CoSleeping After Sleep Training

Cara Dumaplin, Founder

May 5, 2016

This was my view when I woke up this morning. Snuggled in between my husband and I was one child and a dog. On the other side of my sleeping spouse…another child.

You can imagine the comfort I was experiencing as I awoke this morning with approximately two inches left on the mattress. I don’t even believe in animals in the bed! However, this dog isn’t one bit interested in my beliefs. She’s up here every single night (typically at the foot of the bed though). But, as a Sleep Coach, what are my beliefs regarding babies/kids in my bed?

Well…we co-slept with our first baby. Yes, I’m married to the pediatrician who goes to the office and tells YOU not to put your baby in the bed. I’m a Registered Nurse. I knew the dangers. However, I was desperate for sleep… And co-sleeping WORKED (until it didn’t) and then it was MASS CHOAS and total SLEEP DEPRIVATION.

I loved feeling my daughter’s little body snuggled up next to mine. I loved hearing every breath she took and it was so easy to nurse (all. night. long.). The problem was there wasn’t much sleeping during this “co-sleeping experience”.

So, it was time to change from co-sleeping to the crib. You can see my story HERE. (Please note- this post isn’t about co-sleeping vs. sleep training. This is written for the parents who have decided to undergo sleep training, but have co-slept in the past. If you are needing help getting your little one to sleep through the night, check out my online class “The ABC’s of Sleep”.)

Once my Sweet Peanut was in her own crib, I had to admit that I kinda missed her in our bed. Even though I knew she was so much happier and well rested, I missed her body touching mine at times. She wasn’t cranky EVERY SINGLE DAY like before, but I missed her breath in my face (kinda!). I was a better mother after getting the rest I needed, but I sorta missed her in my bed. My anxiety level decreased greatly, but I missed seeing her face when I opened my eyes. I knew I made the right decision for her and our family, but if I was honest, there was a bit of loss. (Trust me, the benefits far outweighed the loss a million times over, but I still missed her in my bed!)

So, this brings up the question: Can we ever co-sleep again once we undergo sleep coaching or sleep training?

The answer is complicated and it really does depend upon your baby, but I will tell you: it’s a slippery slope.

Let’s say your baby wakes at 5:00am and you bring her to bed with you and she sleeps great for two more hours. That was easy! Then the next morning, she does it again at 5:00am- no problem. But, what if 5:00am turns into 4:00am and a week later, it’s consistently 3:00am? And then two weeks later, it’s midnight? You see, our babies can’t tell time! They don’t know how to differentiate between midnight and 5:00am. They just know, “I’m awake! I got to go to their bed the last three times I woke up. Why can’t I go now?” Do you see how confusing this can be to a baby?

So, here’s my advice: For the first two months after sleep training, be very consistent. Do not bring your baby into your bed whatsoever. However, once this habit is routinely set, if you would like to try an occasional morning of snuggles, do it once. After a full night’s sleep (11-12 hours), turn on the lights and bring your baby into bed for snuggling. Do not let her fall back to sleep. (We don’t want your bed to become a sleep association.) Following that one time, go right back to your regular routine for four to five mornings. Make the snuggle-session in your bed a special occasion. Please don’t misunderstand…those snuggle sessions are important each and every day, but they don’t need to happen in your bed while you are trying to encourage sleep in his crib.

With my daughter, eventually, we brought her to our bed many mornings for 5-25 minutes after she had slept 11-12 hours. She was snuggly, sweet, happy, and made us giggle. Those were cherished moments. However, it was not for sleeping. We got the best of both worlds: a well-rested family and snuggle sessions in our bed. This came well AFTER she was happy about sleeping in her crib.

Now, fast forward over a decade and add three more children to the mix. All of our kids love their beds and are great sleepers. However, every so often-one, two, three or four of my sweet kiddos will set their alarms 10 minutes early to crawl into bed for a snuggle session. They still love it and so do I. With that said, tonight will NOT be a fight about bedtime or where to sleep because we have set up very clear expectations about bedtime and sleep….except for that little dog.

Cara Dumaplin

Cara Dumaplin


As a neonatal nurse, mom of four, and wife of a pediatrician, Cara has created classes and resources to help babies and parents sleep, allowing them to reclaim the joy of parenthood. Since the birth of Taking Cara Babies in 2013, Cara has truly been able to see her passion come to life as she educates, empowers, and encourages parents all over the world.

Cara's happy place is the beach with her laughing children. But if she can't get that far, you might find her in the Joanna Gaines section of Target, sipping on coffee and wearing yoga pants.

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