Childrearing

Are You There, Moms? It’s Me, Idiot How Do You Have Sex While Co-Sleeping?

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mom-adviceAre You There, Moms? It’s Me, Idiot is an ongoing series dedicated to helping one very well-intentioned and dumb future-parent learn about the world of childrearing. Click here to see past columns.

I think we’ve long established that I know basically nothing about parenting, although you’ve all expanded my knowledge base significantly. My questions about this whole shenanigan range from anxieties founded in my own childhood to issues I’m afraid to contend with to the typical gross out factor that comes from a lack of information, and you’ve answered them all wonderfully and patiently. But, I have a personal, dorky question that will once and for all expose me for the thirteen-year-old perv that I am on the inside. I want to talk to you about your sex life, big time. More specifically, I want to know how sex and co-sleeping work.

When I first started learning about parenting on the whole, I was surprised to learn about the philosophy behind co-sleeping. Of course, co-sleeping is fairly common around the world, and my surprise had only to do with ignorance. I don’t have an opinion on co-sleeping–it appears to work great for some families and less well for others. As is typical, making some sort of sweeping judgement on the subject seems futile. But, I have to be honest. My first thought about co-sleeping had to do with sex. Like, how?

I suppose I’m most confused by families who share a family bed or bedroom once the child is old enough to be cognizant of what’s going on. It doesn’t seem all that odd to me to have sex quietly while an infant sleeps (I don’t know. Is this weird? I did weird under the covers stuff in college while my roommate was asleep. I don’t know). But I just wonder logistically how it all happens. Don’t laugh at me! I know this is a silly question!

So, do you do it on the couch while your kid is asleep in your room? Hide in the shower? Take a long drive to the grocery store? Is this really something that’s limited to people who co-sleep, or am I in fact describing the sex life of all parents? Help me.

54 Comments

  1. Valerie

    July 11, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    We didn’t.

    • Iwill Findu

      July 11, 2014 at 3:22 pm

      That about sums up my co-sleeping sisters sex life. She can’t even sneak off with her hubby for a quickie or else her 4 (almost 5) yr old wakes up screaming. I’ve sleep trained my daughter and my sex life is great, or as good as it can be with a 10 month old.

    • Bleu Cheese Bewbs

      July 11, 2014 at 3:25 pm

      Definitely hitting a dry spell over here, too. It’s not just co-sleeping though. Sometimes the opportunity presents itself and one or both of us are too exhausted.

    • Iwill Findu

      July 11, 2014 at 4:36 pm

      One night the hubby and I arranged a sleepover at the Auntie and Uncle’s for the kidlet and we slept all night long, we even slept in in the morning. Looking back that full night sleep was better then sex.

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  2. guest

    July 11, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    If the complaints of various friends (male and female) of mine who did cosleeping are any indication, they don’t.

    Which is probably maybe not that different from parents who don’t cosleep?

    I would never get laid if not for (a) working from home while husband is a SAHD, and (b) morning nap. Morning nap is the time. Don’t even try me for sex after 9pm, it just isn’t gonna happen. Mornings are where it’s at.

    My bed, at night is for sleeping, wishing I could sleep, reading a book, yelling at people who are wrong on the internet, etc.

  3. kcore

    July 11, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    My friend is preeetttty open about her sex life and parenting, in general. For her, the shower was definitely where it was at… although, that was the case before kids, too… might be a personal preference thing.

  4. SA

    July 11, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    When you have the energy to have sex post children, you will find a way to have sex. Whether it be guest bedroom, in the floor of the nursery you aren’t using, on the couch. You may drive home for a quickie during lunch or trick your kid into falling asleep on the couch first and then moving them to your bed after.

    My sex life is better now that we finally decided to co-sleep than it was when I was up all hours of the night comforting nightmares. Sleep is the only way to ensure sex.

