“They’ll never learn how to fall asleep on their own!”
“Are you going to follow them to college so they’ll be able to get some rest?”
“You can’t treat them like babies forever.”
Parents have heard it all when it comes to lying down with their kiddos to help them fall asleep. Like so many parenting topics, you don’t need to try hard to get, um, we’ll call it ‘feedback’ on the subject. Here’s what we know, for those who do lie next to their kids at night, there is some good news (despite what you may have been told): your kids will be okay. You’re not at risk of keeping them ‘babies,’ and we promise they’ll figure out how to sleep on their own. Furthermore: you’re actually doing them some good.
Let’s take a look at five reasons why there’s nothing wrong with snuggling up with your kiddos as they drift off to dreamland.
1. Your kids may feel more comfortable opening up to you at night.
It can be tough for kids to open up to their parents, especially about things that are bothering them. Lying down at night with your child can present the perfect opportunity for them to chat about their day. With the lights off, your child may feel more able to open up to you than they are during other times. Don’t get the wrong idea: you don’t need to go digging deep for their thoughts and feelings. Simply knowing that you’re there and willing to listen can give your child the space that they need to open up to you naturally when times get tough.
2. Your kids aren’t getting younger–they won’t want you to lie with them forever.
The moments that we parents cherish seem to fly away quickly. Even though it may seem like your child will never be able to fall asleep on their own, it’s far from the truth. Your children will not want you to lie with them forever. Sincerely, these moments are precious. We promise, when they’re older, you won’t look back at the time you spent snuggling your sleepy child with anything resembling regret. In fact, we’re willing to bet the opposite. Once the opportunities are gone, you’ll wish you had them back.
3. You don’t need to sacrifice “you” time.
There’s no need to stay with your child until they fall asleep. Telling them you’ll lie down with them for 15 minutes can be the perfect compromise to give them the snuggles they need while still giving you some precious time to yourself at night. And don’t underestimate the benefits you’ll feel yourself! Taking time to just rest and reflect in the dark without a television or phone to distract you can be a beautiful opportunity to decompress while you’re soothing your child.
4. When your kids know you’re available, it becomes easier for them to self-soothe over time.
We’ve all heard the argument that lying next to your child at night makes it tough for them to learn how to calm themselves. Yet, research on secure attachment shows this may help kids to better self-soothe over time. When you spend time lying with your child at night, they know that you’re available in their times of need. This can help them feel less anxiety when you aren’t next to them, making it easier for them to calm themselves with the knowledge that they’re loved and supported, even when you’re in the next room.
5. Parents have slept next to their children for years–because it works.
Parents have been co-sleeping with their kids for millennia. In many cultures, this is still the norm. What you choose to do with your family is a personal decision. Whatever the choice, know you are not alone in that decision.
Please note: It is important to follow safe sleep guidelines regarding sleep with infants and very young children. If you want to take a deeper dive into helping kids cultivate good sleep habits, our experts on-demand series contains over a dozen interviews on sleep. Learn more here.