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Nighty-Night. Now Sleep There!

You've had a long day. You're exhausted. Your child is sick. He had a nightmare. And in the middle of the night, he climbs into your bed, wraps his arms around you, steals your pillow and falls asleep. Do you:

A) Fall back asleep
B) Move to his bed
C) Give him a hug, pick him up and bring him back to his bed?

Admit it: Most parents are more interested in actually getting sleep than fighting the battle of the bed. As such, more and more parents are losing control of their beds (and pillows, and covers). Of course, some families start out this way in the early days by turning their bed into the family bed.

Is this the result of too many experts -- Ferber, Spock, Sears, private sleep specialists, and myriad baby/toddler sleep books -- telling parents how to get their kids to sleep? Just the thought of trying to choose the "right" way induces insomnia. Of course, on the occasional nights when our kids climb into our bed, kick, pull hair and sprawl horizontally, we turn into exhausted zombies. That's clearly not ideal either.

What are your sleep experiences like? When is the right time to take back your bed?

Today's Talkers: Families Face Child Care Crunch ... Adult Drugs for Sick Kids ... Obesity Surgery Triples Among Teens

By Stacey Garfinkle |  March 6, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Babies , Preschoolers
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We have been blessed with a great sleeper from the beginning, but he of course has his moments. Most times we would just let him stay in our room if he woke in the middle of the night, since it was rare. However, as he has gotten bigger (he's 3.5 yo) if he sleeps with us he kicks us all night and neither of us sleeps at all. We're making ourselves put him back to his bed now, which usually goes just fine anyway.

Posted by: Burke VA | March 6, 2007 7:31 AM | Report abuse

My BIL & SIL are big fans of the family bed, to the point they have two king beds and 3 kids (ages 2, 5, and 8 years) with them all night, every night. I really don't want to be judgemental, but when do you draw the line? The oldest can't do overnights with grandma, with us, or a sleepover with friends b/c she can't sleep by herself.

I'm not sure what I will do when I have kids, but I really hope I don't end up with an 8 year old in my bed.

Posted by: Someone | March 6, 2007 7:41 AM | Report abuse

After stumbling my way blearily through my first child's year, I -- out of desperation -- finally read Dr. Ferber's book, which had been recommended to me by so many other mothers. It took three nights to train my son, and life after that took on a completely different (and rosy) hue. We were smarter with our second and started sleep training her around 6 months. Both of my kids are great sleepers -- meaning that when it's bedtime, they go to bed and stay there. My second gets up earlier than I'd like, but you can win 'em all.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 6, 2007 7:42 AM | Report abuse

My kids have always been and stayed in their beds for two reasons. #1 - I need, and I mean really need my sleep so from the beginning, I was comitted to having them sleep in their rooms. Now they know better than to mess with my unless it is a nightmare or illness, none of this "I'm thirsty baloney". #2 My kids will not stop talking if we do let them in our bed, they think its party time - so it is just as well to put them back after they feel comfortable.

I know people whose kids do lots of different nighttime stuff and I'm grateful that they go down and stay down. I attribute it to equal parts parenting and good luck.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 6, 2007 8:02 AM | Report abuse

I agree with you on the family bed bit, but I suppose there are worse things you could do to your kids - like let 'em smoke pot like those kids on the news. I find it to be funny, but I guess whatever works for them. I always wonder how they got the 2 year old with a room full? Does that mean they are downstairs on the sofa? I don't want to know that. YIKES. DIfferent Strokes!

Posted by: to someone | March 6, 2007 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Someone - I find it weird and the question does remain - where do you draw the line and how does it impede your child's development. I have acquantainces that still "lie down" with their 11 and 13 year olds. Neither child can go to sleep with out mom or dad laying down with them in the bed. When they visit relatives they all sleep in the same room. They do sleep over at grandma's and friends houses but I think they were much older when it happened - maybe 8 or 9. My kids were sleeping over at the grandparents when they were infants.

We did have a problem with our son till about 2 years ago when he was almost 4, he wanted me to lay down with him in our bed then when he fell asleep we threw him in his bed where he spent the whole night. Finally I just told him he had to sleep in his bed and he said OK. I guess he was just ready to move on - thankfully!

Posted by: cmac | March 6, 2007 8:18 AM | Report abuse

I am happy to say I have a great sleeper, which I am sure is because I was desperate to get sleep myself, so we trained him fairly early, at about 5 months. For us, the kids need to be in their own bed, so when my son starts climbing out of his bed, he will be going right back (unless ill or something). I personally think the family bed will cause sleep issues for the kids. To me, it is just strange and bad for a marriage. But, everyone has to decide what works for them.

Posted by: MD mom | March 6, 2007 8:22 AM | Report abuse

"I have acquantainces that still "lie down" with their 11 and 13 year olds"

You really gotta wonder if some people lose their minds when they have kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

With #1 child, although she slept well early on, she somehow lost it later. So we ferberized when she was about 7 months old. After about a week, she was good. She then went to sleep easily and slept well for a couple of years. Then she started to require one of us to stay with her until she fell asleep. This could take hours and the phase lasted for months. She actually improved when we moved #2 into her room with her.

We tried ferberizing with #2 at a similar age and it just never really worked with her. Eventually we got her sleeping okay but then she started sharing a room with #1 and started sleeping in a bed rather than a crib. And she learned how to open doors. We probably would have given in and let her sleep with us if she would actually sleep but it never works. So we do a lot of escorting her back to bed. Most of the time, that's enough. She just wants to be tucked in again.

#3 started sleeping through at 11 weeks and will sleep 11-12 hours a night. I credit it to the fact that we couldn't obsess about noise with #1 and #2 running around and shrieking all the time. #3 just learned to tune out that part of his environment.

Every now and then, #1 will come to our bed in the middle of the night. Sometimes we let her stay. But the next day we remind her about what she's supposed to do. Parent: "What do you do if you wake up in the night?" #1: "Go back to sleep." Parent: "Where?" #1: "In my room. In my bed." It usually works. Of course, #1 is almost 5; one can have a semi-rational conversation with her. #2 is 2 so we just try to be boring and put her back to bed.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | March 6, 2007 8:38 AM | Report abuse

My children know they are welcome in our bed if they want tocome in. They go to sleep in their own rooms/beds but invariably our 3 year old comes in the middle of the night and gets in our king sized bed (that is why we moved up from a queen). We hardly notice. We have little steps at the end of the bed for her. She climbs in and goes right to sleep. No big deal. Our almost 6 year old used to do this but now rarely does, unless he is sick. As our 3 year old grows she will also grow out of it, I am sure. In fact, there are already some nights that she doesnt come in. We have never made it an issue nor made arbitrary rules about where they sleep, it has just happened naturally. They go to bed in their rooms unless they are sick. They come into our bed if they need us. It seems easy and natural to us. They are good sleepers generally and they like to cuddle. That is about all there is to it.

Posted by: Kent | March 6, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I'm with moxiemom. I trained my kids early (3-4 months) to go to sleep on their own, in their own rooms and they know not to mess with me unless they are sick or had a nightmare. I will say this - it is not for the faint-hearted and it's not a one time thing. Just when you get your baby sleeping through s/he will get sick and will be up in the night and you will have to get up too. Then you'll be back to the drawing board and will have to "sleep train" all over again. Same goes with vacations. But, it is worth it and you don't necessary have to let them "cry-it-out." That was the only thing that worked with my daughter but with my son I was successful using a gradual withdrawal method.

My advice to parents it to teach your kids (at least before kindergarten) to go to sleep on their own, in their own bed. They will sleep better, you will sleep better and they can then sleep over at a relative's house, friend's and will go to sleep for a babysitter. It will give them independence and you freedom. You are not punishing them. When we put my 4-year old to bed, he sings in his bed, kicks the wall and throws his stuffed animals before he goes to sleep. He has a blast! My 7-year old will lay in her bed for a long time in the morning just daydreaming. We have snuggle time in our bed with the kids on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It's something we all look forward to and I lay with both of them to sing a bed time song before bed. So they get plenty of the closeness and warmth but they go to sleep without us there and stay asleep until morning.