    • marnijwebb

      July 12, 2014 at 2:07 am

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  5. SunnyD847

    July 11, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    We didn’t co-sleep, but because of my husband’s work hours he went to bed before the kids and we had to get creative. Depending on the age of the kids nap times worked, movie time, bath time, etc. When they had Parents Night Out at the gym, we’d drop them off, have a quick dinner, then go home & get it on until we had to pick them up.

  6. Anonymous

    July 11, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    I’m wondering the same thing, and following for suggestions! Is having a poor sleeper what cramps alone time? Or is it co-sleeping? Or having a baby in general?

    My baby is one and likes to sleep *on my chest* not just in our bed. We were putting him in his crib from the beginning, but I was on edge constantly because he wasn’t a good sleeper at all. We were all waking up dozens of times a night. My husband and I talked about it at when our son was around 6 months and decided that we didn’t care where our son slept anymore, just that he did! So we gave in and started bed sharing full time and have gotten 10-12 hours of sleep straight, every night since then. If it weren’t for the fact that the baby sleeps on me, not just in our bed, I wouldn’t see a reason to stop bed sharing at all.

    I’m getting curious to know how long crying it out took to really work for those who do it? How long do they cry before falling asleep? What age did you start, and was there any kind of personality change in your baby afterwards? Any suggestions to transitioning a baby to his own crib again and eventually to his own room? I don’t think that having a baby cry it out is permanently damaging, BUT it was so hard for me to hear my baby cry. My blood pressure goes through the roof and I want to scream :/ so obviously I’m very very nervous to possibly jeopardize the precious SLEEP we get now by trying something different.

    P.S. I hope I’m wording everything ok, I don’t want to offend anybody about the choices we all make day to day. There’s definitely no one size fits all, “right” way to do things!

    • Guinevere

      July 11, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      I can’t stand to hear my baby cry, either. No CIO for me. No idea what to do. We are all maintaining homeostasis, however, and eventually will all get older….

    • Anonymous

      July 11, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      Thank you for reading my long-ass comment 😀 Most days my husband and I are ok with everything as it stands, other days, not so much. It’s just nice to not feel alone in that.

    • Guinevere

      July 11, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      Slow afternoon at work. I just have this GUILT that leaving her all day long to makey the monies means I cannot be away from her at night. And that she won’t be a baby forever but that hubby and I will have a sex life forever (ish).

    • Anonymous

      July 11, 2014 at 4:58 pm

      I feel similarly as you about our sex life, and luckily so does my husband. It’s still good but just not in great quantities these days. And the guilt, ugh. That emotion can go suck a whole bag o dicks!

    • Iwill Findu

      July 11, 2014 at 4:51 pm

      I co-slept with my daughter for the first 3 months with her on my chest (she was a little early it was an easy way to get lots of skin to skin) We moved her very slowly first we added pj’s then just beside me rather then on me. Next it was a basket beside the bed, so that if she cried I could simply talk to her to let her know I was close, and maybe stroke her face if she needed the extra comfort, but I wouldn’t bring her into the bed (it got to the point where she would fuss and I could simply say “it’s time for sleep” and she would relax and go to sleep) Once she was sleeping in the basket no problem we moved the basket to her crib, but she was still in the basket. She fussed the most once she got to big for the basket, and was right in the crib but that was really only about 15 min a night before she would fall asleep. The whole process was done finished by the time she was 7 months old. We took our time and didn’t rush the whole process, and worked on creating a comfortable environment that could be moved around and have small pieces removed as we progressed.

    • Anonymous

      July 11, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      Great ideas for transitioning, thank you so much for taking the time to reply.

    • RW

      July 11, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      I was very surprised to find that I am dead set against CIO. I thought I would be a total hardass. Nope! The way I sees it, when they’re less than a year old, they’re crying because the NEED you, not because they’re needy. My son is 22 months old, and only just now is starting to experiment with manipulation. Even so, he knows that he has 2 options – snuggle for some quiet time in the chair, or be in the crib. When he’s a wiggling, fussy mess, I toss him in the crib for a few minutes and allow him to be upset. When I come back in, he grabs his stuffy and blanket and is ready for a 10 minute snuggle, after which he usually goes quietly and contently to bed. I find that downtime before he goes to sleep to be so important and helpful.

