How Old is Too Old? (A Mom’s Thoughts on Co-Sleeping)

How old is too old? What natural parent hasn’t heard this question or wondered it? Lately, the focus has been on breast feeding, but what I want to really know is:  How old is too old to co-sleep?

As a mom of two, I’ve had two completely different experiences.

My daughter, who just turned two, sleeps best on her own. For the first few weeks of her life, she slept in a pack-and-play next to our bed. Not long after, she fell in love with her crib and a blankie. She loved to snuggle, did a great job nursing, but she was restless if stayed in our bed. Some of it had to do with reflux—she slept much better on an angle. Some of it was just her—she loves her space and gets frustrated if she can’t have it.

My son couldn’t be any different. At five, he goes to sleep in his own bed, but it’s a rare early morning when he doesn’t end up in our room whispering, “Mom, Mommy, Mom! Can I come in?” From the start, he wasn’t the type of baby you could just put down. Some of it was due to us being first time parents, some of it was that he just found it easier to fall asleep snuggling someone—and he still does.

We didn’t intend on co-sleeping. We had heard all the “negatives” of having your child sleep with you and nothing of the positives— we wanted what we heard was best for our baby. But night after night, our little man ended up in bed with us sleeping soundly through the night. Away from us, he was awake and upset.

A few months down the road, we accepted new jobs in another state. While the pack and play joined us, our son’s crib went into storage. What once was a guilty feeling that he wasn’t in a crib soon became a fading thought. Long commutes and not enough time together made co-sleeping even more convenient and comforting for all of us. Once we settled into our new home, our son wanted nothing to do with his crib. He transitioned to a “big boy” bed, but bedtime was a nightly struggle. Where some kids choose blankies or a special bear, my son chose me. I’d have to crawl in with him, snuggle and then eventually tiptoe out of the room; then repeat a few times a night. My second pregnancy didn’t make things easier. Morning (more like 24/7) sickness and the expected tiredness led to me falling asleep sometimes sooner than he did. A few months in and we were back to full-time co-sleeping sans nursing. It took just as many months after our daughter was born for  him to be comfortable with his room again.

Today, we’re at a turning point with both kids. My little man starts kindergarten in the fall and he’s becoming more independent every day. I’m sure he’ll always love to snuggle, but it won’t be much longer until he chooses to stay in his room all night long. My sweet girl is almost ready for a “big girl” bed, and I’m wondering how she’ll like it. Will she still prefer her own space, or will a whole new round of, “Mom, Mommy, Mom,” start?

I’m not going to shut our door anytime soon, but lately when 0ur king-sized bed feels a little “crowded,” and I’m about to fall off the bed, I honestly start thinking it’s time to reclaim our bed. A few hours later when I have more room and everyone is sleeping peacefully, I take it all back.

What has your experience been? How will or how did you handle transitions? Did you have different experiences with different kids?

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Kristen is mom to Will (5) and Joy (2). She “discovered” co-sleeping before she knew there was a name for it, and was relieved when she finally heard the positives. While she won’t mind the extra sleeping room, she’ll miss the sound of her little man snoring when he decides his room is the cool place to be.

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4 thoughts on “How Old is Too Old? (A Mom’s Thoughts on Co-Sleeping)”

  1. I loved reading this! Right now my 8 month old is in the bed with my husband and I. King bed just arrived, ahhhh, so much better. She used to sleep on me in a rocking chair and I’ve transitioned her to laying next to me. But she wakes multiple times a night to nurse back to sleep. My husband is beyond frustrated and wants her to sleep in her crib. I honestly don’t think she will. We also have another baby on the way so I need to her stop waking so frequently!

    Your description of your son sounds just like my daughter! I’m hoping this new girl wants her space, otherwise I’ll be surrounded! I don’t mind the co-sleeping, though, regardless of the negativity I receive about it.

    http://taurusmom18.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/high-needs-babies-and-the-co-sleeping-struggle/

  2. Thank you for writing this!! My daughter will be 2 in August, and has been an excellent sleeper in her own crib since Day 1. However, when we were forced to switch her to a twin bed at 20 months old because she crawled/fell out of her crib, it was another story all together. For two months now, we have had to sit in there with her until she falls asleep, and pull her up into bed with us in the middle of the night. I really struggled with this at first, but I realized a lot of that comes from feeling judged that we “allow” this. THe more I think about it, the more I feel maybe it’s not such a bad thing for our family (for now), especially since my husband travels SO MUCH and adores her coming into bed with us. Love your perspective and really relate with it, especially that last paragraph. 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing both of your stories! It’s not always easy to let go of “judgment,” but things always feel better when you find what’s right for your little one…and you!

  3. I am embarrassed too say that my 8 year old son sleeps with me almost every night and doesn’t show any want to sleep in his room. I wouldn’t change it for anyone. Life is too short

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