A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

Snuggle in Tight, That’s Right, Like That: Co-Sleeping/Bed-Sharing

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder's husband and son bed sharing.

Let’s begin with a vocabulary lesson. Co-sleeping means you sleep close to your baby. Maybe the baby is in bed with you; maybe she is in a bassinette or maybe in a crib, a co-sleeper or basket in the same room. Bed-sharing refers to the specific type of co-sleeping where the baby and you are in the same bed. There are many types of co-sleeping. Bed-sharing is a type of co-sleeping.

The sleeping arrangement in our home was 5 months in the making. It wasn’t until 5 months when I finally internalized what I had learned, relaxed, brought Jack in, latched him on and gave us both the permission to follow a biological norm and necessity.

Jack slept next to me in his plastic box (does that thing have a nice name to cover up what it really is?) while we were still in the hospital. When he came home he slept in his bassinette next to my side of the bed. Bed-sharing is downright dangerous. You could fall asleep and roll onto your baby. My Mom told me that I slept in between her and my Dad when I was a baby. Wow Mom, how could you be so neglectful as to put me in such a dangerous position? At Jack’s first doctor visit the doctor confirmed that a baby should never be in an adult bed. I was terrified to even be sitting on the bed while nursing Jack. I wasn’t afraid to doze off while nursing on the couch or the rocking chair, but the bed? You gotta be crazy.

The plan was to have Jack sleep in our room in his bassinette until he was 6 months old. I felt like I was really pushing the envelope with 6 months. I was going to make people think twice about putting their babies in their cribs in their own rooms so soon. Six months sounded like a good long time. I mean he’d be practically self-sufficient by then. At Jack’s 1 month appointment his pediatrician reminded me that I could put him in his own room anytime, but I was confident that those 6 months together were going to be beneficial to him.

Jack nursed (still nurses) many times a night. Maybe he wasn’t eating, but he was latched on to my breast pretty much the whole night. It was getting difficult to stay awake around the clock. And what’s with the “sleep when baby sleeps” advice? Stupidest thing I have ever heard. When the hell was I supposed to eat, shower, shit, sit or stare at the wall in disbelief at how small of a thing could cause such great changes in my world? I started to bring him into the bed and nurse him lying down. I made my husband stay awake and monitor so I wouldn’t roll onto him. I was heavy with guilt day and night. I was putting my baby in such a dangerous situation. I was frustrated that he would only sleep well like this. I wanted him to get sleep, but I knew I was wrong for doing it this way.

“Is he sleeping through the night?” Jack’s pediatrician asked at his 4 month appointment. By now I had been schooled on the “sleeping through the night” thing and how ridiculous a question that is. “No, but, he eats through the night!” She seemed surprised and said that he should be going 10 to 12 hours without needing to eat by now. She began to tell us how we could get him to sleep through the night. “On the first night you leave him for 4 minutes,” she said. She stumbled over her words a bit as if she were reading from a book. My husband and I waited for a break in her obnoxious sleep training bit. “He sleeps with us,” I said. “Oh,” she said. It didn’t occur to her to ask where he slept before she signed us up for this training. She assumed he was alone in another room.

Fear makes people do unsafe things. Fear makes people ignore their instincts. I was so afraid to fall asleep while nursing in bed that instead I would move to the couch or a rocking chair. These, in fact, are dangerous places to be when sleeping with a baby. Exhausted people with newborns fall asleep all over the house. Babies die when they slip into the cushions of the couch or into the space between you and the arm rest. They suffocate under fluffy blankets and pillows. Or they lie in their cribs alone in another room and mom can’t respond quickly enough or know if baby has gotten into trouble.

The truth of the matter is that SIDS, formerly known as “cot death,” yes, for all the babies that were dying IN THEIR CRIBS ALONE, is not more common in bed-sharing families. Bed-sharing, in fact, protects against major suspected causes of SIDS. You are much safer when you and your baby just lie down in your bed, nurse, cuddle and sleep. There is a reason why it feels right, why you sleep better and why you and your baby wake up for less time during the night. This is what your baby was born to do.

Mainstream America would prefer that you think bed-sharing causes psychological harm. Modern western civilization is the ONLY place in the world and in history where bed-sharing is not the norm. So are we to believe that all humans except for Americans in the last half century or so are the only humans without psychological harm? I don’t know about you, but my money is on the exact opposite.

The reasons for this cultural shift are under analysis as we speak. We have, for some reason, decided that it is best to ignore all maternal instinct, all natural behavior and all child-centered practices. Women and families across the nation and beyond are being shamed for sleeping with their babies. Are being fed bullshit to make them question the very thing that keeps a mother naturally connected and in tune with her baby. Shame on you. Shame on you misinformed doctors. Shame on you judgmental and ignorant peoples. Shame on all of you for making me and my fellow mothers feel afraid; for making us lie awake at night; for making us make decisions based on fear. With evolution, history and biology on our side you still spread lies. You still ignore the deep protective connection between a mother and her baby.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder, breastfeeding and bed sharing.

