The truth about… co-sleeping

Co-sleeping always sounded like the perfect solution to sleep deprivation.  Snuggling up with my baby, being able to feed them while lying down, both of us dozing off, just drifting in and out of beautiful slumber…  Then as they grew into toddlers, the reassurance of Mummy and Daddy’s presence nearby in the night. Being able to soothe them instantly if they had a bad dream and drifting back to sleep once more.  Snuggled up together, sleeping blissfully – it sounded perfect.  Four years on from those pre-baby fantasies, I have learned that while co-sleeping might be a way of getting a little more sleep, it is not quite that blissful snuggly slumber that I imagined it would be.

 

A cartoon of the holy grain of co-sleeping (a baby snuggled up close) and the reality - a baby lying across your head - with the text "The truth about... co-sleeping"

Here’s what our experience of co-sleeping has really been like illustrated by ten sleeping positions that seem to be firm favourites with my children.

 

1) The dream

The holy grail of co-sleeping: that beautiful, blissful slumber where you and your child are snuggled together and cuddled up close.  The one where they’re just in the right place to pretty much be able to latch themselves on for a feed if they’re breastfeeding.  Sometimes this really is what co-sleeping is like and it is wonderful.  If only every night could be like this…!

 

The holy grain - co-sleeping with a baby snuggled up close

2) The scarf

This is the one where your little one decides that their legs make the perfect scarf and therefore must be draped across a parent’s neck.  Bonus points for trying to tickle the parent’s neck with their toes at the same time.

 

The scarf - when your little one decides to wrap their legs around your neck in their sleep

3) Punch-bag

Turning your back on a co-sleeping child is a dangerous move.  It is almost certainly guaranteed to result in them using your back as a punch-bag or for practising their best kicks.  Thankfully Daddy seems to be the preferred target in our house for this one!

 

Punch-bag - where a parent's back is perfect for practising kicks and punches

4) Starfish

A very popular sleeping position for my little ones! I can never quite understand how such a little person can manage to take up quite so much room in a bed. I swear their arms and legs somehow grow a little during the night and then return to their normal size in the morning.  It’s amazing how quickly you do learn to sleep on a tiny amount of bed though!

 

Starfish - how can one little person take up so much room? - The truth about co-sleeping

5) The ‘H’

Another good one for making sure that Mummy and Daddy both have minimum bed-space – just lie horizontally between them.  And stretch…!

 

Maximise sleep space by lying horizontally between Mummy and Daddy - The truth about co-sleeping

6) Kiss my…

Ah the joys of having a small person’s bottom shoved right in your face when you’re trying to sleep.  Usually saved for the moment when they’re just about to fill their nappy so as to give you the best experience of this one!

 

Kiss my... oh don't you just love a bottom in your face while you sleep? The truth about co-sleeping

7) Head-hog

The one where they just decide to throw themselves across your face almost suffocating you in the process.

The head-hog - baby lying across Mummy's face - The truth about co-sleeping

8) Leg warmer

That moment when you reach out to put your arm around your little one who’s snuggled against you – only to find they’re not there.  The split-second of panic before you realise that they’ve just worked their way down to the bottom of the bed, and are wrapped around your legs with their head by your feet.

 

Leg-warmer - that sleeping position where your little one ends up at the bottom of the bed hugging your legs - The truth about co-sleeping

9) Playing the shin xylophone

The sensation of small feet being scraped up and down your shin bone is really not the most pleasant feeling.   Thank goodness this is another one where Daddy is usually the preferred target.

 

The shin xylophone - ah the joys of having a small person run their feet up and down your shin bome - The truth about co-sleeping

10) There were four in the bed…

Once you add a second child into the mix, sleeping on a miniscule amount of bed becomes the norm.  At least 75% of the bed space has now been commandeered by the children.  Mummy and Daddy now only get a quarter of it – if they’re lucky!  A kingsize bed is really your only chance of having a reasonable amount of space to sleep in.  On the plus side though, you are now practically capable of sleeping on a tightrope with a small child lying across various bits of you.

 

There were four in the bed - co-sleeping with two or more children - The truth about co-sleeping

 

But crazy positions and cramped sleeping conditions aside, it is the most wonderful thing in the world to wake at night with my little ones snuggled against me. To be able to both hear and feel their breathing as they sleep and to cuddle them close before drifting back to sleep again myself.  One day they’ll want to sleep in their own beds.  I’m sure I’ll enjoy having some space again, but I have no doubt that I’ll miss the snuggles too.

 

Do you co-sleep with your children?  Are there any crazy co-sleeping positions that you would add to this list?

 

71 thoughts on “The truth about… co-sleeping

  1. Brilliant!! Weirdly my eldest daughter from about 6 months old, would cry if she went near our bed at night. I remember many times being up with her and thinking just come in my bed and she hated it. Even now at nearly four, if my husband is away and she wakes I tell her to hop in with me and she doesn’t want to. I guess in some ways its good she wants her own bed. I just make up for it with snuggles in bed in the morning. x #TwinkyTuesday

    1. My youngest was the same – I would have co-slept with her much more as a baby but she really was so much happier being in her own bed. Even now that she’s most happy with co-sleeping, there are still times when she will ask to go back in her cot instead. Those morning snuggles are lovely though, aren’t they?

