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Can You Co-Sleep and Sleep Train?

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

As a fellow parent, I get the attraction of co-sleeping with your child. It feels instinctual, protective, and think of the extra cuddles we could squeeze in! Ooh! :)

In fact, in full disclosure, I co-slept a little with my first child. But whilst there were warm cuddly moments I loved, I also knew it was unsustainable in the long term because my sleep kept getting interrupted every time she shifted, kicked my face, or just wanted to use me as a human pacifier.

That being said, to all parents who co-sleep, power to you! I want to put a disclaimer- if your family is enjoying it and you’re doing it safely then I say do what works for your family. There’s no right or wrong answer to this.

But if you’re more like me and considering reclaiming your beauty sleep- you might be thinking- will sleep training help end these disruptions to your rest? Or put another way: can sleep training and co-sleeping happen together?

Here’s my professional view as a baby sleep consultant: if co-sleeping to you means sharing the same bed, then sleep training is probably going to do very little for you. The reason for this is simple.

Children are in general very active sleepers.

At younger ages, the motor blockade preventing movement during REM sleep isn’t well developed. And as for toddlers, well, they just by nature twist, turn and readjust themselves often during the night. You’ve probably experienced your toddler being in a completely different position from where you left them at naptime.

Sleep training isn’t a sedative.

Simply put, it’s the process of teaching babies the ability to fall back to sleep by themselves when they wake up during the night. They’ll still be the wriggly little ones they always were. We’re not doing anything that will get your child to fall into a deep sleep and stay there for a solid 11 hours.

You might see some success in your child’s sleep habits by teaching them independent sleep skills. But you’re not likely to see the same kind of results you would get if they were sleeping in their own bed, possibly even in their own room, without any distractions.

Just for a minute: imagine you were your child. Now, why on earth would I want to work on sleeping independently if my favorite person in the whole wide world was pressed up close next to me? In fact, I’d be more tempted to poke them in the face in the middle of the night to try and engage/ play them. (Remember, you can’t expect your child to be aware of the societal norm of leaving a sleeping person to sleep in peace).

As for parents who are reticent about abandoning cuddle-time in bed, I have a suggestion that has helped my own family and many of those I have worked with. In lieu of co-sleeping, why not set aside a half-hour every morning after your kids are out of bed and well-rested. They can come into your bed and spend that magical half-hour with you. It’s the best of both worlds- beauty sleep for the parents whilst still enjoying the closeness and familial bond of sharing a bed. Plus, you won’t mess with their ability to sleep at night unassisted.

So, if you’ve already been co-sleeping for a bit and have decided it's time to reclaim your bed, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’ve worked with families to get them through this exact scenario with great success- I’ll be able to help yours too.

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