Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Learning to sleep well in childhood

When we brought our son home from the hospital, we decided to have him sleep his first night in his crib in his own room. We felt so wise in our decision, believing it to be important to teach our son that he sleeps in his room and we sleep in ours.

Our son, however, decided to start cluster feeding, so I was up with him all night, holding him. 

But in all the nights since then, he has only slept with us two times: Once when we took a nap together while laying on my bed. And once when we were on vacation, and he was so exhausted and mixed up that I let him sleep in the same bed as me (which actually ended up being on top of me, teaching me the important lesson to not soften on my principles).

Have there been nights where he asks to climb into bed with us after a bad dream? Yes, but I lead him back to his bed and tuck him in. Does he sometimes ask me to lay in bed with him at night? Yes, but I remind him that he sleeps best on his own. (And that Mommy snores a little.)

Now that my son is six, I realize that it has been a long time since he has asked for company at night. That is a good thing as recent research suggests that children need to learn how to sleep well by age 5. Most children learn self-soothing techniques to get themselves back to sleep as toddlers. The ones that still struggle with sleep are more likely to suffer from attention issues and have emotional outbursts in the classroom.

What's a parent to do? Prevention is the key. Yes, you can of course comfort your child when they are sick and just want Mom or Dad nearby, but the goal is to refrain from bad habits that prevent children from learning how to fall back asleep on their own. The golden rule of sleep is: Everyone needs to sleep in their own room.

What age did your child stop asking to sleep in your bed? Tell me in the comments.

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