Co-sleeping families: are your older kids able to go to sleep without you?

Posted by
By: Sonya GreenCC BY 2.0
I have read plenty of articles on co-sleeping on Offbeat Families, and I understand that many of your readers practice it. I know that you have done the topic ad nauseum, but what I cannot find on your website is information on “bedtimes.”

Let me explain more: I have not yet fallen pregnant, and already I have every mother I know telling me to sleep train. Women who co-sleep are social pariahs, and my family regard the biggest mistake that a mother can make as “taking baby to bed with you.” Friends who have babies who go to sleep at a particular bedtime attribute this to sleep training, and are able to lead fairly pleasant social lives after 7pm because of it. Some women I know even claim that baby sleeps through the night from the get-go with sleep training.

Now, I personally don’t see the importance of sleeping through the night at a young age, but I am secretly afraid of co-sleeping, only to have a toddler that never goes to sleep and all my female relatives tutting their disapproval behind me.

So, I would like to know whether or not families who co-sleep experience difficulties in getting baby to sleep at night that parents who sleep train don’t experience, and if your kids ever have a problem in sleeping without you? — Carmen

Comments on Co-sleeping families: are your older kids able to go to sleep without you?

  1. Personally, I thought I was going to be one of those set scheduled mamas who put her kids to bed on a time schedule, but honestly, I don’t even go to sleep the same time every night.

    We turned into a co-sleeping family with our first. The constant getting up and out of bed to get our crying newborn from her crib to our bed so I could feed her and then change her when she was finished and feed her again was just too taxing on both of us. Co-sleeping fell in to our natural swing of things, though my husband tried, he couldn’t handle it either with working.

    Our first is now 17 months, and a wonderful sleeper and can sleep pretty much anywhere (as long as she has been fed, changed and sometimes when needed, pets mama’s hair which is her comfort thing lately). I can ‘sneak’ out of the room after she has fallen asleep too, and she is fine. Even when she wakes up, she is a happy child. Naturally, she got into a pattern of sleeping through the night and actually going to bed between 7:30 and 8:30pm. Pretty awesome. I do hope my second does well with it too. But the first, she is very independant and confident. I know some people have told me that they need to stay in their own beds in their own rooms, but for a year and a half year old who doesn’t fuss when it’s time for bed, but actually tells me when she’s ready to sleep and goes down in less than 3 minutes sometimes, I am truly blessed and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Things may change later down the road, but as of right now, sleeping is not a struggle. Even naps are easy.

    Do what feels right for you, but that is my experience, and I would completely recommend it. Schedules, eh… maybe I could have done with it a bit more, but then again… she found her own. Plus, I can’t sleep sometimes if I’m wired. They just have more energy to expel (you learn what your child needs during the day after a while… like how much play and what not). I have very active children apparently… lol I call them my little trainers. Definitely has gotten me in shape. 🙂 Wait until two! Lol

  2. we co sleep by happy accident. it started because o was tired and breastfeeding. and we slept really well. so thats what we did. the crib we bought went unused. in the day Id rock him to sleep then put him in his crib for naps. then that stopped working around 10 months because he’d wake up. so I, in a fit of frustration, threw his craib mattress on the floor and lied down with him on it until he fell asleep. we never used the crib again. he’d fall asleep, I’d leave and whenever he woke in the night Id bring him into our bed. around 15 month he started getting up and coming into our bed. perfect! we have done a Montessori style floor bed since then 🙂 now we have 2. 6 months and 2 today. I rock the little one then put him down in his crib. when he wakes he come into bed w us. when I cant rock him anymore I will lie down with him until he falls asleep. and when he wakes he comes in bed with us. we stay up late so this is what works for us. but my big kid lies in bed on his own to fall asleep now while i sit in the chair and rock the little one, most nights but sometimes (once a month or so) he needs me to lie down with him. thats ok with me). nothing is absolute. things change daily with kids. bringing him to bed when it works doesn’t mean he’ll always have to be there. and doing something because of what might happen in a year is a waste of time. if it happens in a year you’ll deal with it then. thigns happen that you cant possibly imagine. just do the thing that feels right when it feels right. if it doesn’t feel right anymore, change it. kids are very adaptable. I do the thing that feels right. for me letting my kids cry just doesn’t feel right.

