Co-sleeping, also known as bed sharing, is the practice of having the infant in the parents' bed with them during sleep. Parents often choose to co-sleep, or have a family bed, to promote breastfeeding and bonding. The Academy of Pediatrics, adapted their ‘safe sleep guidelines’ including recommending that a baby should “Share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months.”
Those who support co-sleeping believe that a baby belongs in their parents bed, but opposers are afraid that it can be unsafe. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission say that letting a baby sleep in the same bed as the parents is a sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, risk. James McKenna, a professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame and director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory, says co-sleeping can be a good choice for some families. It's important to research or ask a primary care physician how to safely co-sleep, and it needs to be done with caution.
“Society and people assume that it's okay to judge co-sleeping, separate-surface co-sleeping and bed sharing,” says McKenna. “Parents have the right to decide what is right for them, what works best for them and baby, and what is the best practice they will follow.”
McKenna is right, and we're not here to judge anyone. The stories we are sharing go from cute and quirky to frightening and jail time! These are not the average co-sleeping families.
12 The Constable Family's 18 Foot Long Bed
Have you ever heard of an 18 foot long bed? Probably not because they aren't exactly on the market. Mother of four, Kim Constable, and her husband share one giant bed with their children.
“Before the big bed was created I spent my nights bed running about from room to room trying to get all the children to sleep,” Constable said to Belfast Telegraph. “I am there for my children 24 hours a day and night. Whether they have a bad dream or want a drink of water, I will be there for them during the night just like I am during the day.”
The “big bed” is made up of one king size bed, one super king and one single bed. All joined together and it makes the perfect 18 foot long bed to fit this large co-sleeping family. This homeschooling family isn't just unique because of their giant bed. The Constable’s also let their children decide when they will go to sleep. Sometimes, 11-year-old Corey will stay up until 3am and sleep until 1pm!
11 Co-Sleeping In The Nude
A user called “ex-stasis” posted an unusual question on a mothering social forum. She wanted to know what people thought of co-sleeping…in the nude! Surprisingly, the question got a lot of positive feedback with others supporting the nudist lifestyle. Another user with the name “farmer mama” expressed that she fully supports nude co-sleeping at any age. She and her husband sleep naked with their 2-year-old and 5-year-old. The kids also sleep naked. This mom goes on to say they will continue with their current sleeping arrangement until someone feels uncomfortable with it.
Mothers who supported nude co-sleeping also explained that it was a good opportunity to explain “touching” to your children. It's important for them to know the difference between appropriate touching and inappropriate touching. It seems the biggest problem most mothers have with nude co-sleeping is babies who try to nurse all night long and little toes that get stuck where they don't belong!
10 Once A Week Limit
Rebecca Eckler, a Canadian writer, was a single mother who co-slept with her daughter for the first five years of her life. For more than 1500 days they shared the same bed. Until a man came into the picture. Eckler got engaged and her fiancé thought it was “weird” to sleep with your children. He came into the picture and set a rule that Eckler was “allowed” to co-sleep with her daughter once a week. Eckler agreed to her finances demands and now counts down the days until she is able to sleep with her daughter again.
“How could you bond while you’re asleep? For us, it’s more of a physical bonding, like we’ll hold hands all night, or we’ll sleep back-to-back so one of our body parts are always touching, or we’ll wrap our legs around each other.” Eckler writes. “But before the falling asleep, holding hands, spooning, or sleeping back-to-back, there’s the talking and secret sharing. In the dark, my daughter seems more open to admitting her feelings, worries and troubles. In the dark, I give her advice and tell her not to worry.”
9 Boyce Bed For Seven
The struggle is real for parents who chose to co-sleep with their children. Tom and Elizabeth Boyce are no exception. They often woke up in the morning to see the children scatter throughout the bedroom. With five children ages 1 to 11, the Boyce’s knew they had to come up with a solution to their co-sleeping problems.
They made possibly one of the best IKEA hacks in the master bedroom. Not just any bed was invented, but a nocturnal mattress fort that the family created using two child-size beds from IKEA. This fort comfortably sleeping the whole family of seven!
“I am for sure not the only one doing it,” Boyce, a professional photographer based in Plano, Tex., told ABC affiliate WFAA. “Honestly I think a lot of us do it without knowing that we’re doing it. A lot of people say, ‘My kids come into my bed at midnight; that doesn’t count.’ Yeah it does. Your kid is in your bed — it counts.”
8 Menta Family Fight Night
Anna Mena, a department store manager in New York City, showed up to work one day with a black eye. Her coworkers glanced her way with fighting looks on their faces. When a brave friend finally built up the nerve to approach Menta, she asked, “Is everything okay at home?”
It was time for Menta to confess the truth. The black eye was caused by her co-sleeping toddler. The 5-year-old gave his mother a quick kick to the face in the middle of the night when he was switching positions in the family bed. "Wow," said her colleague, once convinced that Mena wasn't a battered wife. "I guess it's time to get that kid out of your bed."
Two years later and the little slugger is still sleeping in his parents bed, despite their best efforts to transition him out. Mena never thought she would be the kind of mom who puts up with a second-grader in her bed, though she is comforted by one thing, "Every single one of my friends has a child who ends up visiting them at night."
