Beautiful Photos of Mammals Safely “Co-Sleeping” with Their Babies, As We’ve Done for Millions of Years

The term “co-sleeping” has always seemed strange to me. It implies parents are doing something special or out-of-the-ordinary by doing what mammals have always done for millions of years – sleep with their babies.


“Are you going to co-sleep?” people asked when I was pregnant. “What kind of co-sleeper are you going to buy?”

At first, I had no idea what they were talking about. Then I became aware of the vast market of overpriced baskets parents could buy to ensure they didn’t “roll over and kill their babies:”


Co-sleepers, apparently, were the “humane” alternative to cribs for newborns. They enabled mothers to keep their brand new babies close, but not too close.

“Hmm, that seems like a good idea,” I thought, during my baby-shower-wishlist frenzy, but luckily no one wasted their money.

Looking back, the idea of babies sleeping in cribs or co-sleepers seems absurd.

I had a crib – only because it matched the changing table and dresser – but it quickly became a laundry basket. I thought maybe I’d use it now and then for naps, but that never happened.

Why would I? My baby was 100-percent breastfed and slept best pressed up against me. To this day, at age 6, she sleeps that way. If her father and I roll away, she gravitates to whichever of us is closer, until she’s snuggled up against someone’s warm body.

I never once feared rolling over on her – our bodies were too in tune. One of us couldn’t wake without the other waking, and neither of us could sleep without the constant contact we evolved to crave from one another:

There are dozens of scientific studies suggesting “co-sleeping” — like breastfeeding — is best for baby and mother, and I’ll link to a few of them here, here and here, but how many studies do we need to prove what our instincts make so obvious?

This is natural:




A baby Wildebeest sleeps at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park








This is not natural:


A baby crying it out.

Keep life simple:

Mother nursing her newborn infant


RELATED: Co-sleeping Contributes to Optimal Brain Development





110 responses to “Beautiful Photos of Mammals Safely “Co-Sleeping” with Their Babies, As We’ve Done for Millions of Years”

  1. Alan Dench Avatar
    Alan Dench

    All 3 of our boys were breastfeed and slept between us in bed. It seemed the easiest, most natural thing to do.

    1. Angelica Suarez Torres Avatar
      Angelica Suarez Torres

      Yes. And you get to sleep more too.

    2. marrion Avatar

      Absolutely! Me as a baby with my three sisters, sleep with our parents and we do the same with our son! Is just the way to sleep with your babies.

    3. Dassana Avatar

      Yayyyyyy. It’s so lovely. My two granddaughters sleep together a lot. They are 15 & 21. They live with me, and I revel in their closeness and they bloom.
      They hop into bed with me and doze off, cuddled up, when Life is harsh. Love it.
      I breastfed my youngest til 3 1/2, and we coslept until we moved in with my new partner. I was so so sad she didn’t want to sleep with me anymore, but understood of course. I didn’t know it was a price I was going to have to pay, and she also.

    4. sgb Avatar

      Certainly easier and more satisfying than getting up to warm up a bottle.

  2. Monique Avatar

    all six of mine co slept (were breastfed and used cloth nappies), before there was a word for it. It was still rough as hell with twins, but we survived. I never saw the need to put the baby in the other room away from me where I would have to wake up properly to get out of bed, walk down the hall, into another room, to feed the baby in there, settle the baby again and walk back to my bed…which had gotten cold by then..only to get up again in 4 minutes coz the baby was still a bit ‘windy’ (but was probably cold and lonely)

  3. Corrinne Gamble Avatar

    All my babies co slept and each one naturally decided to move to their own bed when the new baby arrived. It was the only way I got more than an hour or two of sleep at night

  4. Jamie Avatar

    I feel the same way. We all sleep better, if we’re together.

  5. Julia Avatar

    I coslept with my now 6 month old until a month ago when she fell out of the bed and hit her head. It terrifies me. I now let her nurse until she falls asleep and then she goes in her crib.

    1. Sara Burrows Avatar

      Whatever works… my daughter and I are always surrounded by pillows, and she’s usually between her dad and I. Our bed is also on the ground.

      1. Terra Avatar

        We use lots of pillows, too. I’m afraid of what we’ll have to do when Baby starts moving around more, though!!

    2. Lindsey Avatar

      There are rails that are only about 20 dollars. Worth it, baby can’t roll out of bed, I used them with both my boys. They just fit under the mattress.

      1. Megan Avatar

        I just moved my bed to the wall, that way the headboard is above us, the wall on one side of her and me on the other (single Mom 🙂 )

    3. Char Avatar

      I was terrified of the same thing and so we bought a great and very sturdy mesh guard rail – it wasn’t expensive and was easy to put on. My son is still sleeping with us at 18 months but we will move him when a new baby comes along. The best thing about the guard rail is we can attach to his bed when he moves!

    4. Sm Avatar

      We use the co-sleep as a railing.

  6. carrie Avatar

    I never feared rolling on mine I also never feared all of the other things that could happen until one did .. my baby died in bed with me. humans are not wild animals and wild animals do crush their babies they have multiples and many offspring for the reason that many of their babies don’t live. animals and ancient humans bed shared out if necessity … baby will get eaten by something bigger and meaner if they don’t. ..that being said babies can also die in their cribs sometimes babies just die. but do not imply that accidents cannot happen they do. bed sharing is proven to increase sids risk it happened to me.

    1. Erin Avatar

      I am very sorry. Losing a baby… I have no words.

    2. Tleeannm Avatar

      I’m very sorry for your loss. I’ve lost a child, too, to stillbirth. As hard as that was, infant even imagine losing my baby while he was sleeping next to me. Just, truly awful to imagine, and you have lived it. You are right. Sometimes babies just die. But studies actually show that cosleeping reduces the chances of an infant dying from SIDS. Countries where sleep sharing is the norm have much lower rates of SIDS than countries where they encourage separate sleep.

      Although I can’t imagine the pain you experienced from that, at least your baby didn’t die alone, in a crib. Your beautiful baby was right next to you. Your baby never woke in the night and didn’t have you.

      I spent years (and still do) beating myself up for failing to keep my baby safe. I’m sure you have done your fair share, too. It sure isn’t fair, but you are exactly right that sometimes babies just die.

      1. Ange Avatar

        Actually, according to Red Nose and most reputable sources co-sleeping increases the risk of SUDI.
        Room sharing is reccomended as the safest practice. Please do your research properly.
        Carrie, I am so sorry for your loss xx and you are so, so right

    3. Rebecca D Avatar
      Rebecca D

      That is terribly sad. However,Co sleeping is proven to reduce risk of side as is breastfeeding. Things like crib sleeping, vaccines etc can increase the risk of sids.

      1. Ds Avatar

        Vaccines? Lol no. Everyone needs to get their children vaccinated.

        1. Aims Avatar

          Vaccines do cause death and it’s often covered up as SIDS or other things. So many stories on YouTube. Read Sally Clarke’s story and what happened to her, She lost two babies after vaccines and went to prison until cleared but it was still covered up about vaccines. A dad in America lost his baby and was accused of murder, she had died after a vaccine. When in prison he worked to prove his innocence and was eventually released.

          1. Carrie Avatar

            You are very misinformed. Please research more carefully.

          2. Sara Avatar

            I agree with you Rebecca & Aims – this was brought to light in the new documentary “The Truth About Vaccines”. Vaccines have been linked to SIDS as well as autism and other diseases/illnesses and injury.

      2. Debbie Doyle Avatar
        Debbie Doyle

        You are right Rebecca. So many vaccine induced baby deaths get blamed on other causes. But there are those who choose to be willfully blind to this actual fact. It’s so sad. As children, my siblings and I all co-slept and my 2 children co-slept with my husband and myself. The family bed is a wonderful, warm and reassuring thing. Never any problems. We are all exceptionally close as a family despite them being grown and out of the house. I know it’s because of co-sleeping and of course breastfeeding as well. Mine were exclusively breastfed until one year old. My son weaned himself at 3 ½ and my daughter at 2 (she copied him – they are 1.5 years apart).

      3. Sw Avatar

        Please check your sources when you are looking at “proven” research. The reason animals are able to co-sleep without as much issue are numerous. Animals are immediately born with the ability to move on their own. If mother moves an animal can move away. If a human moves in bed an infant can’t get away. Also every one of those pictures of animals has no pillows or blankets or other obstacles to crush a baby or smother! Please be more mindful. I’m not saying it happens every time you sleep with your child but co-sleeping does increase the risk of accidents.

    4. Alana Avatar

      My heart goes out to you. The death of a child is a parent’s worst nightmare. I hope you’ve found some good support. I highly recommend the MISS Foundation if you need someone to talk to who understands the grief. (My son was stillborn so I’ve been through my version of this kind of loss) Love to you, mama.

    5. Sadkitty Avatar

      SIDS, or “crib death” as it wss originally called. It’s actually increased by separate room sleeping. Fear of predators isn’t the only reason humans needed to sleep with their offspring. Human infants are wired to need to be near their mothers to help regulate their breathing while sleeping. It’s not
      I’m sorry the worst happened to you. My baby died in my uterus at 38+ weeks. That didn’t mean it was the wrong place for him.

      1. Debbie Doyle Avatar
        Debbie Doyle

        I’m so sorry for your loss. There are no words to comfort you. But I must say, your analysis is so insightful. So well put. Bravo!!!

    6. Kimberley Avatar

      Although I am very sorry for your unimaginable loss, I can’t help but comment that co-sleeping does not increase the risk of SIDS. SIDS is still an unknown, speculated about condition. A baby has a suffocation risk while co-sleeping in a cushiony bed, but suffocation and SIDS are 2 COMPLETELY different things. A baby can die from SIDS cradled in your arms sitting upright in a chair.

    7. Carolyn Avatar

      I totally agree with you. I’m very sorry for your loss.

    8. Chelsea Avatar

      I’m so sorry.

    9. sophie Avatar

      I’m so sorry for your tragic loss Carrie, I think it’s a little irresponsible for people to go on about how “natural” it is, especially after your post.

      1. Nicole curtis Avatar
        Nicole curtis

        I am so sorry about your babies. But co-sleeping saved my son’s life. We were sleeping and I woke up. He was not making a sound but he was choking on vomit. I was able to get him breathing again and he spent some time in the hospital for the flu but I truly believe if he would have been in a crib I would have lost him that night.

      2. hard truth Avatar
        hard truth

        no, the truth is the truth even if it is counter to one person’s terrible story. carrie was doing the right thing, and got unlucky. she’d do well to forgive herself.

        the long-term mental health of a society of children benefiting from co-sleeping far outweighs lightning-strike tragedy. sorry.

