Can’t decide if co-sleeping with a toddler is really that bad or is okay? Here are 3 disadvantages and 3 benefits that will help you decide.
Half of me sometimes wished I stuck to sleep training my kid. The other half is grateful that I stopped that nonsense. That’s probably what you’re NOT expecting from a supposed-to-be article tip on co-sleeping with a toddler. But seriously I’m a little bit divided on the matter. Even if I’m already co-sleeping with my toddler.
Let me tell you why by stating my own experiences below and dividing that by its pros and cons, starting with the cons:
Co-Sleeping With A Toddler
Disadvantages of Co-Sleeping With A Toddler
I can count on one hand the number of times it took my now 3 year old, to fall asleep in less than 30 minutes. I cannot, for the life of me, understand how someone who seems so drunk tired, can have so much energy by bedtime.
No matter how much I strictly implement our bedtime routines, my little one can always find some ways to prolong the inevitable. Most of the time, she gets away with it because I find that there’s less resistance when I manage her expectations.
Say for example, she’d always insist on playing before bedtime. Even though she already played the whole day. I would tell her, I’d give her 2 minutes and that’s it, I’ll turn off the lights and then we’ll go to sleep. Most of the time, she’ll be fine with it and follow along with the rules.
However, there will be times where she’ll ask for 1 or 2 minutes more and would insist that my husband sleeps with us on the bed, even though that would further distract her from falling asleep or would want me to read another book or something. There’s always something urgent to do before bedtime.
Then when the lights are off, the endless request for water, tissue, food, bedtime story, finger shadow, tickles, pillow, no pillow!, blanket, no blanket!, change position in bed, lie down on my arm, lie on my tummy, face each other, hugs, kisses, cuddles, comes along.
Now, I consider myself an extremely patient person but when you have a pint-size seemingly drunkard creature taking up almost the entire bed, who’s non-stop yapping about wanting a blanket then saying they don’t want it, a few seconds after they’ve asked you to place it on them, I tend to lose my shit.
So, yes, we’re only on numero uno, my friend.
Increased Night Time Awakenings
I blame this mostly on our effing neighbours upstairs who always manage to make some ruckus, loud enough for my kid to wake up twice or more, in the middle of the night.
My poor little one then would have less night time sleep which is obviously so not great for her development.
Also, when she wakes up multiple times at night, that also means I can’t get enough of a proper break or at least a proper uninterrupted amount of time to do my work or the chores.
Lack of sleep for parents
I’m not sure if this is just me, but ever since I’ve become a mother, I’ve developed this bad habit of sleeping late, just to get some decent “me-time.” And that lack of sleep is made worse when my little roommate seems to always move in bed. Sometimes, I’d see her lift her head, checking if I was still beside her! I tend to leave her when she’s sleeping so I can do chores or work, so that behaviour is pretty excusable.
But, man I can’t seem to catch a break. Even in the morning. I can count in one hand, the number of times I’ve woken up peacefully. Or rather not forcefully.
Most of the time, I’d wake up with a gentle slap on the face, a gentle screaming in my ears, a gentle jumping on my stomach and the formings of a gentle future concussion on my head. I always wake up with a body part of my kid “gently” nudging me in places that hurt.
Also, my kid wakes up around 7am, no matter how late she slept, she’s an early riser. Sometimes she’d even wake up by 6:30am! So that means, I’m also forced to get up by that time, no matter how much I try to delay it.
Now I might have made co-sleeping with my toddler seem so bad that you’re probably thinking why I even had a kid in the first place. You have to read my reasons first below for loving our co-sleeping arrangement.
Pros of Co-Sleeping With A Toddler
It’s one of the things that delays bedtime but her love for never ending cuddles and hugs (not kisses, she doesn’t love it as much) seems to cancel out all the shit she’s been giving me, when bedtime comes. And I’m a sucker for it.
One of the things that helps me transition her to sleep is when I stop engaging. I will tell her, I’m going to sleep already and I’m not going to talk anymore. But when she puts her arms around me, tells me she loves me forever and wants another hug, I can’t resist. No matter how much I tried, I break my own rule of not engaging and tell her, however exasperated I am, how much I love her. And the cycle continues.
I’ve come to welcome those cuddles, no matter how tired I am or even if I know she should be sleeping already as it’s already past her bedtime. I can only have so much more of that and I know, there will come a time, where she won’t even want me hugging her anymore.
So even if it’s making me crazy sometimes, I love cuddling with my little one, every single night.
Enhanced Bonding Sessions
Here’s another benefit of sleeping with my toddler, I get to know her a little bit better everyday. Our nightly conversations always reveal something about my little one, from the most mundane, like her new favourite tv show, to a more serious topic, such as learning how to apologize.
