Park Slope thing" is an inaccurate and uninformed comment: people have been co-sleeping with their children for generations in so many parts of the world like South America, Europe, Africa and Asia."


"Yeah, this is another hot-button issue like vaccinations and the [gender-deleted]'s hat. I believe that the poster who first wrote about the risks was very respectful, and just wanted to pass on the information that she had. Which is legitimate. This list is big, and not all of us agree with each other. And I imagine that the parent who posed the question really wanted to hear both sides of the issue, right? But I will agree that subsequent posters on both sides of the issue have gotten defensive, and maybe lashed out a little. I DO think that we've exhausted this subject, though. The committed parents on both sides are not going to change their minds, and I'm sure that the uncommitted parents have gotten both sides, so maybe it's time to move on to the next raging PSP controversy??"


"Safety studies, popular opinion and cultural standards aside, I would like to share my own co sleeping experience.
I co-slept with my 1st son for about 2 years. We night nursed and both got more sleep that way. Unfortunately my husband found it difficult to sleep in the same bed as us so baby and I slept in the other room, more sleep for everyone. Once he was weaned at two, it seemed that my restless sleep patterns disturbed him and he slept better in his own space. I planned on doing the same with my second son though to my surprise he had other plans. I co slept with Harry for about 4 months then began to realize that having the milk boobie so close to him at night kept Harry awake and he would not fall asleep lying next to me. I began to place him back in his crib after night nursings and sleep on the futon in his room to be close and available to respond quickly to his needs. H. slept better but was still wakeful when I would shift positions and the futon frame creaked. My husband soon suggested that if Harry is sleeping well on his own , why don't I just move back into our own bed which is only 10 feet further from where I was, in the next room. H. then slept even better. I was close by to hear and respond but far enough away so I did not disturb him. My boys now voluntarily share a room and sleep like rocks. Sometimes it is not about the research, your culture, or even your plans. I discovered that sometimes you have to take your cues from your kids."


"Let me start by saying that I'm not going to argue for or against co-sleeping! I just wanted to mention our reason for not co-sleeping, a reason that has not come up at all in this discussion. Quite simply we chose not to co-sleep because we cannot be with the baby ALL the time! We're not just parents - we are a couple too and found that we needed time to talk, laugh, snuggle, and yes, have sex! The bed is OUR private and personal space and we are not willing to share it with our child. For us, the intimacy of the martial bed is part of the glue that keeps our relationship strong. Our son (now almost 9 months) slept in a moses basket in his own room since he came home. Of course we were up and down with him initially, but he began sleeping though the night at six months and has no problem with his own room. Just our experience."


"Well although the subject may be exhausted according to some there is also the possibility of doing an in between sleeping situation as some have sort of mentioned. That is not completely always co sleeping and not sleeping in a crib in another room. We always had either the bassinet at first and then the crib right up against our bed. We did this to have it be easy to decide every night to sometimes put our son in the crib and sometimes he would sleep in the bed with us all night. It just depended. For example none of us wanted to sleep 12 hours so say at first I might nurse him side by side let him sleep and then because I wanted to leave the room I would put him in the crib and leave the room. During the middle of the night he would sleep in between us but sometimes I felt extra paranoid for whatever reason and after nursing him put him in the crib.  Although my husband as well as myself were completely aware of my son. My son was a terrible sleeper for the first year of his life so he always woke up but he was never consistent, sometimes every two hours, sometimes in a blue moon he might go for a long stretch sometimes every hour. I tried every method possible and read many books to try to get him to sleep longer, no cry methods, sleep in the bed with us, sleep in the crib, etc. etc back and forth and nothing changed him to a good sleeper until at 13 months we sleep trained him also with my own combination version of letting him cry it out. After about a week he did become a perfect sleeper but still kept the crib in our bedroom rolled up near our bed because of the space issue in our old apartment. Once we got our new apt. when my son was about 2 years old he has/had his own room and everything was fine and great. But sometimes, he is now almost 3 years old, he walks out of his room into ours to sleep with us in the middle of the night and him sleeping with us is utter torture. He tosses and turns so much, every 2 minutes he tosses and turns and both my husband and I are in a very sleepy state but the tossing and turning is so much it is unbelievable. If it wasn't for that we would let him stay in the bed for the rest of the night. So we always argue with each other over who is going to go and put him in his room. Sometimes we both can't get ourselves out of the bed but my husband is always telling him to stop moving and he just doesn't. My sons eyes are closed but he does not stop tossing. Eventually one of us gets up and puts him back in his room and sometimes he protests. Anyway I don't know if he tosses and turns that much in his own crib while asleep. Sometimes I think he might because I have a sound monitor on and it turns on when there is noise and it does often but I can't tell if it is him or the cat meowing or a car going by that turns it on. He mostly sleeps the night through with every once in a while waking up once in the middle of the night and then we just put him back in the crib and he goes back to sleep for the rest of the night. Does anyone else have a child that tosses and turns constantly yet sleeps through the night? Maybe he only tosses like that when he is in bed with us? For example last night he walked into our bed at 3 am. He gets in there he sleeps for about 15 minutes steady with out tossing and turning and then he starts tossing and turning constantly keeping both of us awake. I get up and put him in his crib and it was like he never woke up he didn't even notice me picking him up and putting him in his crib. So it makes me think that he just tosses and turns all night. That seems kind of weird, no? When either me or my husband look in on him he moves and tosses and turns. My husband says he is a light sleeper, but he is not because we make a lot of noise at night, a lot, we have the TV on full blast which is right up against his wall we do not act extra quite at night and he does not wake up he sleeps through it all. I get fresh direct deliveries after he is in the bed, door bell ringing, breaking open boxes, all right near his bedroom and he does not wake up. I find it odd."


