Co-Sleeping with a Baby
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Co-sleeping > Co-Sleeping with a Baby
Our 3 1/2-month old sleeps in bed with me and my
husband. He does well until around 4:00 am (easily goes
back to sleep after nursing, etc.). But starting around 4:00
am he becomes very restless -- thrashing and kicking his
arms and legs. (At first we thought it was because he had
gas, but we have discovered he thrashes regardless.) He
seems to sleep through it all, but my husband and I have a
hard time doing the same. This has been going on for at
least a month. Does anyone know if this is common baby
behavior? Has anyone been able to calm their baby's
restless arms and legs? Or is it time for us to start
transitioning him to his own bed?
My baby moved around quite alot as well at that age. We put
her in a bassinet right next to the bed (or you could use a co-
sleeper) which would minimize the disruption to your sleep.
Your post reminded me of a friend's infant - now 7 years old -
who started to be a big thrasher around 5, 6 months. In that
child's case, the child was diagnosed with sleep apnea and was I
guess thrashing around for increased air. The baby's adenoids
turned out to be big and partially blocked breathing. My friend
described her baby as snoring, mouth breathing, and doing a kind
of sucking, choking sound as well as thrashing. Just a thought.
I think that an ENT doctor evaluates that sort of thing.
P.S. The baby had her adenoids out and become a champion quiet,
Good luck to you!
It's normal for babies to move around when they sleep,
particularly when they go through milestones. At this age your
baby is becoming much more aware of the world around him, is
getting control over his body and soon will start rolling around
and sitting down, plus he may be starting to teeth. All these
things disturb his sleep. Chances are that he'll go back to a
quiet type of sleep for a while, only to be disturbed again when
he reaches another milestone. In a few months, you'll have him
crawling in his sleep!
If his movements bother you and your husband, you should think of
transitioning him now, when it's still easy. You could put a
crib near your bed so you still have him close but he doesn't hit
One of our babies did the same thing--he's now 7 months and I'd
say it hasn't been a problem since 4 months or so? I'm finding
that with most baby-related ''problems,'' the simple answer is that
you just need to wait and it will resolve itself!
Three months is when we moved our daughter into her own sleeping
space. We really liked the idea of having her in bed with us but
nobody was getting any rest because she is so restless. It was
hard - I missed having her right next to me! - but it was really
good we did because we all slept better and she really likes
being in her own crib now.
The same thing happened to us with our now 12 month old son when
he was around that 3-4 months, so we began to swaddle him at
naptime/bedtime and it helped a lot. We swaddled him until he
was about 6 months and swaddling helped keep him asleep longer,
and it also helped on the transition from our bed to his crib.
Hopefully that will help you guys, good luck!
My baby began to thrash around at four months and I started to
transition him to his crib at this time. For me, it has worked
out just great, and my son loves his crib. If you aren't ready
to start moving him out, you could try swaddling him when he
sleeps with you and this might keep his movements down...
Try swaddling your baby. It sounded kind of old-fashioned to me
but it works and it is fine for the baby.
One explanation (and instructions) can be found in Harvey Karp's
'Happiest Baby on the Block' book. Apparently there is a DVD
i have a 2 year old who has done this on and off forever. he's
now transitioning to a toddler bed....i entirely missed the crib
my advice is you will all sleeep better if he goes in a crib.
i wish i had taken my own advice.
Our 41/2 month old son has been sleeping in bed since he was
born, (first baby) now he is strong and big 16lbs. and rolling
so we need to figure out something else, but we don't know
what. We need to have some personal snuggle time but the baby
is always between us. We tried to get one of those bed rails so
he could be on one side but our mattress is too big 15''... any
suggestions- we were also told that co-sleepers are onle good
for 17lbs or less? The bedis already next to wall - not good
enough. The thought of a crib has come up but we still want him
in bed with us and we don't think he will sleep alone. He has to
fall asleep on one of us and sleeps on me most of the night
after nursing. Help with ideas are really appreciated. Liza
We kept our son in bed with or near us for the first year,
which we all loved, except for the part about the kicking,
thrashing, sideways-sleeping little body taking up most of
the bed. My solution was to take my sister's porta-crib [one
of those miniature cribs where the sides fold in] and remove
its 4th side, so that it became kind of a co-sleeper for big
kids. I secured it around with a belt clamp, keeping the
sides all snug. You can also use some c-clamps to secure
it more snugly to your bed; ours was jammed between the
bed and the wall pretty tight, so we felt it was safe. You can
place a piece of board or cardboard beneath the crib
mattress if you think the gap presents a problem. The crib's
mattress was somewhat lower than our mattress top, but
our son climbed up to us when he needed us and we were
able to slide him over into the crib pretty easily too. It's so
nice to just be able to reach over and comfort him - it
worked really well for us. It did make it a lot harder to make
Have you tried all different types of bed rails? We have a tall
mattress too and finally found a brand (Safety First I think?)
that works perfectly. It doesn't need to be really high off the
bed-just enough to prevent a roll. I would not recommend the
bed against the wall as baby can get wedged between the bed and
the wall. I put my baby on the outside with the bed rail up and
find she is more far more likely to roll towards me than she is
to roll to the outside near the guard.
we had a lot of luck putting our son's crib, minus one side
rail, right up against our bed. It functions just like a co-
sleeper, but give us a lot more room in the parent's bed. he
can roll over when he needs some milk or a snuggle and
we can roll him back when he falls asleep again.
You could try putting your mattress right on the floor and adding
a second mattress and extra bedding materials right next to it, to
make a super-sized bed for all three of you!
Not only does this eliminate getting scrunched up when your kid
squirms and rolls, but there is enough space for all of you to
sleep soundly while enjoying the many sweetened benefits of the
family bed. Plus, it makes for a great play area during the day!
A couple of our friends came up with this idea, and we have
implemented it as well - our 18-month old is the most cuddly yet
tossy-turny sleeper, and the double-mattressed bed is the most
ingenious and simple solution. Enjoy!
Before our babies could crawl, we took off one side of a crib and
jammed it between our bed and the wall. We raised the crib
mattress so it was level with ours. I know another family who
attached a crib to their bed with bungee cords.
Help- we have a real problem -getting worse every day-
Our son whom is breast fed- on demand is not sleeping through
the night. Not nearly, he is up every hour to nurse, granted he
is teething -just cutting second tooth... first one was so
painful for him. So he sleeps with us in our bed, but he insists
on sleeping on my chest, that way he can nurse when he wants and
it is right there... good for me- sometimes I sleep straight
through. Lately I'm not sure if it is the teething or not he is
so cranky during the night if I roll him off me to sleep by my
side he wakes right up and screams, sometimes he sleeps next to
me but he always wakes sooner than if hee were righr on top and
if my husband tries to cuddle up to him he screams and if my
husband tries to put him on his chest he screams bloody crazy.
My husband is so sad. His not wanting my husband if he is not
totally happy and wide awake thing has been going on for a
month or more... he is so upset about it , he thinks I'm doing
it somehow- am I?!
I think there may be a few things going on ,but they are all
wrapped together now. We just got a crib to try to encourage
independant sleeping but we haven't gone through the whole crazy
srceaming yet. We put him down and when he wakes at midnight or
so he comes in bed with us We are a little scared at what lies
ahead- I'm afraid of traumatizing him if we suddenly change his
sleeping arrangement- but I can't sleep well now that he is
getting heavier- I'm afraid he will never sleep off of me....Our
son is very aware and active he also dosen't really like to be
down at all unless he is playing in a bouncy chair, play gym or
saucer. I mostly carry him in a sling - or my husband would
carry him too since he was born- he has had lots of contact.
He is so use to it. he dosen't really like to stroll either he
prefers to be slung around.
Please any advice on all or part of our problem- please don't be
too harsh - this is our first child and we just want to love him
and give him what he needs. any similar cases? Sorry to be so
tired in Berkeley
It sounds to me that you give your child a lot of control. A
child at 6 months doesn't need to be nursed at night
anymore unless it's not gaining weight or is sick in any way.
