When did your family stop co-sleeping?

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Jasper’s been co-sleeping (for us, this means sleeping exclusively in our bed) with us since he came home from the hospital — it was something we always thought we’d do, and we’ve always been happy with the arrangement. When he hit twelve months, we started having discussions about when and how we’d transition Jazz to his own bed, and briefly set up his “big bed” in his “own room,” but abandoned the idea after one failed nap attempt.

I’m the first to admit that we also didn’t really want him to leave our bed, we just kind of momentarily gave in to all of the questions (“When’s he going to be in his own bed?!”). Once that experiment failed, we decided that two years old would be our cut-off.

Now that he’s on the brink of turning two, none of us are interested in changing up the way we sleep. Our arrangement has definitely morphed throughout the months — now that Jasper’s much larger, he sleeps on either side of us. Our bed is a King size, and also on top of another mattress which is on the ground. If he happens to roll off (it happens! Rarely, but it does), it’s easy enough to scoop him up and get him back in bed. Except for random eye pokes and accidental baby-finger-scratches, there’s nothing that makes us want to stop.

But yet … I still wonder. I keep reading all of these accounts of kids who seem to wake up one day and decide they want their own bed. Does this really happen? Is transitioning to a bed something we’ll have to steer, or should we just roll with whatever Jasper wants to do? Those of you who co-slept until toddlerhood, how did you know when it was time to transition to a new arrangement? What did you do?

Comments on When did your family stop co-sleeping?

  1. We co-slept (also meaning baby in our bed) for… maybe the first six months? Around 3 months or so we started having our son start in his crib (first in our room, and then in his own room), but then at the first wake-up of the night, he’d come to bed with us and sleep there until I had to get up and go to work, at which point I’d put him back in his crib.

    At about 10 or 12 months, he started being very wakeful when he was in bed with us, and so we started putting him back in his own crib if he didn’t fall asleep while nursing, and we all started sleeping better.

    Truth be told, I was a little sad to see him go to his own crib, but letting him stay with us meant NO ONE was sleeping well because he saw mommy and daddy and wanted to play/crawl over us/pull the cat’s tail/what have you.

  2. My son is now 5. He gave up sleeping with us in and around 4 because he wanted his own bed. However, we still wake up and find him in our bed probably two days a week. He toddles from his bed, and uses his stealthy ninja skills to sneak in.

  3. We started out with the bot in our bed but, as much as we wanted that to work, we slept horribly. So I built the co-sleeper. She slept in that until she could roll and crawl. Then we moved her into her crib. Saying that, she always napped in her crib and did so without ever complaining. There were many reasons for us doing this, but a big part of it was it was we had a nanny share and thus needed 2 places for babies to sleep and one was a pack-n-play the other was the crib. Rather than have her get used to something that wasn’t her bed or her room, it just made sense.

    Transitioning to her room took no effort at all and when she wakes up extra early we often bring her to our room to fall back to sleep. Right now, she rarely sleeps if she’s in our room. I’m actually looking forward to when she gets a bit bigger and can sleep with us without fussing through the night, it’d be nice to curl up with her and take a nap.

  4. We’ve just kinda started a transition – she was in the cot for naps to avoid stealth waking and destruction (or stealth waking and using the ‘toilet’ sign to the air then peeing on our mattress). Slowly she started associating her cot with sleep and would crawl up in it after we took the side off – she wouldn’t go to sleep in there but it was one of her ‘I want to go to bed’ messages. I just started to not feed her all the way to sleep and now she mostly sleeps through in her cot in our room, and crawls in around 5-6am for a feed and snuggles.

    I miss having her in our bed but she’s gone from two-four wakings at night to none. I think it’s partly to do with the fact I’m breastfeeding her. She’s just on 20 month.

  5. I was never a co-sleeper as an infant. I didn’t co-sleep with my mom till my father went on night shift when I was about 5. From then on, it was impossible for me to sleep in my own bed. I can remember bedtime being so scary when I had to sleep in my own room, monsters and robbers filled my night. I fought and cried so badly that my mom and dad eventually gave in and I slept in their room. I did this until the summer before my freshmen year of high school when I finally just wanted to sleep alone.
    So…From personal experience, I would say to stop co sleeping as early as possible. Or have a child become who I was…scared to sleep in their own bed till they were 14!

    • MMM! Very interesting!

      While this isn’t my experience exactly, but my parents divorced when I was young and I quite often slept with my mom sometimes for weeks at a time, even in high school. I think we both didn’t want to be lonely.

      • My sister was like this with my mom as well. After my sister was born, we moved and my mom just didn’t sleeping in the bed that my dad had bought, and would roam the house at night switching beds until she discovered that she liked the downstairs guest room best. They had kicked me out of their room around the age of 4. My sister however, continued to sleep next to mom into high school, even though she had a bed of her own. I should say that they are VERY similar people, Whit is the spitting image of my mom.

