Co-Sleeping With 8 Month Old- Help!

Updated on January 15, 2009
J.S. asks from Saint Paul, MN
20 answers

I have been co-sleeping with my 8 month old daughter, Anna, since she was born. It was not my plan to do so, it just kinda happened. I had planned to move her to her own room/crib by now, but I'm afraid of how it will go (i.e. lots of crying on both our parts, plus waking my 2.5 year old who sleeps in the room next to hers). Right now Anna won't even nap in her crib. In fact, she mostly only naps in my arms or her carseat if she falls asleep in the car. She still wakes up multiple times a night and it's really starting to wear on me. I guess my question is a two-parter: do I need to get her out of my bed in order for her to sleep through the night, and if so, how do I go about it in a way that will cause the least amount of trauma to both of us?

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answers from Minneapolis on

Funny - I have a 2.5-yr-old boy and an 8-mo-old girl. All I can say is... the longer you wait, the harder it will be. You have to just put her in her crib and leave her there to sleep. First maybe you could get her to sleep and then put her in there. Then maybe start putting her in there awake, which will be hard, and she'll cry. But if she's tired enough, she'll go to sleep. My daughter slept with me the first month, and then I started putting her in her own bed and it was fine. I can't imagine having to do it NOW. It's not going to be easy on either of you, but you need to do it. Good luck!



answers from St. Cloud on

Oh the sleep issue! First off, co-sleeping is NOT a bad thing, and no matter what anyone says, its not dangerous!!!! Actually, it can prevent SIDS. I've done A TON of research on this because my MIL told me she saw something on the news about don't let that scare you. Usually when co-sleeping goes bad is when the parent has been drinking or doing other stuff (drugs) and is not very coherent.
I have to lay with my 2 1/2 year old at night to get her to fall asleep, but for naps she will lay down by herself. And my 16 month old will go right in her crib and fall asleep on her own. I didn't do anything different with them, its just that they both ahve different sleeping habits. If you really don't like the co-sleeping than some of the ladies gave great suggestions. I don't like the cry it out method horrible that the little one has to be in this dark room all by his/herself, I would cry too! I hope you have a solution and know that co-sleeping isn't a bad thing. There are TONS of research on it if you want to read about it.
Good luck!!

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answers from Bismarck on

Years ago I took my daughter to the pediatrician and he asked about her naps. My reply "She doesn't like to take naps". His response was "You either run your household or she will. Put her down for a nap and let her cry herself to sleep, go outside if you can't handle it and do this until she finally gets the message" He said it would be painful and it was, it took a week of her crying but each day it got a little better and soon she went willingly. I will never forget his words and she is now 48 with 2 grown sons. You run your household or she will. The pain was worth it.



answers from Milwaukee on

Hi J.:
I co-slept with my son until he was a year old. At around 8-9 months I started placing him in a pack-in-play in the room with me. He did not like his crib either. Being in the same room with me helped calm him. Just seeing me in the bed by him helped him adjust to sleeping on his own in his own space.
At 12 months we transitioned him to his room. I would rock him to sleep and then place him in his crib. If he woke-up during the night I went in the room to sooth him, but did not take him out of the crib. I would sometimes have to sit in the rocking chair in his room until he fell back to sleep, but eventually he just need to hear my voice and he went back to sleep.
At 18 months he no longer woke-up during the night and hh has adjusted very well.
I do admit this process means more sleep interrupted nights, but the closeness and bonding I have with my son is special. He is very independent and strong willed while being very cuddly and sweet. He is now 2 1/2 years old and has no sleeping problems. If he has a bad dream he will want me to sit in the rocking chair until he falls back to sleep, but overall the co-sleeping has been a positive thing in our family. I plan on doing the samething with my daughter when she is born in February.
Be patient and supportive of your child and her need to have you close. Remember that for 9 months your voice and womb were her comfort zone. Now for the last 8 months you have reinforced the bond and security she felt while you carried her. Let her know that you are close and will be there for her if she is scared. Just the sight and sound of you makes her transition into this world pleasing. Best of luck and enjoy every moment.



answers from Duluth on

ive answered this question more times than i can count.

i would HIGHLY recommend, use EXTREME CAUTION when considering any type of crying with your baby. crying is their only form of urgent communication, you need to listen to it, trust your intuition. do what your heart urges you to do.

also, join a moms group of some kind, like hte la leche league. its more than just breastfeeding, though it is based on that obviously. find some sort of moms group in your area that can support you and give you help.
however, i highly recommend dr sears's information. at the least, he gives you permission to follow your instincts no matter how many people tell you that you are doing it 'wrong'.