    10. Jen Avatar

      I’m sorry for your loss and the saddess you feel. Thinking of you ❤️

    11. Bonnie Avatar

      Carrie, I’m so sorry you lost your baby. My heart goes out to you. (((Hugs)))

    12. Jen Robinson Avatar
      Jen Robinson

      Bed sharing does NOT have an increased risk of SIDS when done properly- the bed must be firm, parents must be sober and should not be smokers, all fluffy quilts and heavy blankets should be removed from the bed and, ideally, no extra pillows. Also, baby should not co-sleep if s/he has health issues. I’m so sorry for your loss but SIDS is not directly linked to bed sharing. Please don’t spread that misinformation. When safely and properly done, ci-sleeping carries no higher risk for SIDS than crib-sleeping does.

    13. Dana Avatar

      I am sorry for your loss.

      If you rolled over on your baby, it wasn’t SIDS. SIDS is a death for which there is no diagnosed cause.

      Babies sleeping with their mothers actually decreases the risk of SIDS. Doctors think what might be causing it is an inability of the baby to rouse themselves from deep sleep. Having Mom next to them helps them in that self-rousing so they never fall *too* far gone.

      There are ways to prevent rolling-over. There’s even the option to sidecar their crib next to your bed, so they at least aren’t off in some other room. Something to consider if there is a next time.

      1. Steph Avatar

        Could you be anymore insensitive?

      2. Phil Avatar

        Insensitive and wrong…!! There is a 5-fold increase in the risk of SIDS between sleeping in the same bed and sleeping in the same room. And to be clear, that is not including babies that sadly die from suffocation through rolling over or bedding strangulation… that is just the SIDS cases. The data speaks for itself… even if not as eloquently and tragically as Carrie does above.

        By propagating a message attempting to persuade otherwise, you are helping to perpetuate the jeopardy that numerous babies are put in… And let’s get this straight – the stats are in the favour of a baby surviving being parented even by someone who does sleep with their baby, even when drunk and smoking. Preventable deaths from simple ‘in bed co-sleeping’ (whether suffocation or SIDS) runs only circa 1 in 5000 deaths. That means 99.98% of the time, even placed in this jeopardy, the baby will happily survive. However, in ‘same room sleeping’ that rate rises to 99.992%. So statistically speaking, we can all be highly relieved to note, this is rare full stop. But statistics do nothing to comfort people who go through the trauma of losing their baby in such awful circumstances … and it is exactly that that the campaign to not ‘co-sleep in bed’ is trying to minimise – the number of folk who suffer real-life tragedy, not debates with those who are lucky enough to fall on the right side of stats. It is also why the denial of this data is so dangerous. If you deem the increased risk acceptable for yourself, then so be it: BUT, given the dreadfulness of what someone like Carrie has had to go through, you should not foist a false narrative of the ACTUAL risks of bed-sharing!

        All parents should be fully aware that there is an increased risk in the death of an infant in bed-sharing… and they can then decide if this is low enough that they will still choose to do so.

        1. Phil Avatar

          EDIT: *circa 1 in 5000 infants (not ‘deaths’)

    14. Nicola Avatar

      Sorry for your loss Carrie! Thanks for sharing xxc

    15. Lesley Paterson Avatar
      Lesley Paterson

      So sorry to hear of your awful experience Carrie. I too lost a baby, but he wasn’t in the bed with me. He was in a cot on his own. If your baby died from SIDS then it makes no difference that he was in bed with you. Ironically, all my other 3 children did sleep in the bed with us until they were at least 3 years old.

    16. returntokind Avatar

      Any comment other than condolences iare so very inappropriate.
      When a fellow mom losses their child it is so tasteless to push your agenda and or your data on SIDS or cosleeping any further.
      You are brilliant you know more than this poor suffering mother. Good for you. Pat yourself on the back.

    17. Suzy cyr Avatar
      Suzy cyr

      Actually sleeping with baby decreases sids
      I slept with all 8 of mine
      They cried too much in the crib,
      Sids is linked to immunizations

      1. Debbie Doyle Avatar
        Debbie Doyle

        Thank you Suzy. You are so right. People just refuse to accept this fact.

    18. Tish Avatar

      Amen. I’m so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for saying this.

  7. Louise Avatar

    For perspective, my next door neighbours dog crushed 2 of her own puppies cosleeping…

  8. Kathy Dettwyler Avatar

    I have a very similar series of slides I use when I teach “Anthropology and Human Nature” to university students. I think the visual images are so powerful!

    1. Ginger Carney Avatar
      Ginger Carney

      Love your research, Kathy!

  9. Violet Avatar

    I breastsfed both of my children. They slept between my hubby and I and we all slept great. No one was ever sleep deprived. Why would anyone do otherwise?

  10. Lee Avatar

    Hospitals are training Not to co sleep

  11. Juliana D Beth Avatar

    My friend lend me a bassinet on wheels that become very practical I use it to keep the babies near when they were napping and I was washing dishes, cooking, showering, but at night we had a futon on the floor so we all fit and because they were breastfeed we all had a “good night’s sleep” (I never changed nappies in the middle of the night)

  12. Tonya Avatar

    Me and my breastfed daughter sleep Togeather… Why should a baby sleep all alone? That doesn’t make sense to me….Sleeping with my child seems Natural to me…

  13. Cindy Humphrey Avatar

    I roll around in bed too much, my bed is a no kid zone! (If I had kids).

    1. Marianne Vanderveen-Kolkena Avatar
      Marianne Vanderveen-Kolkena

      But if you have no kids, Cindy, that means that moste likely your house is not a kid zone, either. How would that work out, if parents reasoned like that…?

      1. Elle Avatar

        I get what Cindy is saying. I toss and turn a lot, I kick a lot in my sleep. I have accidentally hit my little dog in my sleep. I makes me feel so terrible. I couldn’t imagine how awful I would feel if I did that to an infant. But if I did have a baby, I probably would want he or she sleeping as close to me as possible. But probably not in the same bed because I wouldn’t trust myself to stay still in my sleep.

