Co-Sleeping Converts #2: When Will He Get His Own Bed?

This is the second in an occasional series on our experience of co-sleeping with our baby (and toddler, as he becomes later on!). You can see the series list here

The most common question people have about co-sleeping may actually be about sex, but as I said in the comments to the first post in this series, the most common question people actually ask us is, ‘When will SBJ get his own bed?’

Most people are genuinely curious, and open-minded and kind about it. Thanks, guys! Underlying the question for some people, though, is the idea that we might be stunting his developing independence by co-sleeping. In modern Western culture, this is a fair concern, so I thought I’d respond to it today.

Co-sleeping Converts 2, When will he get his own bed?


One of Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is ‘Begin with the End in Mind.’ A picture of what kind of 18-year-old son I hope to have in the house in coming years helps me figure out how to parent SBJ now.

But that’s not the same thing as treating him like an 18-year-old now. I want him to learn to drive but I’m not giving him his own set of keys just yet. I want him to be independent, but, as Pippa said on the first post, ‘before independence comes dependence.’

I want him to sleep in his own bed at some point. And, yes, well before 18! But just as allowing a child to crawl doesn’t get in the way of her learning to walk later on (and in fact, is all part of the developmental process towards good walking), allowing a child to sleep in his parents’ bed when a baby and toddler doesn’t mean he will never learn to sleep independently. I’ve not come across a skerrick of evidence that suggests co-sleeping is problematic for appropriate independence development.

At sixteen months old, SBJ isn’t independent in any way yet (though he might answer differently). He’s not continent, he can’t make his own toast and his idea of importantly drying his own self after a shower leaves him still pretty wet and slippery. He can’t reach the door handle to leave the apartment, let alone the pedals of the car (thank goodness). So why he should be expected to sleep independently if he doesn’t want to is a mystery to me.

In fact, letting him sleep with us, is, in our case, a sort of fostering of independence. As I described in the first post, we only co-sleep because SBJ wants to. He makes it very clear that his preferred way of sleeping is cuddled up to one of us. As soon as he wants to sleep elsewhere, that will be just fine with us.

Anyway, enough of the slightly defensive apologetics! The next post will be about the practicalities of co-sleeping with a toddler who is mobile.

I’ll round off with this story from the marvellous Lucy at Lulastic and the Hippy Shake (as well as a guru on attachment and gentle parenting, she does amazing thrify and crafty and activisty posts, so do have a wander around her beautiful site):

A few weeks ago Ramona woke up in the middle of the night, full of beans. She sleeps in the middle of the two of us, so if she wakes one of us can cuddle her back into dreamland. This time she woke up instantly, and gleefully, and she shouted “LEEEG! Where ARE YOUUUU? There you are! Other leg?! Where aaare youuuu?? FOUND you!”

Yes, YES, my friends. She was playing hide and seek with her limbs.

After stifling my giggles I stroked her head and she snuggled back down into a deep sleep.

People ask us a lot if Ramona, just over two, will ever have her own room. I suspect she will one day, but we are in no hurry at all to usher her out. It is too much of a crack up! Ha. But, really, I still just find it the most perfect way for us. I know that she sees it as her place too for now, and that that won’t last forever- it won’t be long before she will be hankering after her own space I am sure.

[Read more at Lulastic and the Hippy Shake.]

This is part of an occasional series on our adventures in co-sleeping. You can see the series list here and find out from the comments that heaps of people are doing this! Please feel free to leave a note with your own experiences or thoughts.

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0 comments on “Co-Sleeping Converts #2: When Will He Get His Own Bed?”

  1. kindikat Reply

    J slept in our bed for a very long time as well. We had a cot as well and I would put her down for her naps in that in the afternoon but at night she was with us. I breastfed until 20 months and that meant being able to lie around in bed for ages in the morning. I can’t quite remember when she transitioned to the cot at night as well, I think it came round the end of the breastfeeding time but also had quite a bit to do with sex 😉

  2. Robyn Ryan Reply

    Oh I LOVE reading all about SBJ & parenting him 🙂 WE co-slept all our (4) sons … NOT our choice it was theirs !! Made “life” so much easier whilst breast feeding though. With 2yrs between each of the three pregnancies we sometimes woke in the mornings with at least 3 “little people” in our bed !!! NOT a queen or king size either – just a common old double … I got the “tut tut” – mainly from my mother !!! I was determined to parent “my way” NOT the “children are seen but not heard” her way … They all had their daytime naps in their own beds/cots & started out in their own beds/cots for the night. BUT for their first 2-3yrs we more often or not woke with them “in amongst us” … Our eldest son is here now (42yrs old this year) so I asked him if he remembered sleeping with us 🙂 “yes Mum, I do”. I think he continued to come for “reassurance” for a wee while after he started school – he remembers he said “when he had bad dreams”. It was interesting waking with no.2 son on one side, one twin in the middle, & another twin on the outside edge … They all stopped WELL BEFORE 18 even well before 10 !!
    A quiet whisper from me “come on now back to your bed” & I’d no sooner settle one back & another one would “slip” in with us for a “cuddle” or “I’m scared can I come here for a while” … They definitely decide when they want their own beds – it just seemed a “natural” move up to the independence … it was very strange waking that first time with out one of them in between us …

  3. Miriam Reply

    We haven’t coslept with our 2 year old (because we all sleep better if we don’t) but I admire people who can and I’m sure it the way nature intended. In many cultures it is the norm.

  4. Steph Reply

    Liam slept with us full time until he was 2 and for the last year and a bit he has slept in his own bed about 50% of the time and the rest of the time he still finds his way to us. In fact he is lying snuggled up to me now as I typed this on my phone! I’m in no rush for him to become “independent”. I want to savour these snuggles as long as I can.
    As for sex – you just have to be creative. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Co-Sleeping Converts #1: The First Six Months | sacraparental

  6. Liz Reply

    It’s also important to note that there is an evolutionary component to human behavior and needs that is never really discussed in this debate. Families sleeping in their own beds separate from one another is a recent practice in human history… A hundred years ago (heck, 50 years ago) it was common for families to all sleep together in one room. People didn’t have the resources to build huge multi-room houses unless they were the upper echelon of society. Before the rise of civilization and throughout human history family tribes slept in groups for safety. There were preditors in the dark, safety was in numbers and staying together as a group ESPECIALLY when in a vulnerable state such as sleep when you are unaware of your surroundings. These innate fears (think when you walk through the woods and hear a noise you cannot identify or see the source of or your reaction to being in the dark in a strange place) are evolutionary and do not vanish in a period of 100 years. People are programmed through nature to seek the comfort of their family group. The reason that I bring this up is for 2 reasons 1) co-sleeping is a natural human behavior that has been a part of our history for thousands of years and 2) it actually leads to feelings of being secure because it goes with our nature rather than against. It’s okay to chose to sleep separately, but it is not necessary in order to foster independence. A child will venture out and behave independently when they feel safe and secure because they know they have nothing to fear. Working with evolution and human nature does not cause a child to be dependent, it gives them the best opportunity to find their own independence.

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