      In my vast experience with 1 child, this is what worked for me: at bedtime, I fed him in the rocking chair (breast or bottle, it doesn’t matter), and allowed him to fall asleep, or at least become very drowsy, in my arms (once feeding stopped over-the-shoulder was the favoured position). Then I would transfer him to his crib. If he woke up or objected, I just said a pleasant “goodnight, baby!” and left the room. If he cried, i would allow him to do so for no more than 5 minutes, and only if it was a tired, whiny cry, not an I-hate-this-I’m-so-upset cry. If he didn’t settle, I’d pick him up and rock him standing in front of the crib until he settled. Early on I would return to the rocking chair and let him fall asleep again, but if/when standing sufficed that’s all I did.

      If he woke up in the middle of the night, same thing. I’d give him a max of 5 minutes to settle, and if that didn’t work, I’d pick him up and rock him and soothe him. Essentially I figure he learned that I will come and comfort him when he is upset, and that being alone in the crib didn’t mean he was alone.

      So long as you don’t give in and allow that sleeping in your bed/on you is an option, baby will learn that this is just how life his. He gets to fall asleep with the comfort you provide, and you will be there when he wakes.

      I guess I should add that we did pseudo-co-sleeping, in that if it was late at night or early in the morning I would let him come to bed to feed and just went back to sleep. I almost always woke up before him though, so I would leave him in bed (in a pillow fortress until he was old enough to crawl out) so he was still waking up on his own.

    • Anonymous

      July 11, 2014 at 5:48 pm

      Thank you is much for your thoughtful answer. My husband and I read all of these answers and the feedback has been so helpful. I also swore up and and down that I was going to be a cry it out mom, just like my mom and grandma. But I’m just not. Again, thanks! 😀

    • Lilly

      July 11, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      My 2 cents based on my experience only.

      My son co-slept in our bed in a special box thing until about 5-6 months, wasn’t the original plan be he wouldn’t sleep any other way. Our transition process involved putting his crib right beside our bed with one side off (it was designed to do that for a toddler bed), so that he was basically beside me but on his own mattress/bed. Then we added the side back, but kept the crib in the room, then moved the crib into his room/nursery etc. For each transition there would usually be 4-5 nights that involved more wakings/fussiness but it generally worked out. Would try to stick to comforting him in his bed (backrubs/pats etc).

      You mention that your son is 1 year old — the above might not work as my son couldn’t really crawl when we first moved him out of our bed so he would stay put in his crib.

      The other thing is, does he sleep in his car seat or stroller? The thing we found that helped (especially once he was in his own room) would be to do big walks in the evening with him in the stroller such that he would basically be really close to sleep so when we moved him to his bed he wasn’t awake enough to fight it (again age might be a factor).

      That stroller thing would also help for the sexy times — we would walk him till he was asleep in the stroller and then park it in the front hall with him in it (with straps on so he couldn’t get out) while we had adult (very fast but stress relieving) times.

    • Anonymous

      July 11, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      He very rarely will sleep in his car seat or stroller, I can sadly count the times on one hand :/ but thanks very much for your other ideas, I really appreciate everyone answering!

    • Katherine Handcock

      July 11, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      We occasionally bed-shared with our son and it was no fun for any of us – none of us was getting enough sleep that way. So I was very glad that, for the most part, he slept in his own room! I’ve known a few people who bed-shared that were able to just establish that there’s a certain age (2 or 3, usually) when you sleep in your own bed – made a big production number about it and the transition went fine. But most co-sleeping parents I knew did a slow fade – they put a mattress next to their bed, and slowly moved it a little further each day.

