Co-sleeping – Rod or Redemption?

Girl toddler sleeping in a bed

It’s my guilty secret. I feel like I have to stand up and announce it like I’m at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting – I’m Gemma and I co-sleep with my children, sometimes with both of them (shush!)

It was never meant to be this way. With my son (now five) we did everything we were supposed to. He started off in a Moses basket but didn’t really like it, so we then moved him into a cot next to our bed. But at 16 weeks, it all changed. He got a cough and cold, and being the panicky first time mum that I was (and already sleep deprived at that stage), I stayed up all night with him next to me in our bed. Now, as you would expect with a cough, it didn’t get better overnight, so the next night he was back in with us. Obviously we made sure we took all of the right precautions to make it safe for him.

I think he did go back into his cot after a few days, but I had already experienced that heartwarming rush of having him sleeping next to me, and I wanted more! In my head I remembered all I’d been told – I would be making a rod for my back. What continued from then was good intentions – he would go off to sleep in his cot, but inevitably would end up in the bed with us. Even when we moved house, and he had his own bedroom, this pattern continued. We did try various ‘sleep training’ things – white noise, various cuddly things, gradual retreat and eventually moved him into a single bed.

I could never bring myself to do controlled crying, even though many many people advocated it. I came to the realisation that the co-sleeping was more than just meeting my son’s needs. In fact, I wasn’t sure that he even wanted to really sleep with us, perhaps it had just become a habit he was used to?

It was about me, and meeting my emotional needs. I’ve never hidden the fact that I struggle with motherhood. In my head I’ve never lived up to the ‘perfect mum’ stereotype, and parenting in the first year was a big shock! (even though looking back, we had it damn easy!) So for me, sleeping next to my son made me feel forgiven for everything I had not been good enough during the day. I felt like a better mum because he wanted to be with me. Realising this was the easy part, resolving it has been much more difficult. When I was pregnant with my daughter, my son was starting to sleep for longer periods my himself. Which didn’t stop me sleeping on his floor just in case.

In the latter stages of my pregnancy I told everyone – no more co-sleeping, my daughter would be sleeping in her cot whether she liked it or not. Well, you can guess what happened. That first night in the hospital, when I knew that we both needed to sleep, I had her in the bed with me. We got home, Moses basket prepared, and discovered that she would only sleep on her front. So I had the inner conflict of letting her sleep on my chest (with me sat upright) or on her front in the cot, which I knew went against all the recommendations.

Fast forward two and a half years, and she doesn’t even go to sleep in her room! Deep down I know it’s not what good for any of us, but when it gets to bedtime, I just can’t face being apart from her. Especially now she’s well and truly in the midst of terrible twos and I feel like I’m constantly telling her off (for just being a typical two year old). I’m in such a vicious cycle of not sleeping well, and then being tired and irritable with the both of them, and then making it up by letting them sleep in the big bed.

So what’s next? Well we’ve managed to put off decorating my daughter’s room and having a firm push on her sleeping in there for six months so far. I know I need to make the change, perhaps when she’s at school too?!

If you are considering co-sleeping, please follow the guidelines and stay safe.

22 Replies to “Co-sleeping – Rod or Redemption?

  1. As long as you do whats best for you and your family and it’s done saftely thats all that matters. It can be easy to judge another mums approach but its their decision to make 🙂 thanks for sharing #READYSETLINK

  2. You have to do what feels right! I’m sure you were not the terrible mum you thought you were!! Believe me we all think those thoughts. As for the co-seleeping my first went in to his cot mostly no problem but would also have plenty of nights snuggled up in the master bed and now at 3 we have to read him to sleep every night. As for second he sounds just like yours! At 13 months I had to do something he would only sleep on me, whilst nursing. I did some sleep training with him and it worked so quick! We took a few steps forward but loads back and although now he would go down no problem he would wake 2/3 times to feed, which meant me getting up to feed him in his room. About a month ago I decided enough was enough I needed a full nights sleep! It took me two nights and honestly minimal effort but touch wood he’s now going down at 7 and normally doest get up till 5.30am which I’ll take if it means I can have some night time undisturbed sleep. I hope you find what works best for you soon. x #Bloggerclubuk