Spend a lot of attention with your baby at day time but at
night he needs to sleep by himself. Maybe he can come to
bed with you in the morning for nursing and cuddling but if
he is not getting used to his bed now it will be even harder
later on. He will cry a lot at the beginning but you can
comfort by talking to him but don't pick him up. Walk in the
room every 10 minutes or so to let him know that he is not
alone. After a while walk in every 20 minutes. It might take a
few days or even weeks. If you give in once you can start all
over again because babies are smart. I did this with my 6
months old. She gets lots of attention during the day but the
night is for sleeping. Your husband can also walk in the
room to comfort him so he knows that dady is there for him
too. I know that you always pick up a newborn when it cries
but at 6 months should get more independent.
Good Luck !!
We had a similar experience with our son. He is now 22 months
old and has been sleeping through the night since he was about 12
As for advice, I'm not sure what will work, but just hang in
there, because ''this too shall pass.''
Sometimes the most important thing is knowing that other people
are going or have been through the same thing. So, here is a
snippet of our experience.
I also nursed on demand.
Our son started teething at 4 months (first teeth appeared at 6
and continued pretty regularly each month -- it seems as if he
was always teething.) He was really miserable teething (ear
infections, swollen glands.)
*** We used Tylenol/Motrin and a topical (anbesol or oral gel)
For the first 4 months he would never sleep in a crib or a
*** He just slept on one of us.
*** At about 6 months old he started sleeping (2-3 hours at a
time) on the portable changing table from the pack and play (we
put it on the floor next to our futon that was on the floor.) He
also slept in his car seat sometimes.
*** At 7 months he decided that he'd rather sleep on the gimini
mat (the thing with the 2 arches with toys hanging down.)
*** At 8 months he slept in the pack and play (4 hours at a
time). He was sleeping through the night by 12 months.
He never got used to sleeping in a crib. The advantage is that
when we travel, he never has a problem sleeping in the pack and
play crib! We are in the process of switching him over to a
toddler bed. Interestingly enough, he doesn't like it at all,
but prefers the big bed in the guest room. So, such is life.
That is his new bed. If that's where he wants to sleep, then so
We hated when friends told us that their baby has been sleeping
through the night since 18 hours old.
During this time, my husband and I were always exhausted. We
became late night TV watchers (we never watched TV before.)
We fought a lot because we were always exhausted.
We often slept in separate rooms so that at least one of us
resembled a human being.
Our solution was to throw money at the problem...
we hired a nanny and used lots of babysitters (sometimes we would
just lock ourselves in our room and sleep when the sitter
By the way, we now have a 6 month old daughter that wakes up
every 2-3 hours....but alas, she at least stays in her crib
without too much fuss ;-)
My husband and I were in a similar situation with our baby
awhile back, and so I know how difficult this can be, both
emotionally and physically. Here are several suggestions
that really turned things around for us;
1. Read the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by
Marc Weissbluth. This was our biggest savior. He spends
a lot of time talking about patterns of sleep in babies and
how important it is that they get enough sleep, meaning
sustained sleep. We realized that our baby needed to take
better naps, and that would feed into better night sleep.
Essentially, fussiness and irritability was due to sleep
deprivation, and not teething or gassiness as we had
thought. The book helped us figure out timing for putting the
baby down to sleep, which helped to reduce crying. He is
not against co-sleeping, and incorporates this into his book.
2. You might want to try swaddling your baby when you try to
move him off your body. This helped for us as well, and we
swaddled up to about 7 months. Also, you could put a
heating pad, set on low and covered with one of your tee
shirts under the baby when you move him off -- just be sure
to turn it off as soon as you put the baby on. The pad will
stay warm for awhile, and this may be comforting to him.
