Co-Sleeping Opinions?

Updated on April 17, 2008
S.H. asks from Kailua, HI
12 answers

Hi all, I'm a Mom of a 5 year old girl and a 19 month old boy.
We have done co-sleeping with them since they were born... off and on, as necessary on those hard to sleep nights our kids have now and then. As we Moms know, it is just sometimes easier this way, and it's comforting for our children. I breastfed both as well. There are lots of "pro's" to it as we all know, who believe in it.

My question is: (1) how long did you co-sleep, until what age? (2) how do you handle criticisms from family, who think co-sleeping is "weird" and "odd." (at least these are the innuendos and comments I have gotten from my own Mom and sister who does not have children). (3) because of these comments from family that co-sleeping is weird... I for one feel so self conscious about it and feel like I have to "hide" my and Hubby's parenting choice in co-sleeping. (4) what do you say to people who "criticize" your co-sleeping or who don't understand? How do you handle it?

I just wanted to know what others have done in this situation. My Mother lives with us, she is a widow. So, we don't "say" per say that we co-sleep. But our daughter tells her Grandma because she thinks its great. My girl has her own room and everything and she sleeps there... but once in awhile she gets scared or just wants to climb into bed with us during the night. It's not problem for us. For my son, he's in a crib in our room, and he's a good sleeper. So no problem there, but if he does get up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep... I just take him and put him down on the extra futon we have in our room, & lay with him for a little bit until he goes back to sleep then go back to sleep myself.

ALL of my friends do the same thing, with their kids who range in age as well. Like us, they don't outwardly "tell" people they are co-sleeping.... because it feels like you have to "hide" the fact. Do you all experience this as well?

My sister even asks my daughter if she is sleeping in her own bed or not. I told her that is none of her business, and then she got all mad at me and it created friction.

Any help? Suggestions? Hubby and I don't have a problem with this by the way. In other cultures, it is the norm.

*just to clarify... since my children were born, and as they've grown... we had varying degrees of them sleeping WITH us in our bed. At the moment, as I detailed above, this is they way we sleep now. But, we are all in one room all together, and either my daughter or son will be with us in bed, or sometimes on the futon, with one parent laying with our child. We all 4 can't fit in our bed. LOL. So this is the way we do it.

Thanks for any advice!

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So What Happened?

A BIG thank you to each and every one of you who wrote to share your experience. It was a comfort and reinforcement for knowing I was not the only one dealing with these questions. My girl has been sleeping with us for the past month and my boy, and we are all together happy and comfy in our room together. I need to just ignore the criticisms from my own Mother and sister! LOL.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Just an FYI, a friend of my mom's got a visit from CPS because the daughter told her teacher that she still slept with Mom and Dad. The girl is 6 or 7 years-old.

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answers from Honolulu on

I honestly don't see this as co-sleeping. I see you getting rest with your little ones, like everyone does from time to time. To me, co-sleepers sleep together most of the time, not just some times. I know some families that will/done co-sleeping till the children are 3 yrs old, all the time.
Anyways, when you are breastfeeding, and you fall asleep, that is natural. My husband has only ever rolled over towards the baby a few times, and layed his arm on her. As soon as he felt her, he moved away..
If anyone is putting your choices down, tell them to stuff it. I know that's not nice, but in all reality, it's your family, not theirs. Tell them if they are so worried about it, they can come over and watch the kids at night while you sleep, and they can get up with them and everything. Or, you could do as I have, and ask when did they become an expert?
Keep it up, whatever it is you're doing. It works for your family, and no one is being harmed. If anything, it brings most families closer together.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Our kids (9mos and almost 3yrs) left our room only a few months ago, but still come back to our bed here and there as needed. It just came time - I discovered we were disturbing the baby's sleep and the toddler was just physically getting too big to stay in our bed.

I completely understand feeling like you have to "hide" the co-sleeping, but at the same time you are doing what is best for your kids, and you should be proud that you put in that extra effort. For people who want to have a serious conversation about it, I share this information: In Japan, babies and young kids sleep on the floor with their parents until they feel ready to go to their own rooms. (Also, BTW, they also stay up with the family at night until they feel ready to go to sleep - no "crying it out" to sleep!)

For the people who make little comments about it, I usually laugh and say, "I hardly think he/she will need me to go to college with him/her so that he/she will be able to sleep."

You are the trailblazer in your family. Just wait, your sister may have kids some day, and she may be surprised to find herself co-sleeping too!

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answers from San Diego on

I do a mixture of co-sleeping and crib sleeping for my 3 month old son and have done so since he was 6 weeks old. I just follow my insincts when it comes to raising my son, but then again I have always marched to my own beat. I usually address the concerns by saying something like "I hear what you are saying, but this is my chance to raise my child. Thank you for your concern, but this works well for us." Something along those lines. It addresses the situation in a way that does not offend the other person, but shuts down most unwarranted "advise" unless I ask a question.

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answers from Reno on

I co-slept with my son until he was 10 months old, I wish he would still sleep with me, but he would rather be in his bed. I also had people tell me that it was wrong, and the answer I gave to everyone was this “What other mammals place there young in another room to sleep?” We are the only animal species that thinks it is a good idea for our infants to sleep alone. They need our body heat, they need to hear our heart beat and they need to hear our rhythmic breathing patterns. Do you often hear of bear cubs dying of SIDS? This doesn’t happen in the animal world because they all sleep with there young.

I know this answer may seem a little off the wall. But to be honest it is more off the wall for anyone to say how and where your children sleep. Happy CO-sleeping!