      2. Elle Avatar

        One can always make their house baby friendly. But one cannot stop themselves from tossing and turning in their sleep.

        1. Andrea Avatar

          I used to toss and turn, I actually have REM sleep disorder but our now 5.5 year old still sleeps with us and has slept with us since he was a newborn and I never rolled or tossed with him in bed. My maternal instincts were too strong and I always had him cradled in my arm to also ensure that his daddy didn’t accidentally roll or elbow him.

    2. Lara Avatar

      I used to think like that too and also hated the idea of being woken up by little hands on my face! Then I became a mum and found out on the very first night after his birth that I couldn’t sleep if he was far from me (the crib was next to my hospital bed!). It was difficult for me to wake up properly, get up and pick him up. I was afraid at first, then I discovered having him sleeping on me allowed us to sleep and rest perfectly. But somehow I was aware of any breath, movement, sound at any time. But I was sleeping! We were kind of in tune. And still are after 16 months. We just don’t sleep hugging each other anymore (but only because I have to take care of the housekeeping after he goes to bed, so we can spend the day playing!).

      1. Debbie Doyle Avatar
        Debbie Doyle

        Lara, I’m so happy you are enjoying this truly natural way of parenting. Isn’t it crazy what we think about it beforehand and then when the actual experience comes along it’s a completely different matter. The maternal instinct is so strong. We are bonded and are so aware of our tiny baby. It’s almost magical.

  14. NightSong Avatar

    My babies slept with me til they were 3 and 3 1/2. Then they slept with each other in a full size bed for a few years. They still would come in some night’s and want to nurse for a bit. I tandem nursed my daughters, one on either side of me, holding hands across my belly, and sometimes rubbing each other’s hair just a bit. I believe b/c of that early sleeping contact, it gave us a much needed foundation of love and loyalty. And thank goodness for that, because we endured so much trauma in their pre-teen and teenage years. We’re all the richer for it now. xo.

  15. Lori Avatar

    I nursed and co-slept with my daughter. She is 7 1/2 and just this week we put a bed at the end of our bed, in our room, for her to start sleeping in. Our bed was just becoming too crowded. 🙁 She had a beautiful room with a beautiful crib in it, but I just couldn’t have her that far from me. It didn’t feel natural. I tried the bassinet, as close to my side of the bed as possible. That wasn’t close enough, either. Co-sleeping just worked best for us. I don’t judge those who chose otherwise, though. I understand the fears that come with it. I’m so sorry for those who have lost babies from co-sleeping. I can’t imagine that pain.

  16. Bethany Avatar

    Such a great article! Thank you for sharing. I get so tired of hearing about the separation, extinction and abandonment styles of parenting. Appreciate seeing an article about normal!!!

  17. LibraRN Avatar

    This is a great article and I appreciate your honesty. Cosleeping like everything has its risk for error. However there are no studies that show that parents that cosleep have a higher risk of an infant that dies from SIDS. There is no correlation between the two. Factors that increase fatality in cosleeping are heavy sleepers, drugs, alcohol, smoking and known or underlying congenital abnormalities. Hospitals are required to give an umbrella statement of safe sleeping guidelines because they cannot follow every person home and ensure they are following safe practice. Again thank you to the writer for fighting the good fight!!

  18. James Avatar

    I understand all the feel good stories, here’s my story. My grandmother regularly slept with her daughter Glenda beside her. One day while napping she accidentally suffocated her and she died. What followed was months of accusations (the local police were convinced she did it on purpose) and years (60 to be exact) of living with the knowledge that she alone caused the death of her child. So maybe things will work out fine, but are you really prepared for if they don’t? And for millions of years male animals will kill babies that aren’t theirs in order to mate with the mother…so since we want to imitate animals…is this normal behavior for humans also?

    1. James Avatar

      And anyone that thinks animals do not smother their babies in their sleep is naive. It’s actually very common.animals “co-sleep ” for protection, not for comfort. Humans have no need because when was the last time a snake slithered into your house and ate all your kids?

    2. Dana Avatar

      Yeah, it actually is normal behavior for humans. Doesn’t mean we should allow it.

      But there’s a difference between a deliberate choice (even non-human animals can often make deliberate choices) and an accident. The co-sleeping isn’t what caused your aunt’s death. The accident is what did it.

      Lots and lots of babies die from SIDS alone in their cribs. By your logic, we should ban cribs.

  19. Lisa Avatar

    I work in a hospital. We have just recently had another baby rushed in to Emergency after stopping breathing while co-sleeping. Yet, again, it didnt survive. If you want to co-sleep with your own babies and it worked out for you that’s one thing, but trying to make others feel like putting their baby in a crib is “unnatural” is wrong. And yes, animals babies do often die while sleeping with their mothers. That philosophy is misleading.

    1. Dana Avatar

      Lots of babies die alone in cribs. Let’s ban cribs.

    2. returntokind Avatar

      I think there is too much narrow mindedness on this subject. I agree what is “right” for one mom is NOT right for another. It is selfrighteous to shame others for not agreeing with what you believe is “right”. Moms could really use other moms, we need each other! What we don’t need is judgement, inconsideration, and a loss of common curtesy.
      If someone discloses a loss it really is in poor taste to push an agenda.

      Babies die in cribs, babies die in beds. Both are proven. No reason to not allow the sad stories of when cosleeping leads to death. Just like there is no reason to not accept an article that promotes cosleeping then allows you to decide for yourself what works best for your situation.