The truth-Everyone sleeps better when they feel safe. Nighttime separation anxiety is real. Babies are biologically wired to fear sleeping alone. Babies were born to sleep with their mothers. Sleeping alone as an infant causes long-term sleep issues. Bed-sharing cuts down on bedtime arguments because these children have not learned to fear sleep. Bed-sharing makes it easy to breastfeed and helps maintain milk supply. Bed-sharing is a protective factor against many suspected causes of SIDS. Bed-sharing mothers sleep better than non-bed sharing mothers. Yes, I said it. Better. Bed-sharing mothers wake more frequently, but these intervals are much shorter than the non-bed sharing mother and therefore she is more rested in the morning. James McKenna’s research from his Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame is a great place to start if you would like to do your own research on the realities of bed-sharing.

There are, of course, people who should not share a bed with their baby. If you use common sense you can avoid the major risk factors. Smoking; do not share your bed with your baby if you smoke. Smoking impairs your ability to rouse from sleep. Also, drugs and heavy drinking clearly impair your ability to do most things needed to parent safely. But that should be obvious to a mother. You are not in touch with your maternal instincts when you are under the influence. Also, ditch the loose bedding and move the pillows. You know, don’t bury your baby so she can’t breathe. Eliminate spaces between the bed and walls or head board. Don’t bed-share on a water bed. Breastfeeding is one of the biggest protective factors in bed-sharing. Breastfeeding is the cosmic vessel through which the innate mother-baby connection travels.

Abby Theuring, MSW

 

Sleep Resources

Websites (See also Gentle Parenting Resources here)

Dr. James McKenna Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame (find an extensive list of articles regarding co-sleeping and normal infant sleep)

http://cosleeping.nd.edu/

Evolutionary Parenting

www.evolutionaryparenting.com

Infant Sleep Information Source

www.isisonline.org.uk

Safe Sleep Space

www.safesleepspace.com.au/blog

Books

Sweet Sleep by La Leche League

The Baby Sleep Book: The Complete Guide to a Good Night’s Rest for the Whole Family by Dr. Sears

The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley

Nighttime Parenting: How to Get Your Baby and Child to Sleep by Dr. Sears

Sleeping With Your Baby by James McKenna

Sweet Dreams: A Pediatrician’s Secrets for a Baby’s Good Night’s Sleep by Frederick M. Hodges

Comments

  1. I was the same way. It took me about 4 months to listen to my instincts and bring Sylvia into the bed with us. Before that I had my husband watch us in bed because I was afraid! Thanks for writing this TBB, stuff like this has a big impact and can torally change a family and their quality of life.

  2. Thanks for the reassurance that someone is reading! I wish quality of life in AP families would go up all over. I have such anger still about being made to feel guilty!

    • At first I really enjoyed reading your blog! Here in the uk there are the same type of scaremongering in regards of bed sharing! However, when my daughter was born after 48 hours of active labour, she would not latch on. I was devastated, midwife gave her formula after 7 hours and I felt like the biggest failure- I was always gonna breast feed, it was in my very specific birth plan! My girl never latched on and for 4 months I struggled with syringes, nipple shields and regular visits to breast feeding clinic. It wasn’t to be- I was devastated and heart broken! I expressed milk, for 6 months I expressed as much as I could every 2-4 hours, for her first 6 months my daughter was mostly fed breast milk albeit in a bottle but never the less breast milk! However, she never slept- she just screamed! It didn’t matter if she was carried or cuddled, she was always upset and unsettled- when she was 8 weeks old I sat in bed, cradling and trying to settle her- I feel asleep and as a miracle so did she! When I woke at 4 in the morning from my daughter starting To wake for food, I felt ashamed! I had fallen asleep and risked her life- but then I realised it was the longest she had ever settled and how right it had felt- she was never put back in her basket or crib again for night time sleep- 3 years on and we still share a bed! I love it- it makes me feel close to my lovely girl, every night we cuddle up and sleep- there have never been an accident, never been near something bad happening so what upsets me by your blog is- I didn’t breastfeed my baby, was I not entitled to share my bed with her? Failing to breastfeed does not make me any less of a mother, I was always aware of my daughter in bed, I was always in tune with her- we were as close as mother and daughter can be and still are- to say that if I do not feed my child I cannot have that bond is unfair and untrue! At 3 months old my daughter got diagnosed with severe reflux- she would only sleep on my arm were she felt safe! I didn’t breastfeed but I did keep my daughter safe!

      • You are reading a website entitled “The Badass Breastfeeder.” All of the posts have something to do with breastfeeding. Sure you can bedshare without breastfeeding, but THIS website is about everything to do with parenting and breastfeeding.

        • Dude get over yourself. This woman just shared a beautiful story about bonding with her daughter. To the original commenter- I cannot imagine 48 hours of labor! You are a rockstar! And all of your efforts to beastfeed are astounding. What an AMAZING mom you must be! Your mountainous efforts to do the best for your babe started before she was even born!!! As for bfing- the fact that you fed almost exclusively breastmilk for 6 months without a latch is so amazing. That is way harder than bfing- and formula. Seriously go you! Your daughter is incredibly lucky to have you. Best to you!!!!!!!! <3

      • You are an amazing mama!! :). Thank you for sharing!!

