Sleep Question


We recently received an email from a mom asking questions about sleep issues and thought others might be interested  as well.  Since Katie is currently sleep deprived from parenting a not yet transitioned 4 year old at night I refused to let her answer.  LOL!

You can read below an excerpt from the mom’s email and my response.  We’d love to hear from others too!


We adopted my son (now, we think, almost two and a half) and his biological sister (now five) from Ethiopia when he was two months.We know he suffered a traumatic birth ( from which his mother died) as well as undergoing several changes from domestic home to two orphanages then to us. Although a short time in care, I think the combination of his birth and the moves really affected him and consequently for almost a year and a half he has suffered from sleep problems. At one stage when he was about nine months, he was waking up almost every twenty minutes all night. At that point we decided to have him sleep with us, since we were keeping a family bedroom the jump to family bed was not (literally) that far. Either my husband or I take him to bed and lay down with him and usually fuss-free he falls asleep. Since he’s been sleeping with us, for almost a year now, he has sleept much better, only waking up once or twice a night and sometimes not at all. He also is still taking bottles and he has one before bed and we keep one near bed so he can have it during the night, which he consistently takes. Just recently, this last month, he began waking up or stirring again up to four times each night. So, my question is, are we doing the right things,  meeting his needs in our current situation, keeping him close and letting him work this out eventually, still keeping him sleeping with us? Should at some stage we begin encouraging him into his own bed, which he has no interest in just now. Are we encouraging long range sleeping issues with our current set up, or do children mature and begin to show desire to sleep more independently when they are ready? So I thought I would ask you for your advice. When in doubt my husband and I always ask, are we meeting his needs and that usually sets us on the right track, I just wanted to check in to see if there is anything further we could be doing and if there is a longer range plan we need to be taking into consideration. We are assuming we will not one day have a teenager still interested in sleeping with us.

Thanks so much
Mom in Phoenix

Mom in Phoenix,

You said, “When in doubt my husband and I always ask, are we meeting his needs and that usually sets us on the right track.” I love that statement.  To me it says it all.  Right now it is likely that your son needs the closeness and nurturing that the family bed offers and you are meeting that need.  He will always need to be nurtured and comforted but when he has a more established sense of trust he won’t need it in 8-12  hour overnight doses.  Eventually he might want it but not need it and you can begin the transition to independent sleep.

Transition to independent sleep happens naturally and uneventfully for some kiddos.  They get a bit bigger and just want their own sleep space.  But for most of us who use the family bed it is a bit trickier than that.  Usually even after the child no longer “needs” the family bed they still “want” it and so are resistant to the transition.  It is actually one of the main arguments against family beds and yet those of us who love the family bed believe the benefits far outweigh the transition issues.

Here is a link to the Ask Dr. Sears site.  I think the info on this page will be of interest to you and others who are thinking about this topic.

Thanks for helping us get our blog rolling!



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