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answers from Los Angeles on

As long as you and your husband are fine with the idea, don't worry about what others think. You shouldn't feel ashamed because your kids sleep in your room. Just ask those people who don't understand, "Do you see any teenagers sleeping in their parents' room?" Most likely "No". Kids will want their own privacy when they reach that preteen years. Then they won't want to have anything to do w/sleeping in your room. Why not enjoy them now while they still want to be w/you?

We still let our 6 yr old sleep w/us. My 2 older ones sleep in their own rooms now. Before they turned 10, they would come and sleep in our room (on the floor w/their sleeping bags) from time to time. That actually makes for nice family bounding time. We end up playing cards, watch TV together or have "family game night" and just enjoying being a family.

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answers from Los Angeles on

We co-slept with DD #1 until she was about 2yo and we are currently co-sleeping with DD#2 (she is 9 weeks currently).

I get the innuendo and comments and I just let it roll off my back. That took some practice though! My older daughter is confident, independent, and well adjusted-all the things people warned us she would NOT be if we co-slept. Most of the comments come from friends w/o kids, LOL!

My mom comments somewhat wistfully that she didn't even know that co-sleeping was even an option when we were born. Makes me think that she wishes she would have had us closer than in a crib in our own rooms.

I think that you know what is right for your family and situation. Besides, many other cultures/countries co-sleep without getting so uptight about it. They seem to get along just fine.

Also, when I tell people that we co-sleep, I just say it with such conviction and confidence that noone has much to say!

You're doing the right thing, mama!


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answers from Los Angeles on

Ah, I know how you feel. Comments? Who cares. If it isn't a comment about co-sleeping then it is a comment about something else. Everyone has a right to their own opinion. Some just like to make a point (too often) that their opinion is right/better,etc..

We co-slept with both. They are 5 and 3 now and still sleep with me at times since my husband travels a lot. They will sleep in their own room though (without any struggle at all), I guess that started on and off with my daughter around 3yo and around 2.5yo with my son. Question 2, how did/do we handle the critcism - I think my Mom said something once, like "that will ruin your marriage" Coming from her (divorced & unhappy) it didn't mean much. Plus, our marriage has only gotten better since becoming parents, also co-sleeping was a mutual decision. I think you should try to just let comments roll off your back. Or if you happen to be reading A New Earth - flap your wings. You are your kids parents and know what's best for them. Question 3 - Don't hide your choice to co-sleep. You don't have to announce it, but you don't have to hide it. Many people do it, they just don't want to admit it! Question 4, If one doesn't or didn't co-sleep, they won't understand it, no matter what you say. So, again, let it roll off your back. Their opinion shouldn't matter. The good news is I can say with confidence that co-sleeping did not ruin my kids or make them dependent on me for sleep. If someone wanted to argue with me about it, I could stand strong on what we did because the end result is I have two kids that sleep really well. They fall asleep very easily and get 11-12 hours of sleep a night. This all after both of them until 2 years of age nursed throughout the night (no complaints from me on this - nightime parenting was quite easy because of it).

Like many things, you'll get many different opinions here. Again, they are opinions. What works for one, doesn't always work for another. I have a good friend, who I know LOVES her kids just as much as I love mine, but doesn't allow them on her bed AT ALL. She can't stand a child in her bed. She also has kids that turn and kick often and she needs her sleep for work. So, I have to respect that. For me, I would have been the one awake all night if I didn't have my babies right next to me.

Bottom line, if you are happy, kids are happy, family is happy, then don't worry what others think.


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answers from Las Vegas on

in our culture and most others parents are always avaialble no matter what time we slept with our parents in same room till iwas about a teenager, my younger sister slept with my mom even when she was in college off n on, this is love nothing wierd in it...we have a strong sense of security until late in our lives that our parents are always there for us, we love them back the same way as they did for us, keep them with us through out thier lives , love to be with them, etc
i think until not decided by the child himself that he wants to sleep seperate he can sleep with you you are not a parent for only day yu are a parent in the night as well.

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answers from Los Angeles on


I remember thinking, my sister is a little weird, because she sleeps with her 2 kids and her husband in 1 bed and now I wish I had a king size bed myself :)

I remember those nights, when my baby was born and she would not want to fall asleep and my husband and I would hold her and sing to her for hours and when we finally thought she fell asleep, we would put her down really slow, and she would wake up anyway and we started all over

then one time she had a cold and I realized, she sleeps really good, if she stays in my bed, we kept her there since, we finally got some sleep and I realized, it felt natural

when she has a nightmare, we are right there, when loud noice wakes her up we are right there, somehow I realized when she started waking up I had started waking up a few minutes prior

that's why I honestly believe, it is natural and I do not care what other people think or belive, to me the let them cry it out people are people I do not understand

enjoy being mama, it's going to pass so soon

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answers from Los Angeles on

Well... Our 5 yr old daughter sleeps with us.She has her own room and I imagine( OK occasionally fantasize) that someday she'll sleep there. I also nursed until she said she was done! It's not anyone's business who sleeps where in my humble opinion. My daughter is a happy well rounded confident child. She knows her parents love her. What else is there!!??!! trust your instincts and keep up the good work. H.

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answers from San Diego on

What in the world is Co Sleeping?

I thought you meant the kids sleep together.
Then as I read it appeared you all 4 sleep together but you are ashamed of it.
Then you say the 5 year old has her own room and he is in a cot and then that you don't even take him into your adult bed or hers but cuddle him on a futon.

I'm bewildered!

AS for what you want to do, check it's healthy and if so, do it and after this don't excuse it to anyone else.


I think children after 3 should have their own territory / own beds - but its not a rule set in stone.

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