We co-sleep with my 18 month old, and plan to do so with the new baby. We didn’t intend to co-sleep originally. We bought a crib, and for the first week home put our son in the crib every time he slept. Because I was breastfeeding, once I figured out how to nurse lying down we would frequently fall asleep together on the bed. Turns out, he slept quite a bit longer and less fitfully that way. It was also easier to nurse him again when he did get up. I didn’t have to get out of bed, get him out of the crib, and then put him back into the crib once we were done. Also, once we were co-sleeping, I frequently woke up as soon as he began stirring next to me, instead of not waking up till he was crying.
I was worried at first, because you hear so many horror stories of parents rolling over on, or suffocating their children. But it turns out that many co-sleeping deaths don’t happen in a bed. They happen on the couch, lazy-boy, rocking chair, etc. Also, apparently it’s a co-sleeping death even if the parent isn’t sleeping with the child. So basically any death that occurs outside of a crib = co-sleeping death. It also turns out that co-sleeping deaths are much, less likely with moms who breastfeed. Something about breastfeeding puts your body more in tune with the baby’s position in relation to your own, as well as makes you sleep more lightly.
So after doing the research, we just made our bed as safe a sleeping environment as possible. No heavy comforters, keep baby on his back, make sure he can’t get trapped between the bed and the wall, etc. Once he got to be about 9-10 months old, he was rolling around a lot, and kicking in his sleep. It’s amazing how much space a baby can take up. So we removed the side rail from his crib making it a toddler bed, adjusted the mattress height to match ours, and pushed it up against our bed to give us all a little more room. Again, making sure this set up was as safe as possible. It worked wonderfully, and our son actually started sleeping even longer at night within a few weeks.
Now that we’re expecting a new baby, we’re changing the set up once again. While I’m not worried about my husband and I co-sleeping with an infant, I am worried about a toddler co-sleeping with an infant. He’s old enough now that we’re planning on moving him to his own room soon, but I want to do this gradually. I also don’t want to move him only to put a new baby in our bed just a few weeks later, talk about replacement and jealously issues. So we have a long term plan. The first thing we did was purchase one of those bed rails you can attach to the toddler bed. If we move him to his own room, he’ll need one on his bed, and for now it helps confine him to his toddler bed. He didn’t much care for it at first, but he’s gotten used to it now. Next, we plan on moving his bed across the room from ours. This way, he can still see us and get to us easily if he needs to, but gets used to his bed being separate. Next comes setting up a room for him. My younger brother is going to move down to the basement so we can use his current room for the baby’s room. He’s actually thrilled with this idea since it gives him more privacy and easy access to the game systems. While we don’t plan on moving my son to his room for a few months, we’re setting it up for him this month. The idea is to set it up as a play room, and get a second bed to put in that room. This way he can get used to the room, and we can start putting him down for naps in it so he gets used to waking up there. He mostly sleeps through the night now, so hopefully he’ll be doing this regularly enough when we switch rooms that the only hard part will be getting him to sleep. We’ll have to get a gate to put in the hallway so that he can still get from his room to ours at two in the morning, but not out to the rest of the house. If all goes well, I’d like to have him established in his new room by his second birthday in January.
Hopefully when it comes time to move the new little one out of our room, it’ll be a bit easier. With any luck, he’ll be thrilled to move in with his big brother. It’ll be nice for my husband and I to finally have our room to ourselves again.
Some Co-Sleeping info references: