Who’s Been Sleeping In My Bed

So… Co-sleeping. You may be on to something attachment parenting advocates. I think I agree with you. I can’t do it. But I think you may be right.

Yesterday while I stood outside B’s room as he was having the mother of all meltdowns, not because of having to sleep alone but because he wanted to do something his way and his way was taking too much time. So it had to be done for him and then the world ended. One part of me wanted to go into his room hug him and sleep in his bed. And another part of me didn’t want to give in to him because he had just been really rude so going in and giving him a hug seemed counter productive no?

M came up after hearing all the screaming and loudly said his name. He didn’t shout he just was very clearly talking in his ‘Baba’ voice saying that the screaming is unacceptable and he had to stop now. He stopped from the first time he heard his name and that was the end of it. And I got to go in and give him the cuddles I wanted to give him and do our usual night time routine but with much less enthusiasm than usual.

All that aside I have been thinking more and more lately that I am wrong in thinking that the children sleeping on their own is essential. We are inundated with books and TV shows and articles that say how important it is for children to sleep on their own in their own room. And many mothers (me included) feel a sense of pride that their children sleep on their own in their rooms from a young age. Keep in mind my young age is relative to Saudi children and that’s 2 or 3 years old. Some people look down their nose at you more and more if they know your child has someone sleeping in their room with them like it’s a bad thing when it was virtually unheard of to not have an adult sleeping in the same room with a child or not have more than one child in one room.

I truly feel that if B were sleeping with me in my bed he would be a happier boy. Maybe I am totally wrong I don’t know. But the whole meltdowns that happen I assume happen partly because he doesn’t want bedtime to end because he doesn’t want me to leave the room. Having said that I know for a fact I would be a miserable woman. I can’t do it. I don’t understand how mothers can without loosing it. Or I don’t have that much patience I don’t know. But wouldn’t it mean I would have to sleep at 7 pm? If not what happens if he wakes and doesn’t find me in bed? Wouldn’t he flip? I don’t get it. But I think it would make him happier. Would he be 12 and still wanting to sleep in my bed though?

I was talking to our Filipino nanny who is caring for my baby K about when is a good time to get him used to sleeping on his own. She looked horrified at the thought and said “I slept in my mothers room till I was 12! All my siblings did as well!”. (She comes from a family of doctors and nurses btw). It’s a cultural thing. I don’t plan for K to sleep in a room with a nanny till he’s 12 but I don’t think it’s a big bad thing for right now.

It is also a cultural thing as far as I can see, for us as well. My Grandmother thought it was insane to expect a 2 or 3 year old to sleep in their room alone let alone a new born. People were always used to sleeping together or in very close proximity to each other.

Why am I thinking about this now on child number 4? When the 3 older children are sleeping in their own rooms without anyone else with them? Well because I decided not to bury myself under the pressure of feeling like I have to rush the process of my youngest to start sleeping alone. None of my other children did till they were older so why feel bad? And why put myself under that pressure? So what if they have someone in the room with them for a few years of their lives.

Here is how it went with my older kids and their sleeping arrangements:

S and J never slept alone at all till S was 5 and J was 2 and we moved to London. While we were there the help I had up and left. The I got a british nanny who had no intention of sleeping in the room with any of the kids so I put them in a room together where they remained almost totally until we moved into the new house. With some stints of sleeping in separate rooms before this period which were relatively easy.

When they first slept together without a grown up in the room S was totally fine with it but J would wake up to check who was in the room with her for a while after. And she would then settle back to sleep. I know it was an anxiety issue but I think that stemmed more from her nanny leaving suddenly rather than her not having a grown up in the room.

When B was born he had a baby nurse as well and she stayed for 2 years also sharing his room. Then she left during the summer and when we came home we put him in his own room and it just worked! (up untill last week that is when he started protesting to being in his room, and on his own). As for Special K he is in a room with his nanny, just as the others were. So 3 sleeping on their own and one with a nanny. Not bad.

The plan is after the summer for K to move in with B. Now you may say we are regressing but S and J are so much closer now because of that time spent together and I think it will do B and K good to also spend a few years together.

Now this post may add to your thoughts that having nannies here make a mother more distant than not having one. And you may even think why am I ok with them sleeping with someone who is not their relative as opposed to sleeping with me in my room. We can discuss all these things if you are interested please do ask in the comments but I feel I have explained this before here and here. The fact of the matter is almost everyone I know grew up sleeping with someone in their room. Be it their mother, sibling, nanny who ever, this is the way we grew up. So why do I feel such pressure to get my children to sleep on their own?

