It’s the middle of the night and you’re awakened by a sleepy-eyed child mumbling something about monsters under the bed. Then comes the request, “Can I get in bed with you?” At this point, you have three options. Say no, turn over and try to ignore the whining and tears that will inevitably follow, take the little darling back to her room and assure her that there are no monsters and risk having to spend the next hour or so cramped in a bed made for munchkins or toss back the covers and hope you don’t get kicked in the back too much as you invite your little visitor in.
Once in a while this might be okay, but on a regular basis, sleeping with the kids gets old fast. Even though different cultures may view co-sleeping differently, there are several reasons why kids should sleep in their own beds.
- Keeping it Safe – When it comes to infants, sleeping with your child can be dangerous. There have been cases where a parent has inadvertently smothered their baby by rolling over on the child during sleep. While it may be convenient to keep baby in bed for feeding, it is best to put him back in his crib or bassinet afterward.
- Get Some Sleep! – Yes, Mom and Dad, this means you! It may seem like it’s worse to let your child cry herself to sleep every night, however, with proper sleep training, it won’t be an every night experience. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need at least seven hours of sleep. The ramifications of sleep deprivation are not pretty and will definitely have adverse effects on other areas of life. Starting off the day as a grumpy parent is just one of them.
- Making Sure Your Child Gets Enough Sleep – On one hand, it may seem like he’s getting a wonderful night’s sleep while you are wrestling the covers back from him or taking his elbows and feet out of your side. On the other hand, consider that your child may be having a difficult time getting to sleep in the first place and is then waking up in the middle of the night to come to your room. He probably is not getting the quantity or quality of sleep he needs either. Now there’s a grumpy kid in the house to contend with along with a grumpy parent.
- Setting Much-Needed Boundaries – Sharing a bed with the little one is a game most parents play reluctantly, but they get coerced into playing by children who simply don’t want to sleep alone. These kids figured out that if they play their cards just right, they will be able to work their way into Mom’s and Dad’s bed and sleep there cozy comfortable all night, thus demolishing any boundaries parents have managed to set.
- Avoiding Co-Sleeping Stigma for Kids – For older kids, sleeping with parents can be a source of embarrassment and shame. Toddlers don’t have peers that will humiliate them for sleeping with their parents. School-aged children are susceptible to all kinds of ridicule from peers, and the older they are the worse it can get.
- Establishing a Firm Routine – Part of setting boundaries for kids is having a regular routine. The routines establish a framework that kids come to rely on. They know what to expect and they know that the rules will be enforced. This is especially important for children who require more structure. Having a regular bedtime routine gets your child prepared for entering a good night’s sleep. It can also be a quiet time of bonding for you and your child, making co-sleeping unnecessary.
- Maintaining Your Own Privacy – You have a right to privacy in your bedroom. Night visitors can spoil romantic interludes and once the mood is broken, sometimes it can be difficult to get it back. It’s virtually impossible if your night visitor is there to stay!
- Helping Your Child Learn to Self-Soothe – If your child becomes dependent on sharing your bed in order to sleep properly, what happens when you cannot be there? There may be times when circumstances arise in which you will not be available to sleep with your little one. It is far better for your child to learn to sleep in her own bed than to have to worry about how she will get to sleep when you’re not there to sleep with her.
- Helping Your Child to Embrace Growing Up – In many homes, the arrival of the big kid’s bed is a quite a big deal. It signals a rite of passage in a way. It’s the movement from babyhood to being a big boy. Helping your child see this as a positive, important step in growing up and encouraging him to sleep in his own bed will help him in his discovery of autonomy. With your encouragement, he will also feel very proud of himself for taking on the challenges of being a big kid and learning to sleep alone.
- Avoiding a Crowd – When one child becomes accustomed to sleeping with you, the rest of your brood could easily follow suit. You could find yourself with a very crowded bed and a lot of sleepless nights, or children that feel excluded because they’re not in on the slumber party.
Sleep training at an early age can lead the way to restful sleep for you and your tot. There will, of course, be times when your presence is called for out of compassion for your youngster. Consoling your cherub in the face of night terrors, bad dreams or monsters in the closet and cuddling with your little one till he falls asleep is therapeutic and comforting. For the long haul though, and for your own peace of mind and cheery disposition and that of your child, everyone should sleep in their own bed.
Syndicated by Nanny Care.