DEAR ABBY: After the birth of our son, "Ricky," my husband insisted he sleep in our bed with us. When our son was 3, I finally put my foot down because none of us were sleeping peacefully. Ricky is now 8, and my husband lies in his bed with him until he falls asleep.
Our daughter, "Julie," was born 2 1/2 years ago. She slept in our bed until she was 1, when I moved her to her own bed. She goes down well on her own, but seems to be more clingy (with me especially) during the day. I try to make sure she gets the affection she needs before bedtime, but I feel guilty that she doesn't get that closeness at night.
By the end of the day I'm exhausted, and I do not want to fall asleep in a kid's bed. Am I wrong for wanting bedtime without kids? At what age should children sleep on their own? -- SLEEPY IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR SLEEPY: You're not wrong. Some parents co-sleep with their children for the first few months after they are born because they enjoy the closeness. After that, they transition the baby to sleeping in a crib nearby so the child's needs can be attended to as necessary.
According to Los Angeles pediatrician Faisal Chawla, M.D., children form their sleep habits early: "The longer co-sleeping continues, the more difficult sleeping separately becomes. At 7 or 8 months, babies begin to develop age-appropriate separation anxiety. By the age of 1, a routine is usually set in a child's mind. By age 2, it becomes very difficult to change the sleeping routine because of the 'terrible 2s' temperament that begins."
Your husband has done Ricky no favors by continuing to lie beside him until he falls asleep. Your son should have started sleeping alone years ago. A boy his age should be able to go to sleepovers at friends' houses or away to summer camp without having to worry about sleeping because his dad isn't there.