Our toddler wants to sleep in our bed. Is that okay? What limits should we set?
Virtually every toddler will crawl into his or her parents’ bed at some point during the night, and, yes, that’s okay. “It’s perfectly normal, and very common, for parents to provide comfort and security to their children by bringing their toddler into their bed,” says Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution.
If you want to let your child sleep with you, even on occasion, pay attention to safety. Heavy, puffy comforters might be comfortable for you but dangerous for your child, so put away the heavy blankets for now. If falling is a concern, consider installing a bed rail. Make sure your room (and bed) is a safe place for children, and never, ever sleep with your toddler if you’ve been drinking or using drugs.
It may seem selfish, but it really is important to think about your own comfort as well. “With everyone in one bed, are you getting a good night’s sleep? Is your partner? Your child?” Pantley asks. “If the answers are yes, and both adults are happy with the arrangement, enjoy your family bed for as long as it works for you.” If you (or your partner) don’t sleep well with your child in your bed, consider placing a sleeping bag on the floor near your bed; some children will be comforted by your presence, even if they’re not in the same bed. Or you can calmly accompany your child back to his room and gently tuck him in again.
Limits are completely up to you. “Set whatever limits fit your needs,” Pantley says. “Some parents invite their child for a sleepover on weekends only. Others have the kids start the night in their own bed, but welcome them in the middle of the night if they have a nightmare or can’t sleep.”
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