Bedtime Transitions With A Toddler:
Should We Co-Sleep?
I was never a co-sleeper when my son was born. He spent the first 4 months of his life sleeping in a bassinet and pack-n-play next to my bedside. Then I moved him into his own room.
As he got older I thought our good sleep would go away once he was in a toddler bed. He knew how to open doors and he would have an easy out in a toddler bed. But, by some luck of the Irish (we are Ryans after all) once he was put into his toddler bed, he never left his room.
I was a little sad. I thought for sure I would have a little buddy climbing into bed with me and snuggling the night away. But, no. For a whole year my son slept great and without incident in his toddler bed. He never walked out of his room once and would wait for me to come and get him in the morning.
I did not know how great I had it until it was gone.
Suddenly, right around Christmas time of this past year, my son finally realized he could walk out of his room.
My husband and I were sitting on the couch watching t.v. when we heard a door open from inside the house. We initially freaked out because our son was asleep and there was no one else in the house.
Then, we saw our son’s head peak at us from around the corner with a little mischievous smile. My husband and I looked at each other and instantly knew we had taken our good sleep for granted.
After many sleepless nights continuously walking him back to his room, we started taking turns sleeping on his bedroom floor. Then, we started telling him to climb on into our bed. By the way, nice cute snuggles with a toddler are non-existent. They get all up on you and you eventually wake up with a foot in your face.
Tons of friends warned me against letting him sleep in our bed. I was given many suggestions ranging from locking him in his room to throwing a child safety knob on the door from the inside so he couldn’t open the door anymore.
My husband even once held the door knob from the outside until our son cried himself to sleep. It was heartbreaking but I was so tired that I was willing to try anything. That same night he woke up with a nightmare screaming “dada open the door!”
Doing things our way.
After many conversations my husband and I decided against those. All of those options seemed a bit cruel to us. The idea of having his door locked shut had clearly given him so much anxiety that it produced a nightmare. After all, he is only 2.5 years old and he just wanted to be with us.
When he would come to our room at 2 A.M. he would say “mama, miss you” while holding his little stuffed Thomas the Tank Engine. Maybe my husband and I are just big softies, but that just about broke our hearts. So in we would invite him.
Eventually though, he started asking us to take him back to his room. Turns out he still preferred to sleep in his room.
A few weeks ago we finally switched his toddler bed into a full size bed. We figured if we were sleeping in his room, at least we would be comfortable in a full size bed. We never set out to sleep the entire night with him once we got the full sized bed. We would sneak out once he was firmly asleep.
Somehow, slowly over time, he started sleeping the whole night in his room again completely solo. I don’t know what fixed it and I don’t know if I will ever know. Maybe it was more space to spread out on a full size bed, maybe it was the final molars fully coming in, maybe it was getting over his sinus infection. I have no idea.
Whatever it was, my husband and I made the decision that if our child or future children wanted to crawl into our bed at night, or early morning before work starts (which is what our son now does) we would let them.
It won’t last forever. I know I won’t have a teenager sleeping in my bed. I’m not really worried about establishing bad sleeping habits by letting him in our bed.
I want him to know that if he needs me, he can come in and get me.
Yes, I sleep a little less now that he comes into my room in the morning for morning snuggles, but this time is fleeting. He won’t always want or need me. I’m sure I’ll miss it then.
For now, our bed is and always will be, open to kids.
What do you think mamas?