Also, seeing how much of an issue it is to get the child used to being on his or her own makes me think maybe we’re not supposed to be doing this? I know a few people who have put their children in their own rooms for the day they came back from the hospital. Their children go to sleep easier than mine do. They have less bedtime issues I know this. But my children weren’t those children and maybe if they were they and I would have an easier life but is it really the end of the world that they’re not?

Yes I know some of you out there are tut tutting and don’t understand why I am doing the same thing with my youngest that I did with my eldest. I don’t know… maybe I am getting old and don’t have the energy anymore. Or maybe I don’t think it’s such a bad thing to not want to be alone at night. So I look forward to Baby K graduating into B’s room and have the next few years together. Winding each other up and fighting and laughing and being mischievous. I’m so excited about it in fact I can’t wait. I plan to start this summer because if we travel they will have no choice but to be in the same room where ever we go. I shared a room with my sisters until our eldest moved to London! I was so happy to get my own room but still, having someone in my room made me feel safe.

flash back to conversation I had with 2 of my sisters blaming not being used to sleeping on their own on their current sleep issues (being afraid of the dark, checking under beds, not being able to sleep when they can’t see the door). But that are only 2 of my sisters the rest of us are fine… I think!

Your thoughts? Did you share a room? Did you like it? Do you co-sleep? If you don’t have children are you planning to? For how long? Am I insane for putting K in B’s room after B got used to sleeping alone? 

19 comments

  1. Apparently the message you give your child when they have someone in the room with them is “even at your own home it is not safe” there were a few incidents in my neighbourhood that wont allow me to be alone in their room, they do go to bed alone and sleep alone, nanny goes to their room whenever she wants to sleep and shes up before them. They do know that she is there.

    Your thoughts?
    I don’t go by the book, something might work for me but not for you and vice versa, follow your instincts and do what you feel is suitable for your child. Sometimes I bring my own kids to my bed (rarely though!)
    They have a lifetime of sleeping by themselves. B won’t be 3 forever (cute!)

    Did you share a room? Did you like it?
    I did, didn’t like it at times then but now looking back … I wouldn’t have changed it one bit! My kids (4 and 3) sleep together in the same room and love it .. If F is not there S would ask about her and vice versa!
    Do you co-sleep?
    With my first i did till before delivery of my 2nd so she was about a year and 4 months and with my 2nd i did it for 6months.

    Am I insane for putting K in B’s room after B got used to sleeping alone?
    Not at all!!! They will be closer and they will keep each other company, B will enjoy playing the big brother role ;)

    Great post xxxx

    • Hi Aysha,

      With your first and second babies was it difficult to transition them to their own bed? What methods did you use?

      Thanks,
      H

      • I tried to establish a routine so they know what happens next … Go up to their room, bedtime bath, brush their teeth, PJs and at that point they are not allowed to go downstairs .. We read them a bedtime story say goodnight, cuddles and lights out. Try staying with them first, then tell your child I will go get something and will be back (keep your word so they trust you) go back in the room and say in 5 minutes i will have to do so and so but will be in the living room. You have to do it slowly .. Of course till today I get “we are alone” just ignore that..
        They started sleeping alone at 2 and 3.5 …

        • Thanks for your replies. I do the same thing. I say I’m going to go do something and will be back in 5 mins and come back always in 5 mins and keep doing that until they’re secure in the fact that I am around and haven’t left them lol lots of reassurance an always keeping your word will make children trust u.

  2. I think every family and every child is different. What’s right for one may not be right for another. I’m a grandmother now but I do remember different phases when my son wanted to sleep in the room with Mom and Dad. I didn’t have a problem with it, especially if it gave him an extra sense of love and security. He turned out okay. (smile)

    Now he is facing the same issues with his own two sons, especially the eldest who is no longer in a crib and able to climb out of his bed and into his parents.

    I think most children go through the phase of not wanting to sleep alone but at the time that is right for them, they also outgrow it.