Posted by: PT Fed Mof2 | March 6, 2007 8:46 AM | Report abuse

I'm confused about the philosophy of the "Family Bed"? Isn't it what poor people did who couldn't afford beds or the bed space for their children?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Whenever the subject of infant/child sleep comes up, I can't resist singing the praises of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Weissbluth. Although his techniques might not be right for every family or every child, they have worked beautifully for my 4-year- and 14-month-old boys, who sleep happily and soundly in their own beds all night. It's a learned, and I believe essential, skill set for children to fall asleep, fall back to sleep when they awake in the night, and remain asleep independently. (Of course, in the case of illness or something else serious, we respond immediately.)

Our boys welcome snuggling into their comfy beds at night (and, in the case of our toddler, at naptime). I feel we've given them a gift that will last a lifetime.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

We Ferberized my older one at 4 months and it worked great until he was about 2 and started complaining of a fear of the dark. He moved into our bed about hte time our second was born and we've just moved him out using a sticker chart and rewards. We're just ferberizing my second (10 months). I didn't think it would work because I tried cry-it-out several months ago to no avail (literally cried for hours each time he woke for three nights in a row). Finally I was desperate and actually bought Ferber's book in case he had some hints. When I did it exactly as in the book, it worked well. But now he's teething and up all night again. I wish I'd bought the book before because I'd have gotten a lot more sleep.

Posted by: m | March 6, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Everybody who's into the "family bed" will tell you that it's been human nature for thousands of years. People in those more authentic traditional cultures around the world do it. It's only in modern, affluent, Western societies that reject the knowlege of our ancestors that we selfishly cast our children out into the night, down the hall.

By this logic we should all give up toilet paper. If wiping your behind with a leaf was good enough for thousands of years and is good enough for the Whoever tribe in the Amazon, it should be good enough for us.

On a more serious note, it was also tradition to treat women like property and beat the daylights out of your kids. I don't see the Velcro Parenting folks picking up those traditions, though.

If this were just weirdness, it wouldn't bug me, but it's a public safety issue. Tired driving is a leading cause of accidents. When your quirky parenting style starts to endanger me and my family on the road, it is now my business. I say please stop this foolishness before you kill yourself or someone else.

Posted by: di | March 6, 2007 8:56 AM | Report abuse

We have always had our children sleep in their own beds. Mainly, because it seems like the right thing to do. Also, I can't sleep with a child in my bed - can't move around as much, afraid I'll wake them. Even as infants, they were in a basinette by the bed. Sure, there were times when that rule was broken, but very few and far between.

I like that my kids go to bed on their own. We have a bedtime routine, of course. I tuck them in, read a short story. But, it's maybe 10 minutes, max. They have both taken to reading a book (by themselves) before turning out the light. Every now and then, one will ask for me to lay with them. And I will for a minute or two and cuddle. It's nice that it's a pleasure and not an every-night-until-they-fall-asleep ordeal.

I really don't understand the family bed, and don't know anyone who actually has a 'famiy bed'. Most I know are just too lazy (by their own admssions) to put their kids back to bed in the middle of the night.

Posted by: JerseyGirl | March 6, 2007 8:59 AM | Report abuse

"Everybody who's into the "family bed" will tell you that it's been human nature for thousands of years."

Is this the best reason the "Family Bed" kooks can come up with? It was common practice for a long time to beat children to "cure" bedwetting and lefthandedness. Is that a human nature practice to copy?

And I still don't understand why the adults would want others to be in their intimate space.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

When your quirky parenting style starts to endanger me and my family on the road, it is now my business. I say please stop this foolishness before you kill yourself or someone else.

This is so silly. Maybe you should stop blogging as to not endanger the rest of us.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2007 9:04 AM | Report abuse

I've done the family bed with all 4 of my kids. Actually I pretty much let them sleep where ever they want and for the most part they like sleeping in their own bed and have been doing so since 4 years old. They go through phases where they like sleeping on the couch, love seat, or a sleeping bag on the floor. Right now, our 4 year old sleeps just about in every bed, couch, and chair we have in the house.

Here is a trick I used to get them from stop kicking or "bed bulleying" that I have found quite effective: (this starts happening around 3 years old):
Once they wake you up from their activity literally "kick" them out of bed. don't be harsh about it, just push them down to the bottom (or side) of the bed with your foot. If they still squirm, push them gently over the edge.


Either they will fall asleep there, which means you have to be careful about tripping over them in the morning, or they will try to get back in.

If they continue to squirm, repeat.

I've done this about a dozen times in the 15 years I've been parenting. Each episode takes about a half an hour, so that makes approximately 6 hours I've lost sleep fighting the bedtime battle, which amounts to a few seconds a day. Not too shabby!

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 6, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse

"I've done the family bed with all 4 of my kids. Actually I pretty much let them sleep where ever they want "


Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Do we know if this method works on bigger people (like my husband)?

I'm only mostly joking. :)

Posted by: to Father of 4 | March 6, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

My child (age 6) has never once come to our bedroom in the middle of the night. We worked hard to teach her that she was to stay in her bed. She could call to us, and we would come check on her, but she was to stay in her bed. Worked great, for us.

So, I feel fortunate not to have to deal with what seems to be a common problem for many parents. Goodness knows there are other issues we do have to deal with!

Posted by: wdc | March 6, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Are you kidding me? I can't even sleep with dear hubby in the room - most of the time we end up in separate rooms - there's no way a kid is going to sleep with me. Never have been a good sleeper, but I need it, or I am big trouble with migraines and just not being able to function. It is a serious lack of discipline to have the 'family bed' or to just let kids sleep wherever they want. There isn't any reason, except for the very occasional treat, to have everyone in one bed. This doesn't mean that one can't cuddle or be spend few minutes together, but really, nothing more than that. I guess I can see having the bassinet by the bed for convenience reasons, but after a couple of months, the baby belongs in its own room.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I have two little girls and am a single father. When they have a bad dream I walk them back to bed and tuck them in. I have inforced this rule of having my own bed since beofre their Mom and I split. They may lay on my bed during the day or evening and watch TV but they cannot sleep there during the night.

Posted by: Sterling Park | March 6, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I had good sleepers. We lived a regimented life and kids had to go to sleep because their parents were tired. End of discussion.

If someone showed up in our bed we were likely to sleep right through it UNLESS the child was not reliably potty trained. Then it was worth it to drag our tired selves out of bed and put them back in theirs. Otherwise you bed ends up smelling and that's yucky.

The same goes for kids who were sick and prone to throwing up. I love'em, but they had to sleep in solitude if they were going to make a mess.

One of the unmentioned wonderful moments of parenthood is when your child learns to make it to the bathroom or to the "throw-up bowl" before doing it!

Posted by: MrsDurango | March 6, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Co-sleeping is what I did when my son was a baby and what I still do with my infant daughter. I do it because I need sleep. However, sleep starts in the crib. By the time my son was 18 mos, it was his bed (he outgrew his crib by then) all the time. He is only allowed back if he is sick, the electricity is out, or there is a storm. Basically, I don't see why any child older than a toddler can't sleep in their own bed.

Anectdote: My brother would end up kicking my dad out of the bed. Eventually my mom had my brother sleeping on the floor so my Dad could get back in the bed. This ended when my brother was 9. My parents forgot he was in the room one morning and things that happen between a man and wife happened. That cured him. Note, I do NOT recommend this as a way to cure a co-sleeping problem.

Posted by: LM in WI | March 6, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Our toddler has always slept in his own bed behind a closed door. It's got a knob cover on it so he can't open it. Never had a problem with him coming into our room, and if he needs us, he calls or cries, and we settle him in his own room. Only in the mornings, when it's time to get up anyway, do we let him come hang out in our bed and watch Sesame Street.

