Co-sleeping with my four year old

Why don’t you sleep in your own bed?

It’s a question I’ve heard several times lately, directed at Beastie {mainly from family/acquaintances as most of my friends have a similar mindset to me!} when it comes up that Beastie ‘still’ sleeps in my bed every night. We get the shoulds – “oh you’re a big boy now, you should be sleeping in your own bed” – funnily enough when I ask them why he should be, I don’t really get an actual answer…..

I’ve co-slept with my youngest three children, from day one. My eldest was one of those babies that just slept, she spent the first few months in the Moses Basket in my room, then went in her cot across the hall – sleeping 12 hours a night from just a few weeks old. She always did love to sleep {some things never change!}. When my second daughter was born, it seemed natural to bring her in my bed. She could feed as we slept, she liked being close to me and it made life a lot easier. She was two and a half when my third daughter was born and the three of us would sleep quite happily together.

There is a lot of negative press around co-sleeping, and obviously, there are safety issues to think of. I’d never drink and bedshare, I don’t smoke, I don’t take drugs. Mothers seem to have an intuition with their babies, that keeps them from rolling on top of them in their sleep. When I had my younger two daughters in bed, I can remember one night waking up seconds before Kiki rolled over Baya, I nudged Kiki, who rolled back the other way, all was good and neither of them even woke up.

I’ve never pushed to get them out of my bed, rather left it up to them being ready. Kiki was only around three I think when she moved into a room with Lola. Baya moved into a shared room with Kiki when she was around five and a half and I was pregnant with Beastie.

I co-slept with Beastie when he was tiny, then he went through a funny phase of hating lying down with me to sleep – he’d sleep in my arms if I sat upright, but not if I lied next to him! So I was immensely grateful when we moved past that, and we haven’t looked back since. Apart from a couple of weeks when he slept in a room with Baya, he’s been in my bed all of his life.

I, as an adult, prefer sleeping with someone next to me, so it seems totally foreign to me to expect a small child to sleep alone, in another room if they are not ready.  There seems to be a societal view that ‘good babies’ are those that sleep all night long and in their own beds. Babies have a need to be nurtured and protected, day and night. Co-sleeping for us has meant that we all get a better nights sleep than if I was up and down to a child in a cot.

Breastfeeding and co-sleeping go hand in hand, being able to turn over to feed, still half asleep instead of having to get out of bed is a great big plus in my book! Until around 10 months ago, Beastie still fed to sleep every night. Even now he is weaned, I sit with him as he dozes off. He is usually snuggled right into me – legs are wrapped over mine, an arm slung across my belly or boobs, his head resting on my chest. I can wriggle out of bed once he’s asleep, but as soon as I get back into bed, he’ll snuggle into me. When he wakes up in the morning, he reaches for me straight away – a hand full of hair, or limbs entwined.

Yes – there are nights I wonder how on earth my four year old manages to take up quite so much of our king size bed, and how I am meant to sleep clinging to the edge of the bed, but I LOVE having him there in my bed. The couple of nights he’s been away from home, or the occasional sleepover he’s had with one of his sisters is lovely – the novelty of having a bed to myself, but I am always glad when he is back there, snuggling me and pinching half the bed.

I’ve been asked a lot lately if I’m going to ‘make him’ go in his own bed as there is a baby on the way. And in short, the answer is no. Of course, if he decides he wants to then that is fine, but I’ve bed shared with more than one child before and have no qualms about doing so again. All too soon he’ll be grown, and not wanting to share a bed with his Mama – so I’m making the most of every single night until then ♥

p.s – I love this article on The Natural Parent with Ten Reasons to Sleep Next to your Child at Night

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