15 Problems With Co Sleeping And How To Solve Them

Have you been co sleeping with your baby for a while but have recently begun to notice some issues?

Are you having problems with co sleeping that you can’t seem to resolve on your own?

Are you concerned about what to do if these problems might arise?

When you’re co sleeping with your baby or toddler, you’re probably already thinking about safety as a number one cause for concern. And while it’s true that there have been some very sad and unfortunate accidents due to co sleeping, the truth is that you can safely co sleep with your little one easily as long as you understand how to resolve any problems that might come up throughout the process.

In this article, we’ve listed 15 of the most common co sleeping problems parents and babies may face. Aside from just listing them, though, we’ve made sure to explain what may cause them and, most importantly, what you can do to prevent or solve them.

If you’re looking for more information about how to deal with co sleeping issues, read on to learn more. The answers may be easier than you might think!

Baby’s Safety

1. Co sleeping baby fell out of bed

This is probably one of the biggest concerns parents have when they choose to start co sleeping. Babies may fall out of the bed during the night, and in some instances, this can even lead to serious injury or even death, which is truly tragic. However, even if your baby falls out of the bed and only ends up being a little bruised and startled, you as a parent want to prevent this from ever happening again.

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It’s understandable to want to keep your child from falling out of bed, especially when your child is still an infant. Unfortunately, this is a common accident that tends to take place quite often when co sleeping is going on, especially when your baby is invited to sleep in the bed with you. There are plenty of different methods for solving this problem or preventing it altogether, but finding the one that works best for you may take a little bit of trial and error.

However, with patience and understanding, you can easily find the right solution for your child. Check out our suggestions for potential solutions that may help you keep your baby from suffering any injury or even just being rudely awakened by falling out of the family bed during the night.

Solution:

  • Install bed rails. These are not always a great solution, and especially with younger babies, they can do more harm than good if your child gets trapped between the bed rail and the mattress. If you choose to use a bed rail, make sure you check it for safety every single night before bed and discard the use of it if it seems like it’s not operating properly or can’t be positioned flush against the side of the bed.
  • It’s also a good idea to stuff pillows and blankets between the bed rail and the bed if your child is old enough. However, if you still have a young baby, do not do this as it could cause suffocation if your baby moves into the wrong position during the night.
  • Put your mattress on the floor. This is the safest method of co sleeping in the bed with your baby. The mattress on the floor will prevent your child from suffering any injuries if he or she falls out of the bed, and it also removes the need for bed rails completely. If you’re looking for the safest option for your co sleeping adventures, this is definitely it.
  • Pad the floor well. If all else fails, put plenty of pillows and blankets on the floor to cushion your child if he or she does fall out of the bed.

2. Co sleeping baby rolling over

When you first start co sleeping with a newborn baby, rolling over isn’t going to be a problem. Your baby simply won’t have this skill for a while, and you won’t have to worry about it. However, as soon as your child starts to roll over onto his or her stomach during the day, you can expect the same behavior during the night. Your baby is still too young to realize that he or she shouldn’t do this during the night, and also too young to figure out how to get back in a safe position or to roll over without risking falling out of the bed.

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Solution:

  • Try adding bed rails—carefully. Bed rails can be a great way to encourage safer sleeping at night and keep your baby from rolling all the way over onto the floor, but they can also be very dangerous if they aren’t installed correctly or get moved around during the night. Make sure to check on them nightly to ensure your baby can’t get caught between them and your mattress.
  • Put your mattress on the floor. This is a great solution for your child rolling over a lot in the night, just as it is for your child falling out of the bed. A mattress on the bed is generally considered the safest method of co sleeping in the same bed with your child. If rolling is becoming too much of a concern for your baby, this is probably the best solution for you.