  3. I don’t think its a must for a baby to sleep alone .. Lol i use to sleep with my mum till i got engaged .. And im fine with sleeping alone now when my hubby travels .. Co-sleeping is fun for sibblings .. I remember when we used to stay up all night talking to each others .. We were more like best friends .. Also as i know in (sunna) its preferred to sleep with someone and not sleep alone .. Check the below text
    فعن ابن عمر: أن النبيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم نهى عن الوَحْدَة، أن يبيت الرجل وحدَه، أو يسافر وحدَه. أخرجه أحمد .
    وذلك لما يحصل في الوحدة من الوحشة وكثرة الاوهام ولعب الشيطان بالعبد حين يكون وحيدا
    So enjoy sleeping with your baby or let him sleep with his nanny i you trust her .. And let him enjoy his bedtime and sleep relaxed instead of letting him sleep after crying

    • Hi,

      Interesting response. what does the arabic say for non-speakers? Just to add to your response about it being in the sunnah, i’m not so sure if i’ve understood this hadeeth properly but it’s the one about separating children in their beds when they are ten? or something to that effect. i understood it to mean that children did share the same beds and it was acceptable and encouraged up until a certain age?

  4. I always slept in a room (or bed) with my younger brothers or my parents until I was 11- by that point I needed privacy. I always knew I was going to co-sleep with my baby and I’m really glad I did, but now I’m in a bit of a rut. I love to co-sleep because it’s been easy since I breastfeed and I don’t need to get up. When she was born she came home the very same day and was in our bed, mainly because I wanted to check her every last breath and was in total protective-panic mode! Months went by, she always slept through the night (she’s a great sleeper), never an issue. Now she’s 7 1/1 months old, in 12 month baby clothes, and is 10.5 kilos- a big baby girl who LOVES to be way too close all night long. I’m getting suffocated now, we have a big bed, it’s just the fact that she needs to be attached to me all night. If she’s not beside me, she’s beside dad. When we’re absent she’s awake within 10 minutes. I’m seriously wondering what it’s going to be like getting her out of bed, and when shes bigger, say a year old, how the heck are we even going to sleep!? I’m also really attached, I get feelings of guilt when I think of putting her in the crib because she cries and cries… I guess both scenarios have their problems. As for re introducing a child to sleeping with a sibling/parent- my parents did that when I was 6, I was alone a year, then I was with my brother- I asked and there didn’t seem to be issues. I guess sleeping alone is established by that point.

    • True it is well established by that point. My kids go from not sharing a room when we’re here to sharing a room when we travel back to separate rooms again when we’re here easily. There’s no doubt about it starting them off in their own room from day one is the easiest as they don’t know any better lol. B is like a spinning top while he’s in bed and is the same as your baby when it comes to snuggling close. it does get claustrophobic.
      On another note Mashallah10 kg and in a 12 month’s clothes!

  5. That’s interesting .. I moved my eldest into her own room when she was 6 months because she didn’t need to be breasted (continuously!) but I kept going back & forth for a LONG time every time I heard her on the monitor and that wasn’t a pleasant time but I just really wanted. To do everything by the book with her! When I got pregnant with my second and got heavy she still woke up at night and my nights were basically spent half in my room & the second half in her room where I had a sofa bed that I shared with her when she woke up (I didn’t want to move her back in to avoid confusing her) NOT my smartest decision lol. My second also moved by 6 mo this but he’s a much easier baby l7mdillaah and he moves (still is) with his sister and I’m planing on keeping them together for the next couple of years or so. Nany didn’t sleep with either for a simple reason: if they kept waking up throughout the night I’m going to end up letting her sleep when they wake up in the morning and I’d rather that she gets a good sleep so I don’t feel guilty the next day :)

    • 100% on your last point. But I’m the opposite, I would take the kids during the day and let her sleep in or rest as opposed to doing the nights. Of course all this changes if one of the children are sick then I’m doing nights and days. Well I have 3 down and 1 to go now and I think sharing a room with your sibling is great. So that is definitely the way I’m going.

  6. when i was little, from the day they brought me home from the hospital, my parents would put me in my own room at night and still, from the time i was out of a crib, i would end up waking up and going to sleep with them in their bed. i don’t know why, exactly; there was never a precedent for it. i don’t think they ever intended to be co-sleepers, but it was just what i needed. i’m a snuggler (to this day, i sleep best when my husband, my dogs, and i are all mashed together in one half of the bed, lol), so i guess i just needed someone to snuggle with. and then, because my little brother and i shared a room when we were small, he started going to sleep with my parents, too, because he didn’t want to sleep in the room alone. eventually, by the time i was five or so, my parents just gave up on trying to put us in our beds. once we got our pajamas on and were ready for bed, we’d go straight to their bed. this went on until i was at least eight or so, when i finally decided i was too big for that. i feel sorry for them now, looking back on it, lol! but that’s just how i was, and i turned out okay, i suppose. :) and i’m grateful that they didn’t try to train me out of it and instead just let me grow out of it when i was ready.