I'm happy to share a co-sleeping success story. We slept with our first daughter in the bed until she was about 15 months old. I found that I could easily nurse and sleep at the same time, and so slept much better especially during the frequent nighttime nursing early months. And my daughter slept well too -- she never had prolonged waking periods in the dead of night the way many babies seem to.
Around 15 months she was big, being weaned, and more active in the bed, so we were getting crowded. We moved her then to a very thick crib mattress on the floor at the foot of our bed, with a safety rail on one side. She slept happily there, with occasional coming into our bed, for about a year.
Then we moved her to her own big girl bed in her own room. Both transitions were not completely pain-free but they were not terrible, basically just a hard week in each case with the nights getting progressively better. She's slept happily in her own bed in her own room for 3 years now, and we're co-sleeping for the second time with our now 11-month-old second daughter. I plan to follow roughly the same plan with her and hope it goes as well. I have no regrets about sleeping with my girls -- for me it has given me a sense of connection and closeness I love because I work full time and am away from them during the day.


"My daughter slept with me until I got her a twin bed at age 18 months or so. She was very excited about her 'big girl bed' and I always stayed with her til she fell asleep. I think that her bedtime ritual was really special, and for many years after reading her bedtime stories, I stayed with her til she fell asleep. Now, she is 6 years old and quite content and secure sleeping in her bed, and we still have special quiet time together, talking about our day right before she falls asleep. (She doesn't need me in order to fall asleep now.) I really like what Dr. Sears has to say about co-sleeping."


"Ok, here's one. From a completely different perspective. So when I was a kid I always wanted to sleep with my parents and they never let me--sometimes I would sleep in front of the doorway of their bedroom. Once they got divorced, when I was 5, my mom decided I could sleep with her. And I did. Until I was 13. Now don't be alarmed, I turned out just fine emotionally and psychologically. Happily married, no boundary issues. My mom used to say, "well, she's not going to want to sleep with me when she's 16." And she was right. mom to 9-month-old xxxx--who is not sleeping with us, unless I change my mind."


"I think if you trust your gut you will feel the natural progression & know the right time to transition your child to his/her own bed. Enjoy it until you start to feel crowded, or when you aren't getting enough sleep, or you begin craving alone time with your partner...all of these were signals to me, and like all other transitions it will take some focus (a few "consistent" nights...for some longer) to help transition your child to his/her new sleeping arrangement. I really think we women have great intuitive signals...we just have to be willing to listen to them, which can be hard if we feel unprepared for the change - but change is inevitable! You can always email the group again when you get there - if you need advice!"


"Our first daughter slept with us in bed until she was about 2 and a half, then transitioned to a mattress on the floor next to our bed. At 3 she moved into a big girl bed in her own room. For a while she often wanted me to lie down with her until she fell asleep, and a while after that she went to sleep on her own reliably. Now, at 4.5, she goes to sleep on her own every night, in her own bed.
There were occasional instances of wanting to go to sleep in our bed (before we went to bed), which we allowed, moving her to her bed after she was asleep (she sleeps like a log). However, she almost never came into our bed and wanted to sleep with us when we were there, though we would not refuse it if she did.
Now, we were in no hurry to get her out of our bed, so this was a very organic process for us. Possibly we could have done it successfully sooner if we had tried. Incidentally, moving to her own bed coincided with weaning her from nursing.
Now Second Daughter is in our bed.
I have often felt isolated in having a relatively long-term family bed, so I'm enjoying reading others' accounts of sleep-sharing!"


"Our son slept with us until about 15 months. At that point we decided to set up his room and bought him a twin bed. I figured it would be a while before he wanted to move out on his own and didn't push, but was surprised when he asked to sleep in the other bed the second night after we had it set up. After that point he spent the majority of the night in there (always went to sleep there) but there was a lot of back and forth between beds for a while because I also decided to night wean. That was a much more gradual process but definitely happened before he was two. For a while he would come into our room in the early morning to nurse, until about 2.5 yrs, when he weaned himself (I am pregnant again). Now he spends the whole night in his room... we lay down with him till he falls asleep (which I enjoy) and go in there (and often lay with him) if he wakes up and calls to us. He knows he can come in our room whenever he wants but usually prefers us to come in there. I plan on buying him something to sleep on next to our bed once the new baby comes so he won't feel left out and can sleep in our room too if he wants.
I really enjoyed the time spent co-sleeping with him and look forward to doing it again. I might try to stretch it out a little longer this time but I guess we will see what happens."


"Not *everyone* says that you won't get your kid out of your bed if you let him/her sleep with you...only those who haven't tried the family bed say that. We have a five year old and a 22 month old and have enjoyed sharing our sleep with our kids. The five year old does sleep in his own bed in his own room, despite dire early predictions from closed-minded pediatricians and traditionally-minded acquaintances. Sometimes he's in our bed by dawn, but usually he's still snug in his own room. He transitioned out when he was about 2 1/2, and it was very easy. I can see that his little brother will be ready in the next few months, too. Don't worry about what others say, just trust your own instincts. Your children will grow up all too quickly and will be so independent before you're ready for it. For now, I say enjoy your baby and take all the snuggles you can get."


Further resources from around the web:

Video about co-sleeping with infants, science and public policy