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Co-sleeping: when the bed gets too snug

This email comes in at the very moment my husband is trolling craigslist and online furniture stores, considering upgrading our queen-sized bed to a king-sized one.  Many mornings, there are four bodies in the bed: myself, my husband, our six-year old, and our four-month old.  It is a super-cozy situation, but it just may be too snug.

An urbanMama recently emailed, thinking proactively, about how her bed may also soon be occupiedBoys_in_bed
by four bodies.  Both she & I would love to hear your thoughts:

I have a 3 1/2 year old that we recently transitioned (mostly) to her own bed.  She starts the night in her bed and comes into our bed at some point in the night - sometimes before midnight, other times not until it's nearly time to rise and shine.  We don't consider this a problem - we've never been fans of forced solo-sleeping.  The issue is I'm pregnant with #2.  We'd like to co-sleep with the second child, but are concerned about our daughter coming into the bed and it being too crowded or her rolling over onto the new baby.  I'd love to know how other co-sleeping families have dealt with this.  Do we have to make a choice between the two?  Are there other, more creative ways to continue to co-sleep as our family grows?

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i got a king bed recently when i was pregnant with number 2. right now both kids are in bed, 3 month old and 2 year old. daddy is off to work. 2 year old comes in every morning to be cozy for an hour or so. while we all slowly wake up. king bed is so much better with the baby in the middle at night. you can actually sleep!! my bed is my favorite piece of furniture. i LOVE having a king.

What do families do when the king size bed gets too small? We've got three kids who all like to climb into our bed for reading time before bed. Two out of three kids like to climb into our bed in the middle of the night. My husband has a bad back and is sensitive to crowding, so the kids and I all end up crouched in little balls on my side of the bed, which is painful -- both at the time, and the next day. I'm curious: How do larger co-sleeping families cope?

Ha! So glad to hear that we are not alone on this one! Our 2.5 year old ends up with us at some point every night and I try so hard not to get irritated after too many nights in a row of interrupted/restless sleep because of it. We have a king so when it's just him, it's not so bad. But when our 5 year old joins us occasionally we end up with a "mama sandwich" on my 1/2 of the bed while Papa sleeps soundly. I try to remind myself that one day I'll miss all that coziness despite the knees in my back and the hair pulling and the bad breath in my face!

We recently told our 2.5 year old that since he's such a big boy now, that if he wakes up in the night and can't fall back to sleep on his own, he can only sleep on the floor next to mama--not in bed with us. This strategy worked for our older one a few years ago, but not for this one--he replied, "Yeah, like a puppy!" and proceeded to make himself a little "doggie bed" of blankets and pillows on the floor next to my side of the bed! Backfire...

I don't have an answer...I've heard about families pulling up a crib or twin bed next to the big bed to make a little extra space...the interior decorator in me could just never go that far...

CRIB SIDECAR. Remove one side of crib. Place other side of crib against wall. Scoot bed directly against crib. Adjust heights so that mattresses are flush and tightly against each other. You can bungee crib and bed together if you need to.

This helps with the so-called co-sleeping safety issues that have been in the news recently as well as with space.

My husband started going into my son's room when I was pregnant (he was 2 1/2) so I could sleep longer in the mornings. But then we bought a twin matress at Ikea and put it in our room on the floor next to our queen bed. It works! My husband travels a lot and it's just not safe for mama baby and kid to be in bed. So kid is on the floor in my room until morning time when he's welcome to join me and awake baby for a cuddle. Twin matress is much cheaper than new king bed. One day, though, I still want one ...

My husband started sleeping with my 3 1/2 yr old in his twin bed when baby #2 (almost 9 months old now) arrived so he could get a full night's sleep. He wakes up refreshed and takes the baby in the morning while I sleep in or work out. And baby and I sleep in the queen bed, although we could easily sleep in a twin; he ALWAYS snuggles right next me! I figure someday we'll all end up in the same bed once baby #2 REALLY sleeps through the night. At that point, we may need a king? Or the boys may just share the twin, and my husband and I can reclaim our queen bed to ourselves. Who knows? As with our parenting strategies, we always end up doing what we feel comfortable with and what works for our family.

We have a queen mattress and a twin mattress side by side on the floor. When our #2 baby came along, we moved around where the baby sleeps against the wall, then me, then our 4 year old, than daddy. it makes for cozy and roomy for us bed.

We co-slept in a full-size bed till our boy was nearly 3. We considered upgrading to queen (no room for a king) but decided the extra six inches really wouldn't help much.