3. Co sleeping baby is crawling around

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If your baby has started to crawl, he or she may want to crawl around in the bed after a while as well. This is even more of a concern and may lead to injury or serious problems if you don’t address this situation as soon as you notice it going on. Figuring out the right way to resolve this problem may mean some drastic changes in the co sleeping setup you and your family have been enjoying, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop entirely.

Solution:

  • Put your baby in his or her own separate crib. Although you may not be quite ready to give up on co sleeping in the same bed with your child, it may be time to try separate bed sleeping in the same room if crawling around is becoming too much of a problem. Put your baby in his or her own separate baby-safe cot or crib. This way, even if he or she moves around a lot during the night, there will be no risk for falls or other types of injuries.
  • Put your toddler’s mattress directly on the floor. If your baby is a little older and is sleeping on a toddler bed but still crawling around too much during the night, putting his or her mattress on the floor while you stay in your bed should help. This can help prevent any injuries to your child while still allowing you and your partner to sleep in your bed normally.
  • Make sure your toddler’s bed on the floor is not in the way of you or your partner walking during the night. When you get up, check to be sure your child hasn’t crawled out of his or her toddler bed and onto the floor.

4. Co sleeping baby wakes frequently

You may believe that, when your baby starts waking up a lot during the night expecting to be tended to, this means the end of co sleeping. This isn’t necessarily true! It may just mean that it’s time to make some changes while still enjoying all the benefits of co sleeping. This problem can be a very trying one that may cause one or both parents to lose a lot of sleep and be grumpy and irritable during the day, and it may do the same thing to your baby, too. It’s important to resolve this problem as soon as possible.

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Solution:

  • Try soothing your child in more than one way when he or she wakes during the night. You’ll start to understand more about what your baby needs as he or she ages, but at first, it can be tricky to figure this out.
  • Be sure your baby is sleepy enough at bedtime. Sometimes your baby may be waking up a lot during the night because he or she is simply not tired enough when it’s time for bed. If this is what’s going on, you need to tire your baby out in a safe and healthy way an hour or so before bedtime.
  • This probably means allowing your baby some age-appropriate exercise and play time before it’s time to get ready for bed. If your baby is crawling, this may mean a fun, supervised crawling session before bedtime. Older children may want to run around and burn off some energy before it’s time to get sleepy, instead.
  • Try a separate sleeping arrangement. This doesn’t mean stopping co sleeping altogether, but your baby may not wake as frequently for nighttime attention if he or she isn’t in the same bed as you.
  • Remember that your baby is still going to wake up frequently for the first few nights as he or she adjusts to this change.

5. Co sleeping baby on side

When you’re first learning about co sleeping, you are likely to find tons of information that says that your baby should always be placed on his or her back to facilitate safer sleeping habits. This is incredibly true when your child is a newborn and is at the highest risk for SIDS, but it remains true for quite some time during your baby’s early months, too. Most guides and tips about safe co sleeping are sure to recommend back sleeping on a firm mattress, but what happens if your baby just won’t stay on his or her back no matter what you do?

co sleeping baby fell out of bed

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Unfortunately, as soon as your baby is able to move in his or her sleep, you may notice your child rolling onto the side instead of the back. In any sleeping situation, this is a habit that needs to be resolved in order for your child to sleep more safely, but when co sleeping it’s especially important to allow your child to breathe freely and without risk of choking or suffocation. Although it may be tempting, however, you should never swaddle your baby when co sleeping, as this can actually lead to more health risks than side sleeping might.

Solution:

  • Wake up often and move your baby to his or her back. This may be the least pleasant option for you, but it’s probably the safest. If you get into the habit of waking up often and moving your child onto his or her back, you’ll be preventing any unsafe sleeping habits he or she may be developing.
  • Put your baby in his or her own separate crib or in a cot attachment. If co sleeping in the bed is causing your baby to roll onto his or her side too often, you’ll probably see a decrease in this habit. However, if your baby is older than six months old, he or she may be too large for a cot attachment and you’ll have to try a separate crib instead.
  • Just don’t worry about it. Many co sleeping parents notice that their children start to sleep on their sides pretty early on and it doesn’t cause any trouble or pose any additional risks. In fact, there have even been studies that have proven that co sleeping babies and mothers are more likely to start sleeping curled up on their sides facing each other, and this may even be beneficial to synchronizing their sleeping habits and even breathing and heart rate, too.
  • If you’re planning to just not worry about it and let your child sleep on his or her side, be sure to speak to your baby’s pediatrician to ensure that this is a good choice for your child, just in case.

