Ever wondered why kids hate bedtime so much? Why they’ll say and do just about anything to avoid it?
The kids I used to babysit came up with a million excuses to push it off as long as humanly possible: another story, water, a snack, a trip to the bathroom, more water, a tissue, a stuffed animal, different pajamas… They’d beg me rub or scratch their backs until they fell asleep, which usually took a long, long time.
When I was pregnant my friend gave me a book called Go the F**k to Sleep. Written as nursery rhyme parody, it’s intended to provide comic relief to sleep-deprived parents.
I was horrified. My friend assured me I’d understand later, but I never have.
Have children always hated bedtime this much?
I for one don’t think it’s natural for children to be as resistant to bedtime as they are in our culture.
My 6-year-old daughter Nora and I have never fought the bedtime battle that’s apparently waged every single night in most American homes. In fact, there have been several nights where she’s the one dragging me to bed. Once we’re tucked in, she typically falls asleep in two to three minutes.
I attribute this primarily to one simple factor — she sleeps in bed with her parents, every night.
It seems like such a painfully obvious solution to me, I shudder to think how many millions of nightmares could have been avoided if more modern-day parents had the common sense to follow their instincts.
Her whole life, Nora has cuddled in between us, pressing up against whoever’s warm body has more gravitational pull.
If she stirs or yells out in her sleep, I don’t have to go running into the other room to see what’s wrong or wait for her to come running to me in tears. I just pull her close, pet her head, whisper something comforting and we both fall back asleep within seconds.
People used to wonder how on Earth we have a sex life with our child in our bed all the time. Easy. In fact I imagine we’ve had an easier time than most people, who spend their last hour or two of energy trying to force their kids to sleep in their own beds.
Because Nora is so secure in our bed, she falls asleep fast and stays asleep. Once she’s out, it’s easier for us to sneak off to another bed than try to move her out of ours.
If we’re too tired at night, we can sneak out in the morning before she wakes up. As long as we’re back before she notices, all is well.
To me, the most important thing is we are raising an emotionally secure, happy, healthy child.
Science shows cosleeping for the first few years of life is crucial for optimal brain development, and in many less-stressed cultures around the world, children sleep with, or next to, their parents until they are teenagers.
It’s in our DNA to be afraid of the dark. We evolved that way because for hundreds of thousands of years we were vulnerable to being picked off and eaten by predators at night. Babies and young children instinctively know nighttime is a time they need the protection of their parents, and will fight for years to get it. To them, it’s a fight for survival.
So go ahead, next time your child asks if they can sleep with you, tell them yes. And keep telling them yes until they don’t want to anymore. Trying to make them sleep alone is unnatural. It’s a battle neither you nor they are going to win.
Other factors that have made “bedtime” my child’s favorite time of day:
1. Breastfeeding. Nora still nurses herself to sleep almost every night. If that freaks you out, read The Natural Age of Weaning. It’s between 4 and 7.
Breast milk, especially breast milk produced at nighttime, contains melatonin-producing ingredients like tryptophan.
Aside from cuddling, this is the main reason she looks forward to bedtime.
2. No bedtime. We don’t actually have a bedtime. I think that’s helped Nora learn to trust her body to tell her when it’s tired, rather than a clock.
3. Dim, natural light. As soon as the sun sets, we all put on our blue light-blocking glasses, dim our screens if they must be in use, and gradually dim our incandescent lamp until we turn it off and use only our salt lamp. Artificial light (especially blue light) after dark inhibits melatonin production.
71 responses to “Why My Child Loves Bedtime”
Wow , awesome read
Co sleep with my little Girl
And she falls asleep with me every night
People say it’s wrong but I know it’s right for her
Have done it from birth
They are not you, Mum knows what best for her child. And it’s not wrong it’s a lovely way to fall asleep x
I have remarkably happy, well-adjusted children. I don’t parent in any special manner, but both girls breastfed until they weaned themselves at nearly five, and we still all co-sleep. It’s how we are intended to sleep. Can you imagine a wolf putting each of her cubs in a cave down the way? Our a mouse, or a bear, or any other animal? Sticking them in cages far away, watching them sleep with cameras, leaving them alone like this is insane and of course they will resist.