you dont need to get her in her own bed in order for her to sleep on her own. basically, she wont be able to learn how to sleep on her own, and sleep is something thats nurtured not taught. the more you can give her comfort and the feeling of safety when shes going to bed, the easier it will be for her to mature into sleeping on her own. its really something she matures into, not learns.

cosleeping is safe, it is not going to cause any bad habits, and it will teach your baby that sleep is a happy thing, a relaxing thing, a comforting thing. my son coslept with us most nights until between 15-17 months old, when he started sleeping in his own bed in our room. he is 2 and he still sleeps in his crib in our room. basically, he is right there, if something happens and he wakes up, we are right there and he doesnt have to get too worked up before we get to him.

things we make sure we use when its bedtime is routine, prayer, that kind of thing, night light, white noise, and we leave him in bed, not alone, but with a bear, a couple books, that kind of thing. that way they fall asleep during a relaxing activity instead of thinking they are all alone and being nervous.

consider teething issues, perhaps give some tylenol.
but TRUST me on this one, she wont want to sleep in your bed forever, she WILL sleep in her own bed and its actually very healthy to her sleep habits to cosleep for a while. you can always wrap her in a blanket when you lay with her and try moving her after shes DEEP asleep. you have to make sure that shes really really asleep.

just trust yourself. you are the only person who has the instincts for your child. you know what she needs, trust it, and dont listen to anyone who tells you not to do the things that your daughter needs.
you know!



answers from Minneapolis on

I think it will mean that you both will cry...a lot, before she realizes she will be okay in a crib by herself. Check with your doctor and see what he recommends for the amount of time you can safely allow a baby to cry. I think the bedtime process was harder on me than my child, and I didn't sleep with my child.

Good luck and hang in there.



answers from La Crosse on

Congratulations on your loving decision to cosleep!In addition to all the benefits, cosleeping is a wonderful way to transition a baby to a toddler bed, all without the use of a crib. I don't think you need to get her out of your bed in order to get her to sleep all night; rather, you need to get her her own space right next to your bed, where she cannot sense your touch but knows you are nearby. By cosleeping with her all these nights you have fostered security which is exactly what a baby needs (especially at night) and now that she is at the age where separation anxiety begins it would be an unpleasant time in my opinion to try something like making her cry it out (actually I don't find any time to be a good time for that!) or transitioning her very far from you (like in her own bedroom). I think all you need to do is get a mattress or a futon and put it on the floor next to your bed and when she falls asleep, lay her on that bed. Make sure the blankets and the pillow smell like your bed. When she wakes up in the middle of the night crying for you, and you are right close by eager to respond, she will not have panic about sleeping in a bed different from mommy's. In about four or six months you'll be able to set up a toddler bed (on the ground or low to the ground of course) in your room and eventually in her own room for her to sleep in. I don't think you have got very long until you both get really good sleep each night. I remember my youngest weaned from breastfeeding at 22 months and as soon as that happened, that's exactly when she started sleeping all night without waking once. Now she's a champion sleeper and she's almost five. I coslept with her as long as I nursed her. I'm glad I put up with sleeplessness as long as I did because looking back on it, it was really hard at the time but so totally worth the pain. Good luck, and I hope everything works out for you.



answers from Iowa City on

I can relate. I have a 4 year old daughter and a 2 year old son. My first was a terrible sleeper. She was 8 months before I could get her to sleep a 6 hour stretch and that was usually after an exhausting attempt at getting her down. I always dreaded bed time. If you have reached the point where you are not able to get the rest you need by having her in bed with you then I suggest a little tough love. Put her in her crib and let her cry herself to sleep. It is heartbreaking but it works. That is how we eventually got bed time under wraps at our house. I remember standing outside her bedroom in tears. The first couple of nights she cried over an hour before she fell asleep. Whatever you decide don't be too hard on yourself. This too shall pass!



answers from Duluth on

First of all, if anyone "yells" at you, let it roll off your back. It is SO easy to let sleep snowball...we promised ourselves it wouldn't with #2, and here we are at 15 months, trying to get him to sleep at night! Depending on how easy it is, I would go step by step, very slowly. First, work on getting her in there for her nap so the crib is familiar. Then start putting her down asleep in her crib at night. Then work on getting her to fall asleep in her crib (this was very, very hard with our first; a lot easier than I would have thought with #2. Try it for two weeks and if you hate the crying, don't let her cry for more than 7-8 minutes...but at least try that long.) Then try letting her fall asleep in her own crib. If you're nursing at night, work on stopping that. Then work on not having her in your bed...even if someone has to get up and rock her. For us w/ #1, this took YEARS. For #2, we're a lot less patient and it's going much faster. :) Good luck!!!



answers from Minneapolis on

Hi J.,

You first need to decide if YOU want to co-sleep or not. This is entirely your choice. No one on this board can tell you which one to choose. There are ways of making co-sleeping work, and there are ways of making separate sleeping work.

