Your young child often needs you during the night. As an infant, he may wake up crying for you, and as a toddler he may call out for you or get out of bed to find you. Some parents meet their child’s nighttime needs by going to their child’s room and comforting him there. But other parents find it easier at times to let their child sleep in bed with them. They find that everyone sleeps better when they’re all together.
The thought of a child sleeping with his parents shocks some people who’ve been conditioned to believe the experience is harmful. Many parents who let their child sleep with them at night are reluctant to discuss the issue because they think their situation is unique. Yet many parents have their children sleep in bed with them.
Young children end up in their parents’ beds for a variety of reasons. Parents might bring their wakeful infant to bed so they can tend to him without having to get up during the night. Or they might want him near so they can be sure he’s safe and so he can feel emotionally secure. Parents of a toddler may find their child climbing into bed with them on his own during the night. A toddler who’s determined to be with his parents will climb out of his crib or bed and go to their room. One four-year-old told his parents, “I think of scary things in my bed, but when I get into your bed they go away.” If parents won’t let their child into their bed, their child might try to sleep on the floor next to their bed or in the hallway outside their door.
If you choose to let your child sleep in bed with you, you may still have concerns. You might wonder if you’re being too responsive to your infant, toddler, or preschooler, or if your child will become too dependent on you. It’s true that your child may develop a habit of sleeping in your bed, but he won’t be harmed by this. Rather, he’ll benefit from the reassurance and sense of security he receives from such closeness.