Ask Holly: Question about Co-Sleeping

Hi Holly,

I have a question about cosleeping. I am a single parent and coslept with my boy Noakai (now 9 months) for the first 4/5 months (he always napped in his crib though)…then I began to put him in his crib at nights and would not bring him to my bed until around 5am. Suddenly  around 5 weeks ago he refused to go back in his crib at 10pm (after I breastfed)…so to avoid a long battle (he just kept crying when I put him in his crib  – for over 2 hours I kept picking him up and putting him down)  I brought him into my bed which has continued now these whole 5 weeks….Problem is he now breastfeeds much more again…and is restless…lately a lot between midnight and 5 am and I am exhausted. I keep thinking it will change and should stick with it and be the “earthy” mother I want to be…but we need to sleep more! Is putting him back in his crib “mean” at this point? ! He will put up a fight for sure and as I have a one bedroom his crib is right next to my bed! Do you think it’s worth carrying on until he is older and can understand more or change it now? I believe he is teething right now as well…
I also wanted to ask a question about raising babies vegetarian even though they are anaemic (Noakai is)…but not sure I can ask more than one question?

Hi Annabel!

Thanks for writing.  While I am absolutely NO expert on co sleeping, I can only speak from the experience I’ve had for the past 2 years and 9 months, and anecdotal evidence from my sisters and others close to me. 

Here’s how I feel about the whole issue…our babies needs are constantly changing and the minute you feel like you have it figured out, he’ll go and change things up on you!  As you said, he’s teething now and most likely needs more comfort throughout the day and night. He will be teething until he’s two, so if it’s a difficult process for him, be prepared for a lot of sleepless nights.  There will also be growth spurts, when he’ll want to feed more frequently, not to mention viruses, nightmares, and changes during the day that make him restless at night.  All that being said, if co-sleeping is working for both of you, and you both wake up rested the next day (regardless of how often he wakes up to nurse) then I would keep doing it until you feel comfortable transitioning him out of your bed. 

If, however, you can hardly function the next day, the benefits of co-sleeping are not worth it.  He will adjust to sleeping on his own, you are not a “mean mommy” and you are doing the best you can for the health of both of you.  Parenting is the hardest job we will ever face, and be very careful not to compare yourself to others, or have expectations of yourself. You are a great mother!

There are lots of great books out there on co-sleeping, and also gentle sleep training.  Here are some I like:

Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Cosleeping

Good Nights: The Happy Parents’ Guide to the Family Bed (and a Peaceful Night’s Sleep!)

The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night

I have a sister who has 3 teenagers, and I remember at one point they had two twin beds in their room with them, pushed up on either side of their king bed.  This was before I had been exposed to it at all, so I was very intrigued.   This image stuck in my head throughout the years, and when my son was about 4 months old I asked my brother-in-law about it.  He said, “It’s the way to go.  And don’t worry about them sleeping in their own beds- they’ll move out when they’re ready, like when they’re around 8 or 9.”  I waited for him to add on “months” but he didn’t.

Here we are, 2 and a half years later, and the time has flown.  In the grand scheme of life, this time in our beds is so short!  I do believe all children are different, and some prefer their own sleeping space.  It completely depends on the temperament.  My son, who would not let me put him down in the bassinet at the hospital the day he was born, has always slept better if he is within arm’s reach of one of his parents. 

To us, this has always been more convenient, as I started feeling very rested when he was 8 weeks old because I didn’t have to fully wake up to feed him while he was still nursing throughout the night, and he is so flexible when we travel.  However with the imminent arrival of his co-sleeping sibling, I am curious to see how our sleeping arrangement will adapt.

Please let me know how it all works out for you, and good luck! And on those long nights when you’re wondering how on earth you’re going to survive, remember that it won’t be like this for long. Soon we’ll be laying in bed at night wondering how our children are sleeping in their college dorm room beds, or, in my sister’s case, in a bed in halfway around the world.

One thought on “Ask Holly: Question about Co-Sleeping”

  1. Hi Holly,

    Thanks for answering my question on co-sleeping! Actually I was getting more and more exhausted feeding him every 2-3 hours. Just too much. So I am using Jay Gordons method of cutting his breastfeeding between 11pm and at least 5am. But am keeping him in my bed to do this. First night was last night and it went ok. Wow…there is no way I want him in my bed at 8 years old! Maybe mornings but not the whole night! I will move him to his own bed between 1 1/2 – 2 years old! I know this time is no long, but as you said if I’m that tired I have to change things. Thanks again Holly! Annabel and Noakai

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