I love your reply with examples from other animals. People forget we are animals.
I couldn’t agree more, it does seem weird to keep your offspring somewhere far away where you can’t protect them.
I have been co-sleeping with my daughter for three years. Ever since the day she was born, she has snuggled between us. Despite that, it usually takes her 2 hours to fall asleep – e.v.e.r.y single night! We have tried pretty much everything under the moon – shortening or extending nap times, strict bedtime, no bedtime, we dim the lights, we do meditations, we chant and sing, have warm drinks, warm baths, no baths, three books, no books etc. etc. We have had this problem ever since she was a baby. We baby-carried, I breastfed her like a champion. Nothing has ever worked.
There is nothing wrong with her physically, she is a happy little kid and I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time, cuddling in bed with her.
But it has also been very straining at times. Sometimes it is really hard to be patient and when you have a moment of frustration, you feel like such a horrible parent afterwards. And during those dark moments you not only feel like a horrible parent – you feel like a stupid parent who somehow managed to screw this simple thing up – sleep! Shouldn’t it be so simple? They just sleep? Everybody else seems to have figured it out? Accepting the situation has been the only thing that helps. When you have no expectations – you have no frustrations. One day she will sleep. And until that day comes I will try to cherish these moments the best I can.
I’m sorry about the really long reply. I may be tired. But what seems painfully obvious to me that some kids are “good sleepers” and others are…well…not.
The same is true for me. My daughter has co-slept with me since day one. She is 6 now and it’s still a long endeavor going to sleep. Some nights we’re lying in bed for over an hour and she’s talking to herself in the dark and singing songs etc. she’s always fought bedtime. The best thing I’ve done is accept that my kid does not like to sleep. She doesn’t like hanging out in the bed. When she’s up she’s ready to get up and moving.
My kids are also not good sleepers so I feel you. You are ana amazing mama. ❤️
What is it about the darkness that makes us lose all sense of logic and rationality? I too have struggled with my daughter at bedtime, and had moments of frustration that I look back on with sadness. You’re not alone mumma x
I could’ve written this reply myself! My son, now three, nursed (weaned when I was pregnant and he was almost 2) and cosleeps, but sleep has NEVER been his thing. I wonder often why something so simple has to be so difficult. You are not alone!
Thank you for this, we have always been ‘attachment’ parents, I breastfed all I could, we carried her everywhere, we have co-slept since she was born and still do; but we still fight the battle of bed time every night.
I could’ve written the same thing as you Bergthora. We’re exactly the same here. I think you’re right – some kids are just “good” sleepers and some will fight to get every second of awake time they possibly can!
My baby (2 1/2) is the same. She is amazing, incredibly sharp, sweet and wonderful but sleep is (and always has been) challenging for her- WITH cosleeping/nursing to sleep
Dear Bergthora, I’m sorry to hear you guys are struggling. I’d be curious to hear what your current evening routing is like, if you would be happy to share?
The tranquil turtle from cloud b works wonders for us. I sleep with both my daughters but my oldest (4 1/2) always had trouble falling asleep. Now she’s out in 20 mins. I give her a snack, brush teeth, read a book, put on the turtle. Highly recommend!
I love this. I am all for doing what is right for your family but i firmly believe that we are social animals and thus sleeping where we need to is important.
My kids have their own beds and two out of three autistic kids like to sleep alone but there is never, and i mean never, a time where they have asked to sleep elsewhere and we have said no, on the couch with me when sick, curled at the foot of the bed with the cat, snuggled next to hubby and me, next to their brother, in my arms.
what upsets me about bed times is parents who insist their kids must fall asleep. We dont always fall asleep straight away. Go and rest, read a book, draw a picture, cuddle the cat on my bed. They will fall asleep and because they are children, it wont matter if they sleep in anyways.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts as our modernised culture continues to dictate what we do even though generations past have done it right
I co sleep with my daughter each night.. And I have a very challenging time with bed time since birth. I think that some children are just more energetic than others. And other children are calmer.