Posted by: 23112 | March 6, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

We've always done family bed or at least lie down and read together at bedtime --- bedtime reading and snuggling is a great time for family (or mom/kid, dad/kid) togetherness that we all *enjoy*. Bedtime reading is a highlight of the day. We've never had any trouble sending our kids (now 6 and 9) for sleepovers or overnight camp, starting at about age 5. At home they fall asleep with bedtime reading and snuggling, away they fall asleep just fine when needed. For sleepovers and slumber parties especially, they are usually too busy and chatty to even touch their bedtime reading, and falling asleep is usually something that they wish to avoid, not hasten! as sleepovers are times to play, talk, craft, and cavort. Different strokes for different folks, but company/snuggling/reading to sleep at bedtime is hardly laced with a necessary sequelae of problems, problems, problems. Just as getting in the habit of sleeping with one's spouse doesn't suddenly make one helpless and maladjusted and unable to take business trips away, for fear of an empty bed! Don't fear enjoying the company and warmth when you've got it, if everyone enjoys it. I think most of the negative speculation is from people who just don't enjoy that companionship; fine, ick all you like, don't do it in your house, but you needn't forecast doom for those who enjoy it. And when our family travels together, we *want* bedtime to be time to retreat back and focus on our kids, we don't actually *want* to send them off and banter with someone else. So the fact that a family retreats at bedtime instead of kids scurrying off and adults continuing to socialize with relatives, etc, may not be the problem you might perceive, but actually the way the parents want it.

Posted by: KB | March 6, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I've always found it heartwarming to listen to my babies giggle and laugh while they dream right next to me in their sleep. It's soooooo cute.

Then when they sleep in their flannel PJs they are all nice, warm and fuzzy. Throw in a wife, a teddy bear and a few cats, and I get the ultimate sleeping experience.

I consider it one of the precious benefits of parenting.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 6, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

"I . . . don't know anyone who actually has a 'famiy bed'. Most I know are just too lazy (by their own admssions) to put their kids back to bed in the middle of the night."

Which is it-- do you know anyone with family beds, or not?

The vehement hatred towards those with family bed is pretty weird. di, I was NEVER more exhausted in my life than when I was attempting to sleep train my child. It didn't work. So we gave up allowed family bed until he wa ready to move into his own bed-- which he did without tears at 3. He only comes back when it is really cold in his room now. I guess we could jack up the heat, but it seems like a waste of money and adds all sorts of crap to the atmosphere and the alternative is having a snuggly little warm soft boy between my husband and I. We can do the intimacy stuff after the boy falls asleep in our romantic guest bedroom down the hall. Sorry if that is TMI! It's just something I'm sure people wonder about.

Posted by: to Jersey girl | March 6, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Our family sleeps in a separate rooms- Mom and Dad have some health issues that require each to stretch out or be up all night so we learned early on separate bedrooms work. We are a loving family and have made a point to explain to the kids everyone needs a good nights sleep. Our kids have always been able to come to either parent and crawl in bed throughout the night, most of the time its Moms bed they frequent and that's ok. My oldest is 12 and when he needs comfort from Middle school worries, illness etc he is welcome to climb in. The majority of the time he does not, recently he had a nightmare that woke the house up - after everyone was settled down and I was about to fall back to sleep he came in and said, "Mom I am still really scared can I get in bed with you?" I don't care if he is 12 or 2 comfort and love are just that, there is no strangeness or awkward feelings he is our child and needs his parents, family comfort. A few moments later my husband tip toed in and got in bed with us, Mom and Dad on the outside - our 12 year old baby in the middle. Everyone felt safe, secure and slept. We never encouraged the family bed and we never encourage everyone to gather in the kitchen and open the refrigerator 10-12 times before dinner and yell what's for dinner? This is part of being a family and as my grandmother always tells me - "Cherish these moments they will fly as time always does, you will sit one day and think back on the little loving things"
Our society has become stressed, chaotic and somewhat insecure, I believe don't sweat the small stuff - your three year old will not be in your bed at 12 ...16! Encourage a sense of security and comfort, they will take to there beds and sometimes show up unannounced and unexpected. As my grandmother say - This too shall pass.

Posted by: oldermom | March 6, 2007 9:56 AM | Report abuse

, "I was NEVER more exhausted in my life than when I was attempting to sleep train my child." What the heck is "sleep training? How long has this been going on? My parents must be turning im their graves. I knew a lot of kooks in the 60s, but this is too much!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

My 2-year old always sleeps in her own bed... she just won't sleep if anyone else is in the room. But if she wants to climb into bed with us once in a while when she's older, I don't really have a problem with it. I think it's pretty normal for a sick/scared child to sleep with their parents every now and then. I don't see the point in being super-rigid about it.

(oh, and she did sleep next to me until she was 3 months old and started thrashing in her sleep, when she moved into the crib with no problems).

Posted by: reston | March 6, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

"Which is it-- do you know anyone with family beds, or not?"

No, I don't know anyone who actually has a 'family bed'. Those folks I know that let their kids sleep with them, start out with their kids in their own beds, and later they wake up and come into bed with them. They, by their own admissions, are just too lazy to get up and tuck the kids back in their own beds.

I don't have any hatred towards a family bed. It's just something I, personally, would never do. And, I have learned from past experience that it's better to get up and tuck the kids back into bed, then try to just fall back asleep with them with me. I just can't do it.

Posted by: JerseyGirl | March 6, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Don't know if it's nature or nurture or a combo, but my husband and I and all of the kids and grandkids are very heavy, sound, deep sleepers.

There has never been any bedtime fuss, because everyone is ready for bed (and meals) at the appropriate times.

We enjoy sleep and look forward to reading a few minutes each night before dropping off.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

We asked our pediatrician tons of questions about how to get a baby to sleep through the night. He wisely told us that if sleep is important to the parents, we will convey that to our children. Sure enough, our first slept though the night at 7 weeks (11p to 7a) and our second at 8 weeks. Of course we have our bumps in the road, even now with a 9 and 7 year old, but they are rare (once or twice a year). With a very bad nightmare, we gladly open up our bed. But usually after they calm down and realize that sharing a bed is cramping their style, they sneak back to their own beds.

Posted by: SLP | March 6, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I have a 15 month old daughter, and she sleeps in her own room. I have nothing against the idea of a family bed, I just could never sleep with DD in the bed. Even when she was tiny, she was a bed hog. :-)

DD has never been a good sleeper -- from day one, naptime has been a struggle, and I can count on one hand the number of times she's slept through the night. We still rock and sing her to sleep; I figure I can deal with that for a while longer.

I have been amazed at the societal pressure to ferberize. Seems like every parent I know has done it, and is amazed that I haven't (and won't). I lean more towards the Dr. Sears/Attachment parenting end of the spectrum. I just don't see a long-term benefit to letting my daughter scream, alone, in her crib until she finally gives up, exhausted. Plus, every single parent who's pressured me to Ferberize admits that their own kid doesn't actually sleep through the night, either. The only difference is that they tune it out when the baby starts to scream, while I get up and comfort mine. I'd rather spend a year or two getting only interupted sleep than repeatedly force my child to cry it out.

Posted by: NewSAHM | March 6, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Both of my kids had sleep problems - went on for almost a decade. Extreme fatigue does a terrible number on people - me especially. Woulda' been nice if my husband would have helped out more.. but eventually, they learn to sleep on their own.. and me, well, now I can't hardly sleep at night...

Do whatever you need to do to get your kids to sleep early in their own beds.

