Extended Co-Sleeping

by Dagmar Bleasdale on September 13, 2009

L sleeping 2

Since we moved, I have been sleeping in Landon’s new big-boy twin bed with him. And Daddy is sleeping on the couch. Our new bedroom needed to be painted, so we don’t have our bed set up yet. I think that is going to finally happen tomorrow, since I finished painting the trim today.

Honestly, I don’t mind — this arrangement gives me an excuse to continue to sleep next to my little boy, which I love. I have no space to move around, but lying next to that precious little boy makes up for that. I love it when he rolls over and his feet land on my legs. I love it when I feel his little toes wiggle. I love it when he talks nonsensical stuff in his sleep. I love it when he asks for ba ba in the early morning and we falls asleep again together for a few more hours after he nurses.

He is only this little for a few more moments, and I am enjoying every last minute of it.

I guess I am not only an extended breastfeeding advocate — I am also an extended co-sleeping advocate. Landon has always slept well and in turn I have always gotten good sleep since he was little because he is breastfed on demand and we sleep next to each other. I never have to get up in the middle of the night to make a bottle or get up to fetch him from a crib. I didn’t intend to co-sleep with him for this long — I also didn’t think I would breastfeed this long — yet here we are. It works for us, so why not?

The few times I tried to get L to sleep in his crib — he does have one — ended with both of us in tears and getting less sleep and being miserable, and it didn’t make sense to me to pursue this craziness since we slept beautifully before. The crib he has cried in for five hours is now stored in Grandma’s attic. We won’t ever use it again. For now, I plan to nurse L to sleep and then go into our bed, where I am sure L will find me when he needs me and join us, or I’ll just sleep the rest of the night in his bed.

What is your experience, do you or did you co-sleep with your child? For how long? Would you do it again?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Martha November 12, 2012 at 4:13 PM

My daughter is 4.5 and still sleeping with me. There’s so much that you miss when you don’t sleep with your kid. You know when they’ve had a good night’s sleep and when they’ve had nightmares. You can still cuddle. It’s great! I plan to let her sleep with me until she’s ready to sleep in her own bed. The only part I don’t like is the bed hogging. :)

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Dagmar Bleasdale November 12, 2012 at 6:34 PM

Hi Martha, I’m glad co-sleeping is working out for you!

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Jennifer October 3, 2012 at 5:31 PM

My son is just over a year old. My father bought him a crib before he was born. I explained that I had a small cradle in my room I intended to put him in. You know how fathers are… he bought the crib anyway. I originally planned to move my son to his room at around 6 months. Most of the time, he would sleep in the cradle til I went to bed, then when he woke to nurse, we would fall asleep in mine. Eventually he outgrew the cradle. I moved his playpen in at that point. My family seems to think it is unusual that I still want to share my bed and/or room with him. His room seems so far away (the far opposite end of the house) I just don’t like the idea of being so far away from him in case something happened. I believe each mother has the right to do what she feels is best for her child, as long as she is not harming that child. I face some judgement for it, but I believe we both sleep better this way. At this point, I am glad the crib converts to a toddler bed because that is probably the only way it will get used at all. I don’t know when I will move him to his room. We are one of only a few cultures who don’t keep children in our beds and rooms. It just feels natural to me. As his mother, my job is to protect him and make him feel safe. Regardless what others may think, I believe that is exactly what I am doing.

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Dagmar Bleasdale October 3, 2012 at 8:08 PM

That is exactly what you are doing, and you shouldn’t feel bad for wanting him close to you :) I also would have never considered putting my son more than a few feet away from me. I slept like a baby next to my baby and still love to fall asleep in his bed once in a while, or if he comes to visit our bed for the last few hours.

As long as the sleeping arrangement is safe, parents should do what works best for them. Just because some family members and friend did this differently doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong.

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Lynda May 16, 2010 at 10:59 PM

We shared the bed with both our babies until they were around 10.5 months and I will most definitely co-sleep with any future children also. We probably would have shared a bed for much longer, but both of my children started sleeping restlessly around that time. The baby and I both started sleeping like CRAP throughout the night. (Actually, with my second baby, I was sleeping like crap after the first few months after being forced to sleep only on my left side for the past three years due to pregnancy and continued co-sleeping, but I kept co-sleeping anyway.) The kids started sleeping a lot better through the night once they were moved to their own space in our room.

My oldest (2.5yo) is now getting to the point where he might enjoy co-sleeping again. He has a toddler bed and I’d like to get him a twin sized bed so I can snuggle in with him at night.

I mentioned this on another blog that pointed me to this entry, but I think “extended co-sleeping” is a strange phrase. When I think of breastfeeding, I know it must come to an end eventually, at the very latest when the milk teeth fall out and the child no longer has the ability to latch. The term “extended breastfeeding” makes a lot of sense to me since it helps differentiate those who breastfeed past the minimum recommended age. It also has a clear medical benefit for every child (as long as they’re not allergic to mom’s milk, which is rare).

