Lessons in co-sleeping

Co-sleeping with toddlers

I was the mom who swore my kids will NEVER co-sleep. I vowed they would sleep in their own beds from they day they were born, I’d make the tough decisions and have them sleeping through the night as soon as possible. Then I had kids and the reality was a world away from what I had expected it would be.

5 years and 2 kids on, we’ve learnt a lot about sleep and co-sleeping was a small but necessary part of our journey.

Getting one kid to sleep was a challenge at times; but suddenly we had two kids, at different ages and getting everyone to sleep at the same time was more of a challenge.

Our sleep setup

We made the choice to move our kids into the same room- shocker, I know! But it worked for us. Often times, I would be the only parent at home to put the kids to bed. With one breastfeeding baby and very attached-to-his-mom toddler, bedtime became something I dreaded.

So I did what I wasn’t supposed to do. I made one big bed. My son would fall asleep next to me while I fed my daughter to sleep. I’d pop her into her crib and fall asleep next to my son. Over time, my daughter would no longer be content back in her crib, and wanted to comfort feed more often. At around 11 months I decided to end night feedings with her.

The first few nights were tough, but eventually she settled for the comfort of a cuddle. And there we were; all in one bed, sleeping.

We co-slept; and for a while it worked well. We were all sleeping well and there were no bedtime struggles. But I longed to get back to normality, to not fall asleep at 7 every night.

Hello room sharing

We separated their beds and explained that things needed to change. We traded co-sleeping for room sharing and after about a week, my kids no longer questioned it. We’ve come to a point where they easily fall asleep in their own beds.

I have found that room sharing has given them both a sense of comfort that they need at this point. Our kids are still room sharing, though I’m sure this too will come to an end sooner rather than later.

Lessons I’ve learnt

Lesson 1: Don’t be so hard on your kids, this phase will come to an end.

Lesson 2: End night feedings when your kids are ready- it is often times more a comfort feed than anything else.

Lesson 3: Do what works for you- you need to sleep to function!

Lesson 4: Communicate what is happening to your kids- a 10 month old may be small, but they understand a lot more than you think. Explain why you are dropping a night feed, explain why you do not want to sleep in the same bed as them. They’re pretty smart!

 

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Celesté is a Pretoria based lifestyle photographer and mom of two. Her photographs focus on capturing emotion, unposed moments and timeless imagery.