Sleep. It is right up there with feeding as one of the most stressful and guilt-inducing issues for parents. While parents stress over whether kids get enough veggies or eat too many chicken nuggets, they also stress over whether bedtime habits are causing more harm than good.
Laying down with your child to get them to sleep is one of the big contentious issues when it comes to sleep habits.
Parents worry that by doing this they are making their child dependent on them to get to sleep and they aren’t learning to self-settle. Then there are all the millions of other things most parents feel they should be doing instead of laying with their child – the dishes, housework, taxes, spending time with our partner, or even getting sleep ourselves.
But if you are one of those parents who do lay with their child at night, rest assured there are benefits in this practice, for both of you. Here are some reasons not to feel guilty about it:
Parents spend lots of time each day doing things for their child but how much of that is a meaningful connection? That quiet time snuggled up in bed, just before sleep creeps in, is a great opportunity to connect with your child, expressing how much you love them through words and touch. This is a prime time to hear about their secret hopes, dreams, and fears, maybe even sharing some of yours. Your bond will be much stronger for it.
Laying with your child at bedtime is part of being responsive to their needs, particularly if they have anxiety about falling asleep by themselves. Along with all the bonding that happens while helping your cherub drift off to sleep, this is a way of building secure attachment. This attachment is an integral foundation for your child’s sense of self and is all part of raising good humans.
IT IS ONLY FOR A SHORT TIME
In 10 years time, dishes in the sink are a sure thing. So are sleepless nights and taxes. But your children are only small and needy for the shortest time. You won’t be laying with them to get them to sleep when they are 18. Chances are they will be the cause of your sleepless nights for other reasons though! Enjoy the time while your little ones are small and you can keep them safe secure with snuggles alone.