Concerns for Mom & Dad

6. Co sleeping baby expects extra feedings

While babies will, of course, wake up during the night wanting to be fed for a long while, this shouldn’t get to be excessive. You should be able to tell when things are changing for the worse in terms of your child’s sleeping (and eating) habits, especially if you’re getting good at reading your baby’s body language and expressiveness. You can make some easy changes and see if those help the problem, but remember that this is another issue that may lead to significant alterations in your co sleeping arrangement, depending on how things go. Safe and happy sleeping is important, after all!

Solution:

  • Stick to a schedule. This is the most important piece of advice for ensuring that your co sleeping baby stays asleep as long as possible throughout the night and doesn’t start demanding to be fed every hour or so. Sticking to a schedule means your baby will know when he or she can expect to be fed and when you aren’t going to respond to his or her requests for feeding.
  • It can take a little while for your baby to get used to a schedule but keep at it. Eventually, your child is sure to understand and start sleeping more soundly through the night, too.
  • Talk to your child’s pediatrician to figure out if your baby is getting enough nutrition and calories during the day from bottle-feeding or breastfeeding. This can help you determine how much to feed at night, too.
  • Be sure you wake up fully when you nurse or bottle-feed your baby. If you’re only partially awake, you may not realize that you’re feeding your child, or you may not realize that the feeding session has ended. This could be dangerous for your child and it may mean that you’re waking up more frequently throughout the night to offer feedings that are unnecessary.
  • If you don’t wake up completely to nurse or bottle-feed your baby, he or she may be able to “trick” you into more feeding sessions throughout the night without you realizing it. Be aware when you’re feeding your baby!

7. Co sleeping baby doesn’t want to wean from breastfeeding

If you’re breastfeeding your child and having difficulty weaning him or her from breast to bottle-feeding or sippy cups, the problem may lie with your child’s co sleeping habits. Unfortunately, sometimes babies who co sleep get so used to having breastfeeding available on demand all night long that they expect it should never end during the day, either. If this is happening with your child, you may need to adjust your co sleeping setup to improve the weaning process overall.

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Solution:

  • Try switching to separate beds in the same room. This way, your child will not feel as though you’re quite as close and easy to get to when he or she is hungry during the night. You also won’t be as inclined to wake up and get out of bed to feed your child frequently throughout the night, either.
  • Prepare for some sleepless, fussy nights if you do this, but remember that, as long as your baby is getting enough nutrition, he or she will be okay in a few days.
  • This may mean the end of co sleeping. Sometimes, babies simply won’t successfully wean from breastfeeding until co sleeping stops altogether. Although this is a pretty rare occurrence, if you’re facing this problem, keep in mind that moving your child to his or her own room may end up being the only viable solution if you have a stubborn weaner on your hands.

8. Parents can’t get enough sleep

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Okay, so you know what to do if your baby is the one not getting enough sleep, but what do you do if you can’t sleep regardless of how well your child is doing throughout the night? Sometimes, you or your partner may suffer from a severe lack of sleep even if your child is showing signs that co sleeping is improving his or her sleeping habits. If this is the case, you still need to make a change, as it’s not fair to you or your partner to have to suffer through potentially years of missing sleep in order to keep the baby happy.

This is a situation that may lead to the end of co sleeping depending on whether or not other alternatives can make a difference.