  2. I ove this post sweetie, it sums up my life at the moment!!! You’ve got it spot on with these positions and I love your drawings 😉 oh I long for a #1! Xxx

  3. I ove this post sweetie, it sums up my life at the moment!!! You’ve got it spot on with these positions and I love your drawings 😉 oh I long for a #1! Xx

  4. Haha love it! We think the gremlin is teething with her back molars at the mo As up crying I the night with ear pain. Last night she was in with me doing the H. Hubby just goes into the spare room though so we do get a bit more space!! Bless xx #thetruthabout

  5. Haha I think we’ve had all of these and getting kicked in the shin repeatedly is surprisingly painful isn’t it? It is so fleeting though, even though it can be a few years! The snuggles make it worth it. Mostly!

  6. hahaha! This made me chuckle.
    I didn’t co-sleep with my girls but they did sneak into our bed now and again and some of these sleeping positions seem familiar. lol

    1. Thanks Kim – glad you could relate to them even with the occasional nights of the girls sneaking into your bed! 🙂

  7. I fear you’re probably going to put me in the naughty corner! My wife and I have never co-slept and never wanted to. What I am glad to hear though, is that both you and your husband co-sleep. There is a theory that women very often co-sleep with their kids alone. Dad gets relegated to the spare room, mum and dad therefore never spend intimate time, their marriage suffers and mum builds up an unnaturally strong bond with the kid that freezes dad out. Alas, I have seen this happen with a few couples. But on that note I’d best get my coat before I really land myself in trouble! #truthabout

    1. Co-sleeping is such a personal choice – I know a lot of people who have never done so nor wanted to and that is fine. It works for us, but I know it doesn’t work for everyone. I think if co-sleeping had resulted in hubby having to sleep in the spare room, we would have probably been more inclined to nip it in the bud and persevere with getting the kids to sleep in their own beds. I agree with you that couple time together is incredibly important too, as is ensuring that dads get the opportunity to build up those strong bonds too.

  8. I have an over-sized king size bed and haven’t slept on more than a small corner of it ever. Whether it’s my wife or my daughter, they both like to continue pushing until I’m barely on. Everybody seems to like my side better

    1. Oh dear! For us is the other way round – my side seems to be the preferred one and I get to sleep on a small corner so I feel your pain!

  9. Love this Louise, very funny. I have to admit that while I totally understand why many people Co-sleep and I have a real each to their own feeling about it, there’s no I could have handled doing it. I need sleep and I need my personal space in bed as I have none for the rest of the day! Xx

    1. Thank you Caroline – I can completely understand why people don’t co-sleep. We’re lucky in that it generally works well for us and everyone gets more sleep overall but if you’re the type of person that needs your own space to sleep well then it’s better not to.

  10. Yes to all of these! Only last night I was unceremoniously kicked in the face in the middle of the night…that said, co-sleeping does make me SLIGHTLY less sleep deprived than I would otherwise be… #twinklytuesday

  11. This really made me smile, I love the images. It is something I’ve never mastered, I can’t sleep with the kids in my bed as I’m the annoy that thrashes around. I used to lie awake when they were poorly waiting for them to fall asleep then move them back to their own beds. #TriedTested

    1. We’ve done that a few times too when it all gets a bit too much. Co-sleeping doesn’t work well for everyone – we all sleep differently but at the moment it’s what works for us.

  12. I love these images We occasionally co-sleep just to get some sort of sleep during bad periods. You missed dummy in Mummys ear/nose/mouth. Also the wrecking ball, which seems to be what our toddlers head turns into in our bed!

    1. Ouch, yes – thankfully the wrecking ball isn’t a favoured one here! It’s been a while since we had dummies but yes, that would be one to add too 🙂

  13. Love these! I co-slept with mine when they were tiny but then I wanted my own space too much so they had to leave the nest. I did share a bed with my 3yo at my parents house last week and he insisted on sleeping holding my hand and lying across me (kind of like a scarf) which was very sweet but also very irritating as I hardly slept a wink! xx

    1. Thank you Maddy – some of the sleeping positions they choose are sweet aren’t they, but so uncomfortable for us!

  14. Ha when my 5 year old gets in bed there are just limbs everywhere. I don’t like it when the kids sleep in our bed though, which sounds harsh but I like having space and I can never quite relax. Plus for some reason they always prefer to take over my side of the bed so I have to perch on about 2 inches of mattress while my husband is completely oblivious!

    1. That’s fair enough – not everyone enjoys co-sleeping. I forgot about the one where there are limbs everywhere – maybe “The Octopus” is one that should have made the list 🙂

  15. This is so my life! Haha.
    Great post, so true. My nights occasionally look like number 5, The H, but more often than not, number 10.
    Sometimes my partner doesn’t even sleep in there, as there’s just no room! Haha.