  3. My children–who are now 27, 21, 19 and 16–all slept with us until they were ready to move on. Now, it is not unusual for one of them to crawl into bed with someone else is the world is treating them harshly . . . they know the comfort of family in the darkness of night and in the hardness of life. What a blessing for them.

  4. I am enjoying your writing! You are an inspiration. I’m on my 3rd daughter now (she’s 7 mos) & you would think I’d know what’s it like to be a mom to a baby, but I didn’t until I started breastfeeding her.

    I had my 2 oldest in my home country where having nannies was the norm, where you strut around the mall with your nannies pushing your kids’s stroller while you walk ahead window shopping. I didn’t breastfeed then, although I pumped my milk for my babies, I read about the benefits of breast-milk but just didn’t try hard enough to breastfeed. I thought I was a good mommy, I employed good help for them, I gave them breastmilk etc. Then we decided to have our 3rd daughter here in the US. And boy was I scared to do it by myself but it was the BEST decision we ever made.

    Rooming-in? What’s that? Doesn’t the baby go to the nursery and we just coo at them thru the glass? Well, hospital said we should room-in, so ok. Breastfeeding, I had all my pumps, bottles sterilized, I was ready. Nurses come in, hey we don’t care about your personal space, we’re just gonna grab your boob and show you how to breastfeed. And I did! What a DIFFERENCE breastfeeding is. It’s the most amazing experience of my life.

    Through breastfeeding, I bonded with my baby in a deeper more fulfilling way than I had with my 2 oldest. I mourn the lost of not breastfeeding my 2 other girls. Breastfeeding has made me a different mom. Breastfeeding led to bed sharing, then it led to baby wearing (we love our walks in her ergo), and now Im thinking of cloth diapers!

    Keep writing all this good stuff! I love your humor (I bet you hate it when people write your instead of you’re). Hooray for breastfeeding!

    • I admire your honesty in comparing your children’s infant care. Well said. I wish more people had your courage and open mindedness

  5. What an amazing story! Congrats on the difficult road traveled to breastfeeder. It can be a real bitch! But I have to say I think that YOU are the inspiration here. You went through all of that with 2 children and then made such dramatic changes! Now that’s impressive. I am so happy that you have decided to be more connected and gentle as a mother. Your children, ALL 3 of them, are benefiting from it as we speak. I agree that breastfeeding is a “gateway drug” and is the most amazing experience anyone can have. Do you mind if I ask what is your home country?

  6. You always hit the mark with your words! I did feel connected, I felt grounded, my baby grounded me as a human! I’m from the Philippines (woohoo!) I sent my mom a pic of me cooking while baby wearing. And she was shocked, kept on saying “You should not keep on carrying her! She’s gonna turn out spoiled. Let her cry it out” etc etc etc. I love my mom, but I know what I’m doing :). I’m glad I have such a supportive & badass husband too. I told him today “I went for a walk on our street and Courtney nursed in the ergo, I NIPPED!” he said “Oh no! You’re gonna be the scandal of the street!”

  7. Oh, you gotta love Moms. They mean well. I guess they forget what it’s like to be judged. Your husband sounds so awesome! That makes such a huge difference. Thanks for sharing your experiences here!! Philippines?! So jealous!

  8. I’m with you. My daughter, who started out in her bassinet before joining us in bed several months later, only recently began sleeping most nights through till coming to our room after 5am or so (she’s a bit over two); before that she was up at least a couple times a night and usually wakes up upset and calling for me. My son was in our bed from the beginning, and after his first week or so was only awake for brief nursing sessions 1-3x per night (he’s 3 months now) and hardly twitches before he’s getting milk and falling back to sleep. Could be intrinsic differences, sure, but I think it helps that he rarely wakes up wondering where I am.

  9. I loved this until the last part. “Never bed-share if you are not breastfeeding”

    Why not?

    I’ve bed-shared with all of my children. My first was only breastfed for a few months, and then we switched for formula. My second was breastfed, and bottle fed. My third, is currently EBF.

    With all three I have taken the necessary precautions to bed-share safely. I agree with you on everything except that last part.

    Yes, breastfeeding is such a bonding experience and you are in tune with your baby. But that isn’t the only reason mothers are so in tune. With my first two kiddo’s I felt the same connection. I’ve woken many-a-time to a kid who is going to puke. No cough, no warning, just my gut telling me my child needs me.

    So no, I don’t agree that only breastfeeding mother’s are supposed to bed-share.

    • Sleep studies done with babies and mamas document differences in sleeping behavior. For example, non-breastfed babies had more erratic movement around the bed (while searching for their food source) placing them at greater risk of getting lost in pillows, blankets and crevices. The breastfed babies were more predictable. The breastfeeding babies and mamas were documented to be more in tune with each other such as waking up at the same time. James McKenna is a great source of information as I stated in the post. The majority of deaths in bed-sharing families were with non-breastfeeding mothers. Nothing I state is medical advice, but I would not feel right posting information contrary to what pro-bed-sharing experts say on the subject. I hope that makes sense.