Solution:

  • Try putting your baby in his or her own crib or cot in the same room. This is often a solution that works well for everybody involved. Your baby is still close enough to you that he or she feels the benefits of proximity to you, but far enough away that any squirmy or fussy behavior isn’t going to disturb you or your partner.
  • Bear in mind that it may take a few nights for your baby to get used to being in a separate cot, even in the same room with you and your partner.
  • Try a larger bed or mattress. If your baby is getting bigger or is just extra squirmy throughout the night, going from a queen-sized bed to a king or even to a California King may be just the change you need to improve the sleeping habits of everyone involved.
  • If all else fails, it may be time to stop co sleeping. Unfortunately, this is one of the problems that sometimes can’t be resolved, and if this is the case, it’s time to stop co sleeping.
  • If you do choose to stop co sleeping, make sure you transition your baby from it slowly to avoid even more sleepless nights.

9. One or both parents are too anxious for co sleeping

If either you or your partner are anxious people, you may find that co sleeping isn’t working out well for you. You might be waking up very frequently during the night to check on your baby and be sure he or she is safe and healthy. This can be very stressful for you if it’s going on, and it can also be pretty difficult to overcome in some situations. However, there are some options even if you feel like you’re too nervous to ever get co sleeping to work for you.

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Solution:

  • Try putting the mattress on the floor. If your baby is squirming and moving around a lot during the night, you may be waking up more frequently because you’re concerned about him or her falling out of the bed or otherwise being hurt while sleeping. If you’re too worried, you aren’t going to get a good night’s sleep, but you can easily remedy a lot of the concerns of co sleeping by putting the mattress on the floor.
  • If you find that your anxiety is just too much to deal with, you may need to consider trying mild therapy, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or some other healthy method of coping with your nerves. A quick deep breathing and meditation session, even just for five minutes, every night before bed can work wonders.

10. Your partner is uninterested in co sleeping

So you have a partner who isn’t excited about the prospect of co sleeping? Unfortunately, it’s pretty common for one parent to be interested in co sleeping and the other to think it’s a terrible idea. If this is going on with your family, you definitely need to try to resolve your differences before ever giving co sleeping a try.

baby rolling over co sleeping

Solution:

  • Talk to your partner and offer plenty of researched information. If your partner is concerned about the health risks, be sure you supply all the evidence you need to back up your side on this issue. If your partner has other concerns, take the time to listen and respond in an attentive way to what your better half has to say.
  • If your partner absolutely will not budge on his or her stance when it comes to co sleeping, then you should not try it. Co sleeping is only safe when both adults who will be in the bed are in agreement on the arrangement. It can be very dangerous for your partner to go to bed and forget about your baby being there, so do not risk it if you can’t come to an agreement.

11. Other parents think it’s wrong to co sleep

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Now and then, you may run into a problem with other parents telling you that you shouldn’t co sleep. If you have a very old-fashioned pediatrician, your child’s doctor may even tell you it’s a bad idea! Although you should at least listen to the concerns of your pediatrician and weigh them against your own information, when it comes down to it, you know what’s best for your child. It can be upsetting to have other parents get upset with you about your decisions, however, so keep in mind these tips if this happens to you.

Solution:

  • Share researched information and studies about safe co sleeping with concerned parents. Although they may not change their minds, you may be able to reassure them on some of their concerns. And you never know—you might make co sleepers out of them, too!
  • Try not to get into heated arguments about it. Just like you don’t enjoy being told how to raise your children, neither do other parents, and arguing is going to change anybody’s mind or make the situation any better.
  • Be sure your child doesn’t overhear these conversations. If your child is a toddler or a little older, he or she may worry that the family is doing something wrong by co sleeping.

12. Parents don’t have enough privacy

Although it’s one of the more unspoken issues surrounding co sleeping, intimacy and privacy between both parents is a common problem. There’s a lot you can do to improve your privacy and intimacy when you’re co sleeping, and it’s important to always remember to talk to your partner about any changes you might need to make to facilitate better privacy for you both.

baby fell out of bed

It’s important to keep in mind, too, that even parents who aren’t co sleeping at all tend to have intimacy issues, especially when their children are still babies. Whatever the reason, if you’re having a privacy issue while co sleeping, you can resolve it!