  3. We co-slept until our daughter was 1. By then she would have her feet in my face and her head on my partner’s neck, so physically it didn’t work anymore.

    We laid her down in the crib at 7PM and around midnight she would wake up and we’d bring her into the bed with us. At 1 year we did the 3-day sleep training and it worked perfectly. She has slept through the night since then. We did have to occasionally go in and pat her back from time to time until she turned two.

  4. I have co-slept with my son since he was born over two years ago. I honestly think it was one of the best decisions I ever made, despite so many people’s attempts to dissuade me against it for fear my son would never be able to sleep on his own. When I put him to bed three hours before I go to bed, I tuck him in, give him a kiss and say goodnight, and he goes right to sleep. He naps at school and at home with ease.. I have never had an issue.

  5. You can co-sleep and transition successfully! … well I guess depending on the temperament of your baby. We had a NON SLEEPING BABY. We didn’t plan on co-sleeping but let me tell you… we got so much more sleep that way in the beginning. If I got up to nurse him in the middle of the night he would wake up completely and I’d spend another hour after 45 minutes of nursing trying to get him back to bed. But if I rolled over and nursed him in bed, he and I and my husband would all peacefully fall back to sleep. We transitioned him slowly into his own room and mattress on the floor around 6 months bc he stopped sleeping well with us- too big and too squirmy. First just for a portion of the night he’d sleep on his own.. and then a little more as he grew into his sleep patterns. He is slowly sleeping more and more at night. He is 14 months and still wakes up once around 3 a.m. and I go in to him. Since he is on a Queen mattress on the floor in his room, I will sleep in there until I get up at 5. I do agree that it is different for every baby and for every family and every mom… but I will admit… I love having most of the bed to myself again… but I also LOVE getting a little cuddle time with him in the middle of the night.

    And I say, don’t tell your family anything you are doing! That’s what we decided after getting such negative feedback… “If you rock him he will never fall asleep without being rocked” False. “If you go to him everytime he cires he will always cry for you” False. (Actually I find that he is very even keeled bc I do respond to him when he cries instead of “letting him work it out” which for our son would only frustrate him more) “If you nurse him to sleep he will always need that to sleep” False. “If you cosleep he will never leave your bed” Also false. I think you just have to be smart about transitioning your baby into his or her own space gradually- not suddenly one day at age 3 kicking them out. See ya, kid! 🙂 When you meet your baby and you all get to know each other, then you can really make some good decisions about what is best for your whole family… go with your instincts!

  6. I think that your question relates more to evening than night time, so I’ll say that regardless of the fact that my co-sleeping son does not sleep through the night, he has a separate bedtime from us. Every night we do our bedtime routine then lay down with him until he falls asleep. Depending on whether or not he’s teething, it can take from 5-60 minutes, but is usually around 20. After he falls asleep we get up and have our own time, either alone or together, or go back to guests on the rare occasions we have some. For the first 14 months he was in our bed, now he’s on a double futon on the floor in our room and I sleep with him part of the night. When he wakes up, I have to go to him until he falls back asleep. Sometimes I fall asleep on his bed too. When he was only a few months old he would often wake up several times before I went to bed, but now he doesn’t wake up until after I’ve gone to bed.

  7. Admittedly, i’ve not read all the above comments so this may be already covered but here’s what we do and why (in brief): we’re 50%/50% co-sleeping. What that means is: he has a bed-TIME and routine that lands him sleeping in his crib where he stays… as long as he stays. By now, at almost 17 months, he’s there usually until about 1am. By that time, my partner and I have decompressed and had some real “us” time and are even usually long asleep. he wakes up, we grab him up, settle him down and land all of us back in our bed and, unless he’s sick or teething (he’s a slow and late teether), we are all usually blessedly asleep until about 6:20/6:30am. Here’s the why: This is how we get the most sleep in our house and THAT is what matters most. I’ve found his routine is great – he’s got a really solid sense of night/bed/sleep and it’s been very much a win-win for us. the other part is that i work a lot and travel quite a bit for work so i also find it nice to have that snuggle time and early morning time together. Hope that answers your question!

Read more comments

Join the Conversation