We co-slept with each of our 6 kids. Each moved on to share a room with a sibling when a new baby was born. The youngest finally moved to his own room at 10.
Wow, that’s an awful lot of children. How do you reconcile the strain that puts on the already overpopulated Earth?
Only parts of the earth are overpopulated. The answer lies in depopulating those regions, not places where people have the ability to healthily sustain themselves. Left to its own devices, nature will effectively manage populations quite handily.
It’s more about people who are raising horrible people who w wreck the planet having less kids. Maybe all her 6 kids are going to grow up to be activists with a negative carbon footprint and invent amazing earth friendly sustainable ways of being. You are a judgemental fool.
This. All of this. My family too.
Some kids still refuse sleep regardless because of power plays of becoming independent based on their personality
I know a lot of people who do these things my family included and I’m a stay at home mom and kid still refuses sleep. He goes to bed when he wants and it’s still a struggle
I grew up as described in this article, and I strongly recommend against this. The long term consequences are not worth the short term gains (I’ll challenge you to check common denominators for people with sleeping problems).
It’s usually the transition from co-sleeping to sleeping alone that is problematic (which ironically is the whole argument / does not avoid). Nature is balanced, so I’d rather recommend a balanced approach. Allow co-sleeping here and there, but don’t do it on the expense of structure. That will just bite back later (on the child / person).
Thank you! Thanks for talking from your own experience and for pointing out the dangers of a method that is depicted as a “painfully obvious SOLUTION” in this article. It gives reasons to think twice before following this advice, which may sound sooo logic and wonderful to many. And by the way, good luck with the logistics for two beds, one for “sleeping as a family” and one for sex -if I can’t afford that, should I have sex on the sofa? On the floor? Wait, I know: on my kid’s bed! She shouldn’t use it anyway…
I grew up exactly like this also. Slept with my mother and sister until another bed was free so I could move. I was 13. I strongly think everybody should practice co-sleeping and I do it too. I love bed time and the kids are doing well.
Love the article!
I grew up in a co-sleeping family. I slept with my mom until I was 7, I made the choice when to move to my own bed, I had no problem. Transitioning to my own bed and have never had a sleeping issue. I know plenty of other people my age, with the same story as me.
My daughter has co-sleep from day one and still does at age 3, my daughter sleeps amazing, and never has a problem going down, although I don’t think her easy bedtime is because of co-sleeping, and more due to no TV and plentiful outside time. She was a horrible sleeper before she 2, and co-sleeping was the only way, any of us, my daughter included got sleep.
I can agree with that. As an adult I have always suffered with sleep/insomnia/anxiety issues. I much attribute it to the lack of structure imposed upon me as a child regarding bedtime. Also the allowance to co sleep to about 10 probably contributes to my separation anxiety, especially when sleeping.
So precious! Loved reading this. I wish my hubby could have been more into this but we managed to co-sleep till each child was at least 3. Thanks for sharing 🙂
This type of prescriptive, one size fits all parenting “advice” is incredibly dangerous. I bedshared, breastfed, and wore my first baby religiously and he still rebelled against bedtime and never went to sleep happily. If I’d read this then, when i was deep in the throes of post partum depression and post partum anxiety, I would’ve read that despite doing what i was supposed to be doing, i was still failing. It would’ve validated my fears that i was a horrible mother and made me feel even worse about myself. Please consider your audience when you publish. You have a responsibility to your readers not to publish careless, harmful material.
I have zero responsibility to you.
I was referring to the website publishing problematic and harmful pieces. Were whatever you want, the onus of responsibility is with them.
I was referring to the website publishing problematic and harmful pieces. Write whatever you want, the onus of responsibility is with them.
