How do you successfully share a bed with more than one kid?

Guest post by Hunny
PHoto by Gutsibikes, used under Creative Commons license.
My husband, 18-month-old daughter, and myself have all been sharing our queen-sized bed since our daughter was born. I’m now eight months pregnant with our second child, and we’re not exactly sure what to do — should we transition our older daughter into a bed in our room? Buy a larger bed? Put the new baby in a co-sleeper?

When it comes down to it, I’m wondering how other families have successfully shared a bed with two children — it seems unfair to put our older daughter in a bed on her own so that the younger one can sleep with us. How did your family manage to co-sleep with two kids?Holly

My first child was two years, seven months when I had my second. We were bedsharing throughout pregnancy and as soon as I came home with the new baby we resumed. We had a queen bed with a sidecar crib for “overspill” and Daddy on the left, toddler in the middle, Momma and new baby on the right with the sidecar. But after three months of toddler feet in my back while nursing a newborn, and being the cheese in the baby sandwich, we had to stop.

My infant slept through the night, but we would not because my toddler would wake up the whole house every night around 4 AM when she needed to pee. She doesn’t just wake up and say “I need to pee.” She flails all appendages and whimpers and whines until everyone else is awake too. Going by herself isn’t an option. But our house wasn’t set up for her to have our own room, so we strategized.

First, we did away with the sidecar and queen bed and bought a ginormous king-sized bed. It’s fantastic but I was still waking up with feet in my face. So we took the crib mattress, put it at the foot of our bed on the floor. We took kiddo to Target, had her pick out her own bedding and put her in her own bed. She liked it but still liked our bed more, so we told her if she stayed in her bed every night for two weeks straight she could have a special reward. At the end of two weeks, she got her reward and the habit of sleeping in her own bed was formed. She is still in our room, still technically “co-sleeping” and still safe and secure — but there’s no more feet in my face. She still needs to get up to pee once a night but it’s less of a disturbance. She can still come to our bed if she has a scary dream.

That said we are currently shopping for a new home that will allow her to have her own room, but only if it’s right next to ours.

Comments on How do you successfully share a bed with more than one kid?

  1. I haven’t co-slept with more than 1, but might it also work if you put another sidecar bed on your partner’s side, so it’s parents in the middle and kids on the outside?

    We bought a king size mattress and put the toddler’s mattress on the floor on my side. Since our bed is on the floor also, it’s not much of a ‘drop’ to his bed. He’ll purposefully roll off our bed and onto his matress to spread out.

  2. I guess it depends on your long term plan, how long will co-sleeping go? Would you rather they graduate to their own beds at the same time? Do you think it’d be easier to transition your 18m.o. to their own space post-baby or would it be too much change for them all at once? Good luck with whatever you do!

  3. We sleep on the almighty Bedzilla. It’s a king-size bed with a crib-side bed on either side of it (crib + king + crib). It’s not a real king mattress though, just two twins pushed together with a couple of king-sized mattress toppers 😉 (nothing larger than a twin would fit up our narrow, angular staircase). Bedzilla comfortably holds myself, my 16-month-old, my 3-year-old, my tall husband, a 100 lb dog and a 65 lb dog. (One of the crib beds is for the larger dog).

  4. We tried co-sleeping with a toddler (30 months ish when 2nd was born) and newborn and after the first night of no sleep thanks to baby waking toddler who would then spend ages tossing and turning to settle again, I gave up! Toddler is in with Daddy in the other room, baby with me.

    As baby only stirs to feed now and is much quieter about it, at some point in the coming months Daddy will come back with us which will mean toddler inevitably finds her way back in after a few hours. I’m not worried about it but I know that if it doesn’t work, I can shoo both of them back to the other room!

  5. we have a sidecarred crib (where 10 month old twins sleep) attached to a queen bed (where my husband and i sleep), then about a 1.5 foot gap before a twin bed (where my almost 3 year old usually sleeps). usually things get rearranged in the night, with a twin or toddler joining us in the bed, but its working out surprisingly well!

