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Sleeping with parents: What to do?

As children get older and bigger, having them in your bed can be disruptive to your sleep and your privacy. Also, in some cases, it can be dangerous for them. For example, babies should not sleep with parents who smoke or are severely obese. Also, your child should not sleep with you if you've taken alcohol or other drugs. This could prevent you from waking up if your child had a problem. In addition, even when babies do not share their parents' bed, they are at danger if the parents have taken alcohol or other drugs that could prevent them from waking up if the baby had a problem.

If your child refuses to sleep on his or her own and you feel it's a problem, you might want to try the following five suggestions:

One, talk to your child and find out what's going on. Avoid getting angry with them. Instead, comfort your child, and ask what they think would help.

Two, reassure your child that nothing bad will happen when sleeping on their own and that you're close by.

Three, try staying in your child's room until they fall asleep and point out the next day that they were safe overnight even though you left the room.

Four, try putting a nightlight in the room.

Finally, reassure your child that you love him or her.

It's important to remember that while you're trying these suggestions with your child, consistency is the key. Try out a new routine for a few weeks without straying from it, and chances are the problem will be resolved.

At times when your child is feeling sick or is going through an especially tough time, the new sleeping routine may break down for a while Ðand that's okay. Once your child is feeling well, you can get the routine going again.

If your child just can't adjust to sleeping on their own, even when other things are going well, consult your physician. You may want to talk to other parents, or visit a parent resource centre or bookstore for advice. You may also call the Parent Help Line to speak with a counselor (1-888-603-9100).

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