    1. Thank you! It’s really encouraging to hear that sleep training does work, and doesn’t need to be scary!

  3. Oh being a parent is full of tough not se easy decisions, and yes its important to do what feels right for you. But children can also pick up energetically on our vulnerabilities and fears so can play on that 😉

    1. Yes, I completely agree! My son knows I’m a soft touch, he only has to make puppy dog eyes at me and he gets what he wants!

  4. We didn’t co-sleep and Small Boy refuses to sleep in our bed. He’s two now and in recent weeks we’ve fallen into a routine where he wants me to sleep with him (or will only go back to sleep if I do) in A TODDLER BED! Thankfully I’m only 5’3 so I’ve done it a few times. I think you just have to do what’s right for you and your family and what gives you the most sleep. #BloggerClubUK

    1. Bless you! I’ve had to sleep with the two of them in a single bed before, and it usually ends up with me on the floor!

  5. We’ve had on-again/off-again spells of co-sleeping with each of our three kids. Kara (5) is the most frequent visitor to our bed – she typically spends the first half of the night in her own bed and then comes in to snuggle in between us maybe 4-5 nights out of 7. Toby (8) has been pretty good for a while but recently has taken to joining us at some point because he’s lonely – he’s only just moved into his own room and is a bit unsettled. It’s not ideal but we’re well used to it now and with bigger kids it’s in many ways easier when they go through these phases. Ultimately you know your kids better than anyone else, so if you’re sensible about it then no one is in a better position to judge what’s appropriate or safe than you are. #BloggerClubUK

    1. Thank you, that’s really encouraging. I get stuck in a cycle of thinking that co-sleeping is ‘wrong’ but then can’t face not doing it!!

  6. I’ve done a blog about my ‘guilty secret’ too. She is now down to just once or twice a week and though it’s good to sleep. I really miss her. She is 6 1/2 though so it really is time to wave her off to her own bed. We do what we need to do to be happy. No rights or wrongs.

  7. We’ve bedshared on and off since my now 3 year old was 9 months old. At the moment we put her to bed in her own bed but if she wakes in the night she moves to the spare bed with either me or daddy. I must admit it is nice smuggling with her in the middle of the night.

  8. It’s a tough one. I’ve co-slept with my three at times, and I will admit that sometimes it’s just as much for my own comfort and reassurance as theirs. I think, as long as it works for you all then you do you. After all, you know your kids better than anyone, who’s to tell you you’re doing it wrong? xx #itsok

    1. True! It’s difficult because at least it’s an easy option, but I know it’s not what I want long term.

  9. I feel like there’s so much pressure on parents these days to follow a set guideline of what’s ‘right’. I think it’s up to the indivuals as to what works for them, as long as parent and child are happy then it really doesn’t matter ear anyone else thinks. #ItsOk

    1. Thank you, it’s so hard when you read the official advice and about all the parents whose children sleep through!

  10. My little one can often be found sleeping in our bed. Although we’ve tried, there’s been times when for the sake of the whole house this has been the right decision for us. As long as there’s safe sleeping techniques demonstrated then I think its ok to use parental judgement here! I guarantee they wont still be sleeping in our beds at 18 years old so you wont be setting a life long precedent, that’s for sure! Thank you so much for linking up to the #itsok linky!

  11. We often co-sleep too – Little Man also took his time in moving to his own room (a house move stalled the process even more) and now while he does sleep there (for most of the night at least), there are some nights when he wants to sleep with us. And we long for those nights now because we know it’s not going to happen once he’s a bit older. As long as you feel ok about it, and everyone’s getting sleep, don’t worry too much – instead treasure those cuddles and smelling their hair when they’re asleep:) One day, we will miss these little things. #itsok to co-sleep, if it works for you and the family!

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