  6. We just play it by ear. When my second was born my first was 15 months old and had cosleeps with us since she was 8 weeks old. We have a king size bed and our toddler would sleep against my back. When the baby was born she went into a pack and play on my side of the bed and would end up in bed with me. Well after a month I had it with a toddler in my bed holding and pinching my arm for comfort and a baby on my front sucking just for comfort. We went out and bought my toddler a canopy princess bed and made it a huge deal that night I ended up laying in the bed with her and comforting her for about an hour. In that time I laid my baby down in the crib (also in our room) and to my surprise she went to sleep and slept better than she ever had!! So we now have a toddler bed a crib and our bed all in our room! Most nights one or both of the girls end up in bed with us close to morning and that’s just fine but we just see what happens night to night

  7. We cosleep with our 17-month-old. We’ve got a queen-sized bed and a full-sized bed right next to each other. The kiddo and I sleep on one side, my partner on the other. The toddler falls asleep in his own bed at the beginning of the night, then comes into bed with us sometime in the night. We’re working on making another small person, and what we’re hoping to do is transition the toddler into bed with Papa, when he comes into bed, and have the newborn sleep with Mama. A lot of that will depend on whether/how much the toddler is still nursing…

  8. I have a question about co-sleeping. My partner and I are expecting our first child together in January. He has a 7 year old from a previous relationship who co-slept until she was 5, and still, I believe, occasionally sleeps with her mom. Many of you write about having daddy sleep in another room with toddler and mama sleep with baby.

    While we plan to co-sleep our new baby for a year and then move them into a floor bed, I am wondering how the arrangement of not sleeping in the same bed with your partner, or even having the baby between you effects intimacy. By this, I am not talking sexy time. Right now my partner and I tend to go to bed together and snuggle and talk about the day/joke around before we go to sleep and is a really important part of our relationship. It seems like with a baby in between this will be less intimate and would be even more difficult with daddy sleeping in another room. Just wondering what people’s thoughts are on this.

    • I have a 7 month old who is a very light sleeper, and snuggling/talking with my husband in bed at night has become pretty rare. We do more evening snuggling/talking on the couch, now, and on weekend mornings having all three of us snuggling in bed is even better.

      I know there are lots of people (and I hope some of them will chime in) with babies who happily sleep through adult conversations or sexytimes. That hasn’t been the case with my baby, but maybe yours will.

    • We were like that, too, before baby: downtime in the bed chatting, watching a movie, etc. before going to sleep. Now, we just do that in another room. If we want to watch a move (on our laptop, we do not have a tv in our bedroom) we simply wait until our toddler is good and asleep, and then we both use earphones. It works out pretty well. I don’t think bedsharing has effected our intimacy at all, but it has encouraged us to do some of our old activities in another room, which isn’t so terrible. Anyway, waking up, the three of us in one bed, is its own special brand of intimacy, and we wouldn’t trade it. (We’ve never split mom and dad into separate beds…)

  9. If you think it is time for the toddler to have their own bed, treat it like a graduation, not a demotion! Kids pick up a lot on how their parents feel about a situation, so help your child get excited about picking out their own bedding & having their very own bed. If space allows, you can also allow your child to pick a space for where their bed will go (as with most things, offer pre-approved options for the toddler to chose from, otherwise you may have a mattress hanging out in the hallway… or next to the toilet…). Allowing them to chose where there bed goes now helps them think about the option of having their own room, and deciding if they are ready for that yet or not.

    • You may find out that one of you snores badly enough that it drives the munchkin crazy! I suspect that will happen with our kids one day. They’ll ask for their own room to get away from daddy’s snoring!

  10. We had the same problem when our second son was born, N was sleeping with us since birth. When he was 13 months old, L was born and moved into our bed with us. What we did was putting N’s crib next to our bed, removed the grid from his bed and drilled holes for the slatted frame so it was exactly as high as our bed. His crib is jammed between the wall and our bed now. At the foot of the crib we placed a kid wardrobe so he can’t fall out of it. So N has his very own bed and still sleeps with us, on my husbands side. Great for them to cuddle and read books while I breastfeed L and have enough space for any baby equipment we need next to me, where we did the same thing with L’s crib (: N is also able to leave the bed on his own, and we didn’t have to buy a whole new bed for us all (:

  11. My two older brothers and I each coslept with our parents separately until the age of two (we are all two years apart). With my older brothers, the newborn simply bumped the previous kid out of the bed. We were poor so I don’t think the older child slept very far away from the parental bed, but they definitely got the boot. We all turned out great; I have a very close, loving relationship with both parents and my brothers. Good luck!

  12. In our family we have four children, three of which sleep in our bed on a regular basis. My oldest son is 10 and opted out of sleeping with us on his own accord when he was about 6. My eight year old slept in his own bed for a couple of years (around when we moved him into sharing a room with his brother), but has been back in our bed for the last year or so. My daughter is 6 and slept in a crib briefly, but has pretty much slept non-stop in our bed. I have a newborn who is also co-sleeping. Our bed isn’t big, the newborn sleeps between my husband and I, my daughter is on my other side, and my son for some reason likes to sleep by our feet. Not the comfiest of ideas, but it works for us. Good luck!

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