Posted by: C.W. | March 6, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I am in the middle of sleep deprivation misery with my 5 month old. He wakes up three or four times between 7:30pm and 5:30am and nothing will get him back to sleep but nursing. His Dad has tried rocking and singing for hours, tried a bottle, and nothing will settle him. We've tried letting him cry, mostly with me beside him singing or checking on him when his screams reached a crecendo...and he was still awake when the sun came up. I went back to work three weeks ago, and so he can't nurse during the day and that may be making this all worse, but he's never been a good sleeper. We just bought The No Cry Sleep Solution, and hope it has some words of wisdom, because I am a zombie! How did you all get through this period???

Posted by: mommabean | March 6, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I lean toward Dr. Sears/attachment parenting as well. The whole theory is that you meet your children's needs fully, then they can progress to the next stage of their growth and independence more easily and securely. So far it has worked for us. For example, this morning, my son was so excited to go off with his sitter he practically pushed her out the door. I'd call him an independent little guy.

We have a family bed. It's a queen-sized platform bed with a crib open on one side pushed up against it (all same level). My son (18mos) falls asleep in our bed and I put him into the crib. He'll usually wake up in the middle of the night and crawl between us.

My husband (who is from India) slept with his parents and then his brother when he got older. He's gone a lot for work now, and cherishes this "snuggle time" at night with our son -- even more so than me.

I've had my doubts (my husband's cousins advocate Ferberizing, so all Indian people do not feel the same way), but thus far, it works. Plus, we have a small house and I need our extra bedroom for my (home) office!

Posted by: Rebecca | March 6, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I have been lucky that this has never been an issue for me. When my now 8 yo was about 2-4 she used to ask me every night to come in the bed with me. After trying this out, I learned that neither of us could sleep, so I couldn't let her do that. However, she virtually never woke up in the night, so when she asked, I would always tell her to go to sleep in her bed and then if she woke up she could come in with me. On the very rare occasions that she did wake up before I was ready to be awake, she was easily lead back to bed with a kiss and a tuck in.

My second, who came to me at age 3 (now she's 5), unable to communicate in English, is a much early riser. Fortunately, she also sleeps through the night, but she is a child who can stay asleep until 6:30 or later on a school day, but often wakes up before 6 on the weekends. And where #1 understands the value of snuggling quietly while you are both waking up, #2 wakes up ready to go. She wants to talk, to play a game, to read a story, or preferably, all three at the same time. If I send her back to her room, she doesn't fall back asleep, but wakes her sister up, so I end up going to bed earlier at night in order to be awake at 6am. My mother tells that although some day she will sleeping in, but that by the time that happens, I will no longer be able to do so.

Posted by: single mother by choice | March 6, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

"I have been amazed at the societal pressure to ferberize. Seems like every parent I know has done it, and is amazed that I haven't (and won't). I lean more towards the Dr. Sears/Attachment parenting end of the spectrum. "

Ferberizing, attachment parenting, sleep training...... sounds like a lot of book reading going on. ON paper, it seems that it is assumed if you don't ferberize, you must attachment parent. Or vise versa. In reality, I would argue that it's a nice balance of the two. Our kids are going to do what we let them do.

As for the original question, "When is the right time to take back your bed?", my answer would be I never gave it up!

Posted by: JerseyGirl | March 6, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Hi Mommabean,

I feel for you. That 4-6 month period was killer for us, too (and, FWIW, for all of the other moms in my playgroup, whether they did CIO or not). I hate to say it, but I think you just need to ride it out. It will get better, trust me. I sem to recall a rather dramatic shirt right around the time DD turned six months old -- she went down to waking only twice a night, which compared to the previous few months, felt like a luxury.

I thought the Pantly book had a lot of good suggestions (and as I recall, we bought it when DD was 5 months old). But to be honest, at that point my only goal was to maximize my sleeping time, so we just did whatever it took to get the kid to sleep. Usually, that was nursing.

Hang in there. I promise, it will get better.

Posted by: NewSAHM | March 6, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Make that "dramatic shift."

Posted by: NewSAHM | March 6, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

One topic closely related to co-sleeping has been conspicuously absent in this debate. Though co-sleeping was not a planned activity for our family, a full year + of nursing was. Even with a bassinet right next to the bed, arising several times a night to nurse, and then the time spent afterward trying to re-settle my daughter in the bassinet left me so exhausted I could barely function. Just prior to returning to work, in desperation, I began to nurse lying down in bed. Sleep naturally followed for both my daughter and I. Though I had been frightened of the SIDS or suffocation risks posed by blankets, pillows, Mom and Dad, I realized that she slept in the circle of our arms, where we kept a clear area. When she moved, we were aware of it, and adjusted accordingly

Would we have slept better had she been in a crib? Absolutely. However, I would NEVER have been able to nurse my daughter for the 14 months I was able to, had we not co-slept. The transition was not easy, but, at 16 months, she now sleeps through the night in her own crib with only occasional visits to our bed. Our next child is due in September, and we plan to do things exactly the same.

Posted by: NursingMom | March 6, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Hear, hear, JerseyGirl! I have two daughters, 3yrs and 7mos. Keeping the kids out of our bed was the one piece of advice we followed from our experienced parent friends and we're glad we did! Neither of our children have ever spent the whole night with us! Even when they have awakened to be breasfed, I went down the hall to their crib and fed them in the dark in a rocking chair. I'm a mom that works outside the home full-time, and my husband is a big man who sleeps heavy, so it's to everyone's benefit (and safety) that everyone sleep in their own beds!

Posted by: Jennifer in NJ | March 6, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Our first was always a tough one to put to sleep, even in the early months. He had to be swaddled to even get a couple of hours. BUT---he was always put in his crib. Now he's almost 3, he's in his regular bed and sleeps well through the night. He fights going to sleep, but we're firm about getting him to sleep in his own bed. And if he wakes up during the night and climbs into our bed---which he will do once in a while---we bring him right back to his bed and sit with him for a few minutes until he's back asleep. Number 2 is on the way this summer, and we're hoping it will be easier, but we're using the same strategy.

As far as 'crying it out'---my advice to new parents is, you can use it within reason after 8-9-10 mos. After 8 months, habits start to form---believe me, they don't "need" to be fed in the middle of the night at this stage. No child >8 months old has ever starved to death at night (assuming they were fed regularly during the day!). Comforting them briefly is OK, but DON'T feed them, otherwise they'll keep waking you out of pure habit, not need. See: Psychology 101, Pavlov.

Posted by: Mmember1 | March 6, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

We came up with a nice compromise.

We put the crib in the corner of the room, took off one side and then pushed our bed up against the crib.

So we ended up with the kid in his crib with the ability to get him (or get rid of him!) as needed. It was key for breastfeeding. Kid cries, roll over, feed him...roll back over, go to sleep. When it was time to make changes he was already used to sleeping in his crib, we just moved it across the room.

I am not a fan of keeping little babies in separate rooms though. My motto has always been, "The cubs sleep in the den". The idea of my less than year old in another room covered in puke or worse, just so I can (on paper anyway) get some sleep just doesn't make sense to me.

I am a dad BTW.

Posted by: KJ | March 6, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Mommabean ---

Sounds like you are determined not to nurse your 5mo at night. Why? Is it a good enough reason, to be worth this much distress to all of you throughout the night? (question for your internal consideration, not for justifying to others)

How I got through was cosleeping and nursing at night. The baby wakes, not even enough to cry, latches on, nurses, drifts back to sleep. I woke briefly to help with the latch on, but that's it (by this age your baby should no longer be stooling at each nursing, so should be able to go all night without a diaper change, so you can just latch, and fall back into your barely interrupted sleep, or if you want to be pedantic, stay awake to switch sides afterwards --- I gave that up quickly, for the sleep). During conference trips I found (by 24-hr pumping) that the vast bulk of my milk production was at night, because my babies reverse cycle nursed --- got in most of their calories nursing a few times during the night with little disruption to anyone. It meant more milk directly from mom, less that I needed to pump later at work . . . also the hormonal effects of having your baby sleep with you at night, and nurse, are the greatest supply booster, and the greatest source of morning wakeups infused with warm fuzzies/wonderful maternal feelings. Prolactin, proximity, and actually getting a good night's sleep all partly responsible, I think . . .

