Why I Chose to Bed-Share


When you hear co-sleep or bed-share what thoughts come to mind? What emotions come up?

From the standard narrative of “safe sleep” and conversations I have about my family’s sleep arrangement, I have seen firsthand that the topic of co-sleeping is still very taboo for most people.

Bed-Sharing Background

Up until around 500 years ago mothers and babies around the world bed-shared. Family homes were small and every baby was breastfed making bed-sharing the standard. As Western society developed, and thoughts of individualism and independence, along with an increase in affluent families, came the movement toward separate sleep. As reports of “crib death” or SIDS became more common in the mid-20th century national organizations began suggesting bed-sharing as a primary reason for the increase and thus safe sleep was born.

I wholeheartedly believe in safe sleep. But in my opinion, safe sleep comes in many different forms.

It means having a baby sleep without multiple pillows and blankets. It means having baby sleep on firmer mattresses and surfaces. It means placing them on their back to sleep but understanding it’s okay if they move when they can physically do it themselves. It means the bed-sharing caregiver is not in any way intoxicated. It means the baby’s mother was not a smoker in pregnancy or now, as babies exposed to smoke during pregnancy and infancy have a delayed waking response. It means not falling asleep with the baby in your arms or on your chest where they have the potential to fall on the floor or get wedged between your body and a soft surface. It means having caregivers that are responsive to babies while they are sleeping if needed.

To me, safe sleep does not have to mean your baby sleeping alone. Safe sleep comes from education and understanding the risks associated with all types of sleep.

mom and baby co-sleepingMy Journey With Bed-Sharing

When I was pregnant with my first son I read every baby book under the sun. Most of which explained the importance of safe sleep in a separate bed. At this time I didn’t know anyone who had bed-shared (at least not that they talked about). I pride myself on not being too dogmatic about any topics and sleep plans were no different. I assumed I would have my son sleep in his bassinet next to me but I wasn’t completely ruling out that we would bed-share either.

I should have known that first night in the hospital that we would be a bed-sharing family when my son only slept if he was cradled in my or my husband’s arms. But the first two nights at home we attempted to put him in his bassinet to sleep. Less than a minute after we laid him in the bassinet he cried but would immediately settle in my arms or on my chest.

After those two nights of essentially zero sleep because I was scared to death to fall asleep with him in my arms (see safe sleep info above) I said to my husband – “I need to sleep in a separate bed with our son.”

My son and I took over the master bed. I had a single mattress-size sheet as a blanket and one toddler-size pillow for myself, otherwise the bed was empty.

After that first night, I knew bed-sharing was the right fit for my family.

My son slept nestled next to my body and only woke to breastfeed. When he woke for his feeding sessions he didn’t scream or cry, he just whimpered quietly. I would side-lie to feed him and he would fall right back to sleep. And this is how it went for the next 12 months until we began to slowly wean breastfeeding. My son and I both slept almost the whole night. Me being a mom to a newborn and not soul-crushingly tired but rather feeling energized and ready to take on my days with him.

Bed-sharing helped improve and maintain my milk supply as my baby was at the breast as often as he needed. I was able to get better sleep because I did not have to sit up and get out of bed to feed him when he needed it. He went from hearing my heartbeat and breaths, and smelling me his entire existence up until birth and now was able to continue this pattern of safety and familiarity in his new world. My maternal need to be close to my baby was satisfied. We were at peace, together.

I’m a Bed-Sharing Mom

With my amazing bed-sharing experience in my back pocket, I knew there was no other way I would sleep with my children. I didn’t even try to do anything different with my next two boys. On day one they were in my bed with me.

Some people scoff and say I will never get them out of my bed, but you know what? I will NEVER regret the nights snuggling with my sweet babies. And guess what? They do leave your bed when they are ready.

My oldest was not quite ready at 12 months so we slowly transitioned him to his own bed my 14 months. My middle began getting restless in bed with me at eight months and moved to his own bed by nine months. My youngest is 16 months and still comfortable with me every night.

People make comments about my “poor husband sleeping alone.” But what about my poor baby sleeping alone?!? Last I checked my husband is a grown man who knows how to self-soothe, my baby has not learned those techniques yet. As for the intimacy question I know is swirling in many heads…We are able to maintain that as well it just takes a little creativity. You as a couple will make time for the things that are important in your life and marriage no matter what your sleeping situation is.

Bed-sharing is not for everyone. But it is perfect for our family.


  1. I was against bed-sharing when my kids were babies but now at 4 and 6 years old I welcome them in my bed. Those cuddles and the fact that they want to be next to us is all the reason I need. Everyone should do what’s right for their family!

    • I totally agree Erica! What is right for one family is not always right for another. Those kids and babies won’t always want to snuggle with me so I will take all that I can get now.


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