My Toddler Sleeps in My Bed and I Don't Care What You Think About It

She does. And I don’t.

Hi everyone. My name is Sarah Spangenberg. I’m a twenty-eight year-old mom and my three-year-old daughter sleeps in my bed. I know a lot of you have some pretty strong opinions about that kind of stuff, and I expect a lot of “Huh?” “What?!” and “What’s the MATTER WITH YOU?” so please – don’t let me down. I have such a high opinion of the Internets and I’m rarely ever disappointed.

See, I was at the opposite end of the spectrum when my daughter was first born. She stayed in her bassinet, which was practically anchored on my husband’s side of the bed (we argued incessantly over that, but I was the one who worked out of the home during that period, so he won). Anytime he’d want to bring her into the bed, I’d shake my head vehemently, wave my arms around and squawk “No way! I roll in my sleep. I elbow, and kick, and do all sorts of mean things when I’m conked out – there’s no way I want a newborn to suffer through that.” A few seconds of silence ensued, and he looked at me blankly. “You mean you know you do these things?” I didn’t really have a response, so I changed the topic. “Plus. ‘They’ say that it’s not good to develop a habit of allowing your kids to sleep in your bed. It starts at an early age, you know.” I was SMUG, dammit. I had read Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care. I knew what I was talking about, and my husband? LULZ did not.

The months went by and my daughter graduated from bassinet to a crib – in our bedroom. That was also my husband’s doing. It wasn’t enough that our bedrooms were literally next to one another, or that we had a baby monitor hooked up in such a close proximity to the speaker that it sometimes emitted a faint, high-frequency noise if you walked too purposefully past it. He wanted to make sure that our little darling was underneath our noses at all times, and to be right there if she needed us. Being the doting mom that I was, I had positively no problem with this. I mean, sex? There were totally ten other rooms in the house for that kind of business, you know?

Anyway, there came a point when Christmas arrived on the horizon, and Santa Claus was to pay a visit to the Spangenberg residence. The holiday after our daughter turned two, Santa Claus had a plan to bring a beautiful, pink and purple monstrosity known as Dora the Explorer Toddler Bed. In anticipation of the arrival, we took sweet toddler’s crib apart and stored it in the garage. We knew that it would probably take more than a few minutes to set up the Dora bed, and didn’t want to be fussing around too much on Christmas Eve after little girlfriend had fallen asleep. For the three or four days before Christmas, my daughter slept in our bed with us. She seemed kind of contrite, like she was getting away with something that she loved, but totally didn’t want to bring to our attention. When bedtime approached for those few days, she’d give me a sly look as if to say “Am I sleeping In There again, Mama?” And I? I was totally okay with this. In fact, something chemical had changed inside of me. I’d become more attuned to the fact that there was a snuggly, warm little body curled up next to me at night that smelled like maple syrup and sunny days, rather than the grunting, elbow-throwing husband that was not-so-secretly displeased at the helter-skelter way in which I chose to throw my arms and legs about in an innocent unconscious state.

Alas? The tradition had begun.

Christmas came and Christmas went and my little girl was just positively elated by the idea of her Dora bed. She just… didn’t want to sleep in it. After spending four blissful nights curled up next to the woman who birthed her, she’d made up her mind: she was going nowhere. She didn’t say this in so many words, but I could almost read her mind. She was sleeping next to me at night, after all. It became a tradition, in which we’d go into Mommy and Daddy’s big, comfy bed, read three or four books, baby girl would fall asleep and Mommy would sneak out of the room to do her Non-Mommy Adult Things. Mommy and Daddy (despite Daddy’s protests) would later join the little one in bed and the pattern continued, and continued, and … well, here we are a year and a half later, and our daughter’s going to turn four in November. She’ll leave the bed one day – and probably one day soon, just based on the fact that she’s a VERY TALL three-and-a-half year-old and she’s not going to want to sleep with Mommy and Daddy forever anyway – but I’m in no rush. I firmly believe that parenting is not about caring too much or not caring enough, it’s about being smart and intuitive enough to make better choices of what to care about on the whole. When it’s time, it’s time.