    • I agree; our oldest was FF and we bed shared. She did not move much at all in her sleep and slept the same way my EBF baby does; nestled into my bosom and clawing at my chest. Just because a baby drinks formula from a bottle it doesn’t negate certain basic instincts.

  10. My baby boy is 4 months now and he’s been sleeping with me since I bought him home. It wasn’t my plan, but it just felt so natural… I couldn’t imagine having to sleep without him next to me 🙂 My only regret is wasting money on a bassinet that was never used!!

  11. I could’ve written this post myself. I was the same – terrified of bed sharing and instead ended up in dangerous situations, like dozing on the couch. I was so sleep deprived that I resented my little girl, resented ever deciding to get pregnant and be a mom; and, I was depressed and guilty for feeling that way.

    I tried every no cry trick in every book (because I just knew in my heart and gut that letting her cry was wrong) and I couldn’t figure out why this baby would only fall asleep nursing or why she could not sleep for more than 60 minutes in her bassinet.

    Finally at four months my hubby was sick and he wanted a full night sleep so he slept in the guest room. I cleared everything but 1 pillow off our bed and brought my daughter into bed. We fell asleep while she was nursing. And then I woke up FOUR HOURS later!! I hadn’t slept that long since she’d been born. Then she nursed and went back to sleep for another THREE HOURS!! It was bliss. I told my husband we need to research how to do this safely because I knew that bed sharing was my sleep solution.

    My daughter is almost 1 and everyone is happy and well rested. And hubby and I agree that she will probably ask to move out before I’m ready to let her go. Thank you for writing this 🙂

  12. I love reading your blogs. Your transformation is inspiring! I luckily had my baby at a water birth center. After he was born there was no discussion about where he would sleep. The midwife handed my sweet baby back into my arms and my husband and I fell “asleep” smiling that night as we lay snuggled together as a family for the first time.I’ve tried a bassinet once or twice by my bed cause people started scaring me. “if.you dont get him used his own bed early he’ll have a hard time transferring”. But the bassinet felt to far away and he just ended up back in bed with me. I will never let anyone bully me into thinking otherwise again.

  13. Thank you so much for this article. It is so well written. As a fellow co-sleeper and night nurser I know exactly how you feel. 🙂

  14. Thank you so much for this! Bed sharing is the only way anyone in our house sleeps. It took us months of sleep deprivation to figure that out and I still live in fear that my child is going to die because of all the WRONG information people spread. But I know it’s right for us. It sucks that I can’t discuss it with our pediatrician because he thinks its unsafe, but I know better.

  15. It only took me 3 days home from the hospital to get over the fear. I realized early on, it is far more dangerous to fall asleep in a sitting position so far from any soft landing than when lying down. I was scared to tell my mom though and my baby doc….I stumbled over my words but wanted it to be known since it’s always best to tell the truth to the doc even if it means you will be lectured. My doc didn’t even bat an eye. My mom said “Only mom knows what is best for her baby”. And my hubby, he’s only sad to lose his best friend (our five year old) in our bed to make room for our newest addition. He URGED me to co-sleep for the family’s sanity and my health as I was still battling high blood pressure and still am today.

    The biggest issue I’ve had with co-sleeping is telling my new mommy cousin that in order to breastfeed, she almost HAS to co-sleep. This immediately turned her off saying it was unsafe and horrible parenting. (I have three kids, there are FAR WORSE THINGS, I promise). But as a veteran mom to a new mom I didn’t want to offer that unsolicited advice they so often get, so I let it be and hoped I wasn’t the one to turn her off breastfeeding. Unfortunately, she decided that drinking energy and alcoholic drinks were far more exciting than breastfeeding…

    I’m glad I got this chance with my last and final child. I wouldn’t do anything to change those HARROWING first 2 weeks for anything today. But, I tell you, my hubby and mom both agree it takes one hard-headed, stubborn MOM to do something as challenging as breastfeeding. It’s not for everyone but for those who make it through, you can’t convince me that they aren’t doing what’s right for their baby, even if that means sharing a bed!

  16. Awesome post! I’ve been a longtime bedsharer, starting with my now almost 14 year old son. Our 6 year old son and 16 month old nursling daughter still bedshare with us. Wouldn’t have it any other way!

  17. I’m still breastfeeding, co sleeping and most nights bed sharing with our 17 month old, I still worry every night and feel guilty when people are horrified to hear of this. But I can not bare to force him to sleep in his own room, to see him so distressed. I know when the time is right though that he will move into his room which is all ready for him when he does. Thank you for sharing this, it has made me feel so much better about it 🙂

  18. This is so awesome to read! I nursed and slept with my oldest daughter because I would always fall asleep while nursing her and I got so fed up with putting her in her crib and her waking up! With my second daughter, after I gave birth at the hospital, I fell asleep with her in the bed with me while nursing. A nurse came in and was telling me all the “dangers” of co-sleeping and all I said to her was “I co-slept with my oldest. She’s 3 and thriving” she definitely had her foot in her mouth after that!!

