why we choose (and love!) to cosleep

why we love to cosleep!

when people find out we cosleep with out babes, we usually get one of three responses: 1) a shocked face – almost full of pity? 2) a smirk because even though they don’t ‘cosleep’ their baby ends up in their bed frequently or 3) total excitement because they cosleep, too!

sharing a ‘family bed’ is something i never thought i would do before i had children, but after much research and having our first baby, bear, we fell in love with it. it’s been one of the most intentional and rewarding decisions we’ve ever made as a family!

a quick note: before you read this article, please know that the only real advice i give to any mom is to do whatever works for you and your family. every baby is different and you are officially entering a ‘no judgment‘ zone! i simply wanted to share about our cosleeping for anyone who wants to know more or who might be interested in what it looks like for our family and how we make it work.

having our son (and soon to be daughter) in our bed didn’t happen by accident. david and i made the intentional decision to cosleep with bear before he ever even entered the world. after reading and researching as much as i could about nursing, SIDS prevention and sleeping options, we decided this was what we wanted to try as a family.

i’ll first share the more ‘scientific’ reasons we decided to cosleep. (i’ll talk more about all the other reasons i’ve fallen in love with it since in a minute).

attachment parenting. we first fell in love with dr. sear’s method of ‘attachment parenting’ (which he discusses in ‘the baby book‘). in short, the three factors to attachment parenting are breastfeeding, wearing you baby and cosleeping at night. the theory is that the more attached you are as a parent, the more independent and self-secure your children will be. after two years, i can definitely attest to this! we are still extremely attached, but i’m always impressed at how well bear does when we have to leave him or he goes to play with a new group of kids. he’s well adjusted, secure and confident.

nursing. i’m so happy to report that nursing went really well with bear (after the first weeks of adjustment, of course!). i exclusively nursed him for 9 months, and then he later weaned at 18 months. cosleeping during this time made it a truly enjoyable experience and definitely made middle of the night feedings easy.

keeping baby close (my favorite reason!). keeping your baby close at night, means that they don’t have to get very upset (or awake) to get your attention at night. if bear woke up hungry or upset, he literally only needed to nudge my direction or touch my arm for me to know it. had he been across the room (or in another room entirely), he would have had to woken up completely and started to cry (pretty loudly) for me to wake up and know he needed something. knowing that i was always there made him know that he never needed to cry in order to get our attention (and it worked – he never cried!). dr. sears hints that having a baby in another room almost ‘trains’ them to cry louder and quicker to get their needs met. having them close by prevents them from ever even having to get upset in the first place, making for a super peaceful baby. (this was totally true in our case!)

SIDS prevention. SIDS is an awful awful thing and there are tons of different philosophies on how to best prevent it. it’s scary being a mom and having to choose which one to abide by! cosleeping to help prevent SIDS made a lot of sense to us, so that’s we did it. (and you should do whatever makes sense to you!). in short, dr. sears explains that sleeping next to your baby (literally touching them) helps regulate their breathing. being jostled by movements in the bed and hearing you and your spouse breathe, snore and get up to go to the bathroom, all help to regulate the babies breathing and prevent them from going into a very deep sleep (which is usually when SIDS occurs in young babies).  one test i loved to do is after waking up (slightly) and wanting to check on bear (but not wanting to wake him completely), all i would have to do is take a very deep breath. almost immediately, he would also take a big deep breath. it really does work!

*quick note: i’m a bit of a worrier by nature, so one of the things i was most surprised at after having my first baby was how much i worried about their breathing. after i discovered the snuza, my worries were nearly eliminated! it’s a small device that clips on their diapers (it’s battery operated, so it doesn’t emit any EMFs) and monitors their breathing with delicate NASA technology. it vibrates to rouse the baby if there’s been no movement for a few seconds, and the sounds an alarm if breathing doesn’t resume. though they can’t say ‘it prevents SIDS’ their website proudly claims that they’ve never had a report of a single SIDs case while a baby was wearing a snuza. literally, a lifesaver!