You all sound miserable, so maybe a review of why it *has* to be this way, to look for solutions more responsive to your own baby and family needs could help . . . so many sleep pronouncements come down on high with no good reason 'why must we' or 'toward what end'. You're in charge of your own family and only you (the collective you, both parents) understand the context you live in and how best to meet your family's real, not societal-'should', needs.

Posted by: KB | March 6, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

"One topic closely related to co-sleeping has been conspicuously absent in this debate."

That's because people are sick and tired of the Nursing Nazis and their propaganda. Give it a rest!!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse


I have a friend who did something very close to what you did -- in fact, she's still co-sleeping and nursing her daughter, who's the same age as mine. They both seem happy with the situation.

I always preferred to get up, rather than nurse in bed. The times when we've had to share a bed have resulted in very little sleep for me, since DD either wanted to nurse all night or sprawled all over the place so I'd have nowhere to sleep without squashing her. It's easier for me to get to the nursery, rock for a little while, then go back to my own bed. Of course, I never had to be "on" at work the next day, so that could make a difference.

Posted by: NewSAHM | March 6, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

By 18 months, our daughter could be put into her crib awake, have us leave, and then settle herself and sleep through the night. It was wonderful!

Around 2 years, she was sick for about 2 weeks, and came into our room every night, wanting to sleep in our bed. Having pity on her poor, sick little self, we obliged. BIG MISTAKE!

It took at least six months to get her to sleep through the night on her own again, and even at 4 is not as solid a sleeper as she was at 18 months.

Posted by: Preschool Dad | March 6, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

We have a spare bed in our son's room. If he is sick or something else is bothering him, sometimes one of us lies down there for a little while, then creeps back to our room after he is asleep. That way at least one of us gets a full night's sleep!

Posted by: Split-Shift Mom | March 6, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I taught my children that they have their space and Mommy & Daddy have their space. Both kids have their room (and most the rest of the house) to play in, but M&D's room is a toy free zone. As a treat they can watch TV our room, but generally our bed is for the M&D. We decided early on that we needed a little space of our own and it is nice to have space for us as a couple (with of course pictures of us as a family!).

Posted by: Mom of 2 | March 6, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Mom of 2 - Amen to that. I am a SAHM. I give them my whole day, when they were little my whole person, I need something that is mine. Our children are not allowed in our room if we are not there without permission. Even the neighborhood kids know that. I needed something that just belonged to me. I've got plastic junk in every other corner of the house - my room is where I can have my nice things and grown up space.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 6, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Nursing Nazis? Give me a break. If you don't nurse because that's what works for you, what are you worried about?

Just like: If your kids sleep in your bed because that's what works for you, there's nothing to worry about. If your kids sleep down the hall because that's what works for you, there's nothing to worry about.

I HAPPEN to nurse, and having my baby close by HAPPENS to work well for us right now. What I do not understand is people's apparent obsession with pushing their arrangements on other people. I would no more be able to sit up to nurse at night than fly (tried it, and for me, that's what posed the tired-driving hazard di is so worried about), but that doesn't mean somebody who can't sleep with a baby in the room should do the same. It also doesn't mean that it's ok for people to call me names or judge my arrangements as "freaky". Didn't your parents teach you to play nice?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

"What I do not understand is people's apparent obsession with pushing their arrangements on other people"

That's what the Nursing Nazis do!!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Why the annoyance at the family bed people?

Because they go around telling everyone how they are so much better than everyone else.

Then they whine to everyone within earshot how tired and miserable they are.

Well, boo hoo.

Same problem as the people from a while back, with the five year old sucking his thumb and holding his weenie all did this to yourself! Don't come crying to me.

Posted by: di | March 6, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Huh. I haven't heard anyone saying they're better because they co-sleep. Wo, exactly, are you talking about, Di?

Even the story linked in the original blog entry isn't "ya, rah-rah co-sleeping." Where are you getting your feeling of aggrievement from?

Posted by: NewSAHM | March 6, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I don't think there's one size fits all to getting your kids to sleep in their own beds. Each kid is different. Each time they come to you in the middle of the night is different.

Neither of my kids climbed out of their cribs, so when I put them there, they stayed there. My daugther had to cry herself to sleep until she was almost 2. My son settled down from around 2 months. Until he turned 4 months and the ear infections started. After that he slept in our bed (his crib was in our room already) until he was almost 1. Nursing calmed and soothed him when he was ill and if I didn't have to get up and get him out of the crib, I slept better and so did my husband.

As our son got older, he continued to wake up a lot. He was still in our room and so my husband and I would leave and sleep on the pull out sofa. Eventually we got an addition put on the house and Alex moved into his own room.

When my daughter was young, she almost never got in our bed in the middle of the night and when she did, she would sleep across the foot of the bed so we didn't even notice she was there till morning. After he out grew the crib, our son was always climbing in our bed and believe me we noticed!

When he started getting into our bed almost nightly, we told him he couldm't do that, but he could bring his blanket and pillow and sleep on the floor next to us. It didn't take long for him to figure out that his bed was better than our floor.

Posted by: Claire | March 6, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I think it is easy online where there is no facial expression or tone of voice to mistake an opinion for a indictment. Just because I happen to think the family bed is freaky doesn't mean I think you should stop. You have the right to do it and I have the right to have an opinion and leave it at that. You may think having them in a separate room is distant or cold. Ok, your opinion. When I post what I do publicly, then I've knowingly put it out there for comment and discussion.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 6, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the comments, NewSAHM and KB. I think you are right, NewSAHM, that I'm just going to have to ride through this. Its good to hear there is light at the end of the tunnel. I wish I could just accept the tiredness in a lovely zen-like fashion, but when you are so tired at night you feel like vomiting, thats hard.

KB, I don't mind nursing my son at night at all. I love it, actually. But four times during my sleep period is too much for me to handle, so I'd like to dial it back to 2 times per night. That I could do for another year with no troubles. I have the same arrangement as another of the posters - a guest bed in my son's room where I nurse him laying down, and I often sleep there. But I sleep better in bed with my husband. We can't co-sleep because our bed is very soft and my husband is heavy - it scares us.

Posted by: Mommabean | March 6, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Our 4 year old will not sleep with us, even if we wanted her to. On the weekends, we'll sometimes let her hang out with us in our bed and watch TV, but she always asks to go to her room when she's tired. Now the 21 month old, has started coming in to us in the middle of the night. One of us usually goes to sleep in her bed at that point. I'm not worried about long term because our 4 year old used to do the same thing.

Posted by: MD | March 6, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

"Ferberizing" and "sleep training" sound like some kind of science fiction solutions to the "problem" of childhood. I am pretty sure the vehemence from those who train their kids to be "good sleepers" from a couple of months on are trying to rationalize their decisions to put their own sleep and comfort ahead of their baby's. When did it become "us vs. them" with your own child? Why try to train them out of dependence at the pre-school age? Ferberizing is teaching them Learned Helplessness which in fact inhibits their ability to function independently as an adult. It is a fact that they are wholly dependent on us for care and protection at that time. Sleeping all by yourself in your own room as a sign of prosperity and independence is just part of the post WWII bunker ideology that arose with tacky tract housing isolating nuclear familes in the suburbs. I think it is pretty understandable not to want to be alone down the hall in the dark when you can't walk or talk or understand what is going on. As far as harm to the children as adults, look at the rest of the world--people grow up and move on no matter how they slept as little kids.

Posted by: attymom | March 6, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

NewSAHM, I have heard it. Really, from real live people, and it's extremely annoying.

Apparently you have been fortunate to land in a more polite circle of parents.

I hope for your sake that it continues this way.

Posted by: di | March 6, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I have never believed in the "family bed" concept. I don't have a problem with my child coming to my room if she doesn't feel well or has a nightmare, but I taught her that her bed is in her room, not ours. On the other hand, My sister-in-law and her husband encouraged the "family bed" concept, and their now 7 year old daughter will not sleep in her own room at night - she sleeps on a foton in their room. Yikes!

Posted by: Stephfl | March 6, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I have always wondered if people who like the family bed either don't have babies like mine who seem to be all flailing arms and kicking legs at night, or somehow they can get enough rest to function while being constantly kicked and hit. Fo4's advice for dealing with a bed bully doesn't seem right for a six month old, even if I might be tempted at 3am. ;^)

My experience is that crying it out for middle of the night wake-ups is generally pretty painless once the baby is 11 months or so-- my kids don't get hysterical and are back asleep in 15 minutes or so. I tried Ferberizing with my oldest-- it was awful. I don't know how anyone does that, but maybe their kids aren't as stubborn as mine-- she screamed at us until she collapsed in exhaustion, it was hard to see how that experience taught her anything about sleep.

Once we got through the first year, my kids have been good sleepers. I don't think it would occur to them that they might sleep in dh and my bed, though they do like to snuggle in the mornings.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | March 6, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

", My sister-in-law and her husband encouraged the "family bed" concept, and their now 7 year old daughter will not sleep in her own room at night - she sleeps on a foton in their room. Yikes!

Another American brat in the making! A 7 year old calling the shots in her home.!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

For those wondering about parents sleeping in a family bed with kids and sex, I'll bite:

A guest bedroom after they go to sleep is helpful.

One comment on our cultural attitude towards intimacy: I know in India that cuddling or touching is not always seen as potentially sexual, as it is here. This is VERY difficult for us as a culture to comprehend (I always have a mental "second look").

The Indian families I know tend to congregate on their parent's bed to chat and lay around. Living rooms (family rooms are the parent's bedroom) are for guests. My husband will lay with his head on his mom's lap, she'll be eating nuts and everyone will be chatting. My husband's female cousins will be hugging him and leaning against him and it's all completely innocent. (Again, my mental "second look"). This is hard for us to comprehend.

I should also note that Indians are more prudish than us when it comes to romantic touching. You can forget about kissing your spouse (even a quick goodbye kiss) or touching them in public. Holding hands, MAYBE, if you are a newlywed.

Our culture here is such that physical proximity, except maybe for a quick hug to our kids, equals "ack! potential prelude to sex". In other cultures, this is absolutely not the case.

So, the family bed does not necessarily equal parents having sex in front of the kids. The family bed is for sleeping only. Sex occurs elsewhere.

Posted by: Rebecca | March 6, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

"Ferberized" When did Dr. Ferber's name become a verb?

I feel so sorry for those poor babies whose parents believe that letting them scream their little lungs out teaches their offspring ANYTHING. What it does is let them know that when they are alone and scared, their parents don't care. YOUR needs as a parent are NOT more important then your child's. Period. Letting an infant scream all night, or even for a half hour - is CHILD ABUSE.

Posted by: SIL | March 6, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

"Letting an infant scream all night, or even for a half hour - is CHILD ABUSE."

What time were you born yesterday?

All night- maybe.

Half an hour- It's called letting a child learn how to self soothe.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

The more excersize my kids got during the day, the deper they slept at night.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 6, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Letting your child die of a toothache is child abuse. Leaving your 6 children under the age of 6 alone all night in a roach infested apartment is child abuse. Telling your child "now you stab mommy" is child abuse.

Ferberizing your child is not child abuse. Please get over yourself.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"Letting an infant scream all night, or even for a half hour - is CHILD ABUSE."

Wow, I was an abused child and I didn't even know it! (My parents let me "cry it out" for about 2-4 nights when I was a baby, and apparently I cried for about 45 minutes the first night.) Score one more for the victim-status-happy folks in this country. When do I get to go on the Maury Povich show, or Montel?

Posted by: yet another lawyer | March 6, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Don't take the bait from SIL guys, let her go pick a fight On Balance or somewhere else.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 6, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Rationalize it all you want - there's a reason you feel heartless (or whatever negative emotion it is you feel) when you ignore the screams of a child - it's because you're DOING SOMETHING WRONG!

Posted by: SIL | March 6, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

OK, I'l bite back! (Not really bite, but seriously ask some f-u questions)
Do you all go to sleep at the same time? Like, when we stay at a hotel, it's all one big room, so when the kids go to sleep, pretty much, so do we.

And, if you do, when do you two get to talk and do stuff? For me, after the kids go to sleep in my down time, catch up on things time, have a glass of wine time. What time do you all go to sleep?

I don't have a guest room to go to. But, is this how it works - you lay down to put your kids to sleep, get up, do other stuff, and then go back to bed later on?

For me, it has nothing to do with showing intimacy. We are chock full of showing love and affection at our house. But, it seems that if you are going to lay with your kids, then get up, you can lay with them in there own beds.

Posted by: to Rebecca | March 6, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse


I hope you find or settle into a balance that works. The balance and needs are always shifting in that first year . . . you may find that night nursing demands less of you (other than being there) as your baby ages.

We also had a trundle bed in the baby/toddler's room at one point, and I got up and nursed her there (it was her bed, and low to the floor so she could safely crawl out). Once you've reached your threshold of get up and go to the baby night nursings, you might decide to just both fall asleep and stay asleep in place in that guest bed . . . so that any more nursings for the night are less disruptive. Or you can fall asleep in bed with baby and creep back to your own when (if) you wake during the night. It never needs to be all or nothing choices, just grab your best hope for sleep phase by phase, it may vary. . .

I hope your best hopes for sleep improve, whether by plan or just by 'tincture of time'!

Posted by: KB | March 6, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Rebecca | March 6, 2007 02:38 PM
I think there are a lot of manifestations of this. My brother and his wife did the family bed with their son and took it to an extreme. They came to visit us from CA with their 3 year old. I was really excited to see them and get know my sil better, I bought games for us to play in the evening. Guess what. They BOTH went to bed with that kid EVERY night at 8:00. Really diminished the visit. They did not repeat with #2. #1 was a preemie, so I try not to judge too harshly, but still......

Posted by: moxiemom | March 6, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I think the key thing to learn as a parent is that our children are smarter than we are from a very early age and for many years are very selfish beings. After they get to around 6 months they very quickly figure out that if they cry you will show up. If you think for a minute they will not take advantage of that cause and effect to their full advantage you are in for a long haul as a parent (same story if you give in to the whining, tantrums, or misbehavior).

Who wouldn't want someone to rush into their room, rub their back, sing them a song and give them a snack every time they wake up? Kids need parents who will let them develop the skills they need to grow up to be independent beings who do not believe the world owes them anything or revolves around them. It is not child abuse to allow your child the time and space to develop the skills that allow them to soothe themselves and put themselves back to sleep.

Our kids sleep through the night without a peep. They know what behavior is acceptable and what won't fly. Of course we care for them when they are sick or have nightmares, but they know the limits. I can promise you the few times they've been left to cry in their cribs after having been told I'm sorry it's nighttime and you need to go to sleep amounts to far less trauma to them than nightly battles over bed time or late night jaunts between rooms. They also believe we have a hearing problem such that we can't hear whining or tantrums, but that we respond promptly to proper requests with a reasonable and rational response.

Posted by: Mom of 3 under 4 | March 6, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I like you Mom of 3 under 4! BTW duck cuz I have a feeling SIL is gonna come out with her guns blazing. Yosemitie SAM!

Posted by: moxiemom | March 6, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Great questions! I'll provide my answers below...

1. Do you all go to sleep at the same time? Like, when we stay at a hotel, it's all one big room, so when the kids go to sleep, pretty much, so do we.

