I Never Want to Sleep Alone

by sarah on November 18, 2009

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“Mommy, do you know why I have all my pets around me when I sleep?”

“Why?”

“Because I never want to sleep alone!”


Why is the idea of sleeping alone such an unpleasant thought for a 4 ½-year-old?

My daughter has slept with someone for over 3/4 of her life.

She started out in our bed at night time from the day she was born. She and I would nap together during the day. The daily together-nap went on for years. When she was about 2 ½ years old, she and her brother asked to sleep together at night. So she left our bed and joined her older brother in his. She would even nap with him occasionally, the other times choosing to nap with me.

When her older brother started school, she and I started napping together consistenly again. When her older brother wanted his own room and his own space, my husband would lay down with her on her bed every single night until she fell asleep.

Friends and relatives scoffed: “You need to put her in a baby bed!” “It’s just a bad habit now!” “She’ll never learn to sleep by herself!”

What are we setting her up for? A lifetime of dependence? The inability to fall asleep alone? Clinginess?

Indeed, just the opposite. Studies show that children who co-sleep have higher self-esteem, higher self-confidence, greater life-satisfaction, and greater independence than their non-co-sleeping counterparts. Co-sleeping children are also less fearful, have fewer tantrums, and are happier.

We are already seeing these results in her eight-year-old brother; he has every one of those wonderful qualities. Friends, relatives, teachers and acquaintances have commented on how confident and well-behaved he is.

So as I put my 4 ½ year old daughter down for her nap, and she surrounds herself with her stuffed animals and says that she never wants to sleep alone, I hug her and and reply,

“Nobody does, Honey.”

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sarah (35 Posts)

Sarah has been involved with API since 2002. She is the mother of two school-aged kids.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Brandy November 18, 2009 at 11:41 am

Our 5yr old still sleeps in our room every night. She falls asleep on her own, no problems … but isn’t wanting her own room quite yet. We don’t mind. We love having our girls (I have a 13mo old who sleeps right next to me — easier for night nursing sessions!) close to us. They grow so quickly. Time will fly by and next thing we know, our oldest will be ready for her own room.

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Ami February 18, 2010 at 10:36 am

I totally agree with you, Brandy!

I co-slept even longer than your daughter! It’s a bit embarrassing to admit how old I was, but let’s just say, that at least I stopped co-sleeping before I hit double-digit age!!

If/when I have kids, they’ll be allowed to co-sleep as long as they want because I doubt they’d still be co-sleeping by the time they hit teens, or even double-digit age!!

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Carolyn November 18, 2009 at 12:31 pm

My 2 year old wants us to fall asleep with her. I have worried about this – her 2 year old cousin sleeps alone and quickly. For us, it takes a very long time. She is our first baby, so thanks for validating we’re ok. :)

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Kacie November 18, 2009 at 12:32 pm

I don’t understand why it’s so “important” for children to be able to sleep alone. Most married couples sleep in the same bed, ya know?

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m a m a :: m i l i e u November 18, 2009 at 12:40 pm

We have an 11 month old and I already hear many of the same criticisms. It’s nice to see that you are having incredibly positive results from your co-sleeping experience. Now I am armed with positive information that I can use to ward of nagging judgments from my relatives this holiday season. yuck. Thanks for that, mama.

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Kristin November 18, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Love this! I can’t imagine not having my little one right next to me…it’s perfect!

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Cassie November 18, 2009 at 10:25 pm

We absolutely LOVE sleeping with our 8 month old baby girl, and plan to for as long as she would like. However, since birth, she has always woken up every 1 to 2 hours throughout the night, and we are wondering if co-sleeping will just encourage this night-waking. Or will she just one day magically sleep through the night even though the all night buffet is right next door? Just curious to know other people’s thoughts and experiences :)

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Lauren @ Hobo Mama November 19, 2009 at 12:54 am

I am so totally in agreement. I hated sleeping alone growing up and was actually really happy to get to college & finally have a roommate! Our 2-year-old doesn’t yet know there is such a thing as sleeping alone, and we all love it.

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Josie November 19, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Oh I love checking out all you AP parents – it’s so heart warming and reassuring. My little girl, 20 months now, sleeps with us and I LOVE it! I have such horrible memories of feeling alone and scared and that lingers on to this day. I realise at times I get tense when I allow the perceptions and opinions of others to filter in and I just have to ground myself, look at my beautiful girl sleeping by my side snuggled up and safe and say “Yes, this is how it should be!” She will be grown up all too soon and these moments are precious, precious, precious.
For Cassie with the 1-2 hour waking 8 month old, it was a real struggle for us to break the feeding habit. I got to 18 months and was so exhausted but couldn’t bear the thought of her crying, even if she was with me. However, something had to give, I went on an AP forum and got some brilliant advice, the following link particularly, and ended up having one night of crying for 15 minutes and now she sleeps for 7-8 hour stints. http://www.drjaygordon.com/development/ap/sleep.asp
Good Luck x

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tjosban@sbcglobal.net November 19, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Our oldest has slept in our bed on and off since birth. She’s just now taking an interest in sleeping in her own bed, but often comes to our bed during the night. She and her sister share the room. The younger child has had a strong desire to sleep alone since about 3 months.

Humans are social creatures and have varying levels of need. I don’t know why society fights so hard to stuff us all in the same box. We’re not all going to fit.

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