Sign up to receive your FREE Sleep Guide!
Photo by Arrow and Apple
There’s been a lot of talk about attachment parenting lately and I’ve always been skeptical. But it turns out there are actually a lot of benefits of co-sleeping with toddlers! A good friend of mine once told me, “Don’t ever let your kids in your bed, because you will never get them out.” That advice stayed with me. When I had my son, I was very careful not to bring him into our bed, since I didn’t want to start a “bad habit.” Even when he got a bit older, if something was wrong, or if he woke up scared… I would go back into his room with him and sleep in his bed, instead of letting him stay in ours.
Fast forward 5 years to my second child. All of my strict sleeping, feeding, and planning schedules have gone out the window. I would bring my daughter into the bed with us, simply because I was too tired to put up a fight. Also, with my son I had to pump since he never learned to latch properly, but since I was able to breastfeed my daughter naturally, we would often fall asleep together in bed after a feeding. But I wouldn’t call it a co-sleeping situation. I had a hard time getting a good night’s sleep, since I was worried about having a tiny baby in the bed with me. She spent about 90% of her nights sleeping in her crib.
Now, she is her own ‘big girl bed,’ which is actually a mattress on the floor, since she is only 19 months old. (Both my kids learned to escape from their cribs at a very early age!) I end up sleeping with her almost every night. She goes to bed on her own, but when she wakes up, she wants me there. And that’s okay with me. But plenty of people have opinions about it. I once posted something on twitter about sleeping in my daughter’s room, and my co-workers and friends were very quick to chime in with their opinions.
“Oh… you shouldn’t do that!”
“You’ll never break her of that habit!”
“Co-sleeping with a toddler? Do people do that?”
“She will never learn to properly sleep!”
I just smile, nod… and move on. No one knows your child better than you! If that means you both sleep better by co-sleeping, go for it! Enjoy this bonding time with your toddler, no matter what other people say. If it works for your family then that is all that matters.
For all new mommies, I have one piece of advice, and it is very different than the warning I got from my friend, and that is ‘ENJOY your babies!’ Every little bit of them. It is hard when you are a first time mom to realize how brief those sleepless nights are… and how little other people’s opinions really matter. This time is so short when your babies are little, when they crave your cuddles or when they NEED you close. So for right now, I’m not worried about ‘bad habits’ or ‘sleep schedules.’ I know one day she will sleep just fine on her own. I highly doubt that my daughter will be worried about going away to college because I won’t be there to sleep with her.
I will continue to co-sleep with my daughter for as long as she needs it. As for my 6 year old son, when he comes into my room at night with a tummy ache or because he got scared, I welcome him into our bed. I regret that it took me so long to drop those strict parenting rules, told to me by OTHER people. I’ve dropped the co-sleeping stigma, replacing it with snuggles… and we are all sleeping more soundly because of it.