In the Western Countries, medical professionals always advise that the child sleep in their own room from 6 months onward. Room sharing with parents is not encouraged. But in other countries, it’s perfectly fine for children to sleep with their parents upto 7-8 years or sometimes even 10 years of age. So, when should children stop sleeping with parents?
The First 12 Months
From my own experience, for the first 12 months I kept my child in a cot in the same room as me. I did not let my baby sleep in my bed except when I would breastfeed my baby in the middle of the night. If you breastfeed your baby at night on your bed, don’t let blankets or quilt cover your baby or make them too hot. Also, you have got to make sure you don’t crush your baby. Make sure you always place baby on their backs and there are NO older children in your bed at that time.
After 12 Months
When I stopped breastfeeding at around 12 months, I moved the cot to another room, so my child would sleep in a separate room. It was very hard transitioning them from my room to another room. My husband and I had to wake up several times in the night to console them and put them back to bed. But the key thing here is to be consistent .
Initially you will have to put them to sleep, preferably the same way you used to do it when they used to sleep in your(parents) room.
You have to keep doing this everyday so they get used to idea as well as you. When they wake up in the night and ask to sleep with you, encourage them to sleep in their bed. Sit with them for a bit while they put themselves to sleep again. It was very hard doing this every night, absolutely exhausting. Sometimes, I just had to give in and let them sleep in my bed.
But the next day I would remind my child again that she/he needs to sleep in their own bed.
Be Consistent in What you do
If you want your child to sleep in their own bed, you should be consistent in what you say to them. Don’t say one night, ‘you can’t sleep in my bed tonight’ and the next night you say ‘you can sleep in my bed’. If you are utterly exhausted like I was, explain to them , because you are scared of the monster, you can sleep in my bed tonight but not every night, you have to start sleeping in your own bed.
Every time they sleep in their bed for the whole night, I used to reward my children with reward stickers and praise them. Praise will go a long way.
Transitioning them to their own room is a process. Don’t expect overnight success.
The younger the better
Even if your child is older, move him or her to his/her room ASAP. It is easier to make younger children sleep in their own beds in their own rooms than older children. As children get older, it will be harder to make this move. Remember you are doing this for their development, so don’t feel guilty.
By the time your child is around 3 years of age, she/he should able to start putting themselves to sleep. If not, encourage them to do so. Explain to them that you need to go to sleep and there is no point of mummy or daddy sitting next to you or ‘close your eyes, I will back in a little while’ and then check on them every 10 minutes or so until they put themselves to sleep.
If required put a night light
I always put a night light in my kids room, so they don’t feel the darkness too much especially in the winter. Also, they can find their way if they wake up in the night.
Why is it Important for Children to Sleep in their own beds
- Children need to deal with their fears or nightmares on their own. This will increase their confidence about looking after themselves.
- Parents need a little space from their children. This is especially necessary so that both the Mum and Dad can keep their marriage strong. Please refer to my previous post, How To Keep your Marriage Strong After Kids.
- It encourages independence in children.
- Parents and children both will have a goodnight’s sleep as everyone will be sleeping in their own beds .
So what are your experiences or opinion on this matter? Should children be sleeping with their parents? How hard it has been for you to move your child out of your room? Share via the comment box, I would love to hear from you!