  20. Carla Hailey Avatar
    Carla Hailey

    I do both and both work for me. There is nothing wrong with doing both as there is nothing wrong with either. My daughter starts out in her crib (which is in our room) and when she wakes her usual one time a night I put her in the bed with me to nurse and finish out the night. I love my baby but I also like my space. Nothing wrong with that. While “co-sleeping” is indeed totally natural there is still nothing to be guilt-ridden about if you prefer a few hours of shut-eye to yourself. Believe it or not, that’s also perfecrly normal. I used to have a cat who loved her babies but would occasionally shew then away when she wanted them to give her some space. Same concept. What’s not natural is extremes in either direction. I have found a very happy medium and I get really sick of reading blogs and/or articles that tell me I’m doing it all wrong or unnaturally just because I don’t have a kid attached to my boob every moment of the day. Some are happy like that and it works for them, and others are happy on the opposite spectrum. But either way, I will never be that woman who labels another mother’s choice “unnatural.” That’s just not fair.

    1. Dana Avatar

      That cat mother you knew didn’t push her babies away while they were still helpless with eyes and ears shut and not able to move around. Not a valid comparison at all. We alone among the simian primates have altricial offspring (as opposed to precocious where they can get up and move around by themselves). If we were in the wild and left our babies totally alone, something would eat them. We have not been domesticated all that long in the grand scheme of things. Babies are still running on “caveman” wiring. Don’t think you are going to undo that in one generation and don’t think for one minute that trying is a good idea.

      If you had someone to hand the baby off to that you could trust to hold them while you got a break it would be one thing. If you DON’T have that, then find that. Cribs are not people. Leaving babies alone is unnatural. If you don’t like that, there’s nothing I can do for you; I don’t write the laws of nature.

      1. returntokind Avatar

        What would help you to understand that you are replying to real people? Do you talk to people you meet who disagree with you like this? What are you longing for exactly? Are you truly that worried that some babies may “have to” sleep alone in a crib sometimes? Or are you starved for someone to believe you are smart. Good for you, you are smart you know a lot about this one topic. You are brilliant you use big words. I am proud of you for doing research on this topic that is clearly a passionate one for you. I am truly! However it does not make you the authority of others and their right to decide to disagree.

        I feel well enough to disclose I suffered from severe Postpartum depression. I survived it. Partly by choosing not to cosleeping! Gasp! I am so very evil. I will allow you to join the women shaming other women for their right to “kill-abort” their babies and shame me endlessly. But I also lost a friend due to PPD and I know that this kind of pressure can cause the babies that you are so worried about sleeping alone to also lose their mothers. For the rest of their lives. Is it still so worth judging one another? If a fellow mom is not putting their child in harms way… physical abuse not a nights sleep alone then really drop it. You can give your reasons why you choose your way. Then you can allow others to choose their way. Some things are just DIFFERENT they are not right or wrong regardless of weatheryou personally think they are so. Let’s have grace and kindness and for the love of all things…. let’s agree to disagree!!! Respectfully!

        1. Julie Clancy Avatar
          Julie Clancy

          It’s refreshing to see your view and also Carla Hailey’s. My daughter, now 15, slept in her own bed from about 3 months, so we could all get a good night’s rest. She was just across the hall from us and I never saw this as abandonment, just what worked for us. Why some people see this as bad parenting isbeyond me. As she grew older, I would snuggle up next to her at bedtime and sometimes doze off for a while. I loved that but in order to be a proper functioning parent I need my sleep too. Also interesting to note that only 1 person mentioned the sex life of the parents – how terrible of me to mention that. Parents the world over have a countless collective experience and knowledge on parenting. Why push one agenda over another? Why not draw on this massive collective experience and make up your own mind about what works for you? Happy, well adjusted children is what we all want. My daughter’s opinion is that she is happy and independent. She wasn’t attached to me 24/7 and yet we are very close, and she is a healthy thriving teenager.

      2. Meaghanslovemission Avatar

        Do shave dye your hair wear makeup or use deodorant?

        I’m just wondering because you know that’s against the laws of nature

    2. Anne Avatar

      Totally agree with you! I also did both. He would start in his crib and when he woke up I usually took him next to me. We would both fall back asleep while nursing. 1,5 years later I have practiced him to sleep in his own bed. It benefits us both as we do not keep each other up during the night. My youngest is now staying in our bed.

  21. Carla Hailey Avatar
    Carla Hailey

    Oh … but to be clear, this is a lovely read and the photos are beautiful. Motherhood and all aspects of it are a beautiful thing! 🙂

  22. Emma Avatar

    I natural term nurse and natural term sleep with my children. That works for my children and feels right. My eldest sleeps in his own bed in his room and my 3 smallest sleep in my room (8, 4 and 2). We have a large king mattress with a single either side. The 8 and 4 like their singles and 2y is in with me. They will grow and will want to sleep in their own room when they are ready. No need for a cot or crib.

  23. Cash Flow Avatar

    There is no right way to cosleep, nor does cosleeping occur in one correct configuration. While some ways of cosleeping are safer than other ways, some are not safe at all. One thing is for sure — regardless of whether or not you sleep on the same or different surface, or in the same or different room, remember that no one knows your baby better than you, and no one can anticipate and respond to the immediate needs of your baby as well as you.

  24. Karen Sanders Avatar

    I am a cosleeping mama. I did it with both of my children from birth. Both were breastfed. My 3-yr-old son still does. My daughter had special needs. I have never rolled over on either of them. I also worked in a pediatric hospital for over 5 years. I saw cosleeping accidents/deaths. I don’t recall one where drugs or alcohol weren’t involved.

