Being a mother is tough, and realizing our babies will one day grow up to leave us is even more challenging. It won’t be long before our children are independent and on their own. It’s often the small, simple little moments, such as lying down with your kids, where we get to enjoy and appreciate motherhood truly.
As parents, especially mothers, we are always wondering if what we are doing is right. Are we harming our children or helping to form bad habits with the rituals and routines we practice? Will our children end up as poorly equipped adults because of the choices we make? Or will they still be well rounded, independent individuals? With so many people offering their unnecessary opinions, it can be difficult to know what really is right for our kids. We doubt ourselves and our choices. But the truth is, we really should not.
Good or bad habits
Of course, it makes perfect sense that how we act around our children and the routines and habits we form with them will help shape who they are as adults, just as outside factors will affect them, too. So yes, it is important to be aware of what damage you or a situation may be causing.
But what if that habit is something intimate and special, like lying down with your kids before they fall asleep?
Countless moms struggle with bed time. Children sometimes just don’t want to go to sleep. You may have tried numerous techniques and ways to get your little one to drift off.
Is lying down with your kids bad for their development?
Bedtime should not have to be a constant struggle. As moms, we are often tired too!
“I could let go of the expectation that my son should be a completely independent sleeper. Or I could continue to allow myself to feel frustrated that he wasn’t responding the way I wanted.“Rachel Gorton – certified sleep specialist
The topic of Lying down with your kids to help them sleep is widely debated. Both parents and experts have varying opinions on the matter. While many say you are damaging your child by causing them to be less independent, others feel entirely different. Believing that the practice of being with your child as they fall asleep helps form a stronger bond between the two of you.
What the experts think
Patrice Marie Miller and Michael Lamport Commons conducted a study in 2010. Here is what they found;
“Attachment Parenting consists of continuing to be highly responsive to the child,” Miller and Commons write in their paper, “The Benefits of Attachment Parenting For Infants and Children.” “The benefits … include less exposure to stress, which affects [sic] brain development and later reactions to stress. This has been shown to reduce mental health problems in later development.”
“Another important psychological benefit is secure attachment, which is the tendency of the child to seek contact with a parent when distressed and to be effectively consoled by that contact. The result of more effective emotion regulation and secure attachment … is that children engage more effectively with essential developmental tasks, including peer relationships and schooling.”Harvard Medical School
More evidence shows that lying down with your kids is good for them
The Korean journal of pediatrics also conducted a study on the same subject in 2012.
They found that being a sensitive parent who is also responsive will help create an adult who is more stable, independent, and more confident. The same study goes on to then suggest that parents who are detached (e.g., not lying down with your kids) actually limits opportunities for exploration and inhibit their kids’ ability to “develop their potential and stable personalities.”
Do what you think is right
At the end of the day, we as mothers need to trust our gut. Follow your instincts as a mom and do what works best for you and your child. No two mother-child relationships are the same, and while not every child will need their mom to lay down with them to help them sleep if yours does and it helps them, why not?
Just like with every other aspect of being a parent, be it bedtime or playtime, as a mother you know your child and your maternal instincts will guide you.
Editor’s Note (02/10/2021): It should be noted that laying down your children is just one aspect of attachment parenting. While similar, simply laying down with your child is not the same as another child-centered practice known as co-sleeping. Co-sleeping is typically when a parent is bed-sharing with an infant, which has potential risks. If you are considering co-sleeping, you should speak with your health care provider to learn how to do it safely.
- “Lying down with your kids until they fall asleep is not a bad habit.” Today’s Parent. Kristen Thompson. June 18, 2020.
- “It’s science: helping your child fall asleep may mean listening to your heart.” Motherly. Annamarya Scaccia. December 04, 2017.
- “The Benefits of Attachment Parenting for Infants and Children: A Behavioral Developmental View.” Psycnet. Patrice Marie Miller & Michael Lamport Commons.
- “Impact of attachment, temperament and parenting on human development.” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health Yoo Rha Hong, MD & Jae Sun Park, MD.