Is it okay for children to sleep in their parents’ bed?

Do your children sometimes sleep in your bed with you?  Did they when they were smaller?  Would you admit it if they did?  According to the New York Times, an increasing number of parents are letting their infants and small children sleep with them.  But the really interesting fact is that most of these parents won’t admit it.

Co-sleepingWhy?  Because in the West, co-sleeping is not widely accepted by family or friends, or even the medical community.  Then why are parents letting their kids crawl into their beds?

Countless children start the night in their own beds, only to wake up a few hours later and pad into their parents’ bedrooms, crawling into the bed or curling up nearby on the floor.

That’s my kids. My son is so quiet about it that sometimes I don’t even realize he’s crawled into bed with us. My daughter is a bit louder, crying out for daddy or mommy.

Sure, I know that its better for the twins to sleep in their own beds, but I’d be up all night trying to coax them back to sleep in their own bed while trying not to wake their sibling.

Letting them sleep in our bed is not only easier, it’s a necessity if my husband and I want to keep our sanity and get some sleep at night.

We never intended for a co-sleeping arrangement.  In fact as infants, the twins slept in their cribs just fine. 

They shared a crib.  But by the time they were 10 months old though, there just wasn’t enough room in one crib for both of them and they were waking each other up with they tossed and turned.  So we put them in separate cribs, and eventually, separate beds. 

Herein lies where our problems started.  Apparently, waking up alone in the middle of the night is pretty traumatic for a toddler.  My daughter particularly suffers from night-time separation anxiety.

We spent many sleepless nights trying to coax one child or the other back to sleep in his/her own bed only to end up with two crying children (when they share a room, one wakes up the other) that were too upset to go back to sleep at all.

Out of desperation, we finally just let the woken child come to our bed where they instantly fall back to sleep.  And later that night, either my husband or I would take them back to their beds.

A year and half after we separated them at bedtime, I am happy to say that the nightly visits to mommy and daddy’s bed are becoming less and less frequent and are often limited to early morning hours.

But still I’m hesitate to admit that my children sleep with us, even if they do only occasionally. Why?  Because most often if the fact is disclosed, I’m greeted with a “you really need a bedtime routine.” 

We have a bedtime routine.  And it works for us.  My children go down at night with relatively little fuss.  My problem has never been getting them to sleep.  It’s getting them back to sleep when they wake in the middle of the night.  And letting them cry it out is just not an option for us.

Sure I know it’s better for my children to sleep in their own beds.  And that is the goal we are striving for.  But when you are sleep deprived, you will do whatever needs to be done so that everyone can get a good night’s sleep.

And to me, that’s the most important thing — a good night’s sleep.

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10 Responses to Is it okay for children to sleep in their parents’ bed?

  1. Diane says:

    What ever works for you is best. It sounds like you have a plan and it’s working. All kids have some fear or need a little security during the night. Once the securities are met, they’ll gain confidence and become more independent. I believe it creates more fear in a child if you force them to stay in their rooms and they have some reservations about doing so. By putting your child in their bed at bed time you have introduced the fact that, this is their room and this is where they are suppose to be. I know sharing one bed with the entire family is a large sacrifice, but I believe it show the bond your family has. Enjoy it, they grow up so fast.
    I still smile when I remember how my girls and their dad all shared our king size water bed on cold morning in Florida. The fire in the fireplace had gone out during the night and the water bed had it’s own heater, so it was the warmest place in the house, until someone was brave enough to put more logs in the fireplace ! ! 🙂 Different reason entirely to share a family bed, but the thoughts are still just as warm.
    Enjoy
    Diane

  2. Lynn says:

    A little scientific research might ease your mind and help you to feel better. I react in particular to your statement, “I know it’s better if they sleep in their own bed”. Science would tell us that’s not necessarily true. Please check out the webite: http://www.naturalchild.org/james_mckenna/. This reflects the life work of a credible scientist . It should put your mind to rest that you are doing a good thing for your children and help you to do it in a safe manner. Good sleeping and pleasant dreams!

  3. vacelts says:

    Lynn,

    Thanks for the advice and link.

  4. I would strongly recommend that the children should sleep in their parent’s bed until they grown up upto 5 to 6 year old. This is my personal opinion that if we forcibly put our kids alone in their bed, this creates more fears in the child and sometimes it might be dangerous to the mankind. Whatever the scientific research says but in the childhood the kids need parent in each moment. Whatever work you do at least while sleeping, parents should sleep with their children. After all good sleeping makes children good.