*quick note #2: as you can tell, we loved dr. sears’ ‘the baby book‘. everything in this book made so much sense to us and i had nearly every one of my ‘new mom’ questions answered by reading it! i also LOVE his book, ‘the vaccine book‘. it’s the only truly non-biased take on the vaccine issue i’ve found thus far. after reading it, i felt incredibly educated and empowered!

ok – moving on from the more scientific-y reasons for co-sleeping, i want to talk about the more emotional side of it. basically, david and i have fallen in love with sleeping with out babies!

so, what does this look like for us?

we have a differently philosophy about sleeping hours, and i’m sure a lot of people think we’re crazy for it. basically, we sleep as a family and we go to bed together. this means that bear goes to bed with us around 9 or 10pm and wakes up around 9 or 10am. this allows us to spend time together as a family in the evenings and for us (mom & dad) to get up early and get some work done before he wakes up. it has worked beautifully for us and really allowed our family the evening flexibility we’ve needed. of course, you can still cosleep with with a different routine, this is just what works for us!

this also means that bear has fallen alseep in my arms nearly every single night since he was born. i also ‘snuggle’ him to sleep in our bed for naps and then move him to his crib for daytime sleeping. i can’t even put into words how sweet this time is for me. it’s my most favorite 15 minutes of the entire day! we snuggle and giggle and i rub his back until he falls asleep nestled under my chin. these snuggles will no doubt be among the most meaningful moments of my entire life, and i often think about what i would be missing out on if they didn’t happen.

i get to feel little toes on my back in the middle of the night and nearly always wake up to tiny hands rubbing my shoulders. he sleeps right in the middle of david and i (though he was only on ‘my side’ until he was old enough to start getting out of bed on his own) and we both enjoy it immensely.

of course, your spouse must be on board with the ‘family bed’ in order for it not to become a sore topic amongst the two of you. marriage is sacred and important and each other’s opinions must be held highly. if this is something you’re interested in, be sure to talk it out with your spouse, first!

all i can say is that this has been a beautiful thing for our family. david and i have no problem finding plenty of ‘us time‘ and enjoy immensely falling asleep with and waking up with our tiny human being.

so what happens next? good question! as many of you know, we’re welcoming a baby girl to the family in just 2 weeks! we’re not exactly sure how this is going to change our sleeping habits as a family, but we’re just going with the flow.

how does your family sleep? what works best for you?

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  • I was torn between cosleeping and a floorbed. We went with a montessori floorbed and room setup instead. My son started crawling to bed at 10 months and now goes to his bed whenever he is tired. It is nice to see his independence! –but the sleep cuddling sounds so sweet : )

  • Hello from Germany,
    we also cosleep with our little doughter (she is 1,5 years old). We put two big mattress on the floor, so everybody can sleep without a feet in the face.
    She has also her own bed which is placed in the same room, but she doesn´t want to use it. She preferes snuggling, me too :-)

  • I enjoyed reading your post. I like cosleeping to although my husband is not as happy with it. My 4 year old had his crib attatched to my side of the bed so he could crawl up into my arms whenever he wanted. When my second son came we moved both of them in their rooms. I don’t know if it was that or something else but he was much more agitated, woke up and cried or stayed awake for hours. Anyway, now he is 2 and can come to our bed by himself whenever he feels like. Same little toes in my hair, cuddling him to sleep at noon. I can even sleep better when I know he is in my bed. The older one likes to sleep in his tent with a frog lamp that makes stars on the ceiling. He is a big boy now, ready to start his first year in kindergarten.
    Thanks for reminding me how important this attachment is to our little ones and god bless your new baby.

  • I’m amazed and delighted – our experience with our 9 month old daughter is almost exactly the same! We all go to bed together (she sometimes is asleep on her crib for an hour first) and we all wake together. She greets every day with smiles and giggles and this time together is a cherished gift. She is a happy, peaceful baby, she loves meeting new people and she is calm and satisfied. Such joy – happy to know that we share that in common. All good wishes as your family grows and thrives❤️

  • I have always wanted to co sleep but was so fearful. My 8 month old has slept in her crib since day one. That has made night feelings a bit of a pain. But they are mostly in the past now. What do you do about your baby crawling out of the bed. My baby is always crawling to the edge when I bring her to cuddle with me in the morning.

