Once you see how strong your child’s need and desire for closeness are, you may choose to stay with her at bedtime. In this situation, as in many others, you’ll have to lower your expectations. While you’ll have less free time, you’ll also eliminate many nighttime problems associated with your child’s loneliness, fear, and insecurity, and you’ll help your child end the day in a calm and relaxed way.
If you decide to stay with your child until she falls asleep, you may find that few people you discuss the situation with will give you support and encouragement. Many parents do stay with their children, but few talk about it because they fear criticism. In a parent discussion group, one mother blurted out that her baby wouldn’t fall asleep unless she was nursed. She expected to hear criticism, but instead saw other mothers at the meeting nod their heads. Their babies behaved the same way.
The time you spend helping your child fall asleep should be pleasant for both of you. You can use the time to relax, think, enjoy your child’s closeness, or read. At times you’ll probably nap or even fall asleep for the night. You may want to adjust your schedule to accommodate this by getting up earlier in the morning.
You may be afraid that if you stay with your child at bedtime, she’ll become manipulative or unwilling to ever fall asleep alone. It’s true that she’ll get used to having you with her, but as she gets older, her need for your company at bedtime will lessen.