Bed-sharing with a Toddler

Bed Made Up for Bed-sharingI never planned on sharing a bed with my daughter. I definitely never planned on sharing a bed with my toddler. However, every night since my daughter was a few days old, my daughter and I have crawled in to bed together for the night.

Before her birth, my husband and I planned to co-sleep with our baby. Co-sleeping involves the parents sharing the same room as the baby. We had a bassinet, a First Years Close and Secure Baby Sleeper, and a Fisher-Price Newborn Rock ‘n Play Sleeper. We figured that our baby would sleep in our room with us until she was old enough to safely move to the crib in the nursery.

Once she arrived, however, our daughter had other ideas.

On her first night, I wrapped my daughter up in a swaddler and laid her in the First Years Close and Secure Baby Sleeper on our queen bed. My husband planned to sleep in the living room while I would sleep on the bed with our newborn. None of us got much sleep that night. My daughter would not go to sleep. As soon as I laid her down, she got fussy. I ended up getting out of bed extremely early that morning with her. She would sleep in my arms but not without being held.

For the next couple of nights, I tried all my baby sleep solutions: the co-sleeper, the rocker, the bassinet. Nothing worked. Even after my husband walked up and down the hall with our daughter and put her to sleep, she would wake right back up as soon as she was no longer in our arms.

Out of desperation for sleep, I eventually just laid down with my daughter on my bed. A few days of bed-sharing turned into a few weeks. A few weeks then turned into a few months. My daughter is now over twenty months old and still sharing a bed with me.

Bed-sharing with a toddler is both rewarding and challenging. Right before she learned to roll over, my husband and I bought and attached bed rails to our bed to prevent our daughter from falling off onto the hardwood floor of our bedroom so easily. The bed rails are still on the bed. My daughter fell off the bed twice when she wiggled around the rails, so I now keep pillows on the floor on her side of the bed.

Poppy Sleeping in My Queen BedIn addition to wiggling around in her sleep, my daughter now also sometimes fights going to sleep. Every couple of nights, I end up laying my daughter back down again and again after she sits up and tries to crawl all over me. I have found that rubbing her back gently or running my fingers through her hair helps her relax so that she can fall asleep more easily. She is also still nursing to sleep, which helps her fall asleep most nights.

More recently, my daughter has started sleeping fewer hours and getting herself out of bed. When she was an infant, she would sleep for up to twelve hours at a time. I would get out of bed in morning and do some work on the computer or around the house. Now my daughter sleeps only about ten hours at night, getting up shortly after me. I get fewer hours alone now, but, because she often plays by herself in the morning, I am still able to get the work done that I need. Plus, I love having the extra time with her.

My daughter also climbs out of bed on her own now. Previously, she had cried when she was ready to get up, and I would go get her. For the past couple of weeks, she has been crawling out of bed on her own. She wiggles to the head of the bed, bypasses the bed rail, slides down on to the pillow on the floor, and shuffles over to the bedroom door — all while wearing her sleep sack. I worry that she is going to trip one day, but so far so good. As soon as I hear her creek the door of the bedroom open, I dash down the hall to her. We then snuggle in bed for a little bit while she nurses before we start our day together.

I must admit that I love sharing a bed with my daughter. Because I work outside the home (soon full time again), I cherish the extra time spent with her. Yes, we are sleeping more of that time, but I love cuddling with my daughter throughout the night. I love being close to her when she has a bad dream. I love nursing her to sleep and back to sleep. I love listening to her breathe as I drift off to sleep. Bed-sharing with a toddler is definitely challenging. However, I will definitely miss the time we spend together when the day comes that my daughter moves to her own bed in her own room.

Did you bed-share with your child? For how long?

Image Credits

Bed Made Up for Bed-sharing © 2012 Heather Johnson
Poppy Sleeping in My Queen Bed © 2013 Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson is a mother, wife, writer, librarian, and linguist. She earned a BA in English studies with a minor in creative writing from Illinois State University in May 2007, an MS in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2009, and an MS in English studies with an emphasis in linguistics at Illinois State University in December 2011.

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