      We did do CIO with Ben when he was about 9 or 10 months old. He would no longer fall asleep with one of us in the room, but without someone with him, he would cry. It became obvious that he wasn’t getting enough sleep, because he was miserable and tired all day, and I was exhausted and miserable too. We tried some gentler methods first – the one where you go back to reassure them at increasingly long intervals (1 minute, then 2 minutes, then 5 minutes, etc.) almost worked, but then he figured out we would be back and just cried until we came. Full-on, “I’m not going back in there” CIO worked within four or five days, but I hated it.

      Incidentally, Ben has stayed highly resistant to bedtime. Meanwhile, his sister LOVES her sleep. She started wanting to be put in her crib to fall asleep on her own at about 7 months, and if she can’t get to sleep now, she just plays in her room until she’s ready, then tucks herself in. I don’t know how I would have managed if she had been as resistant to bedtime as Ben was!

    • Anonymous

      July 11, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      Thanks so much for your ideas and input– it’s interesting how different two babies can be! 🙂

    • StoppingBy

      July 11, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      The best (and most entertaining) site I have personally found on this subject (for the sleep issues, not the resulting lack of intimacy) is troublesometots.com Loved it. Both my kids had 1 awful CIO night, a meek 5- minute attempt at crying the second night, and were completely fixed by the 3rd. I think we did CIO around 8-9 months, and here and there issues have popped up that we’ve had to fix but we can easily identify what we’re doing to make their problems worse. Good luck! Sleep issues are so exhausting and heartbreaking!

    • Anonymous

      July 11, 2014 at 5:41 pm

      Thanks for the link, my husband and I will have to check it out!

    • jendra_berri

      July 11, 2014 at 7:40 pm

      That website was my go-to for sleep concerns and questions. My son sleeps like a dream. I don’t think I would have had nearly as much success without the guidance I got there.

    • Momma425

      July 11, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      I co-slept with my daughter (I was a single parent though and not having sex in my house or my bed) until she was 2.
      Then, I started putting her in her own bed. She would usually get up in the middle of the night and come into mine, and I just let her stay there.
      As she has gotten older- same thing. She is much better now- she really only comes in my bed if she has a nightmare or doesn’t feel well or something.

    • Anonymous

      July 11, 2014 at 5:59 pm

      That’s sounds interesting– we’re wondering if we waited to long to start “transitioning” him out, or if it would go smoother in our case to wait. Thank you for replying! Mommyish commenters have been THE BEST.

    • Ana

      July 11, 2014 at 6:04 pm

      We did CIO at 5.5 months. Took 3 nights. It was brutal that first night but now she sleeps 10-12 hours all by herself in her crib. So so worth it.

    • etbmm

      July 12, 2014 at 1:18 am

      Have you ever heard of Dr. Jay Gordon? You can google him – he has a gentle night-weaning method for co-sleeping families that could be really helpful for you. I know you’re not talking about BFing all night, but if your kid is sleeping on you it’s pretty much the same concept. Anyway, google it and see if you can get anything helpful from it. We night-weaned my nurse-all-night toddler following his plan and I’ve relished in having my body to myself at night again!

    • Anonymous

      July 12, 2014 at 11:12 am

      I have, but I’ll read up on his methods now. Thank you 🙂

    • aCongaLine

      July 12, 2014 at 2:55 pm

      I was blessed with two VERY good sleepers… once the colic dissipated. I guess I could say I did the CIO thing- in thta I rocked them, put them in the crib, and shut the door. I’d always go back in within 5-10 minutes if they were going batshit crazy, but I was, and am, a big fan of the “alright, love you, good night!” plop into the crib. I think I just fortunately have good sleepers, and that worked well. People who are over around bedtime are amazed that bedtime routine for a 14 month old and a nearly 3 year old lasts, collectively, 7 minutes. Both kids sleep in their own room in our house, and have since they were 2 months old. (until then, they were in the bassinet in a corner of our room, or in the adjacent office- it just so happened that they like their space just like we like ours. I’m sure we’d bedshare if that wasn’t the case). The fact that bedtime is such a breeze has definitely helped our sex life to be nearly what it was pre children… it works for us, and fortunately, works for our kids, too! We value the time before we go to bed, when the kids are sleeping, and we can watch stupid TV on Netflix and have sex or not have sex as we please.