Like the OP, I was about to have a second baby and although we'd set up a real bed in our 2.5yo's room with great fanfare, he wasn't having much to do with it. Also, he wouldn't sleep on the crib mattress on the floor. He wanted to be right there with us.

Here's what we did: my husband built a wooden platform just the size of our old crib mattress and high enough that with the mattress on top, it was level with our own bed. Baby slept between us, older boy slept next to us on this bed "extension."

(We could have shoved the crib alongside the bed with one side down, but our room was small, it would have just hulked in there, and besides, it wouldn't have been level with our bed.)

This worked great for a couple of months and then, all by himself, our 3yo decided he wanted to sleep in his big bed. Go figure.

Really trying to to sound snarky here, but how great is co-sleeping with the whole family when everyone is losing sleep, restless, and feeling squished all night? I just don't get it.
Snuggle up to the hills and back during the day, maybe even during nap time, but when it comes to bedtime, everyone should get their own bed, and in return, everyone will get a good night of sleep.

LOL. This post came at a perfect time! I agree whole-heartedly with Lisak. I would LOVE to have an entire night of un-interrupted sleep with everyone in their OWN beds. That's the goal at least! :)

We had Baby #1 completely sleep trained in his own bed, but then Baby #2 was a sleepless screamer who nursed all night and ended up essentially co-sleeping in our queen. I think we all know the story...so here we are with a 3 1/2 and nearly 2 year old who both start out every night in their own rooms/beds, but then each end up joining us at some point during the night or early morning.

So when we moved to a new house (with more space) we upgraded to a king and, although in theory it was a great improvement, in "practice" both kids end up snuggled next to and on top of me while Daddy has 3/4 of the remainder of the bed all to himself (and sleeps quite soundly...ggrrrr).

We have tried repeatedly to discourage them from getting in our bed, but since I take the brunt of the getting up, after a few nights I wear down and am desperate to do whatever makes them quite (I work out of the house full-time so naps are not an option for me). I also share the sentiment that I should just enjoy the cozy time with them while I can and try to make the best of it instead of "fighting" it.

But even though he's relatively unaffected, two nights ago Daddy decided "enough is enough" and he was going to implement (again) the "everyone in their own bed" rule. So for the past 2 nights I have been literally back and forth between my room and theirs about every 10-30 min. throughout the night. (having to go potty, needing a tissue, thirsty, can't find binky, want to be rocked, etc etc.).

So my question is, has anyone sucessfully reversed co-sleeping (other than waiting until they're 18)? Do we need to just keep trying? At what point (if there is one) is it just fruitless? I'm not convinced it's worth the endless number of nights I'm sacrificing going between our room and there's is worth the eventual pay-off of them actually sleeping quietly all night. If it is going to take a week...2...even a month I'd say yes. But my #2 took 33 straight nights of crying it out before she would even go to sleep in the first place (and it traumatized everyone in the house).

Any advice, on how to get them to put themselves back to sleep without "help" would be greatly appreciated (or it you tried and decided it wasn't happening).

I haven't had an uninterrupted night's sleep in 2 years! Thanks!
A

I honestly didn't care where they slept as long as they did sleep.

My kids both woke to nurse every couple of hours for over a year and I didn't get a decent night's sleep the whole time. So when they started sleeping in their own beds but then coming in with us halfway through the night, I didn't mind. Because they got into bed, then went to sleep. I would have driven myself crazy trying to wake fully, haul them back to their own room, repeat, repeat, repeat.

My kids just naturally started staying in their own beds around age 3. It was earlier for the second, since he wanted to be in the room with his big brother (the lure of the bunk bed.)

If no one is actually sleeping well when you're all in the same bed, then I can see wanting to change it. But as long as everyone *is* sleeping - well, it's not a hill I would choose to die on. Sleep trumps everything.

lisak: I think you're assuming that all families that co-sleep aren't getting any sleep. I'm the original poster, and I can tell you this isn't our issue. We are all very well-rested. I work full-time during the day, and on most days, waking up next to my daughter is the absolute best part of the day - for both of us.

When the bed gets too snug, it's time to sleep in your own bed.

Our older child, who was coming to our bed in the wee hours every night, was told just after her fourth birthday that her new sibling would be arriving in six months. She decided that she was a big sister now, and a big girl. We talked a few weeks later about how the baby would need space in the big bed, and how she, as Big Sister, might want to try sleeping all night in her own bed like a big kid. She immediately began staying in her own room all night, with no further intervention. It was probably perfect timing for her developmentally, and we lucked out, but you could try conning your older child into thinking it's her own idea to be a big girl and stay in her big girl bed. Good luck!

