Co-sleeping with toddler (pros and cons)

Share for good karma 😉

Co-sleeping with your toddler simply means that you share a bed with your child for all or part of the night. 

Pin Image of Cosleeping with toddler

A lot of couples have different views about this. While some welcome it, some are totally against it. 

This act has its share of positive and negative sides and also potential risks. We will try and bring a balance to this in this post. 

Note that when choosing to co-sleep with your toddler, it is not a decision to be taken lightly. 

You have to consider the risks, pros, and cons. 

Who Are Toddlers?

*This post may contain affiliate links at no extra cost to you. See disclosure for details.

Toddlers are little children between the ages of 1 to 3 years old. Some people consider 4 year olds as toddlers but this is not accepted by all. 

The most accepted age range for toddlers is 1 to 3 years old while 4 year olds are known as pre-schoolers. 

So, having established the age range of toddlers, let’s move on. 

Is It Safe To Co-Sleep With Your Toddlers?

Photo of parents Co-sleeping with toddler

Starting at the age of one, co-sleeping with your toddler is very safe. And the older your child gets, the less risky it becomes because they can now move, free themselves from restraints, and roll over. 

However, co-sleeping with children under 1 year of age is not advisable because it is potentially dangerous. Children less than 1 year old cannot remove themselves from adult bodies or heavy bedding.

This, in turn, increases their risks of suffocation, entrapment, and sudden infant death syndrome (SID). 

This is why the American Academy of Pediatrician (AAP) strongly warns against co-sleeping with children under the age of 1. 

Also, there are certain situations where co-sleeping is dangerous apart from considering the age of the child. 

Any parent who has been drinking alcohol or taking drugs should not co-sleep with their children as that can hinder their ability to stir. 

10 Benefits Of Co-Sleeping With Your Toddlers

Photo of feet of parents Co-sleeping with toddler

Sleeping next to a loved one feels completely safe, natural, and innate for most human beings. And many young kids long for the comfort of their parent’s arms throughout the night. 

Co-sleeping may not be normal in the USA but in other parts and cultures of the world, it is a common practice and highly encouraged. 

Many cultures hold in high esteem the practicality and physical togetherness of sharing a bed. 

There are many benefits of co-sleeping with your toddler and here are 10 of them: 

1. Creates strong bond

Co-sleeping with your toddler will help you both bond on a deeper level. It will also give your child a sense of security and safety. 

The days are long, you spend most of your time at work and just have little time to spend with them when you get back before they go to sleep. 

And as they get older, they will claim their independence and want more physical space. So co-sleeping with them while they are little (toddlers) will help you make the most of this time. 

Parents who are extremely busy during the day and are not present with their kids can have more precious time with their growing kids by co-sleeping with them. 

You will get the privilege of seeing their tiny chest rise and fall and their eyelids flutter 

2. Promotes healthy breastfeeding 

Co-sleeping helps nursing mothers feed their babies more readily, especially in the middle of the night or in the wee hours of the morning. 

You will be able to keep this activity peaceful and hushed in close proximity and this will promote a sense of restful relaxation. 

Co-sleeping even encourages extended breastfeeding. 

Even though traditional bed sharing is not encouraged when you have young infants, you can look for creative ways to do this. You can get a co-sleeper that pulls up to the side of your bed or you get a traditional bassinet that will safely keep your baby at arm’s reach. 

3. Less bedtime stress 

A good number of toddlers have a serious case of bedtime fear of missing out (FOMO). They don’t want to be transferred to their own room and separated from the comfort and vicinity of their parents. 

And as a parent with limited time of your own, you may have other schedules or other ideas on how you want to spend your evening hours. 

This can lead to a war of wills and your toddler may win. This sleep drama can be very exhausting especially in the middle of the night. 

A lot of parents prefer to keep the peace than spending hours negotiating with a tantrum-throwing toddler. 

A way to cut down on the time, effort, and energy to get your little one to sleep can be reduced when you co-sleep. 

4. They grow up to be more independent 

The Natural Parent Network did research and they revealed that children who co-sleep with their parents are more independent than their peers who sleep alone. 

A lot of parents worry that co-sleeping will make their children dependent on them, well this is a myth. 

This study reveals that it produces independence and self-sufficiency in toddlers. 

5. They do well academically 

The parent magazine explains a research published in the Journal Pediatrics which revealed that co-sleeping improves a child’s academic performance and does not affect their social skills or readiness for school. 

They also behave better in school and receive higher evaluations from their teachers than kids who sleep alone. 

6. It boosts their immunity 

This study reveals that the comfort toddlers get from their parents when co-sleeping reduces their stress levels thereby making them healthy kids. 

This study measured the levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in children and discovered that those who co-sleep with their parents have lower levels of cortisol than those who don’t. 

