No ‘Nite Nite’ Without Mommy by Dina Ramon
My daughter is a healthy, heavy sleeper. Once she is out it would take an avalanche to wake her up. But she can’t – and won’t – actually fall asleep unless I am sitting at the foot of her bed. Sometimes she drops off within 60 seconds; other nights I sit with her for at least 20 minutes. If I get up to leave before she is completely asleep, she calls me back and I start the vigil all over again. This is a nighttime ritual she has insisted on since she was a toddler. And I emphasize that the bed-sitter is me. It’s fine for Daddy or Grandma to tuck her in, but I’m the only one who can close the deal and send her into sleep land. The only exception is when I am traveling or my husband and I go out late, leave her with a sitter, and she’s too exhausted to wait up for us. This behavior seemed quite normal up through Kindergarten, but she’ll be 8 in two months. I must be an enabler for not insisting that she fall asleep on her own but given that she is my only child, I dread the tears and begging that result when I or my husband suggests that give up a routine that obviously provides her comfort. And it really seems like a simple need that illustrates how much she enjoys and relies on our company. I just hope it is not setting her up for long term damage to her sleep patterns. I have seen online comments from other parents who experience this issue – often with only children – but none of my friends with kids seem to experience it, at least not anymore. When looking for solutions, the experts say it helps to establish and maintain consistent bedtime routines like reading and teeth brushing that ease the transition to going to sleep. That makes perfect sense but I’ve been doing those things for years. For my daughter, they don’t translate into ‘now it’s time to get into bed, I will kiss you goodnight, leave the room and see you in the morning.’ I keep thinking she will grow out of it but at the same time I’m not so sure, and wonder if there is something else I can / should be doing to help her feel comfortable falling asleep on her own. At the same time, I enjoy sitting with her before she falls asleep. It comforts me too, and is my own little relaxation at the end of a long day. The day will surely come when she will not ‘need’ me to sit at the foot of her bed and then I will look back and want those bedsitting times back.