  19. I’m a fairly new follower of your but so far I really love your page. I have a 16 month old little boy. Unfortunately I did not breastfeed long but your page has inspired me to with my next child. Dwight has slept in my bed right next to me since the day I brought him home from the hospital. He has always had a crib and to this day has not slept in it once. I was wondering why you feel like your baby should not sleep in your bed if you’re not breastfeeding. I’m not sure if I agree with you on that one point. I loved the article until I read that one sentence. My baby boy has always snuggled with me every night.

  20. My husband says we have the most under-utilized co-sleeper in history. It ended up being more of a hamper than a bed because our baby has been in our bed since day one. I absolutely LOVE bed sharing and waking up to that huge smile every morning as opposed to a cry from another room.

  21. “Breastfeeding is the cosmic vessel through which the innate mother-baby connection travels.” Goosebumps. Amazing.

  22. I was all for co-sleeping and my hubby was TOTALLY against it. Now he sometimes is out of town overnight and comes home to tell me he can’t sleep at all without me and the baby in bed with him. We are now dependent on our son to sleep well. Funny thing huh? I have always laughed at the doctors when they say he should sleep through the night! I was lucky to get 30 min at a time the first year! Luckily I had my midwife who always told me to follow the baby’s cues. 🙂 I am happy to co-sleep and even bought a cal-king bed so that when baby #2 arrives in February there is room for all of us!

  23. Co-sleeping from the minute we got home from the hospital was the best parenting decision I’ve made. Sure I had people around me who were worried about it, but my instinct was stronger. Once I started reading about how it is the cultural norm nearly every other place on earth (see “Our babies Our selves” by Meredith Small), I knew there were facts to back up my choice, and that just re-affirmed what I knew in my heart <3

  24. Funny, I was just having the “bed-sharing” conversation with my husband tonight. He has lovingly taken to the extra bed in the other room so Ethan, who is 5 months, and I can have the big bed. I was telling him about how much I loved sleeping with the baby and how “easy” he seemed because I got a good night sleep, I never have to dread night time. I didn’t sleep with my oldest and but I also wasn’t able to nurse him and it was much harder with him. He would fully awake and cry; then I would feed him but by then he had to be soothed back to sleep. Some times this would take hours! With Ethan, I wake at his slightest stir and immediately, his needs are met and we both drift back to sleep. It’s quite beautiful and we are so fond of it, it just feels right!

  25. Loving this article. CJ and I have been bed sharing since the day he was born. He wouldn’t sleep unless I was holding him or if I was right next to him with my boobies at the ready. I wasn’t planning on bed sharing, it just happened naturally. I followed his cues and people have always told me he is such a happy and confident baby. I like to think its because he knows he is loved and he has nothing to fear cuz mommy and daddy will protect him. 🙂

    • I too didn’t plan bed-sharing. The way I parent now is SO different than how I thought I would parent before my babies were born. Isn’t is the best feeling feeling your baby fall asleep and feeling so safe and snugly next to you. Your baby is confident because he feels you are there for him. So sweet!

  26. This is a beautiful piece, thank you! For me it took longer. Like you, I had my husband watch over us so that I wouldn’t fall asleep while nursing, something they warned me about already at the delivery suite. My daughter was a “good” baby, sleeping through the night in her Moses basket at the age of 8 weeks. Soon after that we moved her into her cot in her own room where she continued to sleep well except for waking up once a night to feed from when she was about 9 months old. Until, at 11 months, we went to visit family in Sweden and got inspired (Sweden is more bed-sharing friendly than the UK where I live). When we got home we put our double mattress on the floor and when she woke up at 2-3 am to feed we moved her into our bed. Now I wake about three times a night from her helping herself to my breast, after which she goes straight back to sleep, compared to the hour it would take to make her sleep in her own bed after the one night feed. And I have never been happier or more relaxed! Also, I’m less worried about my milk supply now; I was afraid of losing it after I went back to work and started expressing instead, losing most of our breastfeeding opportunities.

    To me, bed-sharing was a total revelation and I will definitely be doing it from the start with the next one!

  27. Obviously you still don’t understand bedsharing how does smoking make u under the influence and how dare u tell someone they can’t cosleep if they aren’t breastfeeding!!! Pure ignorance other than that glad u got smart but maybe u felt that fear for a reason and u should hv let him stay in the crib I knew instantly that was where she belonged

  28. I agree with this story. I never did this with my first, but my second seems to need that closeness in order to sleep well. My problem is that my husband is a stay at home dad and he has a really hard time bonding with her. He says he understands why I am doing what I do, but that he thinks it makes it harder for him during the day to calm and comfort her. Any suggestions?