Solution:

  • If you’re all in the bed together and the mood strikes you and your partner, there’s no inherent harm in moving your little one to a different part of the home until the two of you are finished. However, this may cause your baby to wake up, and this could spoil the mood anyway. Only do this if your child is a sound sleeper and you already have a safe sleeping space set up in another part of the home.
  • If you’re all in the bed together and the mood strikes you and your partner, there’s no inherent harm in moving your little one to a different part of the home until the two of you are finished. However, this may cause your baby to wake up, and this could spoil the mood anyway. Only do this if your child is a sound sleeper and you already have a safe sleeping space set up in another part of the home.
  • Plan out your intimacy instead of relying on spontaneity. Unfortunately, the sense of spontaneity in your love life may be lost for a little while if you’re co sleeping—and this may be true of any parents with children still living at home. You may just need to plan out your private time together a little more, but this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it.
  • Move to another room in your home for intimacy. Just because your bedroom has a child sleeping in it doesn’t mean the rest of your home is off limits in terms of intimacy. You probably have a guest bedroom, and if not, then you have a sofa or some other exciting new place to try enjoying some private time together with your partner.
  • Ask someone else to watch the baby for a couple of hours. When all else fails, if you simply can’t seem to find a good chance to be intimate with your partner, there’s no harm in asking someone else to take over childcare for just a little while.

Issues with the Rest of the Family

13. Other children want to co sleep with you and baby

If your child is much older than your baby, then you may not see this. After all, a preteen or teenager isn’t likely to care about whether or not he or she gets to sleep in the bed with you. But a younger child or a toddler is going to care quite a lot, and if you don’t do something to make it up to them, they may end up miserable and jealous because of this new change in the family dynamic. However, you should never invite your older child to sleep in the same bed with you and your baby. This is a very dangerous situation that could result in injury to your little one easily.

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Solution:

  • Start by talking to your older child. Even toddlers are sure to understand more than they let on, and if you talk to them on their level, they may be okay with the new setup. Let your older children know that you’re inviting the baby into your bed because the baby isn’t sleeping well otherwise, and remind them of times when they joined you in your bed because of bad dreams or something scary that happened, too.
  • If your older child insists on co sleeping too, you can push two mattresses together on the floor and each parent can co sleep with one child. This is a decision that both parents absolutely need to be on board with at all times. It may require reorganizing your sleeping space and even buying a new second mattress.
  • The best setup for this is both parents on the inside of the two mattresses and both children on the outsides. The mattresses should be on the floor so that if either child rolls off in the night, there is no cause for concern.

14. Pets want to co sleep with you and baby

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If you don’t have older children to worry about (or even if you do), you might have a surprising other issue arise from co sleeping with your baby. Sometimes, the family pet starts showing signs of bad behavior when he or she is forced to give up a prized place in the bed with you and your partner in favor of a little one coming on board. This can be frustrating at best and dangerous in a worst-case scenario, so be prepared for the possibility.

Solution:

  • Shut your pet out of the bedroom entirely when co sleeping with your baby. You cannot expect a pet to behave and stay off the bed all night, and a pet can be a potential suffocation hazard for your little one. Some parents have recorded their co sleeping and been shocked to see the family dog sneak into the bed unnoticed during the night!
  • Do not encourage your child to take naps with the family pet, either. Although you may think you’re preparing the two of them to share a sleeping space someday, this is a potentially dangerous situation. Even a small dog or a cat can harm your baby, and bigger, more aggressive pets can be even more of a threat.