7 Pee In The Bed
Amanda Collins is a big advocate for co-sleeping parents. She wrote, “When we look at the animal kingdom we do not see a mother leaving her child to fend for themselves overnight. We see her keep her babies close no matter what. It's in our nature and it is what nature intended.”
When Collins said, “no matter what” she meant it! Her family of four co-sleeps every night. Even if someone is sick, or out late, they are all expected to wake up in the same bed. Collins remembers a time when her son peed the bed and she made the whole family sleep in it until morning.
When asked what she will do when her children no longer want to co-sleep Collins responded, “I am going to be devastated! One thing for certain, I won't let them go without a fight.”
Her children, one boy and one girl, are ages 5 and 7.
6 Bed Hopping
When Melissa Perks had her children she knew they would not be a co-sleeping family. Her and her husband made it through two children without any sleep issues. Things were turned upside down when their third baby was born. The baby slept in her parents room, but in her own crib. This lasted for about a year. When the baby was able to jump out of her crib she always crawled into her parents bed.
Perks and her husband thought if she moved into her sister's room it would tempt her to stay in her own bed. They were wrong. The baby jumped out and climbed in bed with her sister. When her sister kicked her out she went to her brother. She never lasted long in her brother's room, so she eventually always ended up in bed with mom and dad. The Perks never gave in to their needy nighttimer. The “baby” continued to room hop throughout the night until she was 12-years-old. It became a family joke, “What bed will you end up in tonight?”
5 Non-Stop Nighttime Feedings
Dani Matthews, mother of three, spent eight hours a night breastfeeding. No, she didn't have twins. In fact, her children are ages 9 months, 2-years-old and 3-years-old. The crazy part, they ALL breastfeed at night! The Matthews family has been a co-sleeping family since day one. When the children start fidgeting around at night, Dani immediately feeds them. Feeding at night has become a comfortable habit for the 2 and 3 year old.
Matthews wrote in a blog post that a breastfeeding mother often feels like a cow getting milked. Especially when there are multiple children pulling at your nipples all night. When one of them gets up to feed the other two can hear them sucking and then they wake up. Dani wrote, “I need three boobs!”
When Matthews is exhausted she sometimes questions her co-sleeping decision. She can feel it taking a toll on her body, but then remember how strong a mother can be. She believes, “We better enjoy sleeping with our children while we can because it won't last forever.”
4 Co-Sleeping Through Adulthood
Becky, 32, grew up co-sleeping with her mother. They slept together as long as she can remember. When Becky was ten her friends told her it was weird that she slept with her mom. The mother daughter pair were very close, but not too close. Becky was a well adjusted kid who was able to go to sleepovers, go to her father house in another state for weeks at a time and she went to overnight summer camps. It's not that Becky couldn't sleep without her mother, she just liked the feeling of being close to her mother when she could.
As Becky grew older the little warm snuggles turned into staying up late laughing and sharing secrets. When Becky moved out she always went home on the weekends and slept in bed with her mother. The pair doesn't think there is anything wrong with their relationship and they won’t let the opinions of others change that.
3 Getting It On While The Baby Is In The Bed
Some parents complain that their sex life takes a toll when they are co-sleeping with their children. Well, xobellsox decided she could have her cake and eat it too. She doesn't see a problem with having sex with her husband while her infant is co-sleeping in her bed. The infant is only eight weeks old right now, but xobellsox made it clear that she wasn't going to stop anytime soon.
The thread got a lot of negative feedback and xobellsox stood by her decision to make love while her baby was present. She claims the baby made the whole experience of “love making” more magical. We understand that babies can bring out some weird emotions, but this is weird and dangerous! In her final post xobellsox wrote, “My son will grow up knowing what real love is. Sex is an act of nature and he will see it first hand everyday.”
2 Piche-Pitts Pure Negligence
Erin Piche-Pitts, a Florida woman, faces manslaughter charges after her newborn infant son was found dead in her bed. This woman's situation is sketchy and weird. Polk County Sheriff’s Office investigators say this is the woman’s second baby to die from co-sleeping. They say her negligence caused the death of her newborn son.
Investigators say Piche-Pitts gave birth to a baby boy on September 18, 2016. Before being released from the Winter Haven Women’s Hospital, she was given information about properly caring for her infant. This included information on the dangers of co-sleeping.
On September 21, Piche-Pitts took the baby for a routine newborn exam. The baby’s primary care physician, who was aware of her first baby’s death, had a conversation with Piche-Pitts ensuring she did not sleep in the same bed with the newborn. Detectives say Piche-Pitts assured the physician that she would not. The baby died when he was just 18-days-old. His older sibling also died while co-sleeping with Piche-Pitts at only 13-days-old.
1 Clark Family Catastrophes
Mark and Vanessa Clark, a Texas couple, had the unthinkable happen when they were co-sleeping with their infant. The baby tragically passed away and the death was ruled an accident. Within the same year the Clarks were blessed with another child. We would assume they would be extra cautious, and probably skip co-sleeping all together this time around. Surely they are still completely torn up over the first child. Never assume anything! The couple had a second infant child die while co-sleeping with them. Both deaths occurred within a year of each other.
This time the death was not ruled an accident. The second infant death happened because Mark and Vanessa Clark "intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence" put the child at risk of "imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment, by sleeping with said child in the same bed when said child that was less than four months of age."
Sources: The Bump, Babycenter, USAToday, Red Book Mag, ABC News, WFLA News, Reddit