  5. I think it is not good for the kids to have them in the bed alone. In order to lessen fear and unsecurity in the mind of children, it is strongly recommended to sleep with the children. But make sure about bedtime routine always be followed for good sleeping. It becomes important when the child is infant.

  6. vacelts says:

    Kirt, since my kids are twins and have always had someone next to them since before birth, I think they especially need to feel the contact of someone else while they are sleeping. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. newtobeingmom says:

    I have a 2 year old son that cries and cires if he doesn’t sleep in our bed. My husband and I allow him to fall asleep in our room but we then put him into his own bed. As soon as we get into a good sleep he comes out of the room and into our beds. One whole week I tried the whole thing with after he falls asleep in our room take him back to his room. However, the next morning he is again in our bed. What can I do?

  8. vacelts says:

    Newtobeingmom,

    Let me preface this by saying I’m not an expert. I can only tell what worked for me.

    We have twins so when one woke in the middle of the night we couldn’t let them cry it out (not that I think I could have with one).

    So when one would wake in the middle of the night, we’d let them fall back asleep in our bed and then when they were good and asleep (and if we were still awake), we’d put them back in their bed. Some nights we put them back in their bed two and three times. We thought it was important for them to wake up in their own bed.

    Some nights both kids came to our bed and either my husband and I slept in the spare room. It was a lot of restless nights for 6 months to a year, but they eventually stopped coming to our bed.

    I think its really important to find a bedtime routine that worked for you and stick with it. It might take some time to find the right routine.

    We found that are kids were afraid of being alone and afraid of the dark. So here’s our night time routine. It might work for you, but more than likely you’ll have to find your own.

    Our kids are allowed to play after dinner until about 7 p.m. Then they must get clean up and into their night clothes. We got blow up mattresses and let them lay down and watch an hour of their television (Noggin is great). They could take a toy with them to lay down, but they must lay down and be calm.

    Then after an hour, they go potty and we take them up to their bed. They are allowed to bring a toy with them. We tuck them in with a little prayer and/or story. We have a small lamp we keep on for them. And before you know it they are out.

    When we come to bed, we turn off the lamp and leave a night light on.

    If my son fell asleep before my daughter she would cry so we’d give her “protection bunny.” Just a stuffed animal we told her would protect her. We told her to hold him tight, close her eyes and think of bunnies. Sounds corny, but it worked.

    My kids are 3 1/2 now and almost never come to our bed at night anymore. If they do, there’s a particular reason — nightmare, sick, extra tired that day.

  9. Rennae says:

    My 2 daughters aged 7 and 8 still share my bed. There dad left when the youngest was 5 months old. At that time my oldest was 20 months and had a tummy problem that made her cry out in the night up to 5-6 times. I had to get up to her and give her a rub on the back and a cuddle to get her back to sleep. That, plus breast feeding the youngest meant I was getting no sleep. To make it easier for me i put the tummy trouble one into bed with me so that even though I was waking up to soothe her, I didn’t have to get out of bed. Shes stayed in my bed ever since. My youngest slept fine by herself until about 2 years when she started coming in for cuddles at night and eventually, decided not to go back to her own bed. They are able to sleep by themselves in their own beds if they sleep over at other people’s places (like grandma or good friends) so I’ve never considered it a problem that they still sleep with me. On nights when i go to bed early (at their bed time) we have great chats about our day and whats happening in the morning or next day. In the weekends we will wake up and have great chats about life in general. Most people think I’m mad for letting them sleep with me. I’ve stressed over whether I’m doing the right thing by letting them stay in my bed but basically, they are great girls, doing really well at school, great social skills and have lots of friends and most importantly – are totally secure in the fact that their mum loves them to the “moon and back”. I’m a strong supporter of the fact that if your kids want to sleep in your bed then let them. For me, any chance of an extra cuddle is a bonus. The time will come soon enough when they are grown up and move out of home. Make the most of having them close while you can.

  10. sa says:

    there is no science suggesting co-sleeping is a good idea. just think about it logicaly. what message are you sending your child if you co-sleep w/them? are you inviting them to be confident strong independant minded adults, or are you teaching them to be needy and depandant on others? if you don’t teach them how they can put themselves to sleep just like millions of other babys do, then are you not hindering their development? it’s one thing to be in the process of putting your child in her own bed after they have crawled into your bed, but it’s another to say “CO-SLEEPING W/YOUR CHILD IS RIGHT”. i bet the same person that says this is the same mom that does everything for her child from brushing their teeth to cleaning their room, thus ending up w/an adult who is irresponsible and incompetent. it is the parents job to teach the child to depend on her/his own, not the other way around. just think about it, how can you say anything different?

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