Thoughts on co-sleeping (a.k.a. family bed)?

I’m a relatively new mom, and visit a couple of parenting boards. It is surprising to me how many people co-sleep with their child(ren).

It’s something that has never appealed to me, and it wasn’t even considered when we had our daughter. I know one person who used to sleep with her little boy, but she stopped when he was about 3. (She’s a single mom).

Any Dopers subscribe to the family bed philosophy?

It’s all good. We always had their own bed for them, but as often as not when they weer little Dopers (up to 2 or 3 yrs old) we’d just take the critters to be with us. They all sleep in their own beds now, but it’s not uncommon for us to wake up and find them in bed with us. Even the 10 year old. They do well during slepovers at other kids houses and seem otherwise normal. Except my son, but he’s insane. I think it’s a lot better for them than leaving them to “adjust” to sleeping on their own right out of the womb. It was easier on us as parents, anyway. And that always trickles down to making an easier life on the kids.

I think there is a huge difference to sleeping as a family once in a while (a big movie night or bad dreams, etc.) and sleeping in the same bed every single night. The latter is, to me, weird.

I have a few friends who share beds with their kids and all of them are single mothers. I suppose I am in no position to judge, but I’ve always gotten the vibe that mom does it because she just wants a warm, loving body next to her in bed (nothing sexual, mind you- just some human contact). Whenver I’ve mentioned it, the friends say, “Oh, it’s for [insert kid’s name]. He HATES sleeping in his bed and will freak out if he isn’t next to me. He loves me and wants to be with me. That’s not wrong.”

It also is important (in my mind, at least) that a child learns to value their own space and their privacy. Sharing a bed with mom every night might impede the development that a child that sleeps in his own room would get.

We never let our children sleep in our bed. They’ve got their own beds, lucky kids. And they don’t even appreciate it. When I was young we slept ten-to-a-bed, and we were thankful for…

Ah, forget it.

Another vote for “it’s all good”. Our son slept like a pro for 10 mos., got one lousy ear infection and has been angling to get into our bed ever since (he’s 7 now). We fought it and fought it for a long time and finally gave in and it was fine - nice, even. He got too large for regularly sleeping in between daddy and mommy at about about 3 1/2 and the hard work started again. It took us a lot of time and many methods but he does mostly sleep along now. Sometimes he’ll switch with one of us in the middle of night and he likes to sleep in our room on daddy’s jam night. No big deal.

I can’t imagine doing something like that. We were always taught that mom and dad’s bedroom was off limits unless invited. And as a mom, I have my own version of that rule. It’s the only room in the house my kiddo can’t play around in, and the only room that I can have some privacy.

Some parents include their kids in every little thing they do. I don’t think they’re doing the kids any favors by allowing them to be that dependent.

Another vote for “once in a while, but every night is weird.” A very good friend of mine is a single mother and her five year old insists on sleeping with her almost every night. They’re very codependant upon each other and frankly, it’s just not healthy. I’m not saying codependency was caused by sleeping in the bed every night, but it doesn’t HELP, either.

I never slept with my parents when I was little, unless like, they were cuddling me as a baby and we both fell asleep (lots of pictures). Even when I had a bad dream - they’d wake up, cuddle me, plug my night light in, read me a story, and wait until I fell asleep, and then they’d go back to sleep. I think, however, they were afraid they’d accidentally roll over and smother me in sleep.

Although the cutest pictures are always the “Daddy asleep with sleeping baby” ones.


Eh, I slept in my Mum’s bed until about five or six. I had really bad panic attacks most nights, and I would end up in there at some point. It was never a problem, since she had a huge king-sized mattress and Dad always slept on the couch in the in living room. My Mum must’ve had the patience of a saint, 'cause I’d never put up with that kind of behavior from my children. I was spoiled. :o

I think it’d be weird if the parents were, like, making their kids sleep in the same room as them. That’d be… unusual. Wasn’t there a family like that on an episode of Trading Spouses?

I think that like most parenting decisions, there are far too many factors to make any hard and fast rules. Do what you’re comfortable with, and what helps your kids to thrive.


Family bed sharing has been going on for a very long time; attributing codependence to family beds is stretching a bit, I think.

Do what works best for your family.

If it works in your family, more power to ya. Not us.

Our first daughter slept in a bassinet next to our bed for the first 2 months of her life, mainly because she spit up all day and night and we were afraid she’d choke on it. Once she moved into her own room, she’s never spent another night in our room, much less our bed (she’s 4 1/2). We moved our 2nd daughter into her own room as soon as she got back from the hospital (she’s 2 1/2).

They and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

My cousin’s wife kept their baby in bed with them until he was about a year old, when she rolled over in her sleep and almost smothered him one night. After that, she was afraid to let him sleep with them again.

My daughter was always a crib sleeper. We found that if we tried to have her sleep with us, she wasn’t good at falling asleep, and we would all be up half the night. After I started working again (she was 3 months old), I would put her to bed in her crib, and when she woke up for her 2 am feeding, I would bring her in bed and let her nurse as long as she wanted, but didn’t stay awake for it. When the alarm went off, we would all just be snoozing away. Once the 2 am feedings stopped, she just went back to sleeping in her crib all night.

She is 2 now, and still gets too wired up if she is in bed with us. We were on vacation, and since she was nervous about being in the hotel room, we let her sleep with us. She kept rolling around, sitting up & flopping down (even in her sleep, I think), turning sideways inbetween us so we were shoved to the edge of the bed. Finally she sat up and said, all sleepy-like “I wanna go in my crib.” Guess she’s just not a good co-sleeper. Hope it lasts through college! :slight_smile:

On the other hand, my best friend, who is a very crunchy-granola type (had her babies at home, nursed until they were 2), did the family bed with both of her kids (I think each of them slept with her & her husband until they were weaned), and it worked out great for them.