15. Other children are jealous

When you invite your newborn or younger baby into your bed, your older children may suddenly start showing signs that they aren’t sleeping well at night anymore either. Whether this is a conscious change on their part or not, many times, parents with older children who begin co sleeping with the baby notice this taking place. If this is happening in your family, chances are your older children are getting jealous of the new little one’s place in your bed.

sleeping baby fell out of bed

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There are quite a few different things you can try if your older child is jealous of your baby co sleeping with you. Many of the different strategies you might try depend on the age of your older child and how well he or she responds to you talking to them or otherwise working with them for a better understanding of the situation.

Solution:

  • Try encouraging your child by having a small bedroom makeover. You may want to offer your toddler or older child new bedsheets that he or she picks out or suggest buying some other fun new room décor that your child will like. This isn’t the same thing as just bribing them with a favorite toy, as it is focused more on your child sleeping in his or her own room.
  • If you’re expecting a new baby and you’re already planning to co sleep with him or her, start shifting your older child to a separate room at least four months ahead of time.
  • Some parents have even started this transition as soon as they find out they are expecting before any changes occur and potentially even before telling the older child about the new baby on the way. This can help the older child to understand that this change is happening not because of the baby, but because he or she is ready for it.

3 Easy Co Sleeping Tips

Now that you’ve learned a little bit about how to resolve some of the most common co sleeping problems you and your family may encounter, it’s time to brush up on some tips to make the process safer and easier for everybody involved. There’s a lot more to be learned about safe and effective co sleeping, but it’s always a good idea to start yourself off on the right foot by learning some of the best suggestions and most tried-and-true hints that other parents and even healthcare professionals have discovered over the years.

1. Talk to everyone in the family before you ever start co sleeping.

co sleeping setup

This is one of the most crucial tips when it comes to everyone’s safety and happiness. If your partner isn’t on board with the co sleeping setup, then he or she might forget the baby is in the bed at night, and this can be very dangerous. In a less drastic situation, your partner might not agree to go to bed at the same time as you and the baby, and therefore could wake you both up and cause unnecessary sleep interruptions throughout the night instead.

Even the other younger members of your family need to know what’s going on. If you have a younger child, be sure to speak to him or her about the setup and explain what’s going on before you bring your baby into the bed with you.

​2. Stick to a nighttime feeding schedule.

Your baby may protest at first, especially since he or she may be under the impression that proximity to you means on demand feeding sessions, but eventually, your child will learn to expect nursing or bottle-feeding at the appropriate times only. If you waver from your feeding schedule even once, you may be setting your child up for an unsuccessful co sleeping experience.

​3. Adjust your home’s temperature as needed.

dressing your child

If you’re co sleeping, you need to keep fabric away from your baby as much as possible. Dressing yourself and your baby in light pajamas and keeping only one thin blanket on the bed are both important, but this may mean you’re getting cold during the night. Plan to adjust your home’s temperature instead of adding more blankets or dressing your child in anything too warm during the night. This is a much safer alternative, but be ready for changes on your electric bill if you go this route.

Conclusion

As you can see, although there are quite a few potential issues in the world of co sleeping, none of them should be too difficult to deal with as long as you’re armed with plenty of information to help take care of them. Even if one or more of these problems should occur while you’re co sleeping, that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to stop the process altogether. You just may need to rethink how you’re handling co sleeping or the method you’re using instead.

Remember, however, that your baby’s safety must always be your number one concern. If you find that too many safety risks are taking place, you may need to stop co sleeping immediately. If you ever feel that your child is in danger from your co sleeping setup, do not continue.

Always speak to your child’s pediatrician regarding co sleeping before you begin. Some pediatricians will be happy to offer suggestions for safe co sleeping habits or encourage you to try one method over another based on your individual baby’s needs. Although the final decision lies with you, your child’s doctor is a valuable resource for information about this process.

No matter what, make sure to speak to your partner and ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to co sleeping with your baby. Always follow recommended safety guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to a happy, healthy experience for everyone!

Bonus Video