I feel for you, but you have to help your baby learn to sleep
independent of you. You can do it gradually without tramatizing
the baby, too. I purchased a book about dealing with sleep
problems. I read a book I bought on Amazon based on the
recommendation of a dear friend who had the same problem. It is
called ''How to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night'' and it
is written by two Berkeley moms whose husbands are
pediatricians. They give excellent techniques for ''Ferberizing''
your baby with minimal trauma for you and your family. They
give lots of details and step-by-step instructions for
breastfeeding moms like yourself, too. I also breastfeed, and
it was very tempting to keep her with me in bed, but that only
makes things worse. Thanks to this invaluable book, my daughter
began only waking once per night to nurse. I read it when my
daughter was about 7 months old. She's 14 months old now and
still wakes once a night to nurse, and everyone in the house is
A couple of thoughts that might help you -- we've gone through a
variety of similar things at some point in our 14-month-old's
development; some easier, some not:
1) It turns out that once my son got used to sleeping in the
crib, he sleeps much better there than in our bed. When he slept
in bed with us, he woke every hour to nurse, or sometimes just to
cry; when he slept in the crib, he slept for several hours without
waking up. We started out putting him in the crib at bedtime and
then taking him in with us when he woke; then we went to nursing
him the first time he woke, getting him to be sound asleep, and
then putting him in his crib; then taking him in with us the
second time he woke, and so on, until he slept in his crib the
whole night (I was never able to do the ''let 'em cry it out''
approach; I cried harder than he did!). This approach, though it
took time, enabled him to sleep alone pretty well; though he still
does feed once a night. But after I feed him, he curls up by
himself in the crib and goes to sleep with no problem.
2) Kids go through the ''not wanting mom/not wanting dad'' thing as
a regular part of growing up. For awhile, my son wanted only me
(and his dad was sad); now he's going through an ''I want daddy''
phase. You haven't done anything wrong, nor has your husband.
Kids just do that. Since you nurse him, and since he can smell
your milk, he will probably want to be close to you at night,
rather than your husband.
3) At about 5-6 months, we introduced my son to a ''blankie'' -- a
little blanket (about 14 inches square) that was flannel on one
side and satin on the other. It's small and light enough that
there's no danger of suffocation; even sound asleep he's strong
enough at his age to push it off his face. At first, I slept with
it myself for a couple of nights so it smelled like me, then I
started putting it down with him every time he went to sleep, and
holding it against him as he nursed. He started pretty quickly to
use it as a surrogate security object; he now grabs it and buries
his face in it when it's time to sleep, and can also use it for
comfort if he has hurt himself or is upset for some other reason.
We actually have several, just in case we lose one...
If you love him and work with him, he will eventually grow out of
all of this; but it does take some time and teaching.
Your problem sounds hauntingly familiar, and you may be tired of
hearing this, but IT WILL GET BETTER! Our 9-month old now sleeps
through the night in her crib,and has for about two months.
However, for the first six or seven months of her life, she was
usually in bed with us by midnight, more often than not on my
chest. And she, too, cried a lot if we tried to put her on dad.
The most important thing for both of you to recognize is that
this is nobody's fault! Breastfed babies are smart -- they know
where the good stuff comes from. Plus, it was your body that
sheltered the little guy for nine months, so naturally it feels
best to him. In terms of what you can do to change the
situation? We read all the books and quickly realized they
didn't make sense for us. What I did was try to nurse her back
to sleep sitting in a chair in her room when she woke for the
first time. If she wouldn't go down, I took her to bed and put
her next to me and nursed some more. Then she slept, and it was
minimal effort to nurse again. Gradually, she slept longer in
her crib, and when she did wake, we let her cry for just a
little bit to see if she would go back to sleep. And then, one
night, she did! She still wakes around 5 or 6 in the morning,
and we nurse in bed and all sleep together -- now it's cozy,
rather than a pain, which it used to be. And she still prefers
me to her dad to some extent, but that too is changing. So tell
your husband to lay off you -- you're doing a great thing for
this baby in providing him with all the physical comfort and
love and milk he wants and needs. Dad's turn will come, and in
the meantime, he should be glad that the baby likes to play with
him when he's awake and happy!
