It's midnight and your toddler is crying. You can do one of a few things, here, and each style is fervently defended by the parents using it. First, you could ignore the child. This is called sleep training, and involves many tears on both the parts of the child and the parents as you ignore your child's cries so that she learns to go back to sleep. You can go into the room and soothe the child. You can bring the child back to your bed. Or you can avoid the entire issue by having the child sleep in your room to begin with.
Many parents, in their mission to get their children to sleep through the night independently, will enforce a no-sharing policy, where a toddler will no longer be allowed to crawl into bed with mommy and daddy unless under emergency circumstances. To keep your toddler in her own bed, WebMD advises making a change in his room, and then making a big deal out of that change -- converting the nursery to a big-boy room, in other words. Give the child incentive to stay in his own room, stickers, charts, smiley faces, these all work as ways to show your child his success.
Breaking the Sharing Habit
If your child has become used to crawling into your bed for comfort each night, you can't expect that she will be able to stop instantaneously, so make the transition comfortable for her. WebMD says starting early will help stem the night-waking habits from the root. Use positive language to make sleeping in her own bed appealing. Begin the process gently and use small steps. Still, be consistent. Firmly guide her back to his room, then stay with her for a time, soothing her. Use a clock or night light to give the child some company. If she can sneak into your room and snuggle up without waking you, put a bell on your door, so that you can remain consistent in your training, says WebMD. Once you get her back to her room, give her something nice to think about to help her get back to sleep.
Many people believe that co-sleeping is the habit of sharing your bed with your child, but according to Mayim Bialik, Ph.D., writing for "Today Moms," that is not the case. Co-sleeping merely means sharing your room with your toddler. In these situations, your toddler is at arm's reach, but isn't actually in your bed. For many families, this brings comfort to the child and the parents. The parents know what and how their kid is doing in the vulnerable hours of the night, and the child's parents are nearby. A 2011 study showed that co-sleeping and bed-sharing did not harm (or help) toddler-aged children in any way. The measure simply depends on your family's own comfort levels and habits.
While the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that parents should not share a bed with a child 6 months of age or younger, a 2011 study at Stony Brook University stated that sharing your bed with a child who is at least 1 year of age would not harm her in any way. Bed sharing, one of the authors of the study, Lauren Hale says, should be something that both parents agree on. This should be put into place as a consistent routine so that parents and children know what to expect. Bialik defends the practice by debunking many previous worries about the system. Children grow out of it, she says, adding that it is normal for people at any age to want to sleep near someone else for comfort. John M. Grohol, Psy.D. in his article "Bed Sharing Seems Okay for Toddlers" on the PsychCentral website states that toddlers may find that their sense of safety and security is increased with bed sharing.
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