I totally agree zinemama. I keep debating whether it's worth the fight to get them in their own beds, or I should just make the best of it until they out grow it. In the end, letting them in the bed gets me more sleep than having to run to their rooms multiple times a night.

I was OK with corcering the 3 year old to stay in his room (he tends to sleep better) and letting the 1.5 year old crawl in bed when she woke up in the night...and then eventually (hoping) having her nauturally spend more time in her own bed and less in ours.

But as far as cosleeping goes, my kids are total squirmers and insist on sleeping either right up against me or flat on top of me - so I have no ability to roll/move or free my arms from the weight of their heavy heads; so no, I'm not getting restful sleep in the least (throw in there nightmares, "whimpering", lost binkies, oh and my favorite - a leaking diaper or pull-up requiring Mama to get everyone up, strip the bead and start loads of laundry at 5:00am!).

So I feel totally trapped between "disupted sleep" with the kids in bed with me, or "totally sleepless" nights going to/from their rooms.

Too tired to know if that even makes sense ;)

I didn't feel safe having my 3.5 y/o and the newborn in the same bed next to each other, so I used a crib sidecar for the baby. Baby is now 9 months old and sometimes all three of us end up in the same bed, but always with me in the middle; never with the two kids next to each other. Hubby sleeps in the spare room.

We're dealing with this too...timely post. About two months before our fourth baby was born (last month), I started telling our 4 year old that his nightly visits to our bed were limited. He understood and this gave him time to adjust...we explained the dangers of his elbow slinging and encouraged him to come in bed with me in the morning to read books while I nurse. Since our baby was born, he has come in a handful of times in the night...we usually let him cuddle for a while then take him back to his bed or go to his bed and cuddle with him there for a while.

The same scenario took place when he was born and our second went to her bed. The transition for all has been successful... all kids feel secure and loved, three people in a queen bed isn't too many, and everyone gets a fair amount of sleep.

If you don't have space -- or are an interior decorator -- consider a trundle bed that you can slide under the master bed. Unless that space is claimed already by storage boxes or dustbunnies, it works great.
My daughter moved into her own room as soon as she inherited her cousins bed, at around 18 months. It is a beautiful girls bed, and has been in the family forever.

As soon as I started to get big pregnant, she wanted to co-sleep again.
I bought an arms reach co-sleeper (which hasn't ever been used) and brought the trundle from her bed into our room.

Then we played musical beds for the first few months with new baby. Last week, she has decided that she is a big girl and her own bedroom has powers to ward off evil spirits and closet monsters, so she moved out!

I do miss spooning with my husband.

But our children will have to spend much of their childhood and adolescence sleeping alone, with nobody to snuggle. I love sleeping with a warm body next to me. So I can't conscionably kick them out!

They have a great cot for toddlers that they sell at Babies R US. You can set it up right next to the bed. Or you can put a digital clock in your older childs room and tell them they can only come in your room when the first number says, 5, 6, 7...whichever. It worked for my sister.

Good luck ladies. I'm feeling pretty blessed that my older son only likes to snuggle in our bed when he's sick and occasionally when my husband's out of town he'll ask to sleep with me because the house feels so lonely. I don't know if I could take cosleeping every night. I get so warm when I sleep, all the extra body heat would make crazy.

We purchased a king when I was pregnant with our first. I'm 6'2" so I count as two people, hahaha, we also had a wonderful little dog that slept at the foot. I'm sure we were a sight to see:O) I have an Arm's Reach co-sleeper but both babies hated it and ended up in my arm pit the first few weeks. We also had a nifty in bed co-sleeper which I called the nest. We had the mama sandwich going on, too, and the co-sleeper is a great barrier to falling out of bed. I really enjoy the cuddle time, the stories, etc. I think I'd have trouble sleeping if my 3.5 and 1 y.o. were NOT in bed with us.

We are a family of five (two parents, three kids ages 6, 2, 1). We sleep in a king-sized bed without a bedframe (mattress and box spring on the floor). Next to our bed, we have a twin mattress on the floor. All the kids start out in their own beds, but start coming in around midnight. We just spread out. It works fine and we know it will only last a couple more years at the most. Truthfully, I love snuggling with the warm little ones...