Your presenting your information in the article as the only truth so yes as a ‘blogger’ you do have some responsibility! Get off your high horse! Just because this method worked for your family doesn’t mean it will for everyone! every human is different
I agree with Kristi and your reply is disgusting.
What the fuck kind of response is that?
I was going to recommend this article to friends but not after this vile engagement with someone who though fully brought up how this style of writing might affect those suffering with mental illness. Bye
Holy sh*t, what a cold response to a valid concern! And… Unfollow.
Such a compassionate, caring response there, Sara. No wonder you’re such a fantastic parent whose single child happens to be an easy sleeper. You got it all figured out there, huh?
Love from someone who has three kids, loves cosleeping, breastfeeds to self-weaning, but still has two out of three who hate sleep.
Wow… I tend to agree with Kristi. You shouldn’t say how everyone should be doing this. If you works for you great. Personally I find this unhealthy, your child depending you on so heavily. They would eventually swap that over into their relationships I would think.
But this I just my view. We all do what we think I best for our children.
It would be nice, if you had. Seriously, parenting advice one for all basing on your own example is rather guessing causation between two events (like cosleeping and easy falling asleep of a child) – posteriory it is very easy and tempting, but you can never be sure. Sometimes it is just random correlation or just one of the factors.
Kristi I am sorry to hear you had to go through all that, remember you did nothing wrong and every child is different.
We also co-sleep with our children and have always been there for them, day or night, and it’s quite naive to say “just co-sleep like I did and you’ll be fine, you’re creating your own problems”.
We are all responsible for the actions we take and words we speak, online and offline, the author’s response is rude and aggressive, somewhat ironic given the context of being kind to children and others.
amen. people who claim a one size fits all retort to someone that shared their experience are only basing their distaste on their own poor experience. Most people feel co-sleeping is “spoiling” or endangering your child. Every child is different and I’ll bet You nurture your child so that they feel safe and emotionally nourished… these are factors and contribute to their comfort level. telling someone to be careful sharing their experience is a sign of the times and more often offense is taken where people should just keep.scrolling.
OMG. Can’t believe how rude.
Your article is entirely subjective and it’s is incorrect to say everyone else’s children will sleep better if in parents bed.
I tried for 6minths to cosleep, but my LO would stir and wake all through the night, as soon as I put him in his own bed he slept through he night and loves his bedtime now still. However I would never dare to advise YOU that your any would be better in their own bed. That would be presumptuous and naive.
Maybe get down off your high horse.
I agree completely with what Patrick said. It’s ironic to see this kind of harsh, unkind response to someone who pointed out the very real possibility that you may be hurting people with PPD. I hope you teach your kids a bit more empathy!
Kristi, or anyone else who is struggling, co-sleeping isn’t about getting an immediate result. Your child may be like the author’s, or your child may be like my kids, and want to stay up forever if you’d let them! The point of co-sleeping IMO is using one more way to build a secure attachment. Showing your kids that they are safe and loved even at night. And even when it takes two hours for them to fall asleep (been there plenty of times) the end result is still a sweet, peacefully sleeping child.
I also bedshare, carried in the sling, breastfed till 2.5 y.o my now 3.5 years old and she still resist/ fight the bedtime for hours.
She’s right, Kristi. She has no responsibility to you, or to good journalism. What she is is just a woman using the internet to blog for pats on the back from like-minded people to build up her sense of self worth. Only she has the right answer for ALL parents! She doesn’t care about things like facts, responsibility to her readers, or you know, actual science. That much is obvious by the lack of primary sources backing the claims she makes. (Hint: Your other blog posts and “news” stories from subpar media outlets that also lack links to primary sources do not constitute “primary sources”. Nor do studies that haven’t been successfully peer reviewed by *real* journals.)
It’s sad, really. Parents have a tough job and we should be supportive of each other even when another parent does something different than we would. Clearly, Sara doesn’t get that concept. Instead, she shames other parents for not doing it her way. Nice, huh?