    • I’ll issue the disclaimer that I’m not a parent, just a psych student who looks forward to a future of parenting.

      I wonder, though, if *starting* co-sleeping at toddlerhood or past that can lead to difficulties for the child, particularly if it’s for a particular reason. Children can pick up on a lot. Guest.R. said that they started co-sleeping at 5 because of their father suddenly working nights – I’m guessing that their parents may have felt and expressed some anxiety about the safety of the family at night once that change was made. It’s understandable how that could make a child fearful and unwilling to sleep alone.
      I think this story has a lot to offer to parents in similar situations, but I don’t think it generalizes well to all people who have co-sleeping situations.

    • My sister slept with our parents (reluctantly on their part, but she’s good at manipulating them with tantrums) until she was well into puberty! She’s 20 and still sleeps in their bed if she’s home alone. So while I’m looking forward to cosleeping with a bassinet, I’m also going to encourage an early transition.

    • After we moved (a full year after my parents had divorced) my sister and I started sleeping my mom’s bed. Well, technically I’d generally end up on the floor next to the bed, as I sleep like an egg beater. We would have been about 7 and 9 at the time. It continued for several years, gradually moving towards all sleeping alone again. Funny, until this post, I had never really considered it to be “co-sleeping”.

  6. My daughter is 5 1/2 and still sleeps with me she has had her own bed since she was 3 for whenever she is ready to sleep in her own bed but for now it works well for the both of us and we are happy with it.

  7. Every single one of my kids have been vastly different. Johnathan wouldn’t sleep in my bed at all. Even in the first few months, he would startle and awaken so easily. The most he ever did was sleep on the floor if he had a nightmare. Ryan slept in my bed for the first 6 months and then transitioned easily to the crib, but was back in our bed around 2 years old or so until 3 1/2. Aleya has coslept with us since birth and just turned 4 and is just NOW starting to accept the idea of sleeping in her own bed. Lyrik slept in his own crib since birth (Aleya was a wild sleeper and made Mark nervous to have the baby in bed with so many people, lol) but since we’ve moved he refuses to sleep anywhere but right in my arms… and I don’t mind one bit, except when he kicks my pregnant bladder… then it’s no bueno, lol!

  8. well im not much help. my daughter came out of the womb wanting to be independent :p we breastfed for as long as i could get her too, which, unfortunately, was only about 4.5 months. thats when we started putting her in her own crib because no one was sleeping well together. it took her a month to sleep all through night in it, but she pretty much wanted to be in it. she would get up real early and have a bottle and then fall back asleep with me, but after a few mnths of that she didnt want to anymore. she is now 17 mnths and not much of a snuggler anyways, but loves to give kisses and short hugs. i really am hoping my next is more snuggly and will still be breastfeeding at 17 mnths.

  9. My parents never did co-sleeping with infants/young babies, but they were “blessed” with children who liked crawling into their parents bed when they were a bit older. I mostly slept in my own bed, but my brother routinely got up at night went to the bathroom and then into my parents room, woke up in the morning and accused them of kidnapping him. My mother used to complain about feeling like a sardine with a child crammed into each of her sides… Of course we also had lots of fun some days.
    It stopped being a regular thing, but we were always welcome. There was that time when my rabbit died (it was very squicky) and I slept in my parents bed for a month when I was ten or so.
    So, I guess it all depends on the people involved. My parents were kind of bothered by my brother always crawling around on their bed in his sleep (he was an active! sleeper), but not enough to get up and put him back into his own bed.
    And later on I guess we were all (relatively) happy with how things were working.
    As I said, my brother and I were always used to going asleep in our own beds in a seperate room (we even shared for a while while we were small) though, and I do think that this is a skill that should be aquired, so absolute timeline, but maybe the matter of whether this would help when thinking about sleeping somewhere else entirely, like a friends house, or a class trip.

  10. My son shared a room with me for about 6 months when we had to unfortunately double up with relatives, as soon as I got my own space again he was back in his bed. It was hard at first and I would find him in my bed in the mornings but his independence kicked in and he started wanting his own space as well. He is almost 3 now and he hasn’t even attempted bed time with us in over a year. I think maybe it’s about being persistant without being mean, and never be afraid to let your child use their beautiful vocal cords.

  11. I co-slept with my boys until they were 2, then started to transition them into their own beds in their own room. My firstborn was in his bed fulltime by the time he was 3.5yo (with a lot of starting in his bed and waking up to move to mine, or starting in mine and transferring to his). My second born is 4.5yo and finally spends more nights in his own bed than mine, although he still comes in to our bed 1-2 times out of the week. But it is progress. 🙂

  12. My son is the definition of “one day he just woke up and BAM”. That’s the way he handled everything. Sleeping through the night, potty training, giving up the bottle. He did the same thing with transitioning into his own bed, in his own room. He liked the independence, but he would often wake up in the middle of the night to find his way to my bed. That’s when I started a bedtime routine. It’s not exactly the same every night, but it roughly consists of bath time, teeth brushing, talk about what we want to do the next day, and then end it with a bedtime story and hugs and kisses goodnight. I’m not sure why it worked, but it did.