In short? Even though I want to blame my husband (just because), I suppose I’m the one that’s at fault. This also means I’m the one who’s going to suffer the consequences when my daughter approaches me on a random Friday night as a daughter who’d rather stay at home with her fogey parents when she’s seventeen years old, but you know what? At the risk of sounding like an old head, I think there’s much, much worse things that could happen, frankly.

  • Faye Louise Godwin

    I loved reading this, as a mother who shares her bed with her five year old its nice to hear that someone does not consider it to be the worse thing ever. There are many cultures in which sleeping in close proximity is the norm and done no harm. I know the day will come when she will go to her own room of her own accord therefore see no reason to get stressed about it now and until that day before closing my eyes each night, i will watch my daughter sleeping next to me and feel so incredibly blessed to have her.

  • Rebecca Lynn

    I don’t find that odd at all. I think it’s kind of sweet. Maybe I’ll think it’s weird if she’s thirteen, but she’s three. I say hold on to it as long as you can. Well, maybe not for another ten years… but you know what I mean.

  • Maeve McVeigh

    my son slept in my bed from day one until he was about a year. it made breast feeding easy and meant i could get sleep. a lot of people frowned upon this but he is a happy and secure child and i plan on doing it again with the next one.

  • Rebecca Gialluca Raia

    My mother is single so I have always slept in her bed. During my childhood, I had to deal with a few issues that were developed in consequence of my sleeping habit. I grew up to be a normal girl, of course. It is just that maybe, because of my experience, I wouldn’t have done the same. It would be interesting to have a system in which your daughter sleeps with you on special days, not everyday. But it is not weird that she sleeps with you.

  • Carrie-Anne Gallo

    My three year old step son sleeps in our bed with us when we have him. We have tried having him sleep in his own room and it went well, often he’d end up him coming into our room around 3am but sometimes he slept all the way through. We have just moved back in with my parents while we save to buy our own home and I think he just isn’t used to the new house yet so would rather sleep with us.

    I used to always say “no he needs learn to sleep in his bed or he’ll always want to sleep in ours, we won’t be able to break the habit” but now I would rather he go to bed happy and sleep well than go to bed upset and scared. When he is ready he’ll start sleeping in his room again.

  • Ashley Lynn Cook

    When I was a child, I was severely scared of the dark, so I would sleep with my parents till I was hmm….about 12 or so….I know, it sounds weird, but now I’m grown up, married, no longer scared of the dark and I seem to have turned out just fine. :-) In my opinion there’s nothing wrong with it, and my parents never forced me to sleep in my own room, they knew when I was ready, I would. And no, there aren’t any repercussions or strange habits, and I’m not messed up in the head from it. It’s just part of my childhood. :-)

  • Kelly McGuinness Cornacchia

    I have two kids…first one slept with us until she was 3 (and only fell asleep when one of us was beside her), second one always wanted her own space. My only caveat would be to make sure you’re giving her the ability to fall asleep on her own. Our first is now 13 and she does suffer from pretty bad insomnia at times. The 10 year old is asleep within seconds of her head hitting the pillow.

  • Katie Lewis Richins

    I’ve slept with all my babies until they were toddlers or older, and the three that are old enough and ready all sleep just fine and dandy in their own beds. My little 22 month old still cuddles with me all night, and I sure love it. Plus, it makes my moments of sleeplessness so much sweeter, with his little body pressed against mine, and his sweet (and sometimes so boyishly musty) head for me to smell. An added bonus is my kids love bed time. There’s never been a struggle. When my four year old is tired, he asks me if he can go to bed and falls asleep in moments. No nightmares, no battles, just happy, secure, comfortable sleep.

    • Sarah Taylor-Spangenberg

      I LOVE smelling my daughter’s head.