Which method feels right to you? Does your partner agree with you? Which one is better for your baby? Make your choice based on these things, and NOT out of frustration or convenience. Once you've made your choice, then you can research ways to make it go smoother. Whatever you decide, the key is to BE CONSISTENT.

As far as her napping goes, I can think of 3 choices. Again, how you proceed is up to you, I'm not going to label them "right" or "wrong":

(1) You continue doing what you're doing, holding her or having her nap in her car seat.

(2) You carry her in a sling or baby carrier. This (hopefully) allows her to nap, but you can also get things done.

(3) You have her nap in her crib, and start sleep training. Put her in her crib, leave, let her cry for 5 minutes, go back in and soothe her, and repeat until she falls asleep. Eventually, you would start stretching the time out to 10 minutes or whatever you feel comfortable with.

One trap I would not get into is to have her fall asleep in your arms, and then try to sneak her into her crib. I think just about everyone is in agreement that this is not a good idea. This almost always backfires: the baby wakes up immediately, or the baby wakes up shortly thereafter and starts screaming because they have no idea where they are.

Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

My oldest did not sleep through the night until we moved him out of our room. Now, I am the one who can't sleep if a child is in our room, let alone our bed!
I have learned from our past mistakes that, at least in our family, NO ONE benefits from co-sleeping. It only causes more complications in the long run. I just recently made our room a child-free zone for my own sanity, and firmly believe that my children are much better off learning to sleep in their own bed.
Any way you do it, it's going to be painful. If you want to do it step-by-step, I would start with getting her to nap in her crib and then work your way up to the night time. Go in every few minutes to let her know you are still there, but don't pick her up. Gradually increase the amount of time between check-ins. It may take a long time to break an 8-month-old habit, but it will work.
Good luck!



answers from Omaha on

It was the hardest thing I have done as a parent - but I finally let my son cry it out. I did it at 6 months. He is now 40 months old. After 3 terrible nights of crying for 45 minutes at a time, I was able to put him down awake and he would sooth himself to sleep. He woke up at 3am every morning for his bottle until he turned 1 and has slept through the night ever since. I did the same thing with my daughter who is now 17 months. I started letting her cry it out at 5 months. It took about 5 nights of crying 20 minutes at a time, but then I was able to lay her down awake and she would fall asleep on her own. Naps were much easier as well. They would both fuss for about 5 minutes, but then would remain asleep for about 2 hours. Actually - they still nap for two hours a time with no tears at lay down. It is the hardest thing you will do, but in the end it is sooooooooo worth it. For your sanity and theirs! They are way more "rounded" with a good nap and a wonderful night of sleep! Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

Here's an idea for you: start by trying to have her take naps IN your bed. I know, it's supposed to be the most dangerous thing ever, but I do it all the time. Of course, my son is only 5 mos. and he doesn't roll from his back to his stomach and we put him in the middle of our queen-sized, close-to-the-floor (due to having no bed frame) bed. The reason it may be easier to start there is because your bed contains your smell, where the crib doesn't. After awhile you may be able to transition to a crib during the day, and eventually the crib at night. I know it sounds easier than it really is, and I'm not a sleep expert, but hopefully that helps!

We actually had our son in bed with us for his first month of life and once we transitioned him to the crib, he slept through the night! It's quite amazing. People ask me if he's sleeping through the night yet and I say yes, he's been doing that for quite awhile now. There were no tears on my part because being a well-rested mama was such a great reward! :) Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

We had both the kids in our bed until they were 5 and 3.5. We did the transition when the oldest was able to understand. We still lay down with them until they go to sleep. My now 7 year old was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder and Mild Autism shortly after quitting the family; bed. As a baby, he did the same thing that you are describing with your daughter. I have been told that co-sleeping was one of the best things we could have done for him. I didn't know why we did it. We just did. The basic rule of parenting--trust your gut. Get advice, but trust your gut above anything else.



answers from Eau Claire on

Don't let anyone tell you co-sleeping is "wrong" or Un-natural". It is one of the most natural things in the world and its only in the last century or so mothers have stopped sleeping with their babies. The rare deaths involved with co-sleeping usually involve drunk or other wise impaired parents, just as another mother mentioned. People give co-sleeping too bad of a rep.

