The Family Bed – Are You In or Out?

Of all the things I planned to do when my son was younger, co-sleeping was not really one of them. The thought of a tiny little baby in our bed with us made me super *OMG I’M GOING TO ROLL ON TOP OF HIM* nervous, and my husband was all “You know if he sleeps with us now, it’s going to be for-ev-er…”

So…aside from a short nap here and there in the bed, he pretty much slept in someone’s arms in the recliner…every. single. night. Because that’s better.

Needless to say, our nighttime routine (or lack of one) was a nightMARE. One night, I just said I QUIT! And brought him into our bed…

Honestly – best decision ever (for us).

So, when I came across this cover on a recent issue of Maclean’s (What’s up, Canada??) – I was intrigued (and a little concerned!) Teenagers in a family bed?! Maybe my husband was right…


(My apologies for the HORRIBLE picture quality – a combination of blinding florescent lights and my camera phone. Not even Instagram can save this one…)

…for many families, bed-sharing is a night-by-night effort to lose the least amount of sleep and sanity, which are really one and the same. It’s just a way that parents figure out how to cope…

^ truth

But – despite the tiny sliver of bed I get to sleep on, and the occasional elbow jab to the eye socket – I do love the extra snuggle time with my tiny toddler ninja.

And I’m also (on some level) trying not to be the most absent mom ever…

“If you get home at 6:30 p.m. and your kid goes to bed at 7:30 p.m., then do you want: a) an hour with them? Or b) nine hours with them?…”A lot of people will choose b) because it’s a form of intimate connection and it makes [everybody] feel like they’re having a relationship.” – Ana Villalobos, a sociologist at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.

So this is what’s working for us now. And not all of the time. Lately, he’s been perfectly fine falling asleep and staying asleep in his own bed. Of course, tomorrow may be a different story.

Do you co-sleep? How old is your child (or children)? Is it something you planned to do from the beginning, or was it an act of sleep-deprived desperation?

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  1. My boys will sleep in our bed if they’re sick or if they wake up from a bad dream. I just don’t think co-sleeping on a regular basis would work for us. I like quiet, uninterrupted sleep too much.

  2. JacklynnFry says:

    We co slept with our first because she was (and still is) a terrible sleeper. I don’t think we would have made it without co-sleeping. We are not co sleeping with our 6 month old son though as he is a better sleeper. I sleep terribly when the kids are in our bed. Our daughter was a mover and a kicker haha

    • practicalgrnmom says:

      Some nights, when I wake up holding on to the edge of the mattress for dear life, I second guess my decision. lol As he’s gotten older, he sleeps in his crib more than with us, but when he was younger it was necessary. He was a HORRIBLE sleeper! Hopefully I’ll have better luck with the next one. πŸ˜‰

  3. I absolutely do not co-sleep. My kids don’t settle down in my bed because they don’t sleep there… and my bed is absolutely not a safe environment what with pillows, blankets, dogs, and two parents that take sleep aids in order to actually sleep. πŸ˜›

    • practicalgrnmom says:

      Hey, good for you for recognizing that your bed is not a safe place for a child! I wouldn’t let my son sleep with me under those circumstances either!

  4. We didn’t co-sleep per se. My son is now 18 months. When he was nursing (he weaned at 15 months) I always brought him in bed with me at night to nurse. It was the easiest to nurse laying down, especially when groggy. I could still get my rest while he was nursing. But when he was done I would bring him back to his crib to sleep. He is no longer nursing, but if he wakes up crying for more than five minutes, I’ll grab him, bring him in bed with us until he falls back asleep then lay him back in his crib. I don’t sleep when he is next to me… otherwise I’d probably just leave him in bed with us.

    • practicalgrnmom says:

      Some nights I’ll take my son to bed with me, and then my husband will move him to his crib when he comes to bed later. That works out pretty well…as long as little one stays asleep… πŸ˜›

  5. We do not co-sleep, but my in laws did with my husband’s youngest brother. he slept with them until he was 15 and then they moved him to a sleeping bag on the floor next to the bed.

    • practicalgrnmom says:

      Wow…15…my husband DEFINITELY will not let that happen. lol When did he move to his own bed from the sleeping bag?! Surely, that’s not very comfortable…

  6. Taylor Fichera says:

    This totally cracks me up! Hubby and I squeeze into a full size bed every night with our 70 pound pitbull. I don’t know how we all fit but I sure do love the snuggles!

  7. Missy Homemaker says:

    My husband and I co-slept with our son until he was about 9 months old or so also in a full size bed. He still sneaks in with us once in a while and he’s almost 6.
    I think it’s interesting the article claims this is an ‘alarming’ trend. No, in today’s North American society it’s not normal for parents to co-sleep with their older children but in many societies it is perfectly normal. Lack of space, heat, etc make it almost necessary.

    • practicalgrnmom says:

      That is very true. But the family unit is totally different here than in a lot of other places. I had never heard of co-sleeping with children older than 5 or 6…so I was surprised to hear of teenagers sharing a bed with their parents. Not a choice I would make, but again, it’s a very personal decision for each family.

  8. Melissa Swedoski says:

    I figure parents have been co-sleeping for years, so I’m not sure why we think it’s such a bad idea (although I am sure someone will tell me!), but the main thing for me is that I had my children after I was 40, and quite frankly, I don’t want to miss any time with them they are willing to share with me. πŸ™‚

    • practicalgrnmom says:

      I’m actually surprised that no one has come in here ranting about why co-sleeping is a bad idea. There are legitimate safety concerns, especially with younger babies. I am much more comfortable co-sleeping with my 2 year old that I would be with a 2 MONTH old.