Just a few hours before writing this article, she was jumping up and down again on the bed, though the lights were already off and I’ve clearly told her it was time to sleep. She suddenly stopped and said, “I’m sorry mommy.” It was out of nowhere so I asked her, what was she sorry about. She said, she’s sorry for hurting me and motioned on my leg. I said, I don’t remember her hitting me there today. Then she proceeded to tackle my leg and put her weight on it and laughingly said, “I hurt you now!”
It was very odd for her to think and apologize ahead but it made me laugh so hard, that again, bedtime was delayed.
That was one example of the many quirks of my child. And our nightly bonding session seems to reveal more of it.
It’s also a chance for me to teach her something. I’ve clearly taught her well about apologizing so that’s already covered. But lately, I’ve been teaching her the value of gratitude, of being grateful and thankful for what we have. And I welcome these mini-lessons with her, every single night.
Feeling Grateful Everyday
I’ve never truly understood the lesson of being thankful everyday, until the pandemic and the semi-lockdown here started. This might seem utter bullshit to some people but I kid you not, everytime I lie down next to my kid and cuddle and kiss and hug her, I feel an immense feeling of gratitude.
Everyday, I keep thinking of how lucky I am to have this life. It might not be perfect and it might not be easy most of the time but every time I hug my little one, I’m always reminded of how lucky I am that we’re both alive and healthy, that all my loved ones and friends are alive and healthy, that we have a roof on our heads, we have money to buy food and other essentials, that my husband and I have jobs, that my kid is normal and all the other things that I seemed to take for granted, before the pandemic happened.
What Do Experts Say About Co-Sleeping
I don’t need a professional to tell me about the dangers of co-sleeping with a newborn. But when it comes to co-sleeping with older children, a toddler, I’m a little bit hesitant to believe some of what’s written about it.
The Manhattan Psychology Group says “Co-sleeping also negatively affects a child’s social development since the child is inhibited from functioning normally with peers. For example, the child may be unable to attend or host a sleep-over, join overnight school trips, and go to sleep away camp.”
Mom.com has alarming, long term detrimental effects of co-sleeping, ranging from the child lacking self soothing and coping skills, trouble forming proper, emotional attachments with another person, and it might be hard for the kid to form their own identity.
I found an article by Dr. Kate Roberts on Huffpost, basically saying to not co-sleep with older children and even providing 6 strategies to stopping it. According to her, negative effects of co-sleeping included increased dependency and anxiety, memory loss, depression, obesity, and less self-reliance.
First off, I’m not a doctor nor am I a sleep expert in all manners of speaking. But I didn’t really see any conclusive study to back up what they’re saying. There were no “studies have shown..” and a breakdown of patients that they’ve followed for years and such. All I read is how they have some patients coming in and having all these problems. There’s not even a solid number to these patients having these negative effects.
Second, the inability to sleep without the parents at their side, this might be true for some kids but my child goes to childcare and I have never heard her teachers mention her resistance to sleeping at naptime. At all. I’ve asked that so many times initially as I was worried she wasn’t sleeping well and is making a ruckus at school. Turns out, she only does that with me, during bedtime.
I’ve also asked my kid’s teacher about her behaviour in school in general and so far, they haven’t had any problems with her. No tantrums, no naughtiness, no crying, no nothing. They even tend to ask her help sometimes, at a very young age of 3, to help out the other kids in class who are non-verbal and a little slow, for her to show some of these classmates how to do a certain activity.
She would sometimes say no to doing an activity or eating some food but when the teachers explain thoroughly why she needs to do something or when they give her options, she always follows them after. Her teacher even mentioned, she’s a “thinking child” – you have to thoroughly explain things to her because she tends to question things.
Third, I believe all kids are different, as all families and all individuals are different. Most people around the world cannot afford to have a separate bedroom for their kids to sleep in. And most of these folks seem to come from third world countries where depression and anxiety rates are very low, especially for children.
If you’re still a bit confused about your plans for co-sleeping, I totally get you. As a new mom then, who tried to sleep train my kid in various ways, I was so desperate for anyone, personally or online, to tell me what I’m doing is right.
But deep down, it didn’t feel right for me and so I felt co-sleeping was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my kid and for my sanity.
But then again, if you’re the type who can’t function the next day with no decent amount of sleep and who turns into a grouch and growls at your kid when you don’t have any proper winks, I strongly suggest you try to sleep train your child.
Or maybe not, maybe you’ll get used to the lack of sleep, like me.
My point is, do what suits you. Don’t listen to anyone telling you what you should or should not do, when it comes to your child or your life. You know yourself better, you know your child better. So stick to your guns. And if you’ve decided to co-sleep, maybe let’s pray together and pray we don’t do any damage to our child in the long run?
Are you still on the fence with co-sleeping? Or have you decided but you just want some validation that what you’re doing or going to do, is right? I would love to know, tell me by commenting below.
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