June 17, 2005 8:54 AM   Subscribe

Since birth, 10 weeks ago, our baby has slept in our bed between us in a cute little box called a SnuggleNest. It's worked out very well, but she's getting to be so big; she's going to outgrow her little nest soon. We love having her near us at night. We want to continue to co-sleep. We would love to learn from your family-bed experiences.

How should we arrange the bed (it's a big cal-king)? How can we minimize potential physical risks (we think she's close to rolling over on her own)? What anecdotes, advice can you share with us that will make our experience better?
posted by RockyChrysler to Human Relations (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I co-slept with both my boys until about 1 year. My ex and I always slept on either side of the baby, and you just learn to very very carefully roll over in your sleep.
posted by patrickje at 9:06 AM on June 17, 2005

She may be too small for it as yet, but eventually you could move her to a trundle bed. These are like beds on wheels that roll out from under the main bed, and while most are built into a bed originally, I know they have "add-on" versions. The nice part is she is still right there with you, but has a clear area that is hers to roll around in and you don't have to worry about your own movements. Plus, the bed can be put away when not in use.

I didn't actively cosleep with my parents, but I've thought a trundle bed would be a good investment against my future children's nightmares since I know I was uncomfortable and cramped when I tried to crawl in with them at night.
posted by nelleish at 9:07 AM on June 17, 2005

Here's an article on the subject.

Personally, this section always reminded me of why my wife and I chose not to go the co-sleeping route. (Besides the fact that our son could monopolize a king size bed at the age of 9 months):

In my practice, I see several five- and six-year-olds who still sleep in their parents’ beds. The kids are fine, although I’m not sure how happy the parents are.
posted by jeremias at 9:12 AM on June 17, 2005

My parents started having me sleep in their bed a few weeks after I was born because my mom was sick of waking up several times a night to breastfeed me, I'm told. It worked so well that I ended up sleeping in their bed most nights almost until I started kindergarten, although as I got older I did gradually move to sleeping in my own bed -- first in their bedroom, then in mine. My parents had a king-sized bed and I slept in between them. When my brother was born, he did too.

I gather that co-sleeping is somewhat more accepted than when I was little, and people used to tell my parents that it would screw up their children's development. I'm 27 now. My mom loves pointing out to folks that I'm professionally successful, well adjusted and independent.

I think that cosleeping, beyond a certain age, is as much about the parents as it is about the child -- and I feel the same way about breastfeeding too, if anyone would like to hear the opinions of someone who was nursed for a long time.

I don't have any memories going back to the time when it was most beneficial to me -- infanthood. My cosleeping memories of when I was older are simply that it was normal, I don't think it made me a better or a worse person. I do think it was probably good for my parents, in that it gave them a great deal of emotional comfort.

My one big argument in favor of cosleeping comes from an experience my parents had with my now 14-year-old brother. One night when he was a new months old and sleeping in between my parents, my mom woke up suddenly with the feeling that something was wrong. She turned to the baby and realized he wasn't breathing. She grabbed him, shook him a little, hugged him, and he woke up and started breathing. My mom is convinced he would have been a SIDS baby if she hadn't been right there next to him.

I know this rambling doesn't really answer your question. I think you should do what feels best to you and your baby. Keeping her in between you seems like the best idea, since it will prevent her from rolling out of bed in the middle of the night.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:14 AM on June 17, 2005

We did family bed for all 3 of our children. Our 2 year old still occasionally sleeps with us, but mostly she spends her time in her own bed, now. The best part about family bed is the availability to nurse -- both my wife and I experienced absolute bliss after the birth of each of our children. No sleepless nights, just extra warmth and cuddles.

Your concerns regarding rolling are not much to worry about. Like what patrickje said, above, your priorities as a parent override any motivation you have to roll over at night. You end up waking yourself up just enough to be careful how you roll over.
posted by thanotopsis at 9:16 AM on June 17, 2005

new months old = few months old
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:17 AM on June 17, 2005

As jeremias points out, now would be a good time to consider when in the future to move her into her own room. Soon enough, you and your wife are going to need time to yourselves, and a kid expecting to go nighty-night can put a huge hamper on things.
posted by mischief at 9:18 AM on June 17, 2005

I used a SnuggleNest, too. It worked fine until our son was about 2 1/2 months old; by that time our very small baby (6 1/2 lbs) had ballooned into a 15 lb infant. At first we were nervous about co-sleeping without the protective barrier of the nest, but really, it wasn't an issue at all. We positioned him higher than our pillows, more toward the headboard, and made sure to keep our blankets pulled back so there was no chance of his getting caught in the bedclothes. Kids that age don't really move around that much in their sleep, so it was easy to keep him near without worrying about him migrating around the mattress while we slept. Even once he started rolling over, he stayed pretty much within a small area, and, odd as this sounds, even while you're sleeping you'll find that you're very aware of where he is. At about age 1.5 he decided he liked his own toddler bed, and the co-sleeping days were over.
I loved it while it lasted.. It's certainly easier while you're breastfeeding. Just keep an open mind about sex, because you'll be having it everywhere but the bed for a while.
posted by maryh at 9:25 AM on June 17, 2005

"How can we minimize potential physical risks (we think she's close to rolling over on her own)?"

