Dr.Sears’ Suggestions on Co-Sleeping with Two Babies
We are expecting our second child in a few short months, and we also co-sleep with our eighteen-month-old son. How can we safely co-sleep with two babies?
In reading your question, the first thought that came to my mind was where there’s a will, there’s a way. You sound like a mother who wonderfully wishes to co-sleep with two babies, yet there are challenges we have learned from counseling many co-sleeping families. First, remember the golden rule of co-sleeping: whatever arrangement gives mother, baby, and the whole family the best night’s sleep is the right arrangement for your family. Also, keep in mind safety concerns. Your new baby gets first dibs on mommy. Put your new baby next to you, but never put a newborn baby and toddler next to each other to sleep in the same bed.
I am assuming your toddler is no longer night-nursing since you are so far along in your pregnancy. This should make it easier for your eighteen-month-old to accept not sleeping so close to you. Try these options.
Consider Different Co-Sleeping Arrangements
Ease your toddler into a “special bed” either right next to your bed or at the foot of your bed. Another option is to have daddy co-sleep with your toddler, and you co-sleep with your newborn in a separate bed. If you have a king-size bed and want both children in the same bed, it might work for your newborn to sleep between you and a guardrail, and then your toddler sleep on the other side of daddy next to a guardrail.
Since you have a couple of months before your new baby arrives, try some easing-out strategies now. That way, your toddler does not feel “kicked out of your bed” by the little “intruder.” If your toddler does not accept the “special bed” next to your bed or at the foot of your bed and still wants to snuggle with a person, start now with daddy practicing some nighttime fathering to find out what works before your new little “co-sleeper” arrives.
Extra Toddler Snuggles
When a new baby arrives, it’s important to offer special touch times with your toddler. Snuggles with you during napping or snuggling with you off to sleep in his own bed at night will help the transition. Think of whatever you can do to reassure your toddler that he has not lost his importance just because another baby now occupies his sleeping space.
Co-Sleeping with a Bedside Bassinette
If your toddler absolutely will not part with his co-sleeping arrangement with you, try putting your newborn baby immediately next to you in an Arm’s Reach Bedside Co-Sleeper Bassinette. That way, you and your newborn can be within close distance for easy nighttime comforting and breastfeeding, while your toddler is on the other side of you at least for a short time while you are practicing these easing-your-toddler-out strategies.
Our Nighttime Parenting Outlook
Another piece of mommy advice is to always remember what my husband, Dr. Bill, would remind me: “What your babies need is a happy, rested mother.” If a sleeping arrangement feels right and is working for you, then you are on the right path. If it is not, work on a sleeping arrangement that gives all family members the best night’s sleep.
I still remember the many co-sleeping talks Bill and I had in our earlier years of nighttime parenting. We wondered, “are we doing the right thing?” Now we look back with happy memories that the increased touch time we gave our babies is relatively short in your total parenting life, but those high-touch attachment effects last a lifetime toward imprinting deep feelings of empathy and social attachment in your children.
For more advice on co-sleeping, see many of my personal nighttime parenting stories in The Baby Sleep Book.
Martha is the mother of Dr. Bill’s eight children, a registered nurse, a former childbirth educator, a La Leche League leader, and a lactation consultant. Martha is the co-author of 25 parenting books and is a popular lecturer and media guest drawing on her 18 years of breastfeeding experience with her eight children (including Stephen with Down Syndrome and Lauren, her adopted daughter). Martha speaks frequently at national parenting conferences and is noted for her advice on how to handle the most common problems facing today’s mothers with their changing lifestyles. Martha is able to connect with both full-time, stay-at-home mothers and working mothers because she herself has experienced both styles of parenting. Martha takes great pride in referring to herself as a “professional mother” and one of her favorite quips when someone voices their concern about her having eight children in an already populated world is: “The world needs my children.”