      If our kids were lousy sleepers? I’m sure we’d have no sex life. But, I like how you said that there’s no one size fits all- it’s totally different for everyone, and every family. I totally agree. It’s a “whatever works” sitch.

    • Anonymous

      July 13, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      Ahhhh wow that sounds great! That’s exactly what I’m looking for, the freedom to stay up late with my husband (or not!) I think with some hard work and consistency we may get some time to ourselves eventually! It’s been tough to know where to turn for good advice because it’s not that my baby is up all night, it’s that he prefers to sleep in an inconvenient place: on his mom’s chest! (Fine with a newborn but not as easy when the baby is a 24 lb. one year old) thanks for your ideas! 🙂

  7. Guinevere

    July 11, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    In certain (very local) demographics, Breastfeeding kills all the estrogen anyway. No drive, so it doesn’t matter where or if everybody sleeps.

    • Clever name

      July 11, 2014 at 5:33 pm

      Meh. I BF all three of mine for about 18 mos each (and co-slept, and did baby wearing; all things that are supposed to inhibit hormones) and it did not kill my sex drive at all. Mine is pretty high to begin with though, so maybe that’s why.

    • Guinevere

      July 11, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      naw, that’s not why. Mine was off the charts. Now it is physically impossbile. Doc said it will be fine after i’m done breast feeding, but everyone is different!

    • Clever name

      July 11, 2014 at 5:58 pm

      Wow, that sucks 🙁 If BFing had killed mine that completely I don’t think I would have kept it up so long. Earlier this year I tried a new birth control that killed my sex drive and I only lasted 3 weeks before I called my doctor to switch me back. Still trying to decide on a better one than what I’m using now.

    • Youthier

      July 11, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      I hear you! This was one of the many horrible things about breast feeding. That and the weight gain. Everyone told me how much weight I would lose breast feeding – instead I had to eat 6-8 meals a day to produce. I dropped twenty pounds two months after I threw in the nursing towel.

  8. Clever name

    July 11, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    We co-sleep with all three of our kids, aged 6, 3, and 17 mos old. The two younger ones are in our king bed, and the older one sleeps on a twin mattress next to the bed. With all three of them asleep in the same room, we can get busy anywhere else in the house- guest bedroom, couch, bathroom, etc. It’s really not that hard to figure out if you have the desire to. We average 1-2x per week, although I will admit that we would probably do it more often if it was as easy as just rolling over to the person next to you. But we honestly love co-sleeping, and a slightly dampened sex life is worth it for us for the relatively short time that they will be with us.
    I confess that I think it’s a bit silly that so many people can’t figure this out. We have gotten many questions over the years about how we “do it”. My SIL even expressed surprise that we had been able to conceive more than one child because we were co-sleeping!

  9. The Redhead

    July 11, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Thank you for asking this question! I’ve always wanted to know!

    • Julia Sonenshein

      July 11, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      Thank you for making me feel like it wasn’t just me!!

  10. Katherine Handcock

    July 11, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    There’s a European folk saying (I think it might be rural Greek) that goes: “Only the first baby is conceived under a roof.” Because most houses there are one room only, parents typically sneak outside while the baby’s sleeping, which makes me guess that most babies are NOT conceived during months of bad weather 😉

    I think in some ways you’re describing the sex life of a lot of parents (probably not all.) There’s always the worry that they’ll wake up or hear something or come in.

  11. Andrea

    July 11, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    You sneak out of the room!!!!!