We do family bed and your predicament sounds familiar. It seems
that babies go through periods of sleeping better and periods of
greater neediness at night. My daughter is now a year and still
sleeps with us. I remember times when I would have to hold her
in my arms the whole night long, during times of teething and/or
illness. And, I know how frustrating feeling sleep deprivation
can be. There were times when I felt like throwing family bed
out the window. But being at the end of the tunnel (for the
most part), I am glad that I stuck with it. Your sleeping
arrangements are a personal decision and I think you have to
decide how much you can handle and what you are willing to
give. Based on my experience, it does get better as they get
In terms of your current predicament, I would suggest
having your husband put your baby to sleep. He may cry a lot at
the beginning, but will eventually fall asleep and get used to
this routine. This gives you a break, allows for some bonding
time between them, and your baby will learn that he can receive
comfort from his father as well. (We did this with my daughter
and she is sleeping so much better and nursing much less at
night). If your baby is sleeping in the crib until midnight,
this means that he can sleep in places other than on your
chest. You may try sideline nursing him once you move him to
the bed (you lay on your side and he lays on the bed and nurses
on the breast closest to the mattress). When he wakes up, you
or your husband can rub his back or rock him. I know when they
are crying and you just want to get back to sleep that the
easiest thing to do is nurse them, which I have done many a
time. But, other forms of soothing do work. They just take a
little longer and require that you sit through a little bit of
screaming. If your husband really wants to participate in the
night time ritual of putting him back to sleep (be thankful),
you can calm your baby down if he starts freaking out (by
nursing or whatever), then give him back to your husband to rock
to sleep. You can go back and forth like this until your baby
is calmed and begins to learn how to be soothed by both
parents. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but it has
worked for us. Also, a dose of Tylenol before bedtime has helped
us tremendously during peak teething times. And, your husband
should know that babies do tend to prefer their mothers at this
point. I don't think it has much to do with you. It will change
with time. Good luck.
I just had to write even though I am a single mom and so I can't
say anything about the husband issue. However, I co-sleep with my
daughter so I have some experience with that. First off, I don't
think you are doing anything wrong. I carried (and still do) my
baby all the time and all I can say it got easier as soon as she
started crawling at 8 month and now almost walking at 10 1/2
month. She became more independent and doesn't want to be carried
as much anymore and even lets me put her in the stroller at times,
which is nice for my back. And for the most part she sleeps
better - I think she wears herself out. When I was reading your
post, two things came to mind: It might be a bit much for your
baby to go from sleeping on top of you to sleeping in the crib.
You might want to teach your baby nursing when side-lying during
the day when you are both in a good mood and not too sleepy - it
works great for us, as my daughter can nurse quite easily at night
and I can sleep without her on top of me (even tough I miss
that!). But we both had to learn how to do this. Also, whenever
my baby cuts teeth things get unpredictable, but then again I try
to think about how I am when I am in pain, and that helps me cope
with my baby. Also, I don't want to tell you what to do, but I
just don't believe in the teaching babies to sleep through the
night but letting them cry it out in the crib - I wouldn't like to
be treated that way and it seems to me it would break trust. But
that is my personal opinion. I encourage you to read what Sears
and Sears (Baby Book, Attachment Parenting Book) have to say about
Hi. I have been happily co-sleeping with my 9 month old son
since his birth. Lately, however this is becoming more of a
challenge. He goes to bed a couple of hours before my husband
and I do, has been recently waking up when we come to bed. We
now have to talk in whispers in bed, or not at all, and reading
in bed is basically a thing of the past. I could do without
these things, but we seem to be disturbing his slumber even
being as quiet as mice. Even if he does stay asleep, he seems to
be sleeping very lightly, moving around a lot, greatly invading
my sleeping space, and usually ends up needing to be nursed back
to a deep sleep. He has begun waking up at different times
through the night again, after months of sleeping through. I
know it is not great to get into the habit of nursing him back
to sleep, but that is the only way to get him to easily go back
to sleep with a minimum of disturbance and fussing. I'm also
concerned about nap time, as he is now a crawling man. I
surround him with pillows and toys, but it seems like only a
matter of time before he makes it over the barriers and lands
headfirst on the floor. We are reluctant to put our bed on the
floor- does anyone have any other suggestions for me??? I don't
really feel like any of us are ready to end the co-sleeping, but
perhaps it is just time for a crib...I'd love to know what
others have done in this situation. Thanks!
