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Sleepovers & Bedtime

Breaking the Co-Sleeping Routine

Co-sleeping, the practice of kids sleeping in the same room or the same bed as their parents, is well received in some cultures, but remains somewhat controversial in the United States. By the time your child has reached preschool or kindergarten, you've probably established firm boundaries for bedtime, but, if you haven't, we have some suggestions for you. Most research has discovered that parents co-sleep with their children because of nighttime demands those children make. Even kids that are kindergarten-age, preschool-age, and older are sleeping with parents because of nightmares, bedtime tantrums, or some other issue. Parents just find it easier to give in. The problem is that, especially as kids get older, co-sleeping doesn't teach kids how to sleep without you.

Establish a Bedtime Routine

Winding down before bed and developing (and sticking to) a bedtime routine can help both you and your child get used to bedtime. Kids need routine, and, what most parents don't understand, is that they can benefit from routines as well. Show your kids that routines are a good thing by establishing routines for them and you. Using a routine chart that you both complete together is a great way to make this a fun project.

Comforting a Hesitant Child About Sleep

Nearly every child goes through at least one period of wanting to sleep with mom and dad. Parents who give in soon discover that their kids have taken over their bed. This can make sleep, for everyone, hard to come by. A crowded bed doesn't lend itself well to sound sleeping. When your child has a bad dream, comfort her and escort her back to bed. Climbing in with mom and dad on a rare occasion is one thing; sleeping there every night as a matter of course doesn't really help your child. Make sure that she has comfort items like a favorite pillow or a stuffed animal to help her sleep soundly.

Don't Sleep with your Child

Some parents lie down with their children to help them go to sleep. This is comforting to the child but doesn't teach them to enjoy and feel safe alone in their own bed. Once you tuck your child in, it's bedtime. Children and parents have to recognize that. Tuck her in, give her a warm kiss, and leave the room. Some kids may need a little extra incentive to sleep in their own bed. Establish a chart and sticker system to give your child a visual representation of her success each time she spends the night in her own bed. Establish a reward system as well to reward her for a job well done.