  • Amber Bingham

    My daughter will be 4 in Sept… and really there is no better way to wake up then with her lil face smiling up to me. I can’t imagine waking up any other way. Now that she is getting bigger she is less comfortable and is taking it upon herself to sleep in her room…but I have really tuned out all the crap people want to give you about issues like this and really tuned into my daughters needs. When she was first 3 my husband and I tried making her sleep in her own room because of all the critisims about us cosleeping. She would wake up with the most terriable nightmares and after speaking to her pediatrician we came to the conclusion that she probably felt rejected and unsafe…like she was cast out. So now that she is making her own mind up about sleeping on her own she hasn’t had any problems…its like its no big deal. But I already miss those early morning declarations “Mommy the sun is awake!!” or just laying there making faces at each other because we are too cozy to get up. … :)

  • Lorien Amy Bolus

    WOOHOO! I am a single mom of 3 and a half year old twins. I was the ‘IN YOUR OWN BED’ Nazi but since my babies have been sickly this winter I let crawl in if they are feeling yuck. There is nothing that cures a cough like a warm-mommy-bottle. My son went back to his own bed but my daughter still climbs in at around 5am every morning. Sometimes I don’t even notice she’s there till I wake up and her hair is up my nose.

    That is all.

  • Erin Bruner

    i love that all three of my monsters (8,5,&4) fall asleep in their own bed, but around 1-3 am sneak into my bed. almost nightly.i dont even notice until i feel little feet on my ribs or fingers twirling my hair. i embrace it and cherish it!

  • Christina Deavers

    I have a king size bed JUST so I can fit little people into it oh and my dog =)

  • Michelle Martin

    I was against co-sleeping, until I became a Mommy. Co-sleeping made breastfeeding easier, and it was a wonderful way to bond. Our little Ladybugs (6 and 4) love that closeness and recently decided to redo their bedrooms so that they sleep together. They still enjoy climbing into bed with us, and I am very glad I tried co-sleeping that one night back about 6 years ago…

  • Holly Henry Mobley

    I have a 4yr old and a 2yr old in our bed…and we wouldn’t have it any other way. It will be soon enough that they will be pushing us away, and wanting their own space. I know it won’t be forever, so I cherish the snuggle time. Do people really think these kids will be in our beds at age 16??? Yes Mom, I’m talking to you.

  • Anne a Lay Apostle

    Glad I am not the only one interested in this! Thanks a lot for sharing it, hopefully others do as well.

  • Ashley Entrikin

    I like that you throw it out there like that :) If my son and I were compatible with sleeping in the same bed, I’d totally do it every once in a while. We were forced to sleep in the same room (one bedroom house for a single mama), and sometimes he gets nightmares and looks for his mama to soothe him. Hell yeah that’s ok! I’ll agree with the last statement of there being much worse things that could happen :) Kudos!

  • Sarah Chaput McLean

    Good on ya! I couldn’t care less if your kids sleep in your bed. Of if you breast or bottle fed or if you send them to Montessorri. We are so critical of each other as mothers, I think because the job is so damn hard and comes without instructions…not to mention one of the most important jobs we will ever do – no pressure or anything…

    Do what works for you. I have 5 kids (yup, 5…you can get in line behind all the others that want to talk my ear off about over population, environmental blah blah blah zzzzzzz snore, oh sorry, I tuned out there) Every kids is different. Every parent is different. I don’t know your life and you don’t know mine. What I DO know is you’re a mom and you’re probably doing your darndest to do the best job possible.

    Also, those little people grow up waaaay too fast and will be out of that bed before you know it. Get those cuddles in while you can!

  • Nicole Ingram

    My 3 yr old girl still sleeps with me at times and I love it.
    They are only little for such a short time!

  • Sarah

    Totally in the same boat. We are constantly made to feel guilty about choices we make for our children but the tip of the iceberg was a very close relative (who never before judged my parenting and I respected her for that) told me that my 3 year year old daughter should not be in the bed with us still “she is 3.5″. And what? She can walk, talk (two languages) she can dress herself, bath herself , she is rarely sick, enjoys school, other children and adults, plays wonderfully wkith her baby sister she even changes her nappy. She has an excellent sense of empathy, maturity and forgiveness. We all get a full nights sleep even our 3 month, breastfed baby. I go to bed with a smile on my face knowing all my family is together because for sure, time will pass and we will eventually get seperated. I will be able to look back and have no regrets but good bedtime memories. The smell of my 3 year old´s curly hair, the softness of her hand around my neck stroking my face as she goes to sleep, the beaming smile and bright eyes welcoming me in the morning as I wake up, looking at my husband and daughters lying in the same position (no better sight to see), kowing that if she is sick I am right beside her to attend to her and comfort her. So I think I will worry more when she leaves my bed than when she is in it thanks all the same..

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