Of all the things I've done in my 33 years on this planet, I can't think of too many I feel more ambivalent about than co-sleeping. On the one hand you have snuggles, facilitated breastfeeding (if that's your thing), and an overall feeling of domestic contentment. On the other hand you have a ceaseless parade of kicking, uninhibited body functions, and groping that prevents you from actually sleeping. The scale of good and bad is constantly tipping, sometimes in the span of one night. I asked parents to describe what it actually feels like to co-sleep, and I believe you will find I am vindicated in my sometimes confused assessment of feelings.
Co-sleeping isn't for everyone, and I doubt you will find too many parents who chose to share a bed with their child who wouldn't concede, "Yeah, I get it, dude. Live your best life." Even the most enthusiastic co-sleeper admits that, sometimes, it blows. Yet for lots of us (even those among us who swore left, right, and sideways we would never in a million years ever co-sleep not that I would know about that), the scale more often than not tips toward positive, warm fuzzy feelings, so we're willing to put up with it. Or it may even be awful most of the time, but the moments when it's not are so incredible that we deal with the poking and acting as a human pacifier for that one moment when our child nuzzles us and smiles in their sleep.
But don't let me be the final word on the matter, as every parent experiences every parenting moment different. So, with that in mind, here's what 15 other parents had to say on the matter:
"My almost 6 month old sleeps in my arms at night. I find bed-sharing to be more bonding than breastfeeding. I just breathe her in all night, her little hands on my arm. It's pure heaven. I slept with all my babies until they self weaned around 15 months. Zero regrets now that the other two are grown. I'll never regret all those snuggles."
"Oh it's just heaven! Nothing, I mean nothing, will ever top your little one rolling over, putting their arm around you, and letting out a deep sigh of content in their sleep."
Like laying next to a six-armed, rabid, koala. It had been awhile since my kidneys were punched. Oh my liver? Didn't need that. Kick away.
"It was tough some nights, but the majority of time I couldn't imagine not having my little guy next to me. It's the sweetest thing when he rolls over and says, 'I wuv you mommy,' hugging me and falling back to sleep so content."
"We ruined both of our kids and they now both join us in the middle of the night. Our 1-year-old prefers the, "H is for Hell" sleeping position and our 4-year-old has been exiled to the floor by my side of the bed. She sleeps on a very comfortable stack of blankets. I am thinking of creating a[n enormous] family bed for my sanity."
It's like smelly, sweaty feet and hands flinging at your face all night.
"Besides complicating the sex situation, I have zero complaints. I love squeezing them at night and laughing at them in the morning. Yes, things can get a little violent and painful, especially with an elbow to the boob or a foot to the ribcage, but pain is temporary and memories of cute are forever. I will say that my wife is a hero: between pregnancy and breastfeeding, she hasn't had a full night's sleep in 33 months, yet she continues to function at a superhuman level."
"You think it's nice until you get that first night's sleep alone and well sedated on antihistamines. Then you remember what a full, uninterrupted night's sleep is like and you chase that magic like a junkie until, college?"
It ranges from pure heaven to sleep-deprived hell depending on the day but I can't imagine doing it any other way. No regrets!
"It was a way for me to spend time with my children after I returned to work from my maternity leave. I loved being able to snuggle all night and just be near them when I'd spent most of the day away from them. But as they got older they got wiggly and I got tired of being used as a pacifier. So by one year they were both booted to their own rooms. But it was great when they were itty-bitty babes."
"I bed-shared with my son for 11 months. I loved it, truly. It definitely made it easier to be successful with breastfeeding and I believe it led to more quality sleep. It did put a damper on my sex life, for sure, but it was well worth it."
It's hard to sleep, you get kicked in the face, sometimes you nurse all night- but that sweet baby breath and those warm little cheeks makes it all worth it.
"[My daughter] still sleeps with me at age five! We start out in separate beds but always end up cuddling in the middle of the night. I thought it was a problem, but really is it? No. There are much bigger problems. My child needing me and me in turn needing her too is just wonderful actually."
For me it's like sleeping with a stuffed animal that fights back.
"It's all elbows and knees and discovering your pillow is covered in sweat but you don't know whose sweat it is, and waking up to someone staring at you creepily. But it's also snuggles and kisses and extra love."