Not unless we are all exhausted. My husband and I will lay down with our son, son will drink milk, we may chat, and he's out within a half hour (although sometimes it may take an hour -- which I definitely have a problem with). Generally my husband will fall asleep too (but he's on a weird sleep schedule and always has been; plus, he's really an early morning person).

2. And, if you do, when do you two get to talk and do stuff? For me, after the kids go to sleep in my down time, catch up on things time, have a glass of wine time. What time do you all go to sleep?

Once my son is asleep, this is my time to read and maybe watch tv if something good is on. My husband, even before we had kids, would generally be asleep on the couch at this time anyway! Our times together are the mornings and weekends. We only have one son who is 18 months, and he's not terribly demanding, so it works for us.

3. I don't have a guest room to go to. But, is this how it works - you lay down to put your kids to sleep, get up, do other stuff, and then go back to bed later on?

Yes, for me. But, as I noted, my husband goes to sleep with my son and may (or may not) sleep through the night. DH has a tough job that wears him out.

4. For me, it has nothing to do with showing intimacy. We are chock full of showing love and affection at our house. But, it seems that if you are going to lay with your kids, then get up, you can lay with them in there own beds.

Very true! But our son still wakes up a couple times at night (also something we are working on. It's VERY convenient and conducive to our own sleep to simply roll over and hand our son a bottle of water instead of getting out of bed, going down the hall, etc.--how miserable that must be! We've perfected the bottle handoff in a half asleep state).

We like having our son sleep with us -- he wakes up each morning with a gentle smile and whispers "hi!" It's very cute. I should stress that the family bed only works if both parents agree it works for them at that time.

Another issue, as I mentioned, is that we have a 3-bedroom house. One is a guest bedroom (used frequently by our relatives) and one (the tiny one) is my home office. I work 9-5, M-F, from home. So this issue has delayed us moving our son out as well.

But I will say that primarily it is because my husband feels very strongly about it. His job is such that he has not been able to spend as much time with our son as he would like. This night time together has been meaningful for my husband and my son.
Posted by: to Rebecca | March 6, 2007 02:38 PM

Posted by: Rebecca | March 6, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

What is your problem, moxiemom? Half of the time you have reasonable contributions to the topic, the other half of the time you're picking on people . . . Who are you to tell people to ignore other's comments? Why harp on posters that you don't like?

(Are you really a troll in disguise? You seem to love the controversy!)

Posted by: to moxiemom | March 6, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

to moxiemom | March 6, 2007 02:55 PM

Thanks for the assessment. Tell me who you are and then I might explain myself.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 6, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

One more point about having guests and "the family bed." We regularly have (local, not overnight) guests at our house each week who stay past our son's bedtime. For that one night, we feel comfortable letting our son stay up. He behaves, and if he's sleepy, we'll cuddle on the couch with him as he drinks milk, and continue talking with our friends/relatives.

Most people know to leave by 9pm. Our friends/relatives are not late-night people themselves, having/had kids themselves.

If we had friends without kids come to stay and visit, they would have to chill by themselves while we put son to bed, and I'm sure they could deal with it for 1/2 hour or so before he's asleep!

Posted by: Rebecca | March 6, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

"#1 was a preemie, so I try not to judge too harshly, but still......"

What gives you the right to judge your brother and his wife at all? Do they know how you feel?

Posted by: Duh | March 6, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

"Thanks for the assessment. Tell me who you are and then I might explain myself."

Sure, I'll tell you all about myself right after you post your real name and phone number.

Posted by: snarky anon | March 6, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I am Jean Val Jean. Who's loving the controvery now. I"m guesing you are SIL, lonley and unhappy and just looking for a fight. Not gonna give it to you. sorry.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 6, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

"I"m guesing you are SIL, lonley and unhappy"

Wow, pathetic judgement after pathetic judgement.

"Not gonna give it to you. sorry."

Then stop replying to my posts . . . .

Posted by: snarky anon | March 6, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

"Another American brat in the making! A 7 year old calling the shots in her home.!!!"

Actaully since her parents are the ones that encouraged the child to do this, the child is following the lead of the parents and not in fact "calling the shots."

Posted by: Clarina | March 6, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

This discussion is silly. "Nursing Nazis"?!? Getting upset and saying that mothers who nurse always "push their view onto others" is worthless. Save your debating for the Iraq war or politics or something more substantial than making fun of nursing mothers. I thought these forums for Washington Post articles were supposed to be useful - not a waste-of-time debate for something meaningless by a bunch of silly "boobs". Coincidentally, my wife was able to nurse our child and I supported this. If she didn't want to nurse, I would have supported this too. But, who cares? I am just wasting time at work like the rest of you!

Posted by: Father of One Super Girl | March 6, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Not to throw a monkey wrench out there but DD is having a brain scan on Friday because her neurologist thinks she has a sleep disorder. For a long time we blamed our selves, we nursed, we did the family bed till 18 months, we laid down with her, whatever. And now it turns out, she could have a real neurological disorder and it isn't anything that we did wrong. She sometimes takes a long time to fall asleep and sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night and stays awake for literally hours. You always hear people say my kid is the king of not sleeping. So we just thought we were faint hearted. When all along, DD did have a real sleep disorder. Sometimes I think God is really testing us. The poor kid has a genetic disorder, high functioning autism, and now a sleep disorder. Just throwing that out, so people might be aware that it may not be you and your parenting skills.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 6, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Then stop replying to my posts . . . .

Why oh, why are you so very unhappy? If you were happy, you couldn't be this consistently bitter and unkind. I don't want to fight with you I'm mostly very sorry for you. I hope things get better.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 6, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter FG! I hope everything turns out okay for you and your family.

Posted by: to foamgnome | March 6, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Children don't belong in their parents' bed, period. Put a lock on the door if you have to. The child can always knock if the house is on fire.

Posted by: joshtom | March 6, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Thanks. We are hoping for the best. Her genetic disorder is a 100% treatable. It just takes extra care in monitoring her. The high functioning autism is a bizarre thing. As far as I can tell, she is bright but misses social cues. So hopefully with all the early intervention, she will just be a weird statistician or engineer, like her parents. As far as the sleep disorder, we are the ones that need the help.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 6, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Hey Foam, glad to see you. I was thinking about you last night. I'm sorry about dd, seems like you just cannot get a break. I'll keep you in my thoughts. I also wanted to tell you about a magazine called Brain Child that is written by a cool group of all different kinds of moms and focuses on all aspects of motherhood, not just the rosy. You can check out their web site at - I love it when it comes and it seems like something you might enjoy too. Truly I wish you luck, nothing more scary than medical stuff with your kid.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 6, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

One more thing before the bus gets here - Foam, did you see Sanjay Gupta's interview with the autistic woman on his blog. Really really interesting. I have a friend who has a mildly autistic son who said it really helped to understand him. She also recommends "Born on a Blue Day" as a good insight book. Good Luck.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 6, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Moxiemom. BTW, I notice your on parenting more then on balance. Have you given up your favorite blog? On balance can become particularly nasty. Recently they have been bashing me because I took my kid to Go Diego Go. But oh well. I hope this blog stays nice and supportive.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 6, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

"Why oh, why are you so very unhappy? If you were happy, you couldn't be this consistently bitter and unkind. I don't want to fight with you I'm mostly very sorry for you. I hope things get better."

You can't win moxiemom, because you have no clue what you are talking about! Here's my post:

"What is your problem, moxiemom? Half of the time you have reasonable contributions to the topic, the other half of the time you're picking on people . . . Who are you to tell people to ignore other's comments? Why harp on posters that you don't like? (Are you really a troll in disguise? You seem to love the controversy!)"

What I wrote is in no way "consistently bitter and unkind," I was calling you out for being very unkind to other posters. Your response was pretty lame and immature. But I'm sorry for offending you.

Posted by: to moxiemom | March 6, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

When my kids get tired, I try to get them to floss their teeth and then they just go to sleep.