  9. Technically we don’t co-sleep but somehow my little man found his way into my bed when Dad was out of town. I liked knowing he was safe and quite enjoyed waking up to that smiling face. But I can only do this occasionally. I would actually lose sleep if it was every night.

    • practicalgrnmom says:

      I especially like having my son in my bed when husband is out of town. Plus, we get to spread out more, so I actually get half of the bed again! lol

  10. I co slept with my last 2. I actually said after my 8yr old refused to leave my bed until he was about 4 that I would never do it again but guess what? Madison ended up in our bed. At 19 months she has her own room and goes to bed in her room at nights but by 2am she’s in our bed. I’ve even shut my door but she stands outside banging and crying. No one wants that at 2am so we keep it open. I’m hoping the day will come when she totally sleeps in her bed and forget about ours, but until then I’m happy that she thinks that we are her security. πŸ™‚

  11. Mine is a 3 year old who sleeps with me. We moved three times in a year and after the second move he preferred to sleep with us. Granted we never saw three moves in a year coming. So I didn’t intend on this. Though my second child slept with us as a baby until he was six months old. His reflux was horrible! When he got out of our bed the older one took over. We attempt to start him in his bed or the couch. But every night he makes it to our bed. I am okay with it. Hopefully by four he will out grow this tradition.

    • practicalgrnmom says:

      Oh wow, moving three times in one year! I can only imagine… Extra hugs to you and your 3 year old! He needs that extra comfort, I guess. πŸ™‚

  12. I was not planning on co-sleeping either and then my son’s personality sealed the deal. Whenever he was in our room, even nearby in a bassinet, he did not sleep nearly as soundly and neither did I. I think at 6 weeks he had his first full night in his own crib and own room and slept like a dream. Aaaah. I’ve slept with him on trips before and we enjoy it (most recently last month at a hotel and earlier in the summer at our camper) but neither of us sleeps as well. He is a flopper! I have to put a big pillow between us. I think it – like breastfeeding or anything else – is a very personal decision for every family. And if everyone is healthy, happy, growing and doing well, it’s not anyone else’s business one way or another.

    • practicalgrnmom says:

      Absolutely, Stephanie! I don’t post these kind of things to start an argument, obviously. This has actually been a wonderfully civil discussion! There are advocates for all sorts of “controversial” parenting topics…and I’m in the “My family, my choice” camp. Every decision you make for your family should be in their best interest and who the *bleep* cares what anyone else thinks! πŸ™‚

  13. Michelle McCoy says:

    My son slept in a bassinet in our room until he was 4 months old. He’s now 20 months and sleeps in a toddler bed like a champ!

    • practicalgrnmom says:

      That’s wonderful, Michelle! We haven’t even attempted the toddler bed. My 2 year old is still in a crib. I probably should start thinking about that transition…lol

  14. Katie @ Gift of Curiosity says:

    My children were both adopted as toddlers. To facilitate attachment, we co-slept with both of them for quite a while.

    In fact, when we adopted my daughter, who was our second child, we brought a second mattress into our bedroom and put in on the floor. For months my husband slept in one bed with one kid and I slept in the other bed with the other kid. It was the best way to make sure our kids felt safe and for everyone to get some sleep.

    Now my daughter has been home more than a year. My husband and I get to sleep by ourselves in our bed, but the kids still sleep in our room on the mattress on the floor. They just feel so much more secure that way and it is easier for us to attend to their nighttime needs. Plus, I love how the kids hop into bed for a snuggle when the alarm goes off in the morning. There’s nothing sweeter than waking up to a snuggle from your kids!

    • practicalgrnmom says:

      “There’s nothing sweeter than waking up to a snuggle from your kids!” I absolutely agree! I never thought about putting a mattress on the floor, but we really don’t have room for that anyway.

  15. We still co-sleep at 14 months. Have just moved another bed in (see my latest post) to have more room. It is challenging, but when he cries all night the only way I can get sleep without going up and down like I did when he was a newborn and in a cot.

    • practicalgrnmom says:

      Oh gosh, I could not handle the crying all night… Glad you found something that (kind of) works for you! πŸ™‚

  16. Nicole Burkholder says:

    I don’t think there IS a “right” answer to this! We NEVER shared our bed with our first (he ended up being autistic, which made so much more sense as to why he just wanted to be left alone) ALWAYS shared the bed with the second because he was an avid nurser and I was SO TIRED, and then did our best to avoid creating the sleep monster with number three. He slept all night and in his own bed until he magically changed his mind at 7 months. He sleeps in his own bed now, but he still wanders into our room a couple nights a week. I’m fine with that πŸ™‚

  17. Leilani Parquer says:

    I co slept with my girls from the time they were babies until they were 3. Transitioning them into their own beds was not an issue. I how co sleep with my 5month old baby, too!

  18. ashley picco says:

    we don’t really have a family bed, as both kids have their own. However ,they often find their way to ours throughout the night and we will *normally* let them stay


  1. […] (I didn’t mention co-sleeping above, but I did a whole separate post about that here!) […]

  2. […] that we’ve moved into our new home, we are no longer co-sleeping. My son has his own room, with a big boy bed, and that’s where he sleeps. It’s been […]

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