  29. Hello,
    Just want to congratulate you for your courage and for following your instincts. I was very lucky to deliver my baby in a hospital that encouraged breastfeeding and skin to skin. So as soon as my son was born, he was put on my chest, cleaned there and left with me for 2 whole hours non-interrupted. During the course of my stay in the hospital (2.5 days) he slept on top of my chest the whole time.
    Brought him home and he has been sleeping with me in bed now for 8 months. I’m in no rush to change this. We sleep great, 8 to 10 hours daily 🙂 My husband wasn’t on board with it at the beginning but now sees how much better it is for all of us. He breastfeeds through the night and sleeps like a champ. I work full time so I have to pump at work and drop off milk for him at daycare. But whenever he’s with me I breastfeed him. I HATE the pump but it helps me now that I’m back at work.
    Last I just want to say to all the mothers out there, keep breastfeeding, keep bed sharing, keep doing what your instinct and heart tell you is the best for your baby. You’ll never get this time back so enjoy as much as you can. When people hear my baby sleeps with me they look at me with a judgemental look and I really DON’T GIVE A F%^&. I’m happy, my baby is happy, healthy and safe and that’s all it matters to me.

  30. I currently breastfeed and bed share with our 1 yr old and it is a beautiful thing. I feel bad that I did not regularly bed share with my first with all the benefits and comfort it gives a child. I breast fed but fell prey to the ‘dangers of bed sharing’ spiel from the nurses/midwives and my husband was worried by all the hype he’d heard. After spending 1 year of horrific nights trying to settle my 1st in her own bed and being sleep deprived and depressed, I decided this time would be different. lo and behold, I actually get sleep and am able to enjoy those precious moments of babyhood that I was too tired to enjoy first time around. Just goes to show we should listen to our motherly instincts.

  31. Ok please dont take this as me being mean, but how are you intimate with your child in the bed? (if that’s the place you choose to be?) Do you wait for them to fall asleep and move them? I can’t stand a dog staring at me so I would not be ok with a child waking up. It’s definitely something that if you know please Share!!!

  32. This is almost my exact same story. Before I had my baby I was determined to not be one of those parents who lets their kids sleep in their bed and my baby would be on an eating and sleeping schedule by 3 months in his crib. Well I immediately learned when I got home from the hospital that my baby is setting the schedule with his needs and wants and I follow his lead. I also learned both baby and I sleep better together, part of the night in my bed together and part of the night him in his pack n play right next to me. It makes breastfeeding so much easier and I love having him right by me. It took a while to get my husband to understand but he is now on board too. Thanks for the reassurance that what I am doing is perfectly natural, normal, and healthy. As a ftm doubt and anxiety can be overwhelming.

  33. I really really want to bed share but I am extremely afraid I might suffocate him. He (my 2 month old) sleeps so close to me that I can’t even wiggle. I eventually cave and put him in his bassinet. The few times I almost accomplished sleeping next to him, I would wake up afraid I squished him or have a bad dream that my husband did. (Kind of funny story, I was sleep shaking my husband trying to stop him. When he finally shook me back I woke up and realized my son was in his bassinet and I was “sleep freaking out” so how do I switch gears and calm my fears? I’m not on drugs, I don’t drink, there should be no reason I can’t bed share.

    • Heatheranna says:

      I went through the exact same thing with my (now) 6 month old. We would generally let him fall asleep in bed with us, then I’d move him to his bed next to us. In the early months I’d wake in a panic convinced we’d suffocated him, or I’d frantically search for him, until my husband would remind me he was in his bed. At 6 months it doesn’t happen as much even though he still sleeps in the bed with us occasionally, so I’m convinced it’s mostly hormones.

  34. “Time for bed little cat, little cat. So, snuggle in tight, that’s right, like that” is my favorite page on our favorite night-night book.

  35. we started out bedsharing with a little cosleeper called the “nursing nest” in the bed with us. made us feel a little more at ease about the whole “I’m afraid I might roll over onto my newborn” paranoia. Now that she’s 15 months old, it’s more likely that our little one will roll over onto us! 🙂

  36. I breastfed my daughter in the couch, and probably stayed there for the first two weeks of her life. She was so floppy and I was so scared to bring her into our bed when she was so small. I had a beautiful bassinet for her, and the moment I’d put her in it, whether she was dead asleep or drowsy and aware, she’d scream bloody murder. I had a very attached child to contend with and everything I read in the books said “Put them in their own space now or you’ll have hell to pay later!”

    One night, out of pure exhaustion of what felt like an entire month of barely sleeping 2 hours straight in a 24 hour period, I brought our daughter to the bed to feed her laying down. She was swaddled tight, and I figured “Just five minutes, God be merciful, five minutes.”

    I woke up the next morning at 8a.m. I had had my first full night’s rest since she was born. Something in my head clicked. I woke up every time she murmured, or rooted for her milk, and I would oblige, and we’d both fall asleep within minutes after this. I figured “We might be able to do this.” As time went on, and as she grew stronger and I became more comfortable with my ability to respond to her quickly in the night, we found the beauty of bed-sharing.

    She’s almost 2 years old now, and while she has a co-sleeper pushed against our bed now, she still crawls out to me in the middle of the night so that we can cuddle and fall asleep. I wouldn’t change any of this for the world. My trusting in what she and I both needed has led us to having a strong bond and has helped me learn to listen to my natural instincts.