So, I think it’s really up to what works for the whole family.

I don’t remember now exactly when it started. I think when my daughter was around 2-2 1/2. She started waking up at night and coming in to my room. The first few times I just brought her into bed with us because it was 2 am and I was half asleep and tired and just couldn’t deal with putting her back to bed.

This became a regular habit with her and eventually a problem for us. She was not a restful sleeper. This kid was all arms and legs and elbows in bed and even in a kingsized bed it was hard to sleep with her.

Took me a long, long, long, long time to break that habit. Until she was 8 years old it was a struggle to get her to go to bed at night and another struggle to keep her there.

But now she’s almost 20 years old and a really wonderful young woman and my bedtime struggles are a thing of the past.

In the end what works is what keeps you sane and makes you and your family happy.

Anecdotal evidence is the next best thing to no evidence at all, scientifically speaking, but . . .

We have three kids: a nine-year-old son, a seven-year-old daughter, and a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. All have shared a bed with my wife and (much of the time) myself from birth to about age three. Neither of the two older kids have had any problem sleeping in their own beds since we moved them over. Once my daughter was born, my son moved to his room. For the first few months, I’d put him to bed and stay in the room (sitting or lying on his bed, a futon) until he got to sleep. After I while, I started staying with him for a certain amount of time (five minutes or so), then leaving him on his own whether he’d fallen asleep by then or not. After a year or so of that, we started following a simple bedtime ritual that ends with me turning out the light in his room and saying good night. He’s always had trouble settling himself down to go to sleep, but he’s a sound sleeper once he’s out and has only asked to join us in our bed maybe 3 times in the last 6 years or so.

My middle daughter and my wife have also arrived at a nighttime ritual. She’s always been a lighter sleeper than my son, but she was also able to go to sleep on her own much more readily than he did. As with my son, she moved into her own room before her third birthday. She’s been known to join my wife in bed a little more often than my son, but no more than a few times a year.

Youngest one still sleeps with us, but we’re expecting to change that soon.

What works for us wouldn’t necessarily work for everyone. For one thing, I travel for work a lot of the time (40+ weeks last year, though it’s been less this year), usually for the whole work week, so I’m not there a lot of the time. Also, even before my travel load got so heavy, I often slept in the guest bedroom – the mattress works better for my back, and I had an undiagnosed sleep apnea problem that caused me to snore loudly for years. We were all more comfortable in many cases with me in a different room. In our new house, I have a home office with a futon in the basement, while our bedroom is on the second floor. So we’ve always had an alternative venue available for conjugal relations; I doubt our arrangements would have worked as well for us without that.

For another, my wife is a LaLeche-League-card-carrying-member/Mothering-magazine-subscriber type. With breastfeeding, it’s just easier if mom and baby are already in close proximity for those nighttime feedings. We’ve gotten used to just laughing it off when people try to convince us that our kids will still be sleeping with us when they go off to college. Neither of the older two are perfect by any stretch, but neither do any of the issues they have seem attributable to cosleeping when they were younger.

We did that when our kids were smaller, particulalry infants, as it allowed for breastfeeding without too much disruption of sleep. Also, Mrs. Shibb is Thai-born, and this is, according to her, fairly common there. I think it mostly stopped around age 3 or so, but if I get home late I’ll sometimes find multiple bodies in the bed. I can’t handle the extra elbows and knees, so they now get redeposited in their own beds.

But even now my kids sometimes share a bed, sometimes a bedroom (their are bunk beds in my son’s room) and sometimes sleep apart. It depends on their mood for the night.

One of my good friends was a fully paid up subscriber to the family bed philosophy. She and her husband had each of their 4 kids sleep with them from birth through 3-6 or so when the child decided to sleep on their own. Her two oldest slept in the same room together for a few years after they moved out of their parents’ room.

I am happy to report that all her kids are happy, healthy, and well adjusted.

My own kids started out in their own beds - but at times ended up in the parental bed on many nights. They all out grew it.

Co-sleeping has been going on since the dawn of time. It’s a uniquely western viewpoint that doing it will have some long lasting negative (or positive for that matter) effect on the child’s mental health or temperament. One that has no valid scientific basis as far as I know.

I don’t think it would be very good for your marriage… Parents need some private time in bed together to cuddle and make love. Kids in the bed hinder that. I treasure the alone time I have naked in bed with my SO, and I wouldn’t want a kid to get in the way of that.

So a question for you co-sleeping parents: did co-sleeping hinder your sex life at all?

Yeah, that’s what I was wondering. I mean, how do you ever get to child #2 if you’ve got child #1 iun bed with you every night? Not that there aren’t other opportunities for hanky-panky, but still.

I am not a parent (yet), but I can’t imagine going the family-bed route. Beds are for relaxation and hot monkey love (one tends to lead to the other), and I like it that way.

My son is 12 weeks old. His bassinet is acutally a Mini Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper. It’s really easy for me to just reach over and pick him up for a feeding and then put him back down to go back to sleep. After my husband gets up for work, Spencer usually comes into the bed with me until I wake up (after 9:30). So, he doesn’t fall asleep with us, but does end up with me most mornings. I do love snuggling with my little guy, but once he sleeps through the night, he’s going to transition into his own room.

My brother-in-law and his wife have co-slept with their kids (9, 4 1/2, and 3). The oldest was usurped at age 6 when the youngest came along, and she was OK with it by then. I thought it was a little weird when Mom and Dad were complaining about not having room to sleep, but not doing anything to change it. Now, the younger two start out in their own beds, but end up with Mom and Dad every night.