Actually, why does my child sleep in my bed?

March 2, 2017
bed

By way of explanation for those of you who have read my previous post: this is a continuation of that post, based on the observations and comments made by the readers, mostly single moms. The question whether kids should sleep in the same bed with their single parents, mostly with their mothers, is obviously controversial. Most comments I have received are positive and confirm that kids like sleeping with their moms and the moms generally don’t think it’s a problem. One mother complained about not getting enough sleep when her child spends the night in the same bed, which is completely understandable. My daughter is 5 and a half, she always sleeps with me and kicks me all night long. She is also a wriggly sleeper and tends to push off the quilts or blankets, so my nights are normally spent between dodging her kicks and putting the blankets back on.

There are all kinds of theories about this subject. The most hard-core advocates of early independence believe that the child should sleep in a separate bedroom practically from day one. It sounds ok, but I could easily picture myself running all night from one part of the flat to the other to feed/change/cover/calm the baby, so I gave up on the idea of early separation very quickly.

So I did the next best thing: I placed the crib beside my bed and thus enabled the physical separation, but also kept her close enough to make things easier for me.

It all worked so well during the first year. Admittedly, I did catch a cold several times as I got up so many times during the nights to feed/change/cover/calm the baby, but my bed was mine only.  

This went on until she joined her first collective and got her first disease. The simplest way to keep the child’s fever in check is to put the child to sleep in your bed. That’s how it started.

Ever since she spent that first night by my side, she’s grown so accustomed to it that she now refuses to change the habit. In my defence, I did make several artful attempts to talk her into going back to her bed, but to no avail.

Whom am I kidding? I admit I haven’t tried hard enough. In fact, I did try, but my heart wasn’t really in it.

Why? I found out recently.

It wasn’t because it was good for her or because she was afraid. Nor was it because she needed more reassurance in life as she depended on only one parent.

It was because I liked it. My child did not need additional security that sleeping with her mother could provide. I needed the relief that I feel every time I hold my sleeping beauty. Because I am afraid. I’m afraid of what life would bring, of how her development would proceed. I fear I will lack the strength and energy to prepare her for life. That is why she still sleeps in my bed and makes my life seem better and easier. I’m still not sure if that is the best thing for her. She is attached to me and I don’t think that would be the case if she lived with both parents. Or maybe it’s simply in her nature. One day she will move to her own room anyway. Until then, she can sleep with me and thus give me strength and support to withstand the challenges that lie ahead.

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