  12. Heather

    July 11, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    We either had sex in *GASP* another room! I know, I know. It’s shocking isn’t it?! Or we would have sex when baby wasn’t sleeping in the bedroom. If he was in the pack n play for a nap in the living room, we could go in the bedroom. For a while with both kids we co-slept and bed-shared, so if we were feeling in a sexy mood we’d either put the baby down in a bassinet/pack n play in our bedroom so the bed would be free, or get it taken care of before we needed baby to be in the bedroom for the night.

  13. Sacheverelle

    July 11, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    You do it while the baby is sleeping in the crib or anywhere else in the house. They’re babies they don’t know what you’re doing anyway. Hopefully by the time it becomes off-putting to have sex with the kid in the room, they have moved into their own room.

  14. Jallun-Keatres

    July 11, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    LOL I’ve been waiting for this question. We just do it with her in another part of the bed. Now, of course, she’s only 7 months old so she has no idea what’s going on, but sometimes we put her in her PNP next to the bed where she generally fusses giving sexytimes crying mood music XD

    We don’t do it at night either. Just the 2 hour window from time time I get home from work and he leaves for work. When she’s older we can just put her in another room for a few minutes while we work to give her a sibling.

  15. guest

    July 11, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    You don’t. Wouldn’t that be a little weird and inappropriate to have sex while co-sleeping? Kinda nasty.

  16. Guest post

    July 12, 2014 at 2:15 am

    We have a 2 1/2 year old and a 10 month old and we cosleep. The last time we had sex was, oh let me think…oh yeah, last night. We average 2-4 times a week. We do it, as I imagine most parents do, when the kids are asleep. We just do it other places besides our bed. Why is that such a hard concept for some people to grasp? I have to say, I think people who blame cosleeping for their lack of sex are just using it as an excuse to avoid facing what must be bigger problems in their relationship. I also think people who assume that just because you aren’t having sex in your bed, you aren’t having sex must have pretty boring sex lives.

  17. WhoremonalCrazyLotusBitch

    July 12, 2014 at 8:18 am

    We just did it in other rooms…now that they are between 7 & 8 years old, it’s tougher to hide. I am not a bedtime sex gal. When I crawl into bed, I want to sleep. At 3 am, however, I’m ready to go… I’ve rested enough to have a little energy and I still have enough time left over to get a few winks in before the beasts joyful snowflakes wake up. During the day…we have a hide out that provides warmth, shelter and a fair straighten-up-time delay.

  18. noelle 02

    July 12, 2014 at 10:45 am

    My five year old still climbs in bed with us in the middle of the night an all three of mine co-slept for many years, but we always had a strict “kids begin the night in their own bed” policy to protect mommy and daddy time. On the rare occasions we were in the mood and a kid had already made their way to our bed (or knocked on door to join us in the middle-awkward!), we found the bathroom, downstairs living room, guestroom, or back porch to suit our needs perfectly.

  19. amyp

    July 12, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    I am sorry, but I like having sex in my bed. People say our sex life must be boring because I like to have most of it in our bed, but I find couch sex, bathroom sex, washing machine sex, counter sex ok when I am drunk enough to not be uncomfortable with things poking my back (the buttons of the washing machine to be exact), the cold counter on my ass ect. but usually I would much rather be in the comfort of my extremely expensive bed with my high thread count deliciously comfortable sheets.
    Plus we love toys, and outfits and tying each other up. I would much rather do that stuff with a closed door. No co-sleeping for me!

  20. freemane

    July 12, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    On the rare occasions that we’re both energetic enough for sex, there’s a whole house we can use. Sadly, with a 3 year old and 7 month twins, those moments are few and far between. Honestly, I find the bed so comfy that I don’t stay awake long enough for sex.

  21. brebay

    July 12, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    What, you don’t have a kitchen table?

  22. Pingback: Sex After Having A Baby: Handjobs In The Delivery Room Are A Thing?

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