  37. Thank you for another great article. A lot of what you write is what I feel in my heart about our own parenting journey, but thanks to you, we come to these conclusions earlier and spend less time worrying. Thanks, Abby.

  38. Louie's mommy says:

    We bed share with our oldest she’s 2 and I love it!!! We started because we nursed and it was easier and like you said we were able to SLEEP!!! It’s amazing how natural it feels.
    We are on baby number 2 and because our oldest is in our bed I moved to another room with the baby as our girl is a wild sleeper. I don’t mind because I want my boy to have all the benefits and comfort of mom like big sis. I do miss waking up to my wild girl and her snuggles but we do get our chances.
    I just ignore all those who judge me, family and friends. The are not welcomed in my bed:)

  39. I love this post ! I have been bed sharing since about two months my daughter is now going on six months. We both sleep better but it is something I don’t tell people because I always feel that they are judging me or acting like I am putting my daughter in danger. When in fact I am more likely to fall out of bed because my daughter likes to lay right on top of me and I move over so that I don’t roll on her. But I also like knowing she can eat when she needs to and she is happier this way. Thank you for posting this and helping people like me know that we are not alone .

  40. When I had my oldest son in ’04 I was determined to breastfeed. But he would only latch on if I was laying next to him, letting his little toes squish into my belly. He wouldn’t stop crying unless he was against me, being snuggled. He taught me to follow my instincts and was in bed with me from day one. I have three children now, a fourth on the way and my instincts have never let me down! You are “Mommy,” the most primal setting of the female brain. Modern medicine cannot replace what you have been genetically coded to do for the survival of your offspring.

  41. When I had my oldest son in ’04 I was determined to breastfeed. But he would only latch on if I was laying next to him, letting his little toes squish into my belly. He wouldn’t stop crying unless he was against me, being snuggled. He taught me to follow my instincts and was in bed with me from day one. I have three children now, a fourth on the way and my instincts have never let me down! You are “Mommy,” the most primal setting of the female brain. Modern medicine cannot replace what you have been genetically coded to do for the survival of your offspring.

  42. I love your articles! They are so raw and real. I relate to them and feel like your speaking for so many of us moms. Thank you! My husband and I lost our first baby, our son, at 39 weeks. When I became pregnant again, I was terrified. Thankfully, everything progressed well and I now have a beautiful 11 month old baby girl, and another one on the way! I slept with my parents until I was about 7 or 8. To be honest, I still climb in bed when I visit and need some comfort. I knew that’s what I wanted for my babies. Our daughter shares our bed, and will until she’s ready to move on. I was nervous at first, like you, but just knew it felt right. Thank you for sharing your life and your journey.

  43. For the first 3-4 weeks at home with my first I survived on blocks of 40 mins sleep here or there and was on the path to serious PND, not to mention falling into risky behaviours like falling asleep while nursing him in an arm chair, simply because I could no longer stay awake. He was a baby who was perfectly happy when held, never cried, was completely content – if held. But put him down and he would cry. Eventually, out of desperation, I lay down in bed with him one night… and we both had decent sleep for the first time since he was born. It was a revelation. He still woke every 1-2 hours for a feed, but I could latch him on while lying down and doze and he could feed and it was just fine.

    But the family bed just wasn’t comfortable with my husband, myself and baby, not for the long term, so eventually I bought a double futon mattress which we put on the floor of our bedroom and that’s where I slept for the first year, next to baby. When he was about 1, he started falling asleep naturally in his Dad’s arms on occasions, so Dad started putting him to bed, sitting with him and cuddling him until he was asleep. Then later, I’d come in and move him to his mattress and spend a few hours in bed with my husband, then when bubs woke and called out for me, I’d go down and spend the rest of the night next to him. Over the next 12 months he slowly spent more time sleeping happily on his mattress without me, knowing I was right there in the same room. Now at 2 and 3 months, he sleeps some nights all the way through, other nights he calls out at 3-ish in the morning for a cuddle back to sleep, occasionally he’ll be more restless and won’t sleep well unless someone lies with him. We all happily play musical beds.

    Now I’m pregnant with number 2. We’ll see what she’s like as a sleeper. May try a bassinet, but if she’s unsettled or I’m not coping with lack of sleep, I’ll sleep on the mattress with her and the growing toddler can stay in the big bed with Dad.

    Whatever works. All I know that it wasn’t until I started bed sharing that we really achieved a safe sleeping arrangement. And don’t even ask about the awful experiences of the couple of days I was convinced to try a ‘sleep school’ when he was about 5 months… one of the most distressing experiences, both for him and me, I’ve ever had. I’m so glad we walked out of there and never looked back.

  44. Jennifer says:

    My son has slept with me from day 1 and I absolutely love it he is 19 months on Sunday and he still sleeps with me. He got sick and we were in the hospital and you will not believe how many mothers actually sleep with their babies his nurse said about 75% of the moms that come in there sleep with their baby! And I think that is wonderful:) I will probably sleep with my next child also.

