How do you add a second baby to the family bed?

I received this interesting letter from a reader that’s a core puzzle for family bed families: how do you add baby #2 to the mix? I’ll let her speak for herself, then afterwards I’ll add my two cents and invite you, dear reader, to do the same…
My name is Kristin, I have a two year old son, Myles, and am expecting another baby in November. Myles has always slept in between my husband and I, and, for the most part, we have all really loved this sleeping arrangement. Myles has always been a pretty good sleeper, and both my husband and I value the extra cuddle time we get with him.
That being said, I am nervous about bringing baby #2 home. All throughout the night Myles plays with my hair and cuddles right up against my body. Oftentimes I can’t even get up to go to the bathroom because he’ll wake up and be sad that I’m not right next to him (he will, however, let us put him down at about 8 or 9 pm every night, while my husband and I come back downstairs). And while Myles adores his Dad during the daytime, he really only wants me when he wakes up in the night.

About a month ago we bought a king sized bed in the hopes that Myles would occupy more of the middle, and not be so attached to me during the night. All that has seemed to happen is that my husband has a whole lot more space, and Myles and I are still sharing a pillow.
And, honestly, I LOVE being this close with him at night. I have no independent desire to change anything. I am only (really) worried about what will happen when our newborn baby needs me to change, feed, cuddle him/her in the night. Will Myles wake up? Will he let my husband comfort him? And if he does wake up and only want me, will he resent the new baby for taking me away from him? Will waking up in the night make him grumpy/overtired during the day?
My husband is convinced that everything is going to be fine. That somehow it will be a smooth transition even if we make no changes before the new baby is born (besides getting a king sized bed, and moving our queen sized bed into the guest room). Although I hope that is true, I am not so convinced.
We are planning on getting a cosleeper for the new little babe, and maybe everything will work out just fine. I would just love your thoughts, and any suggestions that you may have. (There is surprisingly little written about welcoming a second baby into the family bed. )
This is exactly why I built us a “sidecar” when we were doing the family bed, so we had the older baby ‘hooked on the side’ of the bed, while the little one was nestled safely between us. There are a number of commercial products available now, but the basic requirement is pillows or rails on the exposed edges of the side-bed and, of course, the mattress being pretty darn close to the same height as the main bed.
But that’s how we did it. I’m sure there are other solutions, like two beds pushed together, mattresses on the floor, so you have a huge sleeping surface. Sounds like chaos to me, but then again, bedtime could be pretty fun nonetheless!
What’s more important is what you do, dear reader. How have you and your family brought additional babies into the family bed situation, and how’s it worked out?

9 comments on “How do you add a second baby to the family bed?

  1. We co-sleep with both of ours.
    My older child wanted to sleep on the outside before we even started thinking about the second child (haha maybe thats why we got the second one on the way).
    I did start thinking of moving our older child out before the second one arrived but I was parenting alone with my husband away with work so I did not want to be up and down in the night.
    I will not say its easy and often B2 wakes up B1 or B1 wakes up B2…or both wake up ME.
    I think we are getting better though.

  2. First up – we live in Japan, and so we sleep on futons, not beds, which makes everything much easier (and safer, because of harder bedding).
    When No 2 arrived we just moved No 1 to my side, and put No 2 in the middle. Once the older kids stopped breastfeeding, they became big daddy fans, so it was no trouble. I even wondered if the “daddy daddy” thing they all did after weaning was their way of compensating for loneliness due to the new baby getting all mom’s attention.
    When No 3 arrived, we put No 1 and 2 sideways (on daddy’s side, of course) with their heads near me and feet pointing away. Now No 3 sleeps with them too, and my wife and I have a whole double futon to ourselves, but still easy access to kids for cuddly time.
    Of course in the morning, everything is complete chaos, with everyone piled into the grown-ups’ futon, bodies flailing in all directions. Sometimes it gets so crowded, I sneak over to the kids’ futons.

  3. One technique that we used was to “top and tail”… Daddy and toddler shifted so that their heads were at the bottom of the bed, while I slept in the normal position with baby. (We sleep with just a duvet, so there is nothing tucked in at the bottom of the bed.)
    This might not be an option for all beds, but worked for us by making more room in the bed (since ankles don’t take up as much room as shoulders) meaning everyone was more comfortable.
    Warning: not recommended if hubby has smelly feet!