I feel your pain Kristi. My son has gone through phases – sometimes sleeping easily, sometimes not. But I practice the type of parenting the author has shared with us and I love it and agree 100% with her. She is not saying it’s a one size fits all solution to all parenting problems or commenting on other parenting styles, but cosleeping/extended breastfeeding/etc makes sense and it is sweet and makes for a secure child. I am thankful to her for sharing her experience with us. You should be too.
I get where you’re coming from. But no where in this article is there any shaming. There’s opinion, backed up with facts. No one is saying you’re a failure if this doesn’t work for you. The author isn’t telling you you’re wrong for doing things differently.
We can’t expect everyone to cater to an individual’s very specific needs. Personal opinion doesn’t work like that. I’m sorry you have struggled in the past, and that you may still be struggling now. But nobody has any responsibility to censor themselves in case they upset you.
We did cosleep with our babies and i wore them, breastfed them as long as they wanted it, but a) you cannot do it with multiple children unless you have a huge bed b) i never got a good night sleep c)they still did not like bedtime, even if it was up to them when to fall asleep d) having a fairly framed day with anchor points of time like getting up, eating and going to bed at a certain time or thereabouts is beneficial for the whole family both for feeling secure and also for a sense of order. Try and run a family of seven like described above…
As for zero responsibility to your readers, I am not sure I agree. If you go public with your opinion, you have to expect people responding to your writing. And in the above case, I would agree with Kristi inasmuch the style of the article suggests a superior knowledge due to personal experience, thus anyone with a different experience despite of their best effort probably feeling bad. Someone with depression might consider some unwanted actions due to feeling like a failure.
As a mother of five, I can assure you, each and every child is different. You can only do what you think is best for your family and hope that it works now and will be beneficial in the long-term. When we had our first child, I thought I know everything about childrearing, as we were doing ever so great. Now I know better… 🙂
I am glad YOUR way of life works for YOU. Thank you for sharing your experience to encourage others.
Wow! That’s an awful way to address a reader! Why don’t you stick to your diary if you have zero respect for readers opinions?? I suspect that your daughter loves going to bed because that’s her personality and temperament and likely has nothing to do with what you’re doing at all. I am a mom and have nannied countless children with a huge variety of different parenting styles and techniques and sleep habits largely develop due to the child’s own personality and not really anything mom or dad are doing. Co sleepers can have terrible sleepers, children sleeping in their own room can sleep amazingly and vice versa-what a sanctimommy you are!
what a snotty and holier than thou response to someone expressing their views. and you do have a responsibility to your readers. if you are going to put out there your views, then you have to consider the audience. thats good journalism. i personally do not agree with you, but this is your opinion. and only that. it was very uncouth to, basically, attack the reader. put a bad taste in my mouth.
What a ridiculous article. Your child is way too old to be co-sleeping, and breast feeding. It’s borderline creepy (my personal opinion).
Also, you DO have a responsibility to your readers to not publish careless, and harmful material. Keep replying with rude comments and you’ll find that you have NO readers left.
Does anyone actually read these articles and take your advice?. What are your qualifications in regards to child development, and child psychology?.
My 10 yr.old son still sleeps next to me when daddy is over the road, sleeps just fine in his own bed when dad is home and loves sleep overs at other people’s houses, he loves to cuddle at night and I figure it won’t be long before he is grown and the cuddles will be gone, so I don’t care what other people think
Co sleeping is all fine and good, but I’d strongly suggest not putting the child actually in your bed. In your room, sure. While I don’t mean to put down anyone’s idea of good parenting, because all families are different, I’m just suggesting this because it’s more safe. It’s great if it’s worked for you, but I caution that you, and others, were extremely lucky. Thanks for your article.
I have to say, this comes across as so smug. I’m rather crunchy – I co-slept with both my children, did extended nursing, etc, but they still hated bedtime. Cosleeping isn’t some magical solution to all ills, and those who struggle with bedtime aren’t “doing it wrong.” Judging from your curst response to Kristi, though, you simply don’t care. I’m not sure why you would claim you have “no responsibility,” as if you haven’t just published a public post making such claims.
