Raising a Blended Family

Soliciting Opinions

on April 25, 2015

As the new baby’s arrival looms ever-nearer, so does the introduction of a problem we have been trying to solve. It is, of course, a sleep-related problem, as it seems many problems concerning toddlers and new babies are. Ours, in particular, revolves around cosleeping dilemmas.

We have, from the beginning, shared a family bed with Pax. Though it was never in our plans, Paxton is and always has been a self-declared cosleeper. The boy needs our touch and our presence to fall and stay asleep- during the night, he reaches out a hand and makes sure he is in constant contact with the bare skin of one of our arms, or necks, or bellies. This, too, he has always done. An earlier post of mine describing 4-month-old Pax states that he

seems to be a very tactile baby- he needs to FEEL us, skin to skin, and seems to get a lot of comfort out of it. I know all babies do this to an extent but he seems to be even more-so than average.

This post, from when he was just four months old, is so spot-on for how he still is that it blows my mind.  No, he doesn’t sleep ON us anymore (as described in that post), but damn near close enough- oftentimes, we fall alseep forehead-to-forehead with him in constant contact with mine or Shorty’s body.

Also, though he starts out each night in his own room where we deposit him at bedtime, he never falls asleep or stays asleep there for long. Instead, he plays, babbles, and eventually cries until one of us comes to get him and deposit him in “mama bed” as he calls it. Then, he will ONLY go to sleep if we lay down with him- the act of transferring him into our bed does not in and of itself mean he will sleep. (So, here is problem number one: The kid isn’t going to sleep each night until ten or so, because that’s when WE go to bed, and that’s just too damn late for a toddler’s bed time. Plus, he won’t sleep independently, AT ALL.).

Admittedly, we enable this routine. We get him when he is crying and take him to our bed, thus reinforcing the crying routine. But, I will also say that it feels right, having him in our bed. The few times we have tried to wean him out of it have been unsuccessful in part because of mine and Shorty’s unwillingness to be parted from him at night. Speaking for myself, I love snuggling him. i love feeling him run his hand over my arm, his fingertips on my palms, “feeling” for me and comforting himself with my presence. I like reaching out and “scooping” him over to me from across the bed- like catching a fish in a net- once he is limp and asleep and unprotesting (if he’s not fully asleep, I am liable to be told off for daring to try to snuggle him. “NO. ‘top it, mama. I schweeping!”). I like knowing he’s safe at night, being able to feel him breathing, and I love waking up, all of us together in the mornings, him snuggling and giving out hugs to wake us up as we blink awake. In short, We aren’t AT ALL ready for him to leave our bed, and neither is he. Cosleeping with him has made us all closer and more intimate, and it has been one of my favorite things about this whole journey of ours.

The problem, then, comes in thinking about Shiloh and her arrangements. I want the same for her as for Pax, sleeping in bliss with comfort in the form of her moms nearby, and the security that comes with all of it. But, I want this for her without giving up the continued cosleeping with Pax, which obviously brings up safety concerns. Pax obviously isn’t ready to stop cosleeping; my own previous posts show that he has just always been this kind of sleeper and therefore not likely to suddenly change now. So what, then, is the solution?

I have googled and researched and I have some ideas, but what I would love would be to hear your thoughts. Has anyone been in this situation, or had friends who were? What worked for you/them? What did you ultimately do? We have three months to ponder this decision; I know that time will fly by though and we need to make arrangements.

Basic facts we are working with:

-we already have a king bed, turned sideways on the floor.

-Our room is small. Possibly could sidecar a crib? Not so sure a twin mattress would fit alongside, but maybe.

-He hates his toddler bed and always has. I think because the mattress makes noises and isn’t a mom-style grown up mattress but rather still a crib mattress? We’ve got a twin bed for him that we just need to put together, but again- not so sure we even want him out of our bed yet!

So, give me your ideas. I want to hear ’em!

(Just for fun, I now present the many sleeping positions of Paxton. Lol!) 

5 responses to “Soliciting Opinions

  1. We’re a long way off from really thinking about this seriously, but I mentioned it to a friend who works with families with young children and she was saying it’s doable as long as the older child is not next to the baby for at least the first 6 months (more for a smaller/weaker infant). I have been wondering what families who cosleep longterm do.

  2. My cousin coslept with both her girls from day 1. It just meant that her husband rarely shared the adult bed anymore…eventually I think the girls helped each other sleep by providing the touch, but she’s still unable to have them fall asleep on their own, and I think one is around 4 years old and the other 6 years old. I don’t cosleep and my daughter has no interest whenever I’ve tried, so I can’t offer any suggestions. I’d probably side car just because that’s what we did in the early months before crib. Good luck!!

  3. Lindsay says:

    What about just making sure Shiloh and Pax are on opposite sides of the bed? I like the idea of sidecar’ing the crib, too, if you can make that work.

    Evelyn starts off in her bed (she does sleep there for about 3-4 hours) and then always ends up in mine. I totally understand the co-sleeping thing. Evie is NOT ready to spend the full night alone in her bed, and i’m okay with extra snuggles with my little one!

  4. Rachael says:

    He’s adorable! As for advice, I don’t really have any. We didn’t sleep with Punky in our bed. She slept in her Rock N Play for the first 5-6 months next to the bed, where I could reach out and grab her or rock her if needed. And then from there she moved to a Pack N Play with a bassinet in the top. Again next to the bed, where I could grab her for feeding and things. It worked for us. Keeping her close, but not in our bed. And she’s never been good at sleeping with ANYONE else. She generally won’t sleep anywhere but in her bed. So I guess what I’m saying is, you could try a moses basket or a sidecar and see if that helps. Otherwise, I like the ideas suggested about having the kids on opposite sides of the bed.

  5. Isa says:

    My friends who co-slept when their kids were really little had a second mattress next to their bed, to make a sort of super-bed. I’d say put him on that, and have her between you so there’s a barrier between the two kids. Also, if you really love co-sleeping, stop putting him in his own bed at night and then upsetting everyone when he comes to your bed. I’d start trying to work out a bedtime routine for him earlier in the night in your bed so he can go to sleep on his own and you can join him later. How you do that, I have no idea, since we don’t co-sleep, but I feel like with E we just kind of make up the new rules and then enforce them and eventually that’s the way things are, so I’m sure you can make it happen!
    Plenty of people the world over manage to cosleep with different aged kids, and I’m sure you’ll find a way to do it safely! How you can sleep with all those babies on you all night is another story… 🙂

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