  13. At about 15 months it was apparent that none of us were sleeping well — my son is a shifty sleeper, and he spends most the night flopping, kicking, digging elbows into whatever fleshy parent he finds first, and kicking all the blankets off. That said, despite waking up grumpy he wanted NOTHING to do with sleeping in his crib after 15 months of nursing to sleep next to mommy and daddy.

    So we had to guide it. Lots of snuggles, reading, and more tears than I would have cared for, several false starts and failures, and finally at almost two he sleeps comfortably in his bed 98% of the time, even through the night for the most part.

    He still comes to bed with us in the mornings, and occasionally we nap together. He naps twice as long in bed with us as he will alone.

  14. I’m not a momma yet, but from my own personal experience when I was a child… my parents put me in my own bed by the time I was 3 (hmmm funny, looking back this was around when my mom conceived again…) but I would still end up climbing into their bed every night. Eventually my mother solved this by lying down with me in my bed at night and snuggling me to sleep, then getting up (I know not everybody has the luxury of doing this, she was a SAHM). I think I stopped sleeping in their bed completely maybe by 6 or 7, save for those nights with scary thunderstorms where we basically had a family bed! 🙂

  15. Our little guy is almost 2 and we’re in the same boat. He’s coslept with us since birth, and apart from the occasional kick in the face, we love it.

    I should add though that when he was younger, he was an all-night nurser We have another on the way though so we’ve decided to sidecar our crib (which has never been used) for the new baby so our toddler can continue to sleep where he always has, if he wants to. If he wants his own room, we’re fine with that too of course.

    This blog post has always given me much strength and guidance when pondering our sleep choices: http://attachmentparenting.org/blog/2009/04/02/baby-led-sleep/

    • Oops, I tried to edit but got caught by the clock. Anyway, my son was an all-night nurser up until 13 months. I don’t think I would have survived that first year without cosleeping. I barely survived it anyway even without having to get up every time he wanted a snack.

      But every kid is different and a cosleeping kid is no more likely to be afraid to sleep alone than a kid who has always slept alone. I slept in my own bed from time immemorial but had plenty of fears about it at various points in my childhood.

    • This link has made me feel so much better about EVERYTHING to do with how my 5 mos old baby sleeps (or doesn’t sleep). The questions from others have given me so much anxiety – and all the advice on how to help your child sleep, which contradicts all my instincts. Maybe after reading this blog I can relax and let her be the person she is…wherever or however she decides to sleep! Sincerely, thanks.

  16. My husband asks this question about once a week! (We’re due in a month.) My stock answer is “as long as it works,” which, based on the responses here, seems about right!

  17. My mother and I co-slept until I was well over 7 because my father was in the Navy and would be gone for 6+ at a time. Now that I’m a mother my son co-sleeps with my husband and I, thankfully I have a husband that loves having our little one in bed with us. Our son does have his own bed thats just waiting for him to be ready, until then there will be little toddler hands stealing the covers.

  18. Stephanie, that’s a great picture! We haven’t co-slept in a long time, so I have no real input here, other than do what works and follow Jasper as much as you can. Aly’s link is very good and I just sent it to some friends.

  19. My son stopped sleeping with us, meaning at all, not even to snuggle into bed in the morning, when I weaned him at two years old. He actually preferred to sleep in his own bed. That lasted until his little brother was born. Now it is more like musical beds, couch, crib, floor, etc. every night. I do love it, but I also looking forward to the peaceful nights.

  20. My parents waited 11.5 years after their last child to have another. She is a princess. 🙂 She slept in my parents bed until she was 8. Never a day in her beautiful log crib my dad hand constructed. She slept sweetly with a hand on each of my parents ears for the first 8 perfect years of her life. The day came when my parents wanted their own bed back….so my mom started by moving her clothes from their bedroom to her own…and playing with her toys in her room vs all around the house. They brought her to the store and had her pick out new bedding. Then bought her a sweet yellow lab puppy. She hasn’t slept with my parents since. 🙂

  21. Our daughter co-slept on and off until she was 1.5 (when she weaned herself). At that point she slept in her crib pretty much full-time for 9 months. At about 2.5 she was back in the bed in the middle of the night, but since she is so kicky she starts in her room in her own bed and now sleeps on a mattress beside our bed if she needs in our room. As far as we are concerned, as long as she is in her own room long enough for us to have sex before she comes to our room, we’re good 😉

  22. We co-sleep with both our kids, who are 3.5 and 1. The older will occasionally (very occasionally) ask to lie down by himself, and when he does the rest of us just wait for him to fall asleep. Our “bed” is two double beds pushed together, though, so that helps a lot with comfort.

  23. I was never cut off. I grew out of it. I’m pretty sure in some cultures people sleep with their families…forever. At least they did on the asian soap operas I watched.

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