ArlingtonHeights Mom, I fully understand what you must be going through. After 3 1/2 years of 'shunting' between bedrooms every 20 mins, husband on the floor-child in our queen bed with me, all of us in the nursery, and all other permutations and combination, I finally gave in and my husband and I brought the toddler bed in to our room. Now our daughter sleeps peacefully through the night, in her bed, barley half a foot away from us. We all sleep soundly and are a happier family. In addition, how long till she wants to be in our room? We might as well cherish every minute waking and sleeping. Lesson learned, we plan on upgrading to King when we have another one.

This is a great discussion. I've been thinking this one through lately. (Not the first time I've attempted a change) I've thought about how we could prepare him for the change re: not getting into bed with us anymore (wow i will miss the days. I actually love co-sleeping. we all sleep really well but we upgraded to a king size recently and that really helps. )

My first born is 5.5 and I would love to hear your take: He goes to sleep in his bed that he shares with his brother, in their room. Any time the older chld wakes up during the night, he comes for us. Usually the first time or two we take him back to his room and lay with him until he's back asleep. (we have tried this before, and after a couple weeks of that he started sleeping longer in his bed before coming for us but then traveled or got sick or otherwise stopped doing that)
After taking him to his bed once or twice, he's invited into our bed where we all sleep soundly the rest of the night. I have loved co-sleeping with him, and sort of missed it with my younger child,who slept on his own starting at 3 months because 4 in a queen bed was tight and it was an easier transition than going through the move with a 2 year old!; but we've figured out ways to make up for that longing I felt.

Anyway, my 5.5 year old is unable to put himself back to sleep. I don't know how to teach that. Maybe you can't. I figure he'll start doing it when he's ready. I don't mind him coming to our bed for the most part, but I want him to be able to go back to sleep on his own when he wakes up in the night (under most circumstances). Then maybe we'd be on the way to him staying in his bed with his brother. Of course then they 'd BOTH be waking up at 6 am....
~ note, my second child, age 3.5 sleeps soundly through the night in his own bed, which is delightful/we snuggle in the morning which is lovely and helps him stay in bed until 6 am most days.
I guess we've done this two different ways with two different kids. Whatever works to promote sleep and overall happiness.

It's important to be comfortable and to get good sleep (when you can) but I like to keep in mind that co-sleeping is what people do in so many other parts of the world.

Divide & conquer.
The boy -10 months is downstairs with mama and the girl -2 years is upstairs with papa.
I LOVE co-sleeping & get plenty of sleep!

I've got one girl, 5, who has never been able to sleep well unless she has a parent at arm's length. And our little boy, 3, likes being by himself in his own bed and always has, though he was a co-sleeping infant. Just saying that parents philosophies regarding co-sleeping are just ONE part of the puzzle.

Hey Urbanmamas, I was wondering if anyone knew where I could buy/find/trade for a toddler cot. They are narrower than a crib sized mattress and would fit ideally in the space we would like to arrange for our little girl when she comes into our bed at night. Any ideas?

Whenever my three and one year old have a rough night sleeping, I give them plenty of cuddles by their own bed. They have never considered or wanted to sleep anywhere other than their bed because that's what they have always done. It's been rough a few times, like when our three year old would wake up scared, but that quickly ended after a few nights of lying next to him till he fell asleep. It's super important to me to keep our bed to ourself so we can cuddle and have husband and wife time. In order for me to be the best mom I can be, I need to feel connected to my husband and get a decent night's sleep. But that's just what works for me.

ArlingtonHeightsMom,
I feel like I am having the exact same issues. Have you made any progress since? I am constantly tired and have no motivation to complete any of the tasks I set out for myself during the day.

Eek! If I cant find any resolutions. I may just go out and get myself a toddler cot to sleep on ha-ha.

I think it's better if you would upgrade your queen-sized bed with a king-sized bed since four of you are sleeping on it. Sooner or later your kids will grow and all of you will need more space.

Both are required for physical and mental activity to create energy. A good night’s sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle and in rejuvenating the body, mind and soul. So it makes a lot of sense to invest in a good mattress and pillow to improve your comfort and overall health. Improving you r sleep quality can be as simple as sleeping on a better mattress and pillow.

Hi! I am a fellow mom who helped my baby learn to sleep after many sleepless months and then started helping countless other families. There is hope!

I started a sliding-scale sleep training consultation business after helping many families get the sleep they needed.

sweet dreams pdx offers in home consultations, followed with email and phone support. You are not alone!

sweet dreams pdx is here to support your family in reaching your sleep training goals.

Don't give up! Contact Mitzy at http://sweetdreamspdx.com/

I work with all types of families. I offer help with co-sleeping, night weaning, transitioning to crib, sleep training, re-training after sickness or traveling)

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