With regard to Kristi’s comments, I would like to say that the author does not bear any responsibility if a reader chooses to disagree. The author does not claim that this is the only way to put your child to bed and that this is the guaranteed result.
Every child is different, every family is different. Kristi, I am so sorry that your experience was difficult. Mine was too. But the article does not imply that anyone has failed just because their child was not like Nora. Every parent does the best that they know how to do. Parenting can be very difficult. Doing anything, when suffering from extreme lack of sleep, is difficult.
It is true that co-sleeping and breastfeeding are very beneficial for children, but I can tell you from endless nights of experience, it does not guarantee that you child will sleep like beautiful little Nora.
My little girl eventually learned to sleep at night, and she has grown up to be a lovely young woman. She recently took a few of the free online enneagram personality tests and they described her as a ‘helper’ and ‘peacemaker’. It is accurate! We have both recovered from the bedtime struggle and sleepless nights of years ago. Kristi, I have no doubt that you are a very good mother for your son.
I think it’s spot on advice. All of my kids slept with me…until they decided not to anymore. NEVER had any sleep problems with any of them! Our culture is just so wierd…is it any wonder so many kids are warped! Leave babies alone in the dark and let them cry it out and all they learn is that they are,all alone for half of their life.
This advice is so self-righteously arrogant that I don’t even know where to begin. Check your tone. And your ego.
I couldn’t agree more. While cosleeping and extended breastfeeding are great parenting options for some, they don’t fix everything. I have friends from those “less stressed cultures” she references, and let me tell you, they face major sleep issues. Also, Japan is the world leader in cosleeping, and have among the highest stress and suicide rates in the world. Don’t confuse cosleeping with stress levels. This article, and her response to a comment above, make me shake my head. (and I cosleep and do extended breastfeeding).
Love this. I co-slept with both my sons. And now they are older and sleep just fine in their own beds.
And I’ll never understand why parents that co-sleep have to answer questions about their sex life. I’d never ask another mom “so, how/when do you and your hubs have sex”. Why is it okay for anyone to ask that??
OMG. Can’t believe how rude.
Your article is entirely subjective and it’s is incorrect to say everyone else’s children will sleep better if in parents bed.
I tried for 6minths to cosleep, but my LO would stir and wake all through the night, as soon as I put him in his own bed he slept through he night and loves his bedtime now still. However I would never dare to advise YOU that your LO would be better in their own bed. That would be presumptuous and naive.
Maybe get down off your high hors
Quote: “Trying to make them sleep alone is unnatural. It’s a battle neither you nor they are going to win.”
How is the author not claiming co-sleeping is the only way To put your child to bed?
She actually claims them sleeping alone is “unnatural”! Wtf.
My granddaughters have always slept with their parents and, when they are with me overnight, sleep with me. It’s a most special time; we have the best conversations after the lights are out! They are 4 and 2 and last night their baby brother was born and he will sleep with parents, and me, until he no longer wants to.
There are no hard facts, kids are different and go through phases <3 ie both kids have been sleeping with us, both have been breastfed (oldest weaned naturally at about 2 1/2) and although going to bed had been easy, he has been going through phases where he tries to delay going to bed simply because he has other stuff going on that really interest him (a certain story he wants to hear again, play a bit more and don’t abadon the story where he’s immersed into), spend more awake time with us etc I loved the article overall, just wanted to add my two cents; what works as a charm for a kid might not always do for another one, or even for the same kid during different developmental phases <3
I do this with my two year old twins . Good stuff!
I have two independent, well-balanced and loving (now adult) children who cope with life very well. They slept in their own beds as children. It worked well for us all, we all had good nights sleep, and it was certainly not harmful to them. My children received plenty of hugs and love, but bedtime was bedtime. I did not have the battle that some parents seem to experience, and both of my adult married daughters’ children sleep in their own beds.
Each to their own.