Co-Sleeping with Multiple Children

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  • April 21, 2013

baby sleepA family bed (a fancy name for instances when parents have more than one child sleeping, or co-sleeping, with them in one ‘family’ bed) is quite common. Although not many families talk about it, they do need to consider what happens when another baby is introduced into a family bed. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that experts do not recommend that infants and toddlers share the same bed. Given that there is a safety issue, is there a solution that works for everyone?

Bedsharing with an infant and a mobile toddler is not safe, nor is it recommended, as the toddler could inadvertently hurt the baby. No one wants that (especially parents), so I highly recommend that you examine your sleeping arrangements and choose a safe option that works for your family.

Regardless of where you are at in your co-sleeping relationship, there are a few solutions that will allow you to either continue to safely co-sleep or room share with multiple children. When bed sharing with any child, please ensure that you are practicing safe co-sleeping with all of your children, infants and toddlers alike.

Consider creative room sharing

Rather than putting everyone in the same bed, consider room sharing with your newborn. The rest of your family could continue with current co-sleeping arrangements, and your newborn would be in the same room, allowing fast response times, and closeness for the whole family without endangering your infant. If this seems to extreme, you may consider a sidecar for your bed, such as a co-sleeper.

Use a Co-Sleeper

Arm’s Reach makes a fantastic co-sleeper bassinet that hugs your current mattress, allowing your baby to be part of the bed, without actually being in your bed. This separation keeps an infant safe, without disturbing your current co-sleeping arrangement. If you aren’t in a traditional bed (maybe you’re using a mattress on the floor), consider a bassinet that can sit on the floor; or, you may want to consider adding another mattress to the mix.

Get another mattress

You may have been able to sleep in your king (or even a queen) with one child, but you’ll be adding another person, one who needs to sleep well away from your toddler. One solution may be to purchase an additional mattress, and have one parent co-sleep with the older child (or children), and mom sleep with baby. This would ensure that an active toddler is not near the baby during the night. If your toddler is showing signs of readiness for their own bed, now would be a good time to gently shuffle your sleeping arrangements.

Transition your toddler to their own bed

If your toddler is asking about or has shown an interest in a ‘big kid’ bed, consider moving just your toddler into their own bed, (you can still room share with them) while your family makes the transition. This is a move that you will want to make well before baby arrives, both to help your toddler adjust to the new sleeping arrangements, and to avoid your toddler feeling that they’ve been ousted from the family bed.

Whatever method you choose, I strongly encourage you to do your research, and lots of it. Make sure that your co-sleeping arrangements are safe, and (most importantly), that your sleeping arrangements work for your family.

Which co-sleeping option works best for your family?

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photo credit: NoVa Hokie via photopin cc

Kim West
Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 24 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. She is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight, its companion Workbook and 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. Click here to read more about her.

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