Don't go to bed drunk or on drugs. That should reduce potential risks by about 99.99%.
posted by GernBlandston at 9:49 AM on June 17, 2005

We used the SnuggleNest with our first baby, too, but are not planning on using it with our second (due in October). The primary reason we used it with the first is we didn't trust ourselves not to roll over on him and suffocate him. When he outgrew it, he just slept between us. When I outgrew that, it was crib sleeping time in his own bedroom.

For our second, we're going to use one of these. We have a queen bed and I found that the SnuggleNest took up too much space for my comfort. This will be ideal baby 2 will be within easy reach for breast feeding.
posted by pmbuko at 9:50 AM on June 17, 2005

posted by mlis at 9:53 AM on June 17, 2005

A trundle bed is a great solution.

Our (now 3.5 yr old) slept with us for a the first few months. We moved her to a crib in the same room as us, and then moved the crib into her own room. Worked pretty well, no real problems.

If she wakes up at night, we've got an inflatable bed (~$20 at a big box retailer) that stashes underneath ours. Pull that out and she'll sleep near us, just with out the rolling and the kicking and the ow ow ow geflaven.
posted by unixrat at 11:24 AM on June 17, 2005

All three of our kids have slept in our bed, but not exclusively. They start out in their own cradle or crib (at the foot of the bed) at the beginning of the night. When they wake up (midnight) my wife gets the baby and promptly falls back asleep (I'm not sure she's even awake when she gets the baby). As the kids start to sleep through the night, they naturally stay in their own bed all night, then the bed is moved to their own room. Starting them out in their own bed gets them used to sleeping on their own and gives us a little time in bed without a baby. We also have a bed rail on my wife's side to keep the baby from falling out.
posted by 445supermag at 11:28 AM on June 17, 2005

We have the arms reach co-sleeper, but never really used it and it's only good up to a certain weight. All 3 of my babes just slept right in the bed with us, the last one still is (a year and half old). Oldest moved out at 4 years, middle at around 2 years - it just happens naturally, like weaning from breast or blanket/lovey or pacifier or whatever; a mixture of parental 'ok' and encouragement and the child's own confidence and independence.

For safety, follow all the rules (no drinking, comforters, etc.) and realize that you won't be rolling over on the baby - I think it's much like our ability not to roll out of the bed, we just don't roll over & stay on top of people in bed. All of my kids have fallen out of the bed, never any harm done - consider padding around edges of night stands and cushioning pillows on the floor, and putting baby down for naps in the middle of the bed with pillows on both sides.

Better to worry about waking up with fingers stuffed up your nose or poking in your eyes or with a wet diaper attempting to sit on your face :)
posted by LadyBonita at 11:29 AM on June 17, 2005

Sweetest. Thread. Ever.

Kenny Loggins, of ye olde Loggins and Messina fame, advocates the "family bed".
posted by five fresh fish at 11:50 AM on June 17, 2005

Our son slept with us until he starting the rampant kicking and shoving in his sleep, about 18 months. We moved him to a crib in his own room, but he always woke up and wanted to sleep with us. Finally, we put him on a pad on the floor in our room when he was about 3 and that has worked great. I don't have mother-paranoia freak-outs in the middle of the night (what was that? What was that!!!) and he sleeps through the night.
I'll second everyone else about the safety issues: you will not roll over on them. It's some kind of mental marvel when you are a parent. Just make sure that the blankets and pillows don't bunch up around them, because of the SIDS risks.
posted by slimslowslider at 12:02 PM on June 17, 2005

My son has slept in his own bed since he was 8 months old. Nevertheless, he still ends up between me and his mom from time to time. Now he's two and a half. No big deal really, unless I come home drunk and throw my arm across him as I flomp into bed, at which point his mom jabs me fiercely and repeatedly in the ribs and hisses that I'm sleeping on the couch.
posted by Panfilo at 2:56 PM on June 17, 2005

It's personal and a little off topic but as a (so far) childless person who is actively welcoming pregnancy, and has been reading about all these natural parenting methods, I must know...doesn't the family bed annihilate your sex life? Particularly in cases of families who share a bed into the child's toddlerhood?

Also, that picture of the snuggle nest looked like it was bending the baby's back in a sort of half-sitting up position. Does the baby actually seem comfortable sleeping that way ?


As for answering the original question, I've been thinking of a sidecar arrangement which has all the convenience of closeness and feeding without getting out of bed, without the danger of rollovers (which terrifies me).
posted by leapingsheep at 3:23 PM on June 17, 2005

Don't most toddlers sleep well? I imagine, then, the trick is to sneak out of the bedroom to make whoopee anywhere else in the house.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:30 PM on June 17, 2005

Hmm...good point, five fresh fish. And I always thought we would say goodbye to rest-of-the-house whoopee after kids.
posted by leapingsheep at 3:35 PM on June 17, 2005

A little rum in their bottle will make sure they don't interrupt you.

do not give rum to the baby.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:24 PM on June 17, 2005

Mom of two here - and my advice is this: The trouble with having a child get used to sleeping with you is that at some point you must move them out of your bed. This is never ever easy, or nice. And...frankly - it demolishes most of your sex life (that is - if your sex life takes place in your bed during regular sleeping hours). Neither of my children slept with us and they are as well adjusted as any child. There is a lot of snuggling that goes on outside of the parents' bedroom - and even times we have all settled into bed together to read or talk. But they sleep in their own bed. They are used to this and so are we.

Remember - if you get them used to it - you have to get them un-used to it. I agree that in the end - it seems it's more for the parent's ease than the child's.
posted by trii at 6:38 PM on June 20, 2005

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