You enter your bedroom after a long day with heavy shoulders and tired eyes. You trade in heavy chains for pajamas, tuck the littles in bed, then melt into a mattress of your own. Moments before slipping into a slumber, the door creeks open and, before you know it, your child crawls under the covers next to you.
Softly snoring, slightly kicking and absolutely taking up the entire bed, you face a decision. Do you walk your child back to their own bedroom, or do you continue counting sheep as their soon-to-be habit evolves next to you?
Saying “no” to children can be hard, especially when their gentle eyes grow weary and plead to spend just one night with you. However, even one night can turn any promise of breaking a harmful co-sleeping cycle into a distant dream.
Although every culture, family, child and nighttime routine is different, “good sleep is essential to a child’s emotional and social functioning, ability to learn and focus and overall development,” according to the Sleep Foundation.
The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that parents sleep in the same room as their newborn, “but not in the same bed as a baby” to keep them safe while they sleep—
not to mention allow parents themselves to sleep.
If having higher quality and quantity of sleep for you and your child isn’t enough to discourage co-sleeping, consider these benefits next time your tot wanders out of their bed and into yours:
- Sleeping on their own gives kiddos the liberty to get comfortable and wiggle room to move without disruption
- With your encouragement, kids can overcome fears and enhance their confidence, independence and emotional development
- Children can feel a sense of accomplishment when they take care of themselves, which can be inspired by maintaining their hygiene, nighttime routine and bedtime hours
When you decide the time is right, try out these sleepy-worthy solutions:
- Start slow, stay patient and trust the process
- Read a bedtime story or practice another routine to cue bedtime
- Rather than scaring children with ideas like “monsters under the bed,” encourage them with affirmations that tell them they’re strong, brave (and sleepy)
- Be sensitive with their emotions and proactively address nighttime discomfort
- Make it fun by allowing your child to pick the book, bed sheets or future bed they may want
- Reward good behavior the next morning, and provide positive reinforcement if they go back to their own bedroom during the night
Did we mention be patient?
Just like your decision to promote co-sleeping is personal, so is the journey to establishing, encouraging and following any bedtime routine. Turn to your tot to access what is best for them and their sleep, and be sure to value your rest while making a game plan.
While science supports the structure, development and quality of independent sleeping, it is ultimately up to you (and, well, your child) to decide who sleeps where. Whatever helps you and your baby feel the healthiest, go for it! Just make sure the bed bugs don’t bite.
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