September 28th, 2020


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Life with two kids: There were 5 in the bed, and the little one said "Waaah!"

We co-slept* with Sophia since the beginning. Part of this was because having her in the bed was so much easier, but most of it was because every time she went in to the crib she would literally claw at its walls, and scream non-stop. It did turn out to make life much easier though. Without having to get out of bed to feed Sophia she could wake up, feed (frequently without waking Jane up) and go back over within a matter of seconds. Nobody had to get out of bed to comfort her**, and she happily went over easily nearly every night.

However - we didn't want her sharing the bed with us until she was 16, so at some point we were going to have to get her into her own room. Which she has, with a bunch of her toys, books, and her bed in it. She loves it, and will regularly demand to go to "Ea Bed", where she will sing, dance, and have books read to her - before deciding she was sleepy, and coming through to our bed to sleep. We suggested sleeping in her bed, but she wasn't interested. And it wasn't a fight we really wanted to have with a two-year-old when we didn't really have to.

However, once Gideon came home things were a bit different. For a start two children in one bed (even a really big one) leads to a fair chance of them rolling into (or on to) each other. As well as that if one wakes up noisily then they'll tend to wake up the other one, leading to a possible cycle of children keeping each other awake, and nobody getting any sleep at all.

But we arrived back from hospital exhausted, and decided we'd work it out as we went along. And we made do with having our initial setup being me (on one side of the bed) then Sophia, then Jane, then Gideon, then the crib (on the other side, strapped to the bed and at the same height as it). And that meant that everyone was safe, even if we did have to be a bit careful. It didn't feel terribly sustainable, but we weren't sure what a good next step would be that didn't result in a few weeks of even worse sleep.

And then, we were very very lucky. Almost exactly two weeks after Gideon was born (4am on a Monday) he was kicking off, and all of us were awake, and tired, and Sophia looked at me exhastedly. And I said "He's very noisy, shall we sleep in Sophia's bed?" And she said "Yes". So I scooped her up, carried her to her room, climbed into it, and we fell asleep curled around each other.

I was absolutely desperate to turn this into a habit. And so, the next day I took her to her bed again, and climbed into it (thinking that I'd have to sleep in there for a week or so, to get her used to the room, before slowly retreating out of it). At which point she said "Daddy out. On floor." So I climbed out of her bed, settled her into it, read her six stories back to back, and she fell asleep in her bed by herself, at which point I snuck out back to bed with Jane and Gideon, feeling somewhat astounded.

She's slept in there every night since (one and a half weeks). She doesn't necessarily sleep in there the whole night - and she tends to wake up around 1:30 and around 4:30 and need to be settled again each time. But she's getting better and better at being settled back in her own bed rather than insisting on coming in to ours. Sometimes she'll let me read her back to sleep, sometimes she insists on Jane. Sometimes she's happy to sleep, other times she's clearly only half awake and all she can do is wail for three minutes before passing back out again. But the direction of travel is good, and I am delighted that she is adjusting.

(And that occasionally I actually get to give Jane a hug before we fall asleep, because there isn't a small child between us.)

*I went and did a bunch of reading when I realised this was where we were heading, and it turns out that 90% of co-sleeping SIDS is totally avoidable if you don't drink, don't smoke, and don't co-sleep on the sofa (details). This brings the rate down to 1 in almost 75,000.

**I have no idea how people who have their children at the other end of the house cope.

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