Our DS is 9 months now and we have co-slept with him in various forms since he was born. We started out with an Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper sidecarred to the bed, which worked okay for the first 4-5 months. When he outgrew that, we brought him into our bed and he's been there happily ever since.
Even though we hadn't planned on doing the Family Bed thing, I'm really loving it and it's working pretty well for the most part, but there are some things I'd like to change or improve upon.
First, DS goes to sleep around 7pm. Since he is fully mobile now, we're kind of afraid to leave him alone on the bed, so my husband and I take turns laying next to him for the first 3-4 hours of the night until one of us comes to bed for the night. I want to continue with our family bed, but I would also like to reclaim the first part of the evening as time for DH and I to either be together or do what we want. Right now DS is nursed to sleep, or helped to sleep with a combo of me nursing and Daddy rocking him if he's having a fussier night. There was a period of time where one of us had to lay next to him not just because we were afraid of leaving him alone, but because he was such a restless sleeper that one of us would have to shush him or pat his back (or I'd nurse him a dozen times) to help him get back to sleep. Nowadays though, he seems like he's finally developing some sleep maturity because he tends to sleep soundly for the first few hours of the night without any help from us. So it seems like a good time to try and get that part of the night back for ourselves.
We actually have a full size crib in our bedroom. But the problem is, we have never had any success transferring him to the crib to sleep once he's been nursed down or rocked down. No matter how carefully we do it, or how long we wait after he initially falls asleep, he always wakes up instantly VERY upset and we have to start the nighttime process all over again. I would love to just be able to put him in the crib and listen for him on the monitor for the first part of the night, then come to bed and bring him to bed at his first nightwaking and let him sleep with us the rest of the night, but that doesn't seem to work for him.
For those of you who do the family bed thing, do you leave them alone for part of the night in the bed? If so, do you take any special precautions? If I listen for him on the monitor, do I really need to worry he'll get hurt if we're not in there with him? I forgot to mention that our king size bed is currently on the floor with no boxspring, but I'd really like to eventually have it on the boxspring again if possible. And we also have his crib mattress next to our mattress on the floor as well. (I had been nursing him down on his own crib mattress to try and get him used to being on the crib mattress, but he generally is not as happy there as on our mattress.) We also haven't really baby-proofed our bedroom, but we could take some time and do it. If he were to wake up without us there, I would guess he's probably fuss a little first which I'd hear on the monitor, before just crawling around and getting into anything dangerous. But I still worry.
If you put them in a pack n' play or crib for the first part of the night, do you have any tricks to getting them to sleep happily there for the first part of the night?
Or do you have any special setup that makes it safer to leave them in the bed alone? Like a guardrail or something?
Do any of you who do the family bed have little ones who are bed hogs or squirm incessantly? How do you deal with that?
Also, if you co-sleep or do the family bed, where does your little one nap during the day?
Sorry for such a long, question-filled post! I'd just love any ideas or feedback from those who have a good co-sleeping/family bed situation. Thanks so much!