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Getting your child to sleep through the night, is it serious?

O ften, your child may end the night under the parental comforter with you... While this is quite common, it is not a situation that should ...

Often, your child may end the night under the parental comforter with you... While this is quite common, it is not a situation that should be allowed to happen. How can you stop this "bad" habit? Answer with Suzanne Vallières, psychologist.

Baby Not Sleeping Through the Night? Take this six-question quiz to find out why...Click here

When you wake up, you often lack space in your parental nest... And yes, your little one has joined you in bed and has decided to end his night with you. This happens to many children when they can't make it through the night. Indeed, they come to seek some security or comfort from their father and mother.  "The night is a long period of separation for the child. This feeling of isolation, combined with fear or insecurity, contributes to children coming to join their parents at night at the first opportunity," explains Suzanne Valères, psychologist and author of Les psy-trucs pour les enfants de 0 à 6 ans.

In some cases, these nighttime walks occur when there are big changes, which can cause anxiety, fear or stress. Examples include a move, the arrival of a second baby or a separation. Your child's sleep is then disturbed and he finds no other solution than to come and join you.

Do not give in when the child joins you

Parents often tend to be accepting. Most of the time, they are convinced that this is the only way to keep their child safe. But it's not uncommon that it's just a little tired, so it's easier to let go than to get up in the middle of the night. Sometimes parents simply have difficulty separating themselves from their offspring all night long. Finally, in some cases, the child is used as a pretext when the couple is not doing well.

Even if you want to be there to reassure your child, you don't want this to be a recurring situation, or in any case, you don't want it to become one. Indeed, without firm parental intervention, this habit can last a very long time. Whatever the reason for the parents to give in, it can be harmful to the child in the long run. "The child will end up believing that he is unable to get through the night alone, which increases his insecurity and may in the long run cause many headaches for the parents," explains the psychologist. It is preferable to allow this little privilege only occasionally, such as in the morning or when the child is sick, for example".

How can this habit be stopped and get your child sleeping through the night?

Your little one needs to understand that it's each one's own bed. The message must be clear to him, but also to you. It's very important that the parents remain consistent (and on the same wavelength) about how to respond. Otherwise, the child will try his or her luck every time, hoping to break you! But what can you do then?

"You simply have to take him back to his room, comfort him in his bed and tuck him in so that he goes back to sleep," says the specialist. The use of a night light and a cuddly toy or a little music can also help. "We must help the child to be safe in his own environment, his world."

5 tips to help your child sleep better when he joins you through the night :

  • Put a night-light on and leave the door open so he can hear you talking: children love familiar noises, it reassures them. They don't like silence
  • At first, stay in his room with him until he goes back to sleep.
  • Reward the child if he or she has slept through the night alone (with a sticker, for example).
  • Bring the child back to his bed each time. Reassure him/her that he/she is able to make it through the night on his/her own.
  • Avoid over-intervention, anger won't help. 

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