Roll Over, I’m Crowded!

September 16th, 2009 by Dionna | 21 Comments
Posted in Ensure Safe Sleep, Feed with Love and Respect, Healthy Living, natural parenting, Respond with Sensitivity

We have co-slept with Kieran since the beginning. I had a bassinet that I tried to use a few times – he had none of it. Along with breastfeeding, co-sleeping is one of the most convenient things we’ve done as parents. We have never had to get up in the middle of the night to either make a bottle or leave the bed to tend to a crying baby, and that has been wonderful for our sleep. Now that Kieran is a toddler, however, co-sleeping is becoming more of a challenge.

For some reason, many toddlers have a tendency to flail and spread out in bed.


I am woken up several times each night because I feel Kieran flipping over and kicking Tom, so I wrestle him back over with me. Invariably, Kieran and I both end up crowding Tom by the end of the night, who has to fight for both bed space and the sheet. We have a queen size bed right now, but we have outgrown its usefulness.

Make yourself comfortable, kid!

Consequently, we have been on the hunt for a king size bed.1

We think we have it narrowed down to a memory foam bed from Costco, but I hate buying a bed without being able to lie down in it first. Personally, I wish we could just put another bed down next to ours. We could just have a room full of beds! But Tom is drooling over memory foam.

Why do we continue to co-sleep, you may wonder? Well, for many of the same reasons we started out that way. Here are a few of our reasons:

1) Convenience: like I said before, there was nothing easier than nursing in bed and falling asleep with Kieran. It took me a few months of nursing before I was able to do it in my sleep, but we have it down to a science now. And since we’re still nursing to sleep (and many other times each day), it’s still convenient to have Kieran in our bed.

2) Bonding: what better way to form a solid attachment to both parents than snuggling up with them every night? I can’t tell you the hours Tom and I spent just staring in awe at the little life nestled in bed with us. Along these same lines, Tom can tell you that I hate sleeping without him; my thoughts on Kieran in his own bed are – why would he want to sleep alone either? He’s just a little guy! I’m not forcing him into his own bed until he’s ready.

3) Health: skin to skin contact is so essential for a new baby; it can act as pain intervention, it can help stabilize heartrate and breathing as well as reduce crying, it is an essential part of establishing a breastfeeding relationship, it completes brain growth/development, and more. I also felt more secure as a new mama having such close contact with my baby.

4) Sleep: all of us have gotten hours more sleep with Kieran in bed. As a baby nurses, the mother produces a special hormone which acts as a sleep aid for both mother and baby. It was easy for us to drift off during breastfeeding! And having Kieran in bed meant never getting up to tend to him when he was sick, wet, or just restless. (For the record, we also do not believe in “crying it out” or “Ferberizing” kids: it is psychologically and physically damaging to babies and is simply disrespectful to babies’ needs. This blogger describes my feelings on CIO exactly.)

And even though Kieran is in the midst of the toddler nighttime Olympics (a close cousin of the breastfeeding Olympics, by the way), we still get much more sleep than if we had to get up several times a night to go settle him back to sleep in a separate bed. Kieran simply doesn’t sleep well on his own – and yes, we envy those parents who have the rare good sleepers. But it is much more common for kids (and adults) to wake up many times each night. (For a really quick lesson on sleep cycles, read pages 41-47 of the No Cry Sleep Solution, available in this Google Book Preview.)

Those reasons have been compelling enough to keep Kieran in the family bed. It may not work for every family, but we are quite happy with it. Well, if happiness includes a toddler’s foot in your eye.

How long did you cosleep?

What benefits did/do you get from cosleeping?

What is your cosleeping arrangement?

  1. June 2010 Update: I wanted to let everyone know that we decided on the memory foam bed from Walmart. (I know, I know, I hate giving them my money, but sometimes I have to shop using my wallet as well as my conscience.) We’ve had it since January 2010, and we LOVE it. I think we love the room more than the actual memory foam – but it is pretty comfortable. I thought it would be more foamy – but it’s actually kind of firm. In fact, if/when we ever have another baby, I will feel very safe using this bed to cosleep in (in other words, I know some pillow top mattresses are too soft for newborns – this bed does not pose the same problem in my unprofessional opinion).
    If anyone wants to add their own bed recommendations for future readers, please comment! Thanks for all of the input.

21 Responses to:
"Roll Over, I’m Crowded!"

  1. Kelly

    You guys could buy a bed the size of your room…trust me, you will always have a foot in your mouth. ;)

  2. Tonia

    Does the mattress have a guarantee on it? The cheapy memory foam we bought at Walmart (which we love by the way :) and was $280 for king) had a 30 day guarantee. If we didn't like it we could mail in a 1 foot by 1 foot section and get our money back.

  3. Life In Training

    We got a Novaform (different model) from Costco earlier this year and generally LOVE it. It's gotten more challenging for me to get out of bed from the pregnancy, but I still sleep well in it.

    We went and tried out a Tempurpedic at JC Penney and I had been on a friends' Nova IRL. So if you wanna come try ours on for size…! ;)

  4. Life In Training

    And Costco has an awesome return policy, although returning the Novaform would have been challenging (if you get one, you'll see what I mean). But we never looked back, so it didn't matter.

  5. Ruth Ann

    If you end up with one of the beds, plan on allowing Grandma to come and check it out so I can start working on Grandpa for one of our own!!!

  6. Tammy

    Out of curiosity, when are kids who co-sleep generally ready to go it alone? Darin and I have had many discussions about what our sleeping situation will be once we have kids, and we both agree we aren't going to be using the CIO method, but I'm not sure either of us want to give up 'our bed' for two years plus. Is there a happy medium?

  7. Dionna

    Tonia – $280?!?! Wow. The Costco one does have a 20 year limited warranty, but who knows how much they'll actually cover.

    Michelle – I so wish I was close enough to come try your bed! I'm glad you like it though. I can see how they'd be difficult to get up from when you're very pregnant, but aren't they great on your back?

    Tammy – I think co-sleeping is so different for every family. Some people start the baby out in a separate bed and then bring him into the bed sometime in the night when he wakes up – maybe that would be a good compromise for you. Some people do actually have 2 mattresses laid side by side so there is some separation. Regardless, you're going to think about things entirely differently once you have a babe in arms ;)
    (To answer your question specifically, I've read somewhere that most kids are ready to mive into their own room around 4 yrs old. I'll have to find that source though.)

  8. Life In Training

    No joke, our backs have never been happier.

    What's rough now is vacations. We stayed over at my parents' for the 4th of July and their guest bed was just awful. And I didn't sleep well on our "post-bar pre-baby getaway" in Santa Barbara, either. But apparently there are some hotel that have memory foam beds. (Yes, I looked into it!)

  9. SheBear

    No advice on the bed….I'm yearning for a better mattress, myself!

    But I wanted to ditto Kelly–kids' limbs seem to magically expand to fill all available bedspace as they sleep! :D

    And to Tammy: our "happy medium" has been that I start transitioning the kids to their own space (crib in our room) for naptime pretty early–around 3 months. This allows them to get used to the crib, and allows me to not worry about them rolling off when I'm busy. Around 9 months, I start the night by putting them in the crib, then bringing them to bed when they wake. Then at about a year (depending on the kid) I start to very gently/gradually nightwean, and by the end of that process the baby is generally sleeping all night (when they wake, I get up, give a drink of water from a sippy, rock, etc) in his own bed–maybe waking early morning to nurse and snuggle for a couple hours before we get up.

    Much as I respect "full-time" cosleepers, it doesn't work for me because I have a bad back and was always trying to guard the baby, which made me wake up very sore. But there are many ways to strike a balance that will meet your needs and also gently meet the needs of the baby! :)

    Dionna, I'm so glad I found your blog! Kieran is adorable, and getting so big! :D

  10. Dionna

    Thank you! I'm looking forward to perusing pictures of your little chunker too ;) Did I hear a rumor that you are in a new DDC?? I must go check this out!

  11. Sarah

    We're in the midst of our own Olympics. Eleanor starts the night in our bed, cribs it from the time we go to bed until she wakes and needs us, then 'nuggles until morning. I can't speak to the type of bed, but get the BIGGEST you can afford! Best. Investment. Ever. So glad to find you here ….

  12. Tammy

    Thanks for all the feedback, guys. I'm sure we'll have to figure out our own variation on co-sleeping, but it's nice to have some ideas – although I guess it's pretty far in advance :)

  13. Marian   runaway_tweets

    Love this essay & looking forward to reading more! We are a co-sleeping family, too… two kids who are now 6 & 4, they both slept exclusively in our beds & now mostly in their own but often they’re down in ours sometime during the night. We’ve always had just a double bed and somehow made it work. People think we are crazy, but maybe we are just close sleepers! ;) Write on, mama!

  14. Marian   runaway_tweets

    Here’s what I wrote a little while ago on the subject of co-sleeping:

  15. Yeah, Dionna I can attest to the greatness of that memory foam mattress Tonia got. We have a king size as well and we have never once had a complaint. It is about 8 inches thick and only $280! LOVE it! I would not want to spend nearly $800 on one with this one is just a good.

  16. I swear James wants to sleep perpendicular to us. He does have his own bed now, but is always welcome in ours. Since Syd got here we’ve worked with him on staying on dad’s side. We do have a king but he still gets a little crazy.

    I feel very strongly that parenting doesn’t end at night. I think its unnatural to ask a mother and baby to be separated, and if my son needs the extra connection at night as well that’s fine.

  17. Amber   unlikelymama

    Our co-sleeping happened kind of by accident. We had an Arms Reach Co-sleeper attached to the bed for Alexa to sleep in. She came home from the NICU with some nasty reflux and just couldn’t sleep flat. She had been elevated in her isollete in the hospital, so we tried to put things under the co-sleeper’s mattress the mimic the same setup. Yeah, it never worked. She would grunt and grunt and grunt, so I would just put her in the crook of my arm. I always felt like she was safe since I couldn’t roll over on my own outstretched arm.

    During this time we were all in bed together. She barely took up any space so it wasn’t too bad. Then she started wiggling. And I FINALLY learned how to nurse laying down. This meant that we had to change sides a few times over the course of the night. It also meant that I needed pillows behind me to prop me up. Yeah, the space started to disappear. Peter was a good sport about falling off the side of the bed, but eventually he moved into her nursery and just slept on the floor.

    After a few months like this, we bought a full size mattress and just put it on the floor in “her room”. It was a warmer room in the winter anyway, so it just made sense for me and Alexa to sleep in there, while Peter slept alone in the master BR.

    We tried to go back to a “family bed” once the cold weather broke, but Peter’s snoring drove us back into the nursery. Now that Alexa has finally night-weaned (for the most part) and is able to be patted back to sleep, one of us will sleep with her on the mattress on the floor, while the other sleeps in the master. We trade depending on who’s had enough of sleeping badly, lol!

    This past week we’ve been working on weaning all together, so we’re hoping that now that Alexa is used to getting no boob at night she’ll be able to sleep alone alone alone soon. She’s 16 months btw. Honestly, I’d be happy to sleep next to her in her room for a while longer, but it would be nice if she didn’t need it soooo very much. Not sure if I want to go back to sleeping with Peter though…oh the snoring! LOL

  18. Sara P

    Well, Ben is 3 & I am still mostly co-sleeping with him. In my attempt to get him sleeping on his own, I decided that giving him my full size bed might help him sleep better – so now I am in a twin size (for part of the night at least)! I lay down with him when he’s going to sleep & let him know that I will be in my room if/when he wakes up. He usually wanders in or calls out for me between 2-5 in the morning. I stay in his bed for the rest of the morning.
    Of course, all of this only occurs when I don’t fall asleep with him to begin with!

  19. Bev

    Please DON’T buy the Nova Form. We did it too. Went up from queen to king, went to CostCo. Nelson loves memory foam and we’d had a queen size mem foam topper. However, the mattress sucked. It eouldn’t expand. We unfolded it, gave it the recommended 72 hours. Never expanded. It always stayed in the shape of having been folded. Decided to give it mote time even though we were all sleeping in huge indentations. A week passed. Two weeks. Never unfolded. Never expanded. Nelson felt terrible cause he’d talked me into it. Thank goodness Costco has a liberal return policy. We ended up putting the money toward one of the regular costco mattresses. This was just in April so I’m betting king size stock hasn’t turned over enough yet. We weren’t the only ones this happened to either. :(

  20. Me   writtendad

    “If happiness includes a toddler’s foot in your eye.” That’s awesome, and it really speaks volumes. It’s all about what works and what makes everyone happy. We tried co-sleeping a time or two and it just never seemed to work for any of us. Our son has a tendency to sleep sideways, leading to sharp toe or elbow jabs in the back, groin, sides, etc., which would result in us waking up, but he still slept. This just meant the next day was marked by a well rested child and two bruised and tired parents. We like the idea of it, and the moments of still sleep are good, but we just don’t want to risk the injury. We’re weak. Plus, he’s six now, so those little injuries would now be massive bouts of assault.

  21. Jem   jemjabella

    I cosleep out of laziness, plain & simple. I’m far too lazy to get up to feed my daughter and then settle her back down (we tried her in a cot for about 2 weeks and it was killing me!)

  • Grab my new badge!

    Visit Code Name: Mama

  • Visit Natural Parents Network
  • Display & participate!

    Visit Code Name: Mama

  • Carnival of Weaning

    Carnival of Weaning