Of course you don't want your child in bed with you forever either, lol. My son co-slept with me till he was about a year and a half old. He was used to going to sleep after getting a few books read to him and songs sung till he fell asleep. My son did start sleeping through the night in bed with me somewhere between 9mos and 12mos.

It took a month or so of consistent behavior on my part to switch him to his toddler bed, but really only the first few days/week were really tough. I just did the exact same ritual for bed; books and songs; but in his own bed, and when we were done, I went and laid down on my bed (in the same room) where I could see him. Everytime he got out of bed, I just put him back. Yes, he cried and shrieked, but I stayed calm and firm. The first day he got up around 40 times, second day twenty-something.... etc. Within a week he only tried one or two times, or maybe not at all, but he still tested me occasionally for around a month.

The reward was I would still let him crawl in and cuddle with me in the morning once it was light outside. Two years later, he stills comes to my bed (Now in a different room) to climb in and wake me up with snuggles every morning. Because I switched him to his own bed first and let him stay in my room for a while longer; when it was time to get his own room, the switch was a breeze, he was totally used to his own bed and going to sleep without me being physically right there.

All it really takes to do this switch, (whenever you want to, btw, you don't have to do it now unless you want to) is patience and a firm but calm attitude. And the knowledge that it will be hard for a little while, a week, a month, whatever. You can't give in or you defeat most of your progress. But it will get easier!

Good luck, whatever you decide!



answers from Omaha on

please just do it for safety! my husband is a firefighter and he has been on those calls where co-sleeping turns bad. his first call like that was 6 years ago right after we had our 1st baby. boy did i get an earful! it may be hard and she may cry but that is natural and it shouldn;t take her too long to get used to it. maybe put a worn shirt of yours in there with her so she has your scent close by. as far as waking your other child - mine sleep through just about anything. it is amazing the noise that can go on and they never even hear it. you could start playing soft music for your other child so atleast there is some white noise that can drown out any cries that may happen. good luck. i know it is hard. i have 3 of my own but some things happen that you think could never, ever happen to you. good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

we're in the middle of this with our almost 8 month old daughter right now! we're working on transitioning her to her crib from our bed. she still wakes multiple times during the night to nurse, so that's made it difficult. i think if she's in her own bed she'll wake less (or not at all!) though.

i decided i had no clue how to do this (we co-slept with our now 5 year old son for YEARS, and i'm not doing that again!), so i enlisted the help of "the no-cry sleep solution." i'm taking cues from that & doing what feels right with our daughter too. we started our new routine on saturday night & despite teething & a runny nose we're actually making progress! most of the book centers around creating a routine & making the place where your baby will sleep comforting & familiar.

every night we do bath & jammies to wind down, plus we've been spending non-sleeping time in her room & in her crib. we're now keeping our volume down & keeping lights lower at bedtime. i don't let her nurse completely to sleep, and we've got a humidifier going in her room for white noise (and to mask the 5 year old's noise). it might not seem like much, but she's steadily increased the time in her crib from 30 minutes to an hour over the last three days. i'm in it for the long haul, so i'm not looking for immediate results - i just want lasting results! already she's falling asleep faster & last night my husband was able to get her to sleep - something he hasn't ever been able to do at night because she wants mom & boobs! :)

i know there are probably faster ways to accomplish the same thing, but i'm just not a cry-it-out parent at all. she still spends the majority of the night in our bed, but i can see that she won't be there forever if we stick with our plan.

good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

I just went through a similar situation with my 9-month old. This book saved me "Healthy sleep habits, happy child" Marc Weissbluth, MD. I started with naps in the crib - it took about a week to establish and it was tough the first couple of days - but it worked!!! And by the third day he was sleeping half the night in his crib and at the end of the week the whole night. This book was recommended by 2 friends who used it with their kids. I can't say enough about it. Gives you info. and strength to do this successfully. Barnes & Noble $16 full price - money well spent. Good luck.



answers from Cedar Rapids on

I have been co-sleeping with my 3 month old for awhile now. And like you I did not plan to do it, it just happened due to nursing so frequently at night. I have been putting him in a co-sleeper bed attached to my bed. This made an easy transition for him and me. If he wakes I can feed him and then put him back int the co-sleeper attached to the bed. And probably within a month I will be moving him into his crib.



answers from Milwaukee on

Take a look at the book "sleeping through the night" by Jodi Mindell. It is a good middle of the road approach and isn't as judgmental as I feel some of the other books are. It felt gentle and doable. our daughter now finally is mostly sleeping all night in her crib and just about through the night after SO long of her not.
Good luck!

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