  4. When Number Two was first born, Number One would sleep between the husband and me. The baby would sleep next to me on the outside, tucked in the crook of my arm, yet on top of it. (It’s hard to explain for some reason, but easy to show.) The husband and the older child both squirm a lot at night, so my body was the buffer.
    It didn’t matter, though. At three months, Number Two decided she didn’t like sleeping with anyone else and wanted to be put in bed alone with her paci, puppy blanket and her music & light thing. She goes to sleep that way every night at her preference. The older one still ends up in our bed frequently.

  5. We had the same situation with number one snuggling up to me every night and I remember worrying about how we would cope with the new baby, coz she was the same, crying out if I even went to the bathroom at night. About a month before baby was due we bought a single bed which went next to the king bed, all the same level so heaps of space. Then we made a fuss of our older daughter’s new bed and put the bed on Daddy’s side and she was fine. Often still ended up in between us at night but started out every night on Daddy’s side. Then when our new little one came along she went on my side and it helped number 1 not wake up too much coz she was on the other side of Dad. Am now due to have our third baby but this time I’m not so worried coz things just seem to have a way of working out. We have now got a cot with one side down (also the same level as the bed) as well as the king bed and single bed so the room is one big massive bed. Our number 1 will still be on Daddy’s side, number two in the middle and number 3 on my side. We also have two single bed’s next to each other in their own room, so our number 1 decides which room she wants to sleep in that night and usually either Daddy ends up in there with them, or they come into the big bed. Lots of beds seems to work for us! Good luck with your new babe they are soo cute! 😉

  6. Hi! My husband thought I should comment since we currently have all four of our kids in bed with us!
    With two, you could either keep the older in the middle if your bed is right up against the wall where your infant wouldn’t be able to fall out or put the baby in the middle and get a gate for the side so your toddler doesn’t fall out. (We dropped our mattress to the floor to avoid all the safety issues of someone falling out!)
    My kids sound just like yours as far as waking up the second I leave. For that reason, my husband was in charge of nighttime diaper changes (which didn’t happen that often beyond the first few weeks.) I stayed in bed to nurse and used a small booklight until the baby was a pro at latching on in the dark. As soon as I could, I nursed lying down to minimize the disturbance of me sitting up and laying back down. My toddler was fine with it all because he had my hair to play with.
    The first 4 weeks have always been a little rough for us because the baby is such a noisy nurser and not so great at staying latched on, but then things settle down.
    By the way, we tried the co-sleeper route, too and I found it really inconvenient for nursing. I ended up only using it for a short while to hold my alarm clock before we dropped our mattress to the floor. (If you’re serious about one, we could sell you ours which has been stored in the closet for 3 years!)
    I think its great that you’re giving this so much thought and being so respectful of your first son’s needs. If you have time after the baby’s born, I would love to hear what ended up working out for you. Feel free to email me if you have any questions you think I might be able to help with!
    Good luck with everything!!

  7. With each child we’ve had different adjustments had to be made. Our hardest transition was when #3 was born. #2 was just like the writers son. He wanted nothing to do with Daddy and woke up if I moved away. When #3 was born we had #2 put his head on a pillow at the foot of the bed. This didn’t always work but we had to keep working at it. Also because of #2s emotions we had #3 in a bassinet next to me until she was a couple of weeks old.

  8. WOW! So nice to see so many co-sleeping families! I want to know how on earth everyone gets a good nights sleep! I have a 15 month old and its just the 2 of us, but I find myself needing to sneak off to the spare room as I get woken by him so much. It would be worse with dad in there too. (Well, it was back when we were 3, between babe & then snoring, arghh! lol) It’s sad, because I love having him so close, specially for the morning cuddles. Can someone tell me, a personal q never asked, how do you go about your love making with everyone in the bed!? Elsewhere ??

  9. Yes. Elsewhere. Naptime. 😉
    I have a second baby on the way and my first son is now 4. I put him to bed, and then after an hour daddy comes in to go to sleep and I move into the guest bedroom. My son comes and wakes me for snuggle time in the morning. That has been working very well. I can’t sleep with them because my son moves a lot and my husband breathes loudly and sometimes snores, and I am a very light sleeper. I was planning to put my second baby in the guest room with me, and have daddy snuggle it at bedtime and first thing in the morning so that i still have that special time with my first child. Hoping that will work…

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