Having a parent’s security nearby goes a long way in the health of a child. 

7. Makes them emotionally healthy 

Psychology Today explains that co-sleeping with your toddler is one of the simplest ways to raise well-rounded kids. Parents can promote the emotional growth of their children through this method. 

The Healthy Child reports in a research that males who co-slept with their parents between birth and the age of 5 have higher self-esteem and less guilt. 

Toddlers who co-sleep with their parents will grow up to be open to affection. They end up becoming huggers and experience less discomfort when having physical contact and affection as adults. 

Co-sleeping also improves the mental health of toddlers as those who co-sleep with their parents have fewer psychological problems.

8. They get more sleep 

Toddlers who sleep with their parents get more sleep than kids who don’t. When they wake up in the middle of the night, they won’t cry, scream, or call for their parents to come because they are comforted knowing that their mom is nearby. 

This also helps them have a positive attitude towards life than kids who don’t co-sleep with their parents. 

9. They wake up happy 

A wonderful way to start the day is waking up next to the person you love most and the one who loves you back. Even kids know and want this. 

Your toddler is happy when the first face he/she gets to see in the morning is yours. And this will reduce their anxieties. They will also feel more accepted and loved. 

10. It is safe for the kids 

For instance, if anything were to happen in your home like an intruder, a gas leak, or a fire incident, you will be there to protect your child. 

Co-sleeping with your baby also prevents SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). 

Co-sleeping also protects you from harmful EMF coming from the monitor placed near you to alert you about your baby. 

These monitors emit a massive amount of electromagnetic radiation which is harmful to the human body. This can cause horrible health consequences for you and your baby. 

You will also sleep soundly knowing that your baby is by your side. 

How to Stop Co-Sleeping With Your Toddler

Photo of a sleeping toddler

After the age of 3 or 4, you should start thinking of enforcing independence and take back your mattress real estate. It won’t be easy because you are making a big transition. 

The few steps outlined below will help you make the switch from co-sleeping with your toddler to solo sleeping smoothly. 

1. Break sleep associations 

This is the first step in getting your toddler ready for independence. Sleep associations are things or activities your child has been used to induce sleep. 

Some sleep associations are falling asleep with a bottle, having a parent in the room before they fall asleep, breastfeeding them while they fall asleep, or being rocked to sleep.

If you can do this, the rest of your work will be easier. You start by gradually removing each sleep association and train the child to sleep without those things or activities. 

After this, you are ready for the next step. 

2. Try sharing a room 

Toddlers want to know that their parents are nearby at night, especially if they are used to co-sleeping. 

Room sharing can make this transition easier for you. This transition doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing. 

You can do this by adding a small mattress, a separate sleeping space, or a crib to your bedroom. 

If you are trying to break this sleep association, put the child in bed when he/she is drowsy and train them to fall asleep on their own. 

Explain to him/her that you are going to let them sleep on their own because they are such a big kid and remind her that you will be back when it is time for mommy and daddy to go to sleep. 

Focus on giving them the power here. 

By doing this, you will take back your personal space and also provide your comforting presence to your toddler. 

3. Do the transition gradually 

Training a toddler to sleep on their own is a marathon and not a sprint race so you have to be patient during this process. 

Do it gradually. Put your toddler in their own room or bed at night but have it at the back of your mind that they will find their way to you in the middle of the night. 

When this happens, don’t get mad, just walk them back to their room. Show them kindness and love and give them verbal reassurance. 

Keep doing this and don’t give up, in time, they will get used to it and the change will stick. 

4. Focus on a positive bedtime routine 

Bedtime can be an instant fight if they are being forced to go to bed. Instead of going head-to-head with a 3 year old who is adamant, think of ways to incorporate a nightly bedtime routine that is positive and enjoyable. 

You can read them stories, have a ritual of 10 hugs and kisses, sing songs, and then say “goodnight” and “I love you”. 

They may be crying and pleading but they will get used to it, expect it, and even accept it as their new normal. 

You can employ these tips to develop a good and positive bedtime routine for your toddler:

  • Make sure that the routine ends in your child’s bedroom 
  • Start the routine with a warm bath 
  • Brush and floss their teeth 
  • Read a favorite story together 
  • Sing a relaxing song to your toddler 
  • Ask them about a favorite or positive event that happened in the day 
  • Say a prayer 
  • Don’t allow kids to handle electronics 1 to 2 hours before bedtime. These include TV, computers, and cell phones 
  • Give your toddler a bottle before brushing their teeth and bathing them. Sending a child to bed with a bottle will create sleep association and increase their risks of dental health issues. 
  • Put your toddler on the bed to sleep when they are drowsy and not when they are asleep 
  • Don’t rock the child to sleep. You will be creating a sleep association 

5. Use a reward system 

This depends on the age of your child but it is highly effective for toddlers and even children over the age of 3. You can use a reward system or sleep chart to help your toddler learn how to sleep on their own. 