  25. Debbie Avatar

    25 years ago we put our son in bed with us. My husbabd, having had four children from previous Marriages thought I was crazy. Until my son was about a week old….then he truly got it. No one was talking about co sleeping then, it just seemed the natural thong to do…just as breastfeeding wasn’t really encouraged…but again, to me it was a no brainer. I think sometimes we should listen to our instincts and not the so called experts. A mother, if she will trust her gut feeling, knows what is best for HER baby.

  26. Pierre Burger Avatar
    Pierre Burger

    Our nine-month-old baby has never co-slept, and she’s been sleeping through the night (eleven and a half to twelve hours without waking up) since before she was four months old. And she is the happiest, laughingest, smiliest baby imaginable. Co-sleepers, no disrespect, but it’s your own needs you’re indulging, not your baby’s. 🙂

    1. Marianne Vanderveen-Kolkena Avatar
      Marianne Vanderveen-Kolkena

      Pierre, it sounds like you have not read all that much literature about babies’ needs regarding proximity to an adult for coregulation and normal brain wiring and neurological development. Of course, in the end the parents are the ones who make the decisions; that’s for sure. That doesn’t mean, however, that there are no general things one could say about the physical, physiological, psychological, immunological, nutritional and emotional needs of babies. We’re not just talking about how they function now, but also how they will function in ten, twenty, fifty years’ time and what sense of security and self-confidence they carry with them by then. Brain research has progressed to the extent that we now know that babies need their primary caregivers close to normally develop that sense of security (secure attachment) in the first few years and that parenting is not a 9-5 job; babies don’t care about clocks, you know. 😉 They also have this need for closeness during the darkness of the night, maybe even more then. Where did your baby sleep? Are you sure *she* didn’t wake up or only that she didn’t cry and wake *you* up…? How did breastfeeding go in that first half year? You breastfed her before the 12-hour night and straight after she woke up?

      1. Annebelle Avatar

        I don’t think you should criticize someone else’s parenting. Each to their own, sounds like that baby is getting plenty of love and care.

    2. Krystl Avatar

      You say that as though it is wrong to ‘indulge’ the deeply rooted and very natural desire for a mother to be immediately next to her small offspring. You have made your choice. I don’t respect you any less for it. Noone can say for certain whether there will be any negative impact from your choice. But many of us feel very deeply that it is beneficial. Noone can absolutely ‘prove’ that either as there are too many variables. But for me personally, I’d rather risk an accident (even potentially a fatal one) than risk the possible negative impact on emotional health. For many in the modern western world, it is not possible to balance the needs of mothers and babies in our societies, so anything we can do to easy the emergence of our offspring into the world can only be a good thing in my mind. Personally, I suffered with depression and anxiety so co-sleeping ensured we developed a good bond, amongst the other benefits. So yes, I indulging my own need, which I believe was very valid even on its own.

  27. Alicia Avatar

    My Momma co-slept with me, when I was a baby, something woke her one night, to find me not breathing … she nudged me, smacked my back, shook me a little and finally I gasped for air .. after that she decided the crib was no place for me, I was safer in bed with her. At that point, babies were put on the stomachs in the cribs, I believe they now say to lay the baby on it’s back … no clue what made me stop breathing, but I’m very lucky to be here and I’m glad Momma put me in bed with her.

    I feel very bad for those who have lost babies and if I had kids, I would worry about the risks of co-sleeping too. I also wonder how co-sleeping parents actually manage to have a sex life.

    I did take care of a baby from when he was 5 months til he was 5 years and from 5 months to a year, I would sleep on the floor by his playpen, in a very light sleep and keep waking to check his breathing……cos I was worried so much.

  28. […] Alicia on Photos of Mammals Safely “Co-Sleeping” with Their Babies, As They’ve Done for Mill… […]

  29. Marie Avatar

    beautiful post and so true. there are some risks, like big cushions and blankets can suffocate or overheat (like in the crip or car seat etc too), but if followed the safety rules nothing can go wrong and studys show the benefits too… parents should never be under influence of anything, or very sick, or a unsafe high bed sure is no good idea, and why not use a special expensive safety nest for inside the big bed if really afraid… i was a very wild sleeping, kicking and best big bed for me kinda girl, it totally changed the second our daughter arrived… we have a floor bed, with only natural breathable nursing pillows and thin blanket (sleeping bag is recommended). my husband didnt feel comfortable so he moved out of the bed and thats ok, but for me that was never an option. we got the babybay put on our bed but never used it cause she wantet to stay closer. i nurse and she usually is pressed up against me. and so she is the most happy, healthy and relaxed girl, so im happy too. and this time will be over soon enough… if baby is happy in a own crip next to the bed, why not, but to force a crying baby to sleep alone and even in another room is just crazy for me and i found these parents always very special and cold…

  30. Phil Avatar

    Please do let me know how you approached this narrative? Have you thought about the actual science behind these matters… or is it just whimsy for the pretty pictures of idealised motherhood in the wild? Have you bothered to evaluate the data that would mean that, if parents adopted your suggested practice, out of 100,000 ‘bed-sharing’ infants, 15 more real Flesh & Blood babies would die from SIDS alone versus infants sleeping in the same room (that’s not including suffocation deaths)? Also, have you ever lived in a rural environment and so got an insight into the ‘natural’ animal infant mortality rate?

    This is so misleading an article, it shows either huge naïveté or is simply disingenuous.