    Thanks for sharing, and great drawings!
    Sarah xx
    whimsicalmumblings.blogspot.co.uk

  16. Awww despite all the weird positions this makes me a little jealous. I wanted so desperately to co sleep with my boy but he’s never had it, always wanting his own space.

    1. Aww, some children do prefer their own space. My youngest was the same as a baby although she quite likes co-sleeping now.

  17. Brilliant! We occasionally co-slept when Max was younger, on those nights where nothing else would work, but now he’s just too fidgety to have in with us, and seems to find our presence far too distracting to be able to sleep. He’s also a grabber of flesh which is pretty annoying when you’re trying to sleep! #bloggerclubuk

    1. Ouch yes, that would be annoying. I can imagine it doesn’t work at all when they’re that fidgety and too easily distracted to sleep.

  18. Haha this is brilliant I love it! Also love the illustrations too. I have a starfish in my bed, even now at 3 years old! #bloggerclubuk

    1. Thank you Emma – the starfish is a popular one here, especially if there’s only one of them in the bed 🙂

  19. I love all of these pictures! (Head-hog is my favorite, though.) We don’t co-sleep but every now and then we have someone wander in because they had a nightmare, and I don’t think either of us end up sleeping well. I usually take them back to their own beds after 10 minutes so we can all get some rest.
    #thetruthabout

    1. Thank you Jenny – I think we’re lucky in that we all manage to sleep reasonably well this way.

  20. This made me giggle. As our little one has been ill recently she co-slept with us and I ended up thinking I’d have more room if I slept with my feet on the pillow. #twinklytuesday

    1. The tactical retreat into the spare room is a popular move, I think! Our spare room bed is usually covered with laundry so it’s rare that either of us can be bothered with having to move it!

  21. This is brilliant! We tried co-sleeping for about an hour, but after being pushed out of the bed/punched/scratched and no sleep we gave up. Instead we often end up sleeping on her nursery floor, which is no better to be honest. Every night I dream she will sleep through… #BloggerClubUK

    Helen x

    http://treasureeverymoment01.blogspot.co.uk/

    1. Thank you Helen – it can be hard to get sleep sometimes when trying to co-sleep and I’ve had my fair share of sleeping on nursery floors too!

  22. Hi Louise, the only time we shared a bed with the children was when they were sick (and then hubby got turfed out into their bed) or on a weekend morning for a snuggle, which would inevitably involve some snoozing (for them).

    I am a painfully light sleeper and would never have got any sleep had we had a child as a permanent fixture in the bed and my daughter has always been a starfish sleeper. Even now if she dozes off on the sofa, her arms and legs are everywhere.

    xx

    1. Co-sleeping must be virtually impossible if you’re a very light sleeper – thankfully hubby and I can (mostly) sleep through the wriggles so it works well for us.

  23. Ah the old face-plant, that’s how it goes if the baby ends up in bed with us (which is rare) and my son well he likes the H position which finds him very soon back in his own bed! My husband and I can barely stand sharing a bed together, we really struggle if the kids get in too, it normally ends in us getting out. Loved te pictures, hilarious post #bloggersclubUK

    1. Thank you – I think everyone is different in what works for them sleep-wise and I can completely understand why a lot of people don’t like co-sleeping. Glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂

  24. Ha ha! I have experienced several of these although not number 8 thankfully as this one is definitely a panic inducer! J’s favourite is 5, 1 and 7. I love the snuggles although we only cosleep when J is ill so sometimes it is accompanied by the temperature fidget too! My least favourite!

    1. Ah yes, the temperature fidget – I forgot about that one! No. 8 definitely is one that makes you panic the first time it happens – my youngest quite likes this sleeping position!

  25. I don’t co-sleep per se but I do let the kids come into bed with me in the early morning hours and so I’m well familiar with some of the positioning which you describe here! There is nothing quite like a small child planting their heavy little head on top of yours as if it was a pillow! Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout this week Louise 🙂 Xx

    1. It’s not the most comfortable sensation in the world, is it? Lovely to link up again Sam and thank you for hosting 🙂

  26. This made me laugh, but it does also sound quite lovely. We took our eldest into our bed a few times in sleep deprived desperation, but we’ve never done co-sleeping apart from that. Although on the rare occasions we go to a hotel (and when we stay with my MIL), I share a bed with my daughter, which I really like! She’s so much quieter than my husband (although she does take up just as much space!).

    1. Thanks Sarah. It is mostly lovely even with the funny positions. It is easier sometimes just to tuck them in with you when you’re sleep deprived isn’t it? 🙂

  27. Hahahahaha omg these images make me laugh. We are six months in, so some of them are not applicable yet. But soon, Mama Bear, soon. Overall it has been the right decision for us.

    1. We’re six years in now and it’s been the right decision for us on the whole although we’re now at the point of being a bit firmer about the kids sleeping in their own beds – there’s so little room now they’re both a lot bigger! Glad it made you laugh 🙂

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