Sharing sleep: An in-depth look

Will they ever leave?

You can gradually wean your child from your bed. Weaning may be easier before the age of 9 to 12 months due to the intense separation anxiety which can set in at that time. It may also be easier around the end of the second year when the separation anxiety tends to ease up. Most children voluntarily leave around the second or third year but many parents report their older children still "visit" in times of need. As children get older, they don't need the security of their parents' presence as much. Tine Thevenin, in her earlier book The Family Bed: An Age Old Concept in Child Rearing noted, "Parents' experiences indicate that the healthy child will wean himself in time from the parental bed. Children should be given the credit that, provided the home environment is healthy, they will mature. As each need is fulfilled at each stage, they will move on and become more mature." The issue should be how the child leaves not when. Often times parents begin by putting the child on a mattress on the floor next to their bed and gradually move him to his own room or to a sibling's bedroom. Studies have shown that children under three sleep better sharing a bedroom rather than alone in their own rooms. Parents also report that siblings who sleep together quarrel less.

Common complaints of co-sleeping parents

The most common negative aspects reported by co-sleeping parents are restless, squirming, kicking babies or children and the occasional spitting up or wet bed. However, they note that these inconveniences are far outweighed by the benefits. You can mitigate these problems by keeping a towel handy under your pillow for clean ups and putting a waterproof mattress pad on your mattress. If you can't get a king size bed you can still increase your sleeping space by making an "add on" from chairs and a board, a bench, or other furniture and covering with a blanket or bed pad. If you have the room you can place a twin bed at the foot of your bed.

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