    First off, and what is maddening that folk making such comparisons ignore, is the fact that human offspring are woefully under-developed for parturition compared to all their mammalian counterparts. There are very pragmatic evolutionary reasons for this. Our growth in brain-size made our heads larger and our bi-pedal stance meant that the pelvis re-oriented to accommodate that stance and, in that process, narrowed as well. The species adapted to this in an unexpected way… by bringing birth forward to an earlier stage of development and at the same time heightening that nurturing instinct – the larger brain power likely both enabling this and being such a considerable advantage that it was worth the greater energy expenditure in infant care.

    Clearly, while fit for evolutionary purpose, it wasn’t physiologically consistently reliable and this led to the dreadful death rates amongst mothers and infants for so much of human existence – birth and then early infancy were incredibly risky.

    We have developed, thanks to those large brains, to a situation where survival rates are incredibly high in the developed world, but it is still the case that human infants remain woefully underdeveloped when they arrive. In contrast the mammals pictured all gestate to a point where their offspring are far less vulnerable and far more capable of survival… roughly akin to circa 9-18mths of human infant development (which, even then, is a wide range itself).

    So, if we were being honest in your article, it would say “co-sleeping with parents from ~1 year old is as natural as other mammals co-sleeping with their newborns.” And you know what, when you look at human infant mortality rates from co-sleeping at that age, the risks are incredibly low – surprise, surprise.

    Hence, how about starting with the right equivalencies, rather than misleading comparisons.

    Then, try reviewing the actual mortality rates both amongst mammals in the wild and then amongst humankind before we had such a sophisticated healthcare system and such well-constructed infant products. It’s incredibly high versus where developed humankind happily is now. So all those whimsical pictures completely ignore the large number of animal infant deaths… Anyone, actually involved in rural life, especially in livestock management, is fully aware of this, not least because they often have to intervene to improve the survival rates of these already developed mammalian offspring.

    This is not to deny that co-sleeping is completely natural in the wild – in fact it would be wasteful of energy not to. But infant mortality is also much higher in the wild and that is also completely natural. There’s no value in proclaiming this is somehow worth doing because animals do it and it is instinctual… Bear fathers sometimes eat their young. This is natural too. “Natural” does not equate to “Advisable”, nor to “Best”.

    Once again your article glosses over this by showing some pretty pictures… how do you even begin to think that there is equivalent evidentiary value between those pictures and the harsh reality of mammalian life in the wild (or even in domestic or agricultural environments)? It seems pretty disingenuous to me!

    For a third point, why don’t you actually lay-out the risks of infant death that the data shows result from bed-sharing… rather than exhort folk to do so because it is ‘natural’?

    The information is clear and readily available. It is about 5 times more risky to have infants under 6 months share a bed than to have them sleep separately in the same room. It is even more risky to have infants sleeping in a separate room, let’s make that data point absolutely clear as well.

    BUT, despite that statistic that your article should definitely feature, it is still highly unlikely that anyone’s particular infant will die from this practice. In fact, there is roughly a 5000 in 1 chance that it will happen. In most of what we do in our quotidian lives, if faced with those odds, we’d probably chance it… it sounds like it is a really remote possibility. Many folk would deem it an acceptable level of risk to take, though they might, at least, think twice if death was a consequence.

    However, there are roughly 4 million kids borne in the US each year. Suddenly that unlikely personal situation becomes actual tragic fact for a thousand or so families each year. Shrouding the data that would inform families of these risks seems an awful thing to do – actively encouraging people to ignore it and to put their children in greater jeopardy than they need to be seems appalling, especially selling it as the ‘natural’ and therefore ‘better’ way to do things. That is what this article is doing.

    Finally, there is an inevitable survivors’ bias in commenting on risks and jeopardy. ‘It didn’t do me any harm’ doesn’t mean that it didn’t do someone else any harm. As we pointed out above, ~99.98% of families will not see any harm from bed-sharing… the ~0.02% will experience untold grief and tragedy. The fact one person’s infant survived ‘bed-sharing’ does not give the right to claim some validation of their ‘instinctual’ belief that bed-sharing is the ‘best’ way to sleep with your infant. There is even less right to do so, when you neglect to mention that sharing a room rather than a bed with your infant reduces the risk to ~0.003% (pretty much an order of magnitude less).

    It would have been perfectly valid to present the statistical risks and then state that you find the risks sufficiently low that the pleasure you derived from bed-sharing with your infant was worth the remote possibility of their death.

    Perhaps you could adjust the article to reflect this, so someone coming across it gets a clearer picture of the evidence-based analysis of this issue.

    Right now, it is likely to have a pernicious and distorting effect on the perspective of people seeking to make a fully-informed decision about bed-sharing. That doesn’t seem a justifiable thing for a commentator in good faith to do!

    [Post Script: there are a number of documented ways to reduce significantly both the SIDS & suffocation risks even in bed-sharing (that you could include), but the data used above does apply to generic ‘bed-sharing’ vs ‘room-sharing’]

  31. Blandine Avatar

    un berceau au milieu du lit parental ou à coté, ce n’est pas du cosleeping … c’est du sommeil partagé ou ce que vous voulez, mais le vrai co sleeping, c’est bb contre maman / papa. Pas séparé dans un berceau.

    toutes les images d’animaux que vous montrez, le bb est en contact DIRECT avec sa mère – pas dans un berceau à côté !