Before you use this method on your child, make sure he/she understands the concept and association of the reward system. 

You tell your child that you will give them a reward/gift if he/she stays in bed all through the night. This reward can be a sticker or a token. 

Then your child will try to cash in a certain number of tokens like 3 or 5 to get a bigger reward. 

These rewards can include a trip to the park, an outing to get their favorite snack, or a little extra TV time. 

6. Take a course 

There is a course called Big Little Feelings. It is an online course for parents of toddlers who are having a tough time having their toddlers sleep on their own. 

This course provides specific tools to help you make and stick with a plan to help toddlers and young children stay in their own beds throughout the night thereby preventing reactive co-sleeping. 

Reactive co-sleeping happens when a child is put to bed in their own room but they wake up in the night and end up sleeping in their parent bedroom at some point overnight. 

7. Work with a professional 

If all these strategies are not yielding results as you expect and you are at your wits, it is nice you see the help of a professional. 

Your pediatrician can create a sleep plan for your toddler. There are also sleep coaches and consultants that can be useful too. Most of them have seen it and have heard it all. 

They have incredible experience and specialized insights about disruptions, patterns, and routines. 

Sometimes, all you need is a gentle push and an outside opinion to help you get the sleep situation you have been dreaming about. 

A good way to eliminate the nursing sleep association is to allow the toddler to sleep with their dad. 

Importance Of Breaking Sleep Associations 

When implementing a good bedtime routine for your toddler, it is good to eliminate or break any sleep associations he or she has. 

Some sleep associations are falling asleep with a bottle, having a parent in the room before they fall asleep, breastfeeding them while they fall asleep, or being rocked to sleep. 

Everybody, including kids, wakes up between 5 and 9 times during the night. If the last thing your child remembers is the association, let’s say breastfeeding, being rocked, or having a parent; that is what they are going to think of whenever they wake up. 

This will make them cry because they are lost or confused because that object or activity of sleep association is no more there. 

A very important element in transitioning your toddlers from co-sleeping to solo sleeping is to train them to understand that they can fall and stay asleep on their own without sleep associations. 

Are There Disadvantages Of Sleeping With Toddlers?

Photo of a mom Co-sleeping with toddler

Well, everyone is different and like all parenting decisions, you have to pick your battles. 

Co-sleeping with toddlers is a blessing for some parents while other parents don’t see it that way. Here are some of the drawbacks of co-sleeping with your toddler. 

1. Poor sleep quality 

Co-sleeping with your toddler can be majorly disruptive. Their little limbs can flail around and your sleep will suffer as a result of their veritable dream dancing. 

This study reported that mothers who co-sleep with their toddlers reported more night wakings and poorer sleep than mothers who allowed their infants to sleep on their own. 

2. It can affect your mental health 

Sleep deprivation can affect your overall well-being. You may be starved of rest and downtime by co-sleeping with your toddler. 

This study revealed that moms who co-sleep with their toddlers and lost an average of 51 minutes of night sleep every night had higher levels of depression, stress, and anxiety. 

3. Lack of Me-time 

Parents need me-time or a kid-free time and sharing a bed with your toddler will limit your ability to have quality time with your partner. 

You and your spouse may not be able to catch up after a long day, watch a movie together, or snuggle. 

Bedtime sex is also out of the way when you have a toddler with you except you find ways to get creative in solving this issue. 

Then, there are times you just need your me-time, you just want to rest and recharge without feeling on duty or anyone touching you. 

In this case, it is not advisable to still hold on to cosleeping with your toddler, it shouldn’t cost you your personal needs or your relationship. 

So make sure that you and your partner are on the same page when and if you want to co-sleep with your toddler. 

4. Concern about social judgment 

In some parts of the world, like the west, parents can feel pressured to conform to the norms of society and their expectations. This can make you feel like co-sleeping with your toddler is a wrong choice. 

Many parents don’t want to be judged or perceived as a failure for allowing their kids to sleep in their beds at night. 

Despite all these, know that co-sleeping with your toddler is a valid choice and there is no reason to stop it if it works for you and your family. 

Don’t allow people’s views and opinions to affect a decision that you made happily and willingly. 

Conclusion

We hope you find help from this article if you feel co-sleeping is right for you and your family. And if it is causing you stress and making you lose your sleep, you can use the strategies we outlined in this post to claim your space. 

If you have any suggestions about co-sleeping and sleep training, please let us know in the comment section. 

Lily & The FBM Team
Love Social?

Share for good karma 😉