    there is also evidence that co-sleeping is actually good for babies…that it reduces the risk of sids because sleeping next to mommy helps regulate the baby’s breathing. (what makes it dangerous is when mom or dad comes to bed drunk or otherwise incapacitated.) we have a crib set up for our little one at the foot of our bed, but she won’t have her own room–at least not for awhile, because we don’t have another bedroom right now. we’ll see how it goes. we will certainly try to use the crib when we bring her home, but if it turns out baby sleeps best with mama and baba, then that’s just how it’ll be! :) and if she stays in the crib, i’m sure once she gets big enough she’ll figure out how to hop out of the crib onto mama and baba’s bed…so my guess is we will end up as co-sleepers for awhile out of a lack of space…which i guess is how it used to be before people decided that huge houses with a separate room for each inhabitant were necessary, and how it still is in many cultures. :)

    • I agree with Nicole, and just to add to that I co-slept from the get go with my mum for the first 2 years of my life and guess what as I got older I wanted my own room and I’m actually the opposite of you Nicole in that now I am just as comfortable to sleep alone as I am with my hubby/child. So I really don’t think co-sleeping encourages a dependance on parents, I think that it instills a deep sense of security within the child.

      And i love that last point Nicole about being flexible with your daughter, as well as what you said about cultures today… I always thought it so unnecessary that we have such big houses and everyone sleeps alone. It goes against our innate nature but we still do it… so odd.

      • Life has changed a lot from how our parents were raised to how we are raising our children. But I would hate it if my kids didn’t feel they could come to my room when ever they wanted to and come into my bed with me when ever they wanted to. We used to love having ‘sleep overs’ in my mothers room. All of my sisters and I. Only one of us would sleep in the bed with her and the rest would be on the floor so we would take turns. Thank you both for your comments and Nicole I’m so excited for you. You are going to be so tired but so happy lol. And if you ever need help or a baby sitter I am volunteering I LOVE new borns.

  7. Hi Mama B,

    I recently started following your blog. I love your honesty and awesome sense of humor, it really shows through your posts. Anyway onto the topic of co-sleeping, I do it with my 3 month old and it works great. It makes things much easier for us both. It means we both get more sleep at night and makes breastfeeding and pottying/nappy changes so much simpler. But that’s what works for me. It’s different for everyone and I understand why you’re second guessing but like Aysha said you know your children better than anyone else and you have those mummy instincts to tell you which direction to go. Btw you asked whether co-sleeping means you have to go to bed at 7 every night? From my experience, I don’t think that’s the case. I put my daughter down for bed at 7:30ish each night and i stay awake for 1-2 hours after her then quietly come in to bed later and sleep! No problems.

    Anyhow overall when you think about it, bedsharing with your child is a very natural thing and it facilitates easy night time care. It makes perfect sense, and it’s sad that our society has made it something to be questioned or feared so much when not so long ago our predecessors would never have questioned keeping their babies close to them at night.

    • Hi H G. Thank you for your comment and I am so happy you enjoy my blog! I don;t know why I always felt I would be restricting my bedtime if the kids slept with me on school nights lol. On weekends I don’t mind so much really but they hardly ever do… after reading all the comments I feel like I want to have a sleep over soon in my room! lol. My husband is away next week so maybe then! I think mothers should do what makes them feel right and goes with their instincts. I loved just holding my baby and sleeping (kind of cause I was always terrified of dropping them) with them in my arms. It’s addictive.

  8. We co-slept with our daughter until she was 9 months old and then we moved her to her crib for half of the night (when we were not in the bed with her) because she would start crawling in her sleep and almost fell off the bed. I really loved those times sleeping and snuggling next to her, and it does make things a whole lot easier..
    however now with our 3 month old, he is a much lighter sleeper and co-sleeping is not working out as planned.. every time we move in bed he wakes up. And he wants to nurse..so I end up being his human pacifier. We tried moving him to a crib next to our bed but he screamed bloody murder for hours on end and would not settle..so I gave up for now and have him next to me :)

    Enjoy and cherish those moments because sooner than we know it they will be big and we will miss being close to them.

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