Sometimes they need a little encouragement so I let them read in bed as long as they wish.

sometimes, I fall asleep before the kids do. They generally follow the usual routine and take care of each other, especially when the little one needs help.

Real easy. I think some people make out parenting as a lot tougher than it really is.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 6, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

No moxiemom, I will try to check it out. As you can imagine, we have been bombarded with stuff since her diagnosis two months ago. Even now, it seems as if she is very high functioning. So I am just not sure to what extent we need to intervene. She seems to be getting the best care, regardless of what the adoption agency thinks. She is progressing in her speech and her interaction skills. The thing is the traits that they used to diagnose her is so subtle. Frankly, half the people I work with would fall into the autism spectrum. My guess is since the definition changed in the last decade, it is now including tons of people of our generation who would have fallen on the spectrum.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 6, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse


Good luck with the medical issues. When we were trying to get a handle on my youngest's medical issues (all outgrown now, thankfully), I always found it comforting to think that whatever her issues were, she was *already* suffering from them, so that it can only help to get a right diagnosis, to figure out exactly what her issues are and start learning the tools to manage them better for her. I hope your search leads you to tools and parenting strategies that help your daughter. Addressing the sleep issues can only make things better for her, maybe markedly better.

It doesn't always help the dread or wishing for the gentlest possible explanation to be true, but I always thought of it as focusing my wishing, not on changing what was already determined, but on identifying the true culprit that was already harming my child, so I could mitigate the harm.

Someday you'll have your daughter's issues all figured out, you'll know how she works and how to best nurture and support her, and let her best and happiest self shine through, and you'll look back on the not-knowing days as a dark tunnel you miraculously emerged from. Knowledge is power.

Posted by: KB | March 6, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Thanks KB. We are certainly hoping for the best.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 6, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

How do y'all have sex if you have the 'family bed'? Oh, wait, parents don't have sex. Y'all are too tired/exhausted/whatever.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

It takes only a little creativity to have sex elsehwere than in a bed (at night, with the lights off).

Posted by: Grimm | March 6, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

When I was up to 6 years old & had a nightmare/was afraid of the dark, my dad would sleep in my room until the sun came up--only after a couple rounds of going back to sleep in my own bed. It worked well & I will try something similar with my kids.

Posted by: Oshunwave | March 6, 2007 5:40 PM | Report abuse

I have to say that this discussion was truly thought-provoking. I especially noticed that some people said kids in own bed, except for cases of illness or nightmares. It makes me think of what I would want for my kids. My first inclination is kids in their own beds, at all times. But I don't want to miss out on the bonding and safe feelings that kids have when they know that they can come to their parents. When I was very little, it did not occur to me to run to my parents when I had a nightmare. Then, I saw it on TV and thought that I should try it the next time I had a nightmare. My mother shut that down quickly (honestly, the nightmare was not as scary as my mother's reaction!). My mother did not kill spiders, did not believe in being afraid of the dark, etc. Do I want to be as hard with my kids about it? Probably not. But I see from the above experiences that I will have to struggle to find a middle ground.

Posted by: curious nonmother | March 6, 2007 8:32 PM | Report abuse

We used a co-sleeper (like a bassinet) attached to the bed until about 6 months old; then we used the crib next to our bed. Now (18 mos) it's across the room, and my son often wakes up around 5 and we bring him into our bed to get an extra hour or so of sleep.

Despite the doom and gloom of the sleep training stuff, I nursed my son to sleep. One day he started rolling onto the arm of the rocking chair before he was asleep and then going to sleep there. Then he started to sleep on my lap. Then he pointed to his crib and now he goes down on his own.

He gets nursed in the night if he's hungry. At 18 mos this often works out to about once every other night (unless he's teething or has a cold).

Every baby is different but mine's been training himself pretty well. :)

Posted by: Shandra | March 6, 2007 8:51 PM | Report abuse

What worked for Split-Shift Mom worked for us as well: instead of the kid coming in to your room, put the kid back in bed and stay for a while. We didn't have a cot or anything, I just stretched out on the floor beside the kid's bed until one of us went to sleep.

It worked for both our son (now 5) and our daughter (11 tomorrow), both of whom went through a phase at age 2 or 3 where they always wanted to climb into bed with us. I'd just gently take them back to their own beds, and I'd lay down on the floor beside them for a while. Once they were asleep, I'd get up and go back to bed myself. They usually slept through the rest of the night, and if they got up and started calling for us, a brief reassurance that we were just in the next room was usually enough.

If they woke up sick or especially frightened (bad dream, storm, etc.), I'd often take them into the living room and lay on the recliner with them in my lap. We'd usually both go to sleep, kid's head on my shoulder. My daughter is too big for this now, but I still sit with my son from time to time.

Posted by: Dad-of-all-trades | March 6, 2007 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Can't help it, now I have "I Want My Mommy" by the Imagination Movers running through my head (one of my son's favorites of late):

Video clip (from their website):

Posted by: Dad-of-all-trades | March 6, 2007 9:20 PM | Report abuse

I agree that including nursing in a topic discussion can bring out the nursing nazis, but I think that the issue of night nursing as a factor that "causes" co-sleeping is a valid one for this topic. I too tried sitting up to nurse my older baby and it made me so tired that sometimes when I commuted to work the next morning I would arrive at work and couldn't remember how I got there. With my second, I forced myself to learn how to nurse on my side, and I was much less tired, but it was much harder to get my second to sleep in his own crib.

Aside: I think the management of nightmarers deserves its own blog day.

Posted by: m | March 7, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Nice to see Fo4 made it over to this space too!

As for the family bed issue, I never thought I'd be 'one of those people' but here I am, mom of a two-month-old, living the family bed lifestyle. She sleeps beautifully, we the parents sleep, and I have easy access for feeding her.

The plan for now is to stop whenever she makes the move to bottle-feeding (probably 6 months), but until she's there, must husband and I will savor our cuddle time with her. I should also add that I went back to work at 6 weeks and bedtimes are particularly special as they somewhat make up for not seeing as much of her during the day.

Posted by: BCB | March 7, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I have a 7 year old who slept in our bed as an infant and kept sleeping there until about 3 years ago. She was a great sleeper, deep still sleep, and having her there was not a problem for us. In fact, as a working mom, I really enjoyed the extra snuggle time with her as did my husband. It was very cosy and warm. We all got a lot of good quality sleep. There were times when I thought about moving her out, though, just because I thought it would be best to have her comfortable in her own room. At about 4 yrs or so, we got her her "big girl bed" and she started to sleep there. She still greatly preferred sleeping with us then and still does. What we do is let her choose where to sleep on the weekends (Fri and Sat night) but on school nights she sleeps in her own bed. On most weekends she sleeps with us or we "camp" in the family room pull out couch bed (for some reason she loves to do this-- popcorn, movies, the pull-out bed = a big treat). School nights are more serious and we follow a pretty prescribed pattern of bath, snack, teeth, potty and stories to make sure that she sleeps really well. It seems like a good compromise.

Posted by: 8hoursforme | March 7, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Mom of 4 under 4. Pretty harsh. I sure wouldn't want you as my mom.

Posted by: DCMom | March 8, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

"I think the key thing to learn as a parent is that our children are smarter than we are from a very early age and for many years are very selfish beings. After they get to around 6 months they very quickly figure out that if they cry you will show up. If you think for a minute they will not take advantage of that cause and effect to their full advantage you are in for a long haul as a parent."

Please tell me you are kidding, right?

Posted by: DCMom | March 8, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Mom of 3 under four

Well its sound like you got it down. I suppose with 3 children it is best to state the facts, rules and proceed from there. Good luck
Remember small people small solutions small problems - hopefully as they grow and you move into small conflicts etc facts, rules and proceeding will work for you - All the best.

Posted by: oldermom | March 8, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

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