Breaking Bed-Sharing Habits

“Mom and Dad, there’s a monster under my bed. Can I sleep with you?” It’s a question every parent can expect at one time or another. But how you answer it could affect your whole family.

When your child is scared or sick, you may think letting him or her snuggle close to you will make things better temporarily. However, if your child gets in the habit of sleeping in your bed it could put a long-term strain on both your sleep schedule and personal time spent with your partner.

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A Hurtful Habit

If you or your spouse has started the cycle of co-sleeping with your child, you can put a stop to it before it affects your relationship and sleep hygiene. You and your partner have to be a supportive team for your child, and allowing co-sleeping could add unneeded stress. Breaking this pattern early on can keep your whole family happy and foster independence in your child.

  • Balance support with firm rules. If your child wakes up scared or sick during the night, reassure him or her that his or her bedroom is just as safe as yours. Speak to your child in a kind and loving tone while you lead him or her back to his or her bedroom. Remind your child that you are right around the corner if he or she needs you. Try reading a story to help your child drift back off to sleep.
  • Make your child’s room cozy. Does your child need a nightlight or ambient noise to fall and stay asleep? Make your child’s room a relaxing and safe environment. Rearranging furniture or other items in your child’s room could also provide a higher level of comfort.
  • Plan bedtime rituals. Having a routine that includes brushing teeth, story time, or being tucked in a with a favorite blanket or stuffed animal can help your child feel safe and secure. Find a routine that works for your family and stick with it every night of the week.

Is your child not getting the shut-eye he or she needs? The experts at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St.Vincent can help. Visit for more information.

Reviewed by Quinn Bensi, M.D., pediatrician, St.Vincent Physician Network.

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