Information Sharing

Co-Sleeping

Greetings,

I work primarily with limited resource families and was stumped by a parenting question today. I hope you all can assist.

The parent and her husband have two children (9 months and 3 years of age). Before a few weeks ago they were co-sleeping but recently purchased a bed for their older daughter. Now they are having trouble transitioning her to sleeping in the own bed. What stumped me was that they live in a one room efficiency apartment. This means everyone’s sleeping quarters are very close to each other. I’ve already stressed patience and consistency but I don’t have any further advice specific to sleeping transitions in which the family lives in one area.

Any answers to this question would be greatly appreciated. Additionally, if you of any bilingual publications that discuss this topic please let me know. Many thanks.

Respectfully,

Meilana A. Charles, MS

4 Comments to “Co-Sleeping”
  1. Meilanna,

    Thank you for reaching out with this challenge. I am sharing a link to an article from our website, http://www.handinhandparenting.org that goes into depth into some of the emotional charge that may be hindering a smooth transition for all involved including the parents. As a parent of 3 in a two-bedroom house, we have employed multiple variations of co-sleeping for various reasons. The variations included up to four of us in the bedroom with a co-sleeper, master bed, and a child’s bed either snug up to ours or separate. Each variation has required us to prepare ourselves and the children for the move and to listen well to their feelings of distress. But with planning and patience, we have been able to successfully manage. I wish your family good luck.

    This is an English article: http://www.handinhandparenting.org/news/223/64/Moving-Your-Child-To-His-Own-Bed-to-Sleep

    We have a small collection of parenting articles in Spanish here: http://www.handinhandparenting.org/articles/articulos-en-espanol
    None of the Spanish articles specifically refer to sleep, but this one on addressing children’s fears may offer some insight: http://www.handinhandparenting.org/news/138/80/Como-ayudarle-a-los-ninos-a-vencer-sus-temores

    Feel free to print and share the articles with your family.

    Warmly,
    -paul

  2. Is this because of social pressures? The child will most likely resist the move away from mom and dad. She is in a safe place that feels wonderful. Before focusing on how I would look at why this is an issue. That might provide more insight into the refusal. It might help to let the parents know that many families share a bed with their young children and not for financial reasons. There are studies to show the beneficial effects.

    Patricia Mackie

  3. The parents must be creative with space if they have added a bed for the 3 year old. If they are ready to pursue sleeping separately then is it possible to help them get a safe pack’n’play or small crib for the 9 month old to sleep in? Just in case the older one would feel better to know the sibling is also being moved out of the big bed.

    I’d also suggest having them reinvent the Goldilocks and the 3 bears story with the 3 year old’s bed being “just right.” Perhaps allow a book or special stuffed animal/doll/blankie in the child’s bed but not in the big bed. “This is where your special toy sleeps.” It is too crowded in the other bed.

    Otherwise,I agree that expanding the family bed (or taking turns co-sleeping) may be the best bet in that space for now to set up a more gradual transition. Soon the 9 month old and 3 year old may be able to share the new bed.

    Mary Maher

  4. Hi all:
    I don’t have much to offer this family other than to agree with the supportive strategies that have already been suggested, and to wish the family patience and calm as they try to sort this out.

    I realize we are talking about older children, but as the conversation is turning more to the pros/cons of “co-sleeping” in general I do feel compelled to add from a Health perspective, we do not recommend bed-sharing (room-sharing on separate surfaces yes, bed-sharing no) for infants under 1 year as it puts them at an increased risk of dying from what used to be called SIDS (now generally referred to as sudden, unexpected infant deaths in sleep-related circumstances). Data is very difficult to attain about these deaths now as they are coded differently in different jurisdictions, but in our province, we saw a significant and alarming increase in the presence of bed-sharing as a risk factor in these deaths. From the period of 1977 to 1991, bed-sharing was a factor in about 15% of these deaths in our province; in 2010, it was a factor in about 53% of these deaths. International research also shows the vast majority of these deaths happen before 6 months of age. Babies this age are just not able to extricate themselves from dangerous situations (such as being wedged or covered). Babies in the first year are safer sleeping near their parents, in their own crib. I reiterate, this is about babies under a year, not older children, but just feel I needed this to the conversation.

    If you would like more information, you can find all our resources (including a fact sheet for professionals) on our website at http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/7498.asp
    Leslie