  • We’ve been co-sleeping with my 2 1/2 year old son almost since birth. And he is the happiest, confident little dude full of cuddles and love! I definitely sleep better, I cherish the feel of his soft hair on my cheek at night. It’s the most rewarding decision we made! I am starting to look for a way to get him to go to sleep easier! I also lay with him, but it’s taking longer and longer- then I fall asleep! So I’m looking for ways to help him get to sleep better…. Maybe I’m putting him down too early. Thank you for this post- it was like reading my own thoughts!

  • Our family has been co-sleeping for 17 years!! We have 7 children and they’ve all been in our bed as babies. As they age, they begin to want to move out. There is no bed in our house with only one person in it as those not sleeping with us sleep with a sibling or two or three or four! We have actually never had more than 2 in our own (king size) bed at one time. And we all wake up so refreshed and happy.

  • Bonnie!
    I am so glad that you decided to share your reasons for co-sleeping! In our fast moving world I think that it is so important to take the time to snuggle with your babe(s) and cherish those sweet little hands every morning! Hugs to you, David, Bear and baby!! Many thanks for the book recommendations!

  • I’m currently in bed with my sleeping 5 month old, Oliver, while reading this..when I came across the paragraph about yoi taking a deep breath and your baby did the same I decided to try it for myself….AND IT TOTALLY WORKED. It’s so awesome to have such a connection with your baby :)

  • We do not cosleep but I find the whole idea sweet and interesting. My daughter slept in her crib in the same room with us until she was three months old, and slept on me most of the time! Then we decided to put her on her bed in her bedroom (on another floor!) because she didn’t wake up during the night and since then has been sleeping non stop for 12 hours every night. This helps us sleep deeply and we are all refreshed when we get up. If some night she is sick or feels bad, she sleeps with us in bed (and I love it!).

  • I am feeling the cosleeping. My husband not so much. He is scared he would roll into our baby girl. She is 3 months old and sleeps in a bassinet on my side of the bed. I would like to try it though. The thought of moving her to her own room and to another floor of the house makes me uneasy. I am also wondering what your thoughts are on vaccinations.
    Thank you for this post. I enjoy you’re blog!

  • Co-sleeping was the most snuggly, fantastic time of our children’s childhoods. They are now 16 and 13 and some of the most secure, independent and deeply happy children I have ever seen. We never rolled on either of our babies, though they may have cramped the space at times! But they day I gave in to co-sleeping began the most restful, happy time in our family. Co-sleeping is a very, healthy ages-old idea. I have read the “Little House on the Prairie” series to my children several times and even in those books there is mention of the babies always sleeping with Ma and for quite a long period of time. The idea that your baby is attached to you in your body and upon it’s welcome into the outside world must now sleep independently and usually in an entirely separate room is very sad and lonely to me. Loving our babies thoroughly makes the world a much gentler place!

  • We co-slept with our daughter and it was the best thing we ever did. We did it until she was about 9 or 10. She was the one who decided when she moved to her own bed. Even after that she would ask to come in and sleep with us if she felt insecure or anxious for some reason. She always had her own room–which she used for playing and napping–but nighttime sleeping was with us. It always gave me a deep sense of peace having my whole family in the bed together–knowing that they were safe and OK. Our daughter is now 16 and I will admit that I miss those sweet days.

  • I’m so happy to read this post after spending so long following you and reading your blog daily! I read cosleep, attachment parenting, and breastfeeding and my list of the reasons why I admire you gets longer :)
    We cosleep with our 2yo (in a double size bed!) and love waking up to, “mummy? Ah love yoouuuu”. I exclusively breastfed for 7 months and nursed to 18 months, and got so much flack for it, from friends, family and strangers! It’s awesome to find support from out in the blogosphere. <3 <3