The Dangers of Co-Sleeping

My son at 6:00 am this morning

I didn’t choose to be a co-sleeping parent, it chose me.  If my children would have slept in a crib I probably would have let them.  I would get even less sleep than I do even if they slept all night because I am constantly afraid any sleep time away from me means they are dead.  If my youngest son sleeps longer than an hour in his bed I start checking his breathing.

Co-sleeping is the right choice for my family.  My husband would be fine without it, but most husbands would.  I like to remind him, and myself, that our babies are only babies for a blink of eye in the grand scheme of our lives.  I want to soak up every minute of their baby time.  I’d love to bottle their baby essence and keep it on my night stand for the future times when I will need it.

For now, I still have a baby.  He won’t be one much longer, but he is still my baby.  We have co-slept since day one this time.  I gave birth to him in my bedroom and laid down with him in my bed for our first co-nap.  He sleeps in his bed for naps, and even spends some time in his bed for a few hours at night when we are lucky.  I know he won’t sleep there forever because I’ve already been down this road.  I didn’t ruin my first son for life by sharing a bed with him.  He is now a champion sleeper in his own bedder, and sleeper through the nighter.  He is even better and napping.

I practice Co-Sleeping safely.  My children have never once fallen out of the bed, or been smothered with a pillow.  I’ve certainly never woken to find myself sleeping next to a baby holding a cleaver.  

I make choices for my family based on facts and based on instinct.  The bad publicity co-sleeping gets lead me to believe it was equal to killing babies when I first had my son.  But my instincts, and his, took us down another path.  I will always hold our co-sleeping days together fondly in my heart.  When it ends for Everett and I will be sad, but accepting as we move to a new chapter.

The dangers of Co-Sleeping lie in misinformation, and lack of information.  If parents choose to share a bed with their child they should be aware of the risks and the benefits.  Scaring parents with ads like these doesn’t do any favors foranyone.

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  • Mindy

    I always shied away from it with my first two because of fears and because I couldn’t master side nursing. With my third, it too felt more instinctual. He wanted to be close all the time and I desperately needed sleep. Now that he is 6 months, I nurse him in bed sometimes, but return him to his crib. Otherwise, he wants to snack all night and that isn’t right for us. But I also think co-sleeping is sweet in a way I did not expect. My husband is not a huge fan of baby in our bed, but he did see those ads and say, “that knife won’t hurt that baby. He can’t roll over and it won’t jump up and get him. ” the point: co-sleeping poses dangers if you are intoxicated or high. Otherwise, just use common sense.

  • We were terrified of co-sleeping because of information like this. That lead us to spend a miserable first month not sleeping while we listened to our son scream and scream every time we set him down in his bassinet, crib, or anywhere other than with us. We didn’t enjoy one second of that first month. When we finally fell asleep with him in our bed out of sheer exhaustion, we realized that was this answer. Still terrified of killing him (due to misinformation) we tried 3 different co-sleepers and our instincts told us that each was more dangerous than him just sleeping with us. At 13 months he still sleeps with us. He sleeps in our bed for naps. He’s fallen out of our bed once, the day before the bed rails that I had ordered got here (and during the flats challenge). We learned from that mistake and won’t make it with the next one but as the night nurse said during my hysterical 2am phone call, “babies bounce.” 

    Anyway, if someone would have given me information on safe co-sleeping rather than terrifying me, I feel like we would have been able to ENJOY the first month with our son rather than just SURVIVE it. 

    • Anonymous

      I was there too. I would wake with Fletcher those first few weeks and nurse him on the couch as not to wake my husband. Then when he fell asleep at the breast I would try to slowly transfer him to his cradle. If he woke I would start over. I remember crying from exhaustion and frustration at not getting any sleep and just having to hold him hours a night. Co-sleeping happened the same way for us. When I finally mastered side lying and nursing he fell asleep and so did I. I got the best and most sleep I had had in over a month. I slowly started sleeping with him more.
      Please excuse typos and brevity. Sent from my iPhone

  • I’ve been co-sleeping with my son since day one, and he is a little over 2 now. I get so much better sleep with him laying right there with me. My friend had a baby while I was pregnant, and he died at a little over a month old, which they said was from SIDS. That scared the heck out of me! When I read that co-sleeping reduced the risk of SIDS that definitely made me feel a little better. My son fell of the couch while he was sleeping once, but I had pillows piled up beside the couch so he didn’t even hit the floor. I think co-sleeping is an awesome thing and those crazy ads should not be allowed. I think we need to see more stories like this posted from parents. My son definitely looks like the picture you have up of your son at 6 am.. he is all sprawed out over the bed lol

  • Ahughes410

    I LOVE and agree with everything you have to say about this exactly!! I didn’t choose this at first either, now here I am happily co-sleeping with my third baby. My 6 and 4 year old each slept with us too. They are awesome sleepers in their own beds now. I too followed my instinct. I believe that sharing my bed created less dependent, more secure children. They know that their Mom and Dad are there for them and will meet all their needs. These ads are offensive to me. I am sorry, but when did my boobs turn into something as dangerous as a knife? My baby sleeps happly at my breast most of the night! That is just how I intend for it to stay for the remainder of his babyhood. Thanks for your post and publicly admitting you are a co-sleeping family.

  • Justaddcloth

    Our small double bed was too small to comfortably cosleep so we ended up with the crib pushed up against my side of the bed. That didn’t stop us from dozing off while side nursing quite a few times. If we had a queen sized bed, i have no doubt the baby would be in bed with us. I like having us all in the same room. My mother coslept. My inlaws coslept. You do what you do. These ads about cosleeping make me feel the same as I do about all the anti-breastfeeding rhetoric. It seems our society is against the health and happiness women and children can gain by making the choices that are best for us and our families.

  • Texas Momma

    I agree with you completely! I’m glad some people still have some common sense =) Trust me, it was less dangerous for our babies to sleep with us than for NO ONE to sleep at all! By the time I had my third,I could switch sides while nursing on my side in my sleep. Everyone got to sleep then & now they all are excellent “sleeper in their own bedders, and sleeper through the nighters,” to steal your phrase. =)

  • OMG,  I looove this! I had been feeling so guilty about co-sleeping, now I can enjoy it a little more. I have co-slept with my daughter since I got home from the hospital and I wouldn’t have it any other way! She’s now 2 months and we are so in love <3 Thanks for a little laugh this morning, too 🙂

  • I love this post (and, your blog in general!!) – co-sleeping chose us, too – and when made to feel guilty, I did a TON of searching and couldn’t find a single study that found co-sleeping (under safe, mostly common sense circumstances) to be anything but beneficial for the baby. I feel like so many parents are afraid to “admit” that they co-sleep or bed share. Thank you for this!

    • Anonymous

      It does feel like admitting something shameful but it is the opposite!

  • Sara

    Okay,  I never heard anything bad about co-sleeping up until today! No ads or anything. I come from Europe tho (and we have no higher baby death rate than America). My sister and I were both raised co-sleeping (I still went over to my parents’ bed when I woke up at night until I was about 7) — without one of us ever coming NEAR suffocating. My sister now has a son on her own who also chose co-sleeping and they never had any problems.
    As this seems like the most common-sense, most natural thing to do (parents don’t bed their babies sepertely in the animal world) I find those kind of ads rather alarming and injust.

    Just thought I’d share my thoughts on that (: