I’ve always been very up-front with families who reach out asking if I can help them sleep train while continuing to bed-share (aka co-sleep).
The answer is no, I cannot.
I have many friends and family members who choose to bed-share and even swear by it. Some of them even have more than one child sleeping in bed with them. Power to them! Though it is not something I can sanction given the AAP’s stance on the safety risks of bed-sharing, I’m not here to stand in the way of how others choose to parent.
That being said, I’ve spoken to more than a few parents who are happily bed-sharing but still aren’t getting a full night of sleep. Their child is still waking up multiple times per night looking to nurse or cuddle, and they want to know if sleep training will get help their child actually stay asleep all night long.
I really wish I had a more satisfying answer for those parents because I can completely understand with the desire to cuddle with your child and keep them close 24/7. I totally get wanting those two best-case-scenarios to live in harmony – to sleep next to your child but not have them wake up (or wake you up) repeatedly throughout the night.
Unfortunately, this fantasy is usually pretty unrealistic.
Why can’t I have both?
Most bed-sharing families fall into one of three categories:
- Parents who are reactively co-sleeping because their child doesn’t sleep any other way (These parents are looking to get their child out of their bed!)
- Parents who are co-sleeping and okay with it but wish they all slept better.
- Parents who are co-sleeping and have no intention of stopping. It’s working for them! (These parents don’t need my help.)
If you consider yourself to be part of group one and either never planned on co-sleeping or have decided that the clock has run out on it, I can absolutely help make a plan to get your child sleeping soundly in their own crib/bed. Both one-on-one coaching and Oh Baby Sleep Course are options for you!
If you consider yourself to be part of group two, I’m happy to help, but only when you’re ready to move your child into their own crib/bed.
The reason I won’t work with families who bed share is because I believe it’s too confusing to the child.
I find that bed-sharing parents are usually helping their child fall asleep at the beginning of the night. Because children expect to stay sleeping how they started sleeping, it is completely natrual for them to rouse between sleep cycles and need a repeat of whatever it was that got them to sleep in the first place. That may mean re-attaching to the breast, climbing on top of you for a cuddle, or even needing you to pick them up again.
In order to help your child learn how to independently connect sleep cycles to get that consolidated sleep, your child is going to have to develop some internal strategies that are going to be much harder to master when their preferred sleep strategy (read: you) is laying right next to them.
But just because I’d ask you to move your child to their own crib/bed doesn’t mean they have to move entirely to their own room. Room-sharing and sleep training can absolutely live in harmony but in my opinion, there’s just no good way to teach a child how to discover, practice, and master their own sleep strategies if they’re sleeping right next to their old (preferred) method.
If you’re wary about giving up those middle-of-the-night cuddles, set aside 10 or 15 minutes each day and bring them into your bed. Cuddle them, sing with them, read books, wrestle, play…whatever you like! This way everyone can enjoy the closeness and familial bond that comes with sharing a bed without sacrificing a good night’s sleep in the process.
If you’ve been co-sleeping for quite a while and have decided that you’re ready to reclaim your bed, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for a plan & the support to make this process easier on everyone!