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Why Is it Important for Children to Sleep in Their Own Beds?

by Becky Swain , studioD

When your little one, or not so little one, climbs into your bed, the temptation exists to share your sleeping space. The short-term solution of sharing your bed, or co-sleeping, may create long-term problems for parents and children. The initial attractiveness of sharing your bed may fade when considering why children should sleep in their own bed.

That Can't Be the Alarm

Even though your child may clamor to sleep with you, co-sleeping diminishes the quality of sleep for children and parents, reports the ABC News. Children who do not sleep in their own beds contribute to a pattern of disrupted sleep for parents. The results of sleep deprivation may be cumulative, and detrimental to the family as a whole when a yawning parent struggles to meet the challenges inherent in another busy day. And adequate sleep is essential for your child’s physical and mental development as well, reports the National Sleep Foundation.

There's a Monster Under My Bed!

The initial allures of co-sleeping include making nighttime feeding easier, a longer duration of sleep for parent and baby and eliminating some of the resistance associated with bedtime. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics reminds parents that permitting your child to sleep with you increases the probability that she will experience problems falling asleep alone, and transitioning to her own bed may prove difficult. Consider transitioning your child to her own bed by 6 months to avoid additional problems such as separation anxiety, recommends the KidsHealth website.

"Lullaby and Good Night"

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants should not share a bed with parents or other children to minimize the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The recommended sleeping surface is a firm crib mattress. Rather than sharing a bed, sharing a room is recommended as a strategy to reduce the risk of SIDS. Approved options for room-sharing include cribs, bassinets and cradles that meet the standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Good Nights With Good Outcomes

If your bedtime story ends each night with your child asking to share your bed, you can edit the story to create a new ending, by establishing a new bedtime routine. Practice soothing rituals at the same time every evening, that include a bath, story, cuddling or quiet music. Ensure that your child’s room is comfortable, and encourage her to take a preferred toy or blanket to bed with her for added comfort and security. Expect resistance, so remain patient and consistent regarding your expectations for your child to sleep in her own bed.

About the Author

Becky Swain's first publication appeared in the "Journal of Personality Assessment" in 1984. Her articles have also appeared on various websites. She is an adjunct college instructor, licensed school psychologist and educational consultant. She holds a Master of Science in clinical psychology and a Doctor of Philosophy in educational psychology, both from Mississippi State University.

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