  32. Debbie Stevens Avatar
    Debbie Stevens

    I am the mother of 5 children who were breastfed. I was “always tired” from about age 14 or 16 and up. Now I’m 62 and recovering from 4 different autoimmune disorders: Hashimotos thyroiditis, celiac disease, narcolepsy, and chronic fatigue syndrome from Epstein Barr virus. I knew I had “thyroid problems” when I had my babies, but I didn’t know of the others until about 2 years ago. I just knew there was no way I could get up at night and do the bottle routine, so I decided to breastfeed. Plus I knew of all the benefits for both mom and baby. I was also a Mother-Infant RN in a hospital. With my high need for sleep, breastfeeding and keeping them in bed with me for most of the night was the only way I could manage an infant. I did keep a bassinett beside the bed to place them in if I woke up and the baby was sleeping. We did not have a queen or king sized bed, just a regular full sized one, so we did not have the luxury of a roomy bed. I always laid down to nurse my babies during the night and when I needed a nap. There was no way I could roll on her because I would break my arm first. They have to lay their head inside the crook of your elbow; you can manage their head better that way. Bring your other arm and hand over the baby’s body to protect them from Daddy rolling over on them; you feel it before the baby does.

  33. Annebelle Avatar

    So I’m a doc, I advise folks not to co-sleep, if they do we talk about safety. In particular it’s when mum is obese, smoking, alcohol or drugs is when I have seen co sleeping end in death. Unfortunately a baby can be smothered by a large breast or if mum rolls over. Co sleeping:It feels natural. I did sometimes co sleep. But it’s about safety too. If I did nobody else was in the bed and no covers or blankets with the heat cranked up, I avoided co sleeping if I was very exhausted. Co sleeping has the potential to be very dangerous practice, if parents are co sleeping the best thing is to be super aware and make it as safe as possible.

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  35. San Avatar

    Reading these comments are the most tiring I find. When I was pregnant stumbling across something like this I tried avoiding the commentS. Especially if I wanted a good night’s sleep.
    Some are always going to be pro some are con some are left brained in their approach and some are right brained. But all of them a little worried. Of course. Anything could happen. Anything can always happen no matter what your approach is. My son is 3 1/2 now. We still co sleep which we’ve done since the day he was born. I was worried something could happen to him in his sleep but he couldn’t sleep in a crib. He slept between me and my ex boyfriend. No there wasn’t much sex, but that was more because of his and my relationship and not because our son was in the bed with us. If you want to have sex there are other times and places you can do so.
    We haven’t vaccinated him because we don’t believe in vaccines and that freaks a lot of people out. Everybody does what they do but in “choosing path”, don’t freak out and don’t judge anyone else for what they do. Everything is organic. My next baby maybe doesn’t want to co sleep and I might find that vaccinating is the best option that time around for some reason. …

  36. Carmen Avatar

    Co-sleeping is very safe. My daughter was breast feed till she was close to 4; she is a very healthy young girl. We have a very close loving relationship and she is now 9.

  37. Chase Avatar

    Excellent post, I’m looking forward to hear more from you!!

  38. Santo Avatar

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    which was actually lugging her small, fox-like dog in a sling on her breast, the
    technique I usually carry my human infant.

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  42. Jennifer Kim Avatar
    Jennifer Kim

    I worried (being a first time mom) with my first kid, about rolling on top of my daughter (because I was a flipper…sometimes even waking up to see I fell off the bed) but something about having her in the crib didn’t feel right. She slept with me until she started crawling. I don’t think I even moved when she slept with me. Woke up and everything was in it’s place, nothing disturbed and her sound asleep. When she started crawling is when I did put her in the crib right next to my bed. 2nd child my husband wanted him to stay in his own room. It broke my heart to have him so far away. Husband agreed that it didn’t feel right so if we do have a 3rd, we both agreed that he/she will be sleeping in the bed.

    When my husband deploys. The kids always stay in my bedroom and sleep in the bed while we watch movies and fall asleep. This is someone that vowed I would never have kids and now I don’t know what I would do without them.

  43. Terry Lee Jenks Avatar
    Terry Lee Jenks

    I slept with my babies. They nursed during the night. They are now 33, 37, 42 and live very productive lives.

    I have no regrets!

  44. Wilderness B Avatar
    Wilderness B

    You know all those cute mom and baby animal photos? Those moms roll over and smother their babies just like human ones have.

    I’ve been to the funeral for an infant that died of SIDS after being put to bed in an unsafe manner. I wouldn’t
    wish that nightmare on anyone.

    All the people boasting about how they coslept with their baby in their bed aren’t special, they’re just lucky. Just like bragging about how you made it through childhood without a seatbelt or car seat. You gambled, and won. Not many parents who lost that bet are going to come on here and say “I coslept with my baby and I was so exhausted I rolled over on her and smothered her to death.” But it totally happens.

  45. Kelli Avatar

    Thank you for sharing. This is a great piece of the puzzle on why cosleeping is safe under biological circumstances. Also, adorable. <3

    *Bedsharing is a form of cosleeping, but cosleeping does not necessarily mean sharing a sleeping surface*
    *Cosleeping is safest for all
    *Bedsharing is safest for some

  46. Laura Avatar

    i love co-sleeping and totally agree that it feels much more natural than forcing the baby to sleep in his crib.. BUT.. how do you mamas ever get a break or get them to take a nap or go to bed early without you? Our little guy wakes every 20-45 min for comforting if he’s alone. He’s almost 11 months. How much longer will this go on or what else can I do to find some of my sanity aka free time!

  47. płoty Nowoczesne Avatar

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  48. Kevin Avatar

    I usually appreciate what is posted here. But cosleeping isn’t the safest. We also didn’t have beds that were 3-4 ft off the floor. If you want to do it like we evolved sleeping go sleep in your yard on the ground. Babies can fall out of bed. And aren’t in to much danger of being eaten.