  45. I bed share with my one year old daughter and love it. She and I both sleep much better and it helps make night nursing much easier. We’ve moved the mattress to the floor, however, she has rolled out of bed twice in the past three weeks. I have pillows set up on the ground, but I am getting a little concerned. This was never a problem before she was this age. How do you all keep a one year old safely in the bed? It seems she isn’t old enough to safely use a bed rail yet?

  46. 7years ago i had no problem co sleeping with my baby. I recently had my second and was made to watch “The Dangers of co sleeping” before leaving the hospital. I was scared and guilty for tryjng to make her sleep in bassinet. Didnt feel right at all. We went to co sleeping and sleep wonderfully, but there was still that shame. Your blog helped with that!! Thank you for the insight

  47. Thank you. Exactly what i needed to hear.

  48. Before I ever had kids, I thought breastfeeding was disgusting. I knew someone that breastfed until her son was 3 years old and it completely turned me off to the idea. I thought if I EVER have kids, I would try to breastfeed for 6 months…tops. I thought I would force myself, because I believed it was the healthiest choice for my baby. I knew i couldn’t wait to get my kid to sleep through the night in his own crib. I had fun spending thousands on everything for his nursery. i also knew I would be thrilled to finally get back to work and be able to drop my child off at daycare, just to get a break. Boy, oh boy, was I wrong. All of my little chunky monkeys bed-shared and nursed. I was utterly astonished at my change of heart about everything I thought I knew about my position on being a mother. My kids also were latched on often throughout the night. I cherished every moment. I was fortunate enough to get 6 months off of work when my first son was born. My husband and I took opposite shifts when I went back to work, so our son wouldn’t have to be in daycare. That only lasted 3 months, then I quit and took more flexible part time employment. Every moment with my kids while we snuggled and I nursed was a gift. I know wonderful mommies whom have made different choices on how to nurture and support their children, and I am happy that they found what worked for them and their little ones. I am ever so grateful though, for the amazing experience that i had with my three children, when they were in their first years of life. I write this as i lay in bed next to my 8 year old, whom is my youngest. I still love a good snuggle with anyone of my children. It will always be the most comforting feeling in the world to me.

  49. Thank you for this post. My six month son and I have been bed sharing every night for the last few months or so , despite my many attempts to put him in his own bed. I felt like I was in the wrong for this but people like you make me feel better about my ways. My son just loves to be next to his parents and I have accepted that ☺️

  50. Danielle says:

    Hi. Awesome post. We’ve been bed sharing with our 6.5 month old since he was 2 weeks (which was how long it took me to find the La Leche League book on safe bed sharing and convince myself we could do it safely). It is an awesome experience. Now I’m wondering what to do as baby gets more active. He sleeps between us, but we’re not both in bed all the time. Our mattress & boxspring are on the floor, but it’s still a good drop should he decide to roll over while I’m up peeing or raiding the refrigerator. I feel sure the book addressed it, but I didn’t actually finish it; I thought “we have this down” and gave it to another expecting couple, not remembering mom lesson number one, everything changes all the time. So if anyone is reading/monitoring this, I’d very much like to know what you do once baby starts rolling over/crawling to keep him from rolling out of bed when the parent-bumpers aren’t both present.

  51. Hello. Love that you posted this! I’m a 26 year old musician and single mum from Australia. My son is in his cot in the day and from birth ALWAYS in bed with me at night where I can keep close eye on him. (even now that he is crawling/standing and attempting to walk and just about 11 months old) I remember the hospital telling me off but i’ve always been a light sleeper and a night owl so I knew i’d never drop him or anything. He at his current age sleeps on the side of bed against the wall .I’m his guard for the other side and as soon as he could roll made bedroom adjustments and never EVER left him unattended! If I had to do something or go toilet it was A FEW MINUTES OF COT-crying sometimes along with that. I made a pillow safety railing for him down side of bed and he sleeps facing me and on his back in SAFE SLEEP SACKS not under my duvet. It’s amazing and i love waking up to his big smiles and touching my face 🙂 Do what feels right for you. Bub feels safer being close by and you can make sure they sleep always either on side or back and check nothing is covering them etc through the night even if before its natural instinct you require alarm setting on your mobile phone.

    • I just want to THANK YOU! And I enjoy reading your post! I have six children my oldest is 17 to 7 months and everyone of them I breastfed and they all slept in my bed! And to this day I sometimes have a bed full and I take it all in one day they will be grown and these moments are what I live for. So bond with your children let them sleep and be close to you as much as possible! Tuck them in at night read to them sing to them what ever works for your family but most important love, listen and take up time with them.

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  53. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences of co-sleeping! My husband and me co-sleep with our two kids and for us it has been great. When my first daughter was born I planned for her to start sleeping in her own bed as soon as possible but then as time passed I started to get used to her company and now I realize I will miss having kids in bed when they start to sleep on their own. I have a blog where I write about bed sharing and other related subjects. For example I have written about some very common misunderstandings regarding co-sleeping:
    http://healthywhale.com/five-myths-about-co-sleeping/

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