updated 2 Mar 2010, 12:30
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Tue, Mar 02, 2010
The Star/Asia News Network
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Three’s a crowd

I am a young mother with a two-year-old toddler son. My child has been sleeping with us in the same bed since he was a baby. I am thinking of moving him to his own bed.

My friends are telling me that sharing my bed with our son is a bad idea. They say he will never be able to sleep alone without his parents. My husband and I have no qualms about sleeping with our son. We find it comfortable and relaxing being together at night. – Concerned Mother

Parents of toddlers often complain of sleepless nights interrupted by their children because they refuse to sleep alone. Instead of letting their child share their bed, some parents let their maid or a relative who is caring for their child, sleep with him.

Working parents today prefer to start their children sleeping alone in their own beds from an early age. Some even go to the extent of having their children sleep in separate rooms.

Although it is common for most Asian families to share their beds with their children, many are beginning to move their children out of their bedrooms.

However, proponents of children sleeping with their parents regard this as a positive experience for the young ones. Adults, who as young children were allowed to sleep in their parents’ beds, remember how wonderful it felt.

The family bed helps the children and their parents feel closer together after a full day of separation. The nocturnal experience also reassures the child and promotes a sense of security, which fosters independence.

Many families who co-sleep can testify to the close relationships they have with their children. It appears that children and parents can build this emotional fortress within them as they snooze away in the same bed.

The idea of co-sleeping is not exactly a bed of roses for all, however. Some parents feel uneasy with their children in the same bed. They don’t get much sleep, with their children tossing and turning around them. They fear their children will never learn to sleep on their own, and that they will always need to seek out their parents to be with them before they can sleep.

Some parents have confessed to allowing their children to sleep in the same room with them until they were teenagers. In retrospect, these parents regretted not moving them out earlier.

My eldest daughter decided that she would have her own bed when she turned two years of age. But her younger sister enjoyed sleeping in our bed so much that she made the transition to sleeping independently at a later time.

Today both girls sleep independently in their own rooms. We would have long chats in my room but they always go back to their own beds for their nightly rest.

A major problem of sharing your bed with the children is the lack of parental privacy. Yet a mother of five children, who co-sleeps with them, has happily declared that there has never been any lack of intimate time with her husband. It is a chore for some parents to make time for their own privacy but others find it quite exciting.

So, should parents of toddlers share their bed? The decision is personal. Some parents feel strongly that co-sleeping with their children is beneficial for all but others are not inclined to sharing their bed with their children. Either way, both sets of parents can still be good parents.

Be comfortable with your decisions and confident that they will work for you. Also, observe your child and know his needs.

If you let your child sleep with you in the same bed but you are unhappy about it, you will constantly find ways to get him out. This will make your toddler anxious because you appear to be pushing him away. He may even regard your actions as rejection.

Do let your toddler share your bed when he needs the comfort. Once he feels secure enough, he will be able to sleep on his own. Some children are confident enough to face the next day’s challenges without having to sleep with their parents.

If you have decided not to share your bed with your child, then start this practice early. When your child wakes up in the middle of the night, go to him and help him to calm down. Stay for awhile and then leave him when he is soothed.

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