Parents often struggle with the "right" way to get their child to fall asleep. Many parents are advocates of sleep training, while others prefer to either co-sleep or lay down with their child to fall asleep. Many will reference different studies to support their methods, but a Motherly suggests that it may be more about following your heart than a study to determine what method is right for you.
Parents who choose to lie with their child until they fall asleep, or co-sleep with their child, are often told they're making their children dependent on them to for a good night's sleep. What's a parent to do?
According to a 2012 study published in the Korean Journal of Pediatrics, having a strong attachment to your child, especially when they're infants, creates independent, curious and self reliant adults. This is contradictory to many studies that suggest laying with your child until they fall asleep will cause them to be fully dependent on their parent.
The study shows that creating a strong sense of attachment with your child, especially between the ages of newborn to 18 months, makes children more sociable, confident and secure. It even suggests that children who don't feel that connection may grow in to adults who have a hard time getting along with others and also have confidence and trust issues.
Most parents know there isn't a "right" way to do anything when it comes to parenting. There are, however, some approaches that are criticized more than others. This study reiterates that parents need to do what they feel is best. Just because you choose to co-sleep or lie with your child on a nightly basis so they can fall asleep doesn't mean that you are fostering dependence on you. As the study shows, as your child grows older, so does their dependence on you. Some children may need the attachment more than others, but will tend to grow out of it as they get older.
Certified sleep specialist Rachel Gorton reiterated to Motherly that parents need to do what they think is best with regards to their own children.
“It’s reminded me of the crucial role I play in my son's life, not just at bedtime but as the person who gives him confidence throughout life. I am his constant,” she said. “I am the person he looks to when he is scared. My child simply feels safe with me. So for now, I can give him the peace of mind that all is well, that he can relax, that he can breathe deeply and go to sleep.”
Every child is unique, as is every parenting experience. Parents need to listen to their hearts and instincts to know how to best parent their child and less to the studies that tell them everything they are doing is wrong.