Co-sleeping never has to come to an end if it’s working for everyone involved and will not medically benefit all children, nor should all parents try to attempt this if they cannot meet the criteria to safely co-sleep. So I don’t know, putting “extended” in front of it just seems out of place to me, even though I’m completely supportive of co-sleeping through any age.
.-= Lynda´s last blog ..Bow Wow Luau [135/365] =-.

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Lauren @ Hobo Mama November 29, 2009 at 6:55 AM

I love extended cosleeping! Thanks for giving me a new phrase.

Sometimes my husband & I wonder out loud when our 2.5-year-old will stop sleeping with us, but we both feel like there’s just no rush. This way’s easiest and coziest for us all.

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EileenJay November 23, 2009 at 3:42 AM

Our 12 month son loves to come in our bed in the middle of the night. He’s so unbelievably precious, why would I deny him? Myself, too? He’s still nursing, too, and sometimes he’ll stay latched on for hours on end. He’ll usually stay until the morning, unless I motivate myself to put him back in his crib. Sure, there are nights when it’s not the arrangement we have in mind ;) But, we do love sleeping with him.
We did the same with our now 3 year old girl. For the most part she’s grown out of sleeping in our bed. She’ll come in here-and-there, but it’s minimal. I miss sleeping with her. We squeeze in “cozy time” during the day and before bedtimes.
The best is waking up with all four of us in our big fluffy bed!
Soon enough they’ll prefer being with their friends!! Until then, we’ll soak up all snuggling opportunities.
MomE

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FutureMama October 4, 2009 at 12:50 AM

I think this is a sweet post! I’m still not sure what I’ll do as far as sleeping arrangements, but it’s so nice to see that a range of thing works for so many different people… And that picture.. ADORABLE! Thanks for sharing!

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Kayce October 1, 2009 at 3:35 AM

I am judging the Mommy Moment for Baby Making Machine -

We had a crib and I think I can count on one hand the number of times my daughter used it. I did wean her at 9 months, but I still love co sleeping. We all sleep through the night and I know if something is wrong before she even wakes up.

I love your post!

Kayce

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Mom of Three September 22, 2009 at 2:02 PM

I say if it works for you, why not?! I also never thought I would be able to breastfeed for a long time (although I wanted to) and with my daughter we’ve made it almost a year. I think co-sleeping has been a big part of that. She starts off the night now in her crib, but when she’s ready for her night feeding she sits up and calls me and I bring her to the bed. She’s happy, I’m happy. It works. Is there anything like feeling that precious little baby next to you in dreamland? Well maybe one thing – waking up to a little baby face smiling and giving you kisses…. Enjoy your precious little boy. :-)

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Kim, Rambling Family Manager September 13, 2009 at 3:35 PM

We bought a lovely crib for my oldest child and her grandmother made her a beautiful crib set with matching bumpers and a quilt; we even found a wallpaper border that matched the fabric in the crib. Her room was fit for a fairy princess all in pink and white. She never slept in there, not even once, until she was 7 and the crib was long gone. When it got to be too much to have her in the bed with us (she was a restless sleeper and at a certain size those kicks in the night start to hurt, especially if she lands them across your face!!!) she moved to a crib mattress on the floor next to my side of the bed. She was also an extended nurser and finally stopped a week after her 4th birthday. We had a long heart to heart about it and she agreed it was time to stop, but it wasn’t a big deal since she had already tapered down to less than once a day. We both agreed that we were a little sad but that we were also very proud because she was such a big girl now. :) The younger two never nursed as long. My middle child weaned herself at 18 months when I was pregnant; I think the milk tasted bad when I had to go on anti-biotics at that time and she never wanted to try it again after I finished them. It made me sad, but with the new baby on the way I let it go. My youngest weaned when he stopped taking naps when he was 3. He only nursed to go to sleep at nap time so the two things went hand in hand; he was too busy to be bothered with that anymore! ;) The younger two also moved out of our bed and room much more quickly; we moved and their bedrooms are now close to ours instead of on the other side of the house so that gave my middle child the confidence to go in her own bed, plus she’s very independent anyway, and my youngest had to follow her lead. They are all so different from each other!

Yes, the moments are so fleeting; it’s a good thing that you recognize that and cherish each and every one. :) My oldest is 16 now but it seems like yesterday when we had that talk about ending her nursing. Sigh…

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Rachael September 13, 2009 at 6:28 AM

I would never do it any other way. I didn’t with my first child because…well, you’re just supposed to make them sleep in a crib or else…or else…or else what?

When my second child came, I was way too tired to get up so she could nurse and she not only nursed on demand, but needed to be latched on the WHOLE night. She may not have been drinking anything, but if she was not THAT close to me, she didn’t sleep. I remember how she would wakeup, realize that she had fallen asleep and was no longer latched on, then shake her head as if someone had just scared her to pieces.

I kept my third child in my bed as well. He eventually wound up in his crib, as his need for skin-to-skin contact wasn’t as great as my second child and my second child…well, she’s almost 8 and still climbs in our bed every night! Maybe that’s what the “or else” was, but I’m not convinced it’s a bad thing.

Sorry for the long post. Just finished blogging and feeling wordy. ;-)

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