We recently went through the same thing with our 13 month
old. He had been acting as your child had since he was
about nine months. We were very worried about him falling
off bed, and we were also getting much less sleep than we
used to get. Also- he was much more physical, biting,
kicking, moving around in his sleep or between sleep.
So----we bit the bullet, and we spent the last two weeks first
night weaning him (took 5 nights) and then moving him to
his crib and letting him learn to fall alseep on his own. He
now falls asleep on his own in the crib and sleeps, without
milk, from 6 PM until 6 AM with a few brief wakeups. This did
involve some crying, but not as much as I thought, and he
used to cry anyway with us there as he was trying to fall
asleep. We also tackeled naps, and he now takes them in
the crib as well. I would be happy to talk with you more if you
want more specifics. We relied heavily on Weissbluth's
book ''Healthy Sleep Habits Healthy Kids.'' E-mail me at
How about trying a crib from the time your child falls asleep
until the first wake up? This will help you for the eventual
transition away from the family bed. We ended the whole night
family bed fairly early but have always brought the baby in at
the 4-5 am nursing and still resort to it during times of
illness. Except when the baby's very sick we seem to all sleep
worse together. It just curbs the wake ups and allows us to cope
with them horizontally.
When none of you are sleeping well in the same bed, it's time to
try separate beds. You can put his crib in your room if a
separate bedroom is too far away for your comfort, or you can
put a mattress on the floor for him if you dislike cribs (just
be sure the room is very well babyproofed, since he'll be able
to get out of bed on his own!). And if/when he wakes up in the
middle of the night, you can simply fetch him back into your bed
and nurse him back to sleep. That's what most people I know do,
that's what I've always done, and I really don't understand why
so many people think nursing a baby back to sleep is a ''bad
habit'' if that's the fastest and most convenient way for
everyone to get back to sleep!!! For what it's worth, my son is
now 22 months old and sleeps through the night (by which I mean
9 or 10 p.m. to 6 or 7 a.m.) much more often than not. We have
NEVER done any type of sleep training, gentle or cry-it-out, I
have always nursed him back to sleep when he wakes at night, and
everyone in the house gets enough sleep.
Remember, too, that nothing you try has to be permanent if it
doesn't work out for you or for your baby. But what you're
doing now isn't working, so try something else. Don't be afraid
to do what works now just because you're afraid you won't want
to do it any more in another year or three years. Babies change
much too fast to be concerned about that sort of thing.
Our co-sleeping lives improved dramatically the minute we
starting using the Graco Pack-N-Play. Any co-sleeping baby who
takes a ''header'' off the bed while napping needs to be moved
elsewhere. Wouldn't you begin to relax more knowing that you baby
isn't going to silently crawl off the bed before you even know
he's awake? When you're in bed with him you're very aware of him
and he's safe, but a mobile baby needs a secure place to nap. We
liked the Pack-N-Play because somehow it didn't make us feel like
we were giving up on the co-sleeping plan, as though somehow it
wasn't really a crib. We keep it at the foot of our bed, and
lately we've been putting her in it at the start of the night
too. She'll wake up after several hours and we simply pull her
into bed with us. So far we're really happy with this solution.
My daughter co-slept with us, although at about five to seven
months we began putting her down in her crib and bringing her in
the bed when she woke in the night to eat. Around nine months
when in our bed she slept more lightly and then would wake
frequently to nurse for a few minutes at a time. I found this
very disruptive to my sleep and the very frequent nursing quite
annoying, even though I loved nursing her and felt very positive
about it overall. At that point I discontinued middle of the
night feedings, allowing her to come into our bed and nurse at 5
a.m. Instead of bringing her into our bed to nurse and sleep,
I went into her room and hugged and comforted her without taking
her out of the crib. We had about 2 or 3 horrible nights of her
being upset and then she got used to it. That solution worked
really well for us. It sounds like your situation is somewhat
different in that your child has never slept in a crib, but your
son would likely transition well to it if you decide you are
comfortable with this. Good luck.
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