Home Toddler Why do kids still sleep with their parents at night?

Why do kids still sleep with their parents at night?

by ines.wurbs@icloud.com

Children come to their parents to feel safe. 

We, humans, are social beings. That means we need other people to make us feel comfortable and, above all, to feel safe. This is also the reason why our children come to us for protection at night. Whatever they are frightened of.

Here you can find out where this comes from and why exactly that is the case. Of course, as always, with practical tips.

Why do our children need mom or dad at night?

Security is a basic need. If this is not fulfilled, our children feel anxious, uncomfortable, and helpless. If our children’s need for security is not adequately met, this can even lead to developmental problems.

On the whole, we can assume that the need for security is met when we or other caregivers are there for our children. But that’s not the case, especially at night when our children sleep in their room.

You can find out more about the right time for their own room in this article.

The basic needs of our children

Chart of needs pyramid

Why is my child scared at night?

Our senses

We’re not in the same room. That’s true, but that’s often not the case during the day either. But our human senses are not well suited to darkness. We see worse (and sometimes things that aren’t there) and suddenly perceive sounds that we don’t hear during the day. This often creates fear in our children, and they look to us for protection.

Bad dreams

Of course, nightmares are also a common reason why our children are afraid at night and seek our closeness to satisfy their need for security. This is quite possible up to puberty and not uncommon.

Especially at night, our children, like us, process what they have experienced during the day and combine it with what they have seen, fantasies or thoughts into sometimes absurd and scary dreams. In general, around the age of 4, there is also a fear of fantasy figures such as monsters. This is nothing unusual, but it negatively affects our children’s sleep.

Even if we adults often don’t perceive it that way, there are many more things that are more exciting for our children than for us adults. It’s often the little things that keep them busy for a long time and keep popping up in their dreams. And as we have already heard, our children then look for a safe haven. Us and our bed.


Night terrors are a form of sleep disorder in children. A few hours after falling asleep, the child can scream, thrash about, open their eyes wide, but recognize no one and cannot be woken up or comforted. You can read more about the causes of night terrors, how you should react and when you need to see a doctor at netdoktor.de.”

Absence of mom and dad

From around the age of 3-4, our children realize that we don’t go to bed at the same time as they do. They may also hear TV noises or other sounds while falling asleep. Then, when you wake up in the middle of the night, you suddenly stop hearing the sounds you used to fall asleep.

Panic rises and mom and dad are haunted. A bit of a security check, whether we are there too. Being alone for small children, and at night even for older children, is still very scary. Once they are with us, everything has vanished, and they feel safe and secure.


Separation anxiety only begins to subside after the age of 7.

How can you get your child to sleep alone?

Here it means relying on habit. Sleeping alone also needs to be learned and has good and bad phases. The more stress and excitement a child has, the worse it will sleep. It wakes up more often and then may come into your bed. Developmental spurts are also a time when children sleep less well. Simply because a lot is happening in the brain. 

But the more common it is for your child to sleep in their bed, the better.


Routines are good, but so are exceptions. If there are regulated exceptions, such as fever or the like, it will be easier for your child to accept them.

Practical tips to get your child to sleep alone

  • Make the bed cozy. 
  • A cot should not be too big.
  • Provide fresh air in the room.
  • Carry your child back consistently.
  • If your child needs it, let it go back to sleep in your bed and then carry it to its own bed.
  • Sleep support, i.e. staying with the child until it falls asleep, can help them to see their bed as the best place to sleep.
  • Never use your child’s bed as a punishment corner.
  • Good night lights can help make the darkness less threatening.
  • Children (from 6 months) should be able to self-soothe and get to sleep. If your child is good at this, it will be easier to go back to sleep without getting up.
  • Discuss fears with your child and answer questions about them.
  • Before you go to bed, review the day with your child, this will help them to process and may help your child sleep better.
  • In connection with this, mindfulness exercises, such as mindfulness cards, can also help to end the day on a positive note.
  • Be honest and explain to your child in an age-appropriate way why you don’t want them to sleep in your bed.
  • Make sure you have enough closeness and cuddles during the day. Physical closeness is important for children beyond elementary school age.
  • Consider letting siblings sleep in the same room. Only if they want it, of course. The sleeping noises and closeness of the other usually have a calming effect.
  • A reward system, for example, using a reward board can also be helpful here and provide your child with the necessary motivation to stay in their bed.


Your child sleeps less well, the more tired it is.

If you need advice on how to deal with overtired children, just check out this article.


Try to enjoy that extra cuddle and not get annoyed when your child comes to you. It does that because it loves you and seeks security and closeness with you.

All in all, the period in which the little feet scuttle into bed with you is not long. Our children will soon be old enough and find it embarrassing themselves. But of course, it’s also okay if you need your sleep. Parental sleep is better without children in bed. Your child will not be harmed because it should sleep in its room.

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