13/04/2011 11:04 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Who's Been Sleeping In My Bed?

whos been sleeping in my bed The first thing I do when I wake is look to see who is lying beside me. But far from being a bed hopping nymphomaniac, the person lying next to me is usually a small person in full pyjamas.

Years ago we accidentally bought a king size bed instead of a double bed. But in hindsight it was a good buy as since then we have certainly needed it. My eldest child is nearly nine and until recently she would sleep with me when my husband was working night shifts. My six-year- old has gone through stages of jumping into our bed and our four-year-old currently jumps in some time after midnight.

It's not a huge problem to us. By the time I get to bed the child is usually nicely heated up, like a hot water bottle which doesn't cool down, and I like to know that if one of my children wakes up feeling upset they know that they can come to us for comfort. Neither of us smoke or are heavy drinkers, and the children don't tend to keep us awake wriggling and moving.

My friend Olivia is of the same opinion. She has at times let both of her children sleep in her bed because she remembers as a child feeling lonely and sad at time in her bed and not being allowed into her parents' bed.

Some of my friends think the same but to others it is akin to letting your children watch horror films or sending your three-year-old to the shops on her own. Clearly I am a bad mummy.

As a first time mum I must confess to listening to the criticisms when I admitted that because my daughter had been ill I had let her sleep in with us, and even when it wasn't said directly it was still there, hanging in the air with the disapproving look and reproachful tone.

But as I became more experienced I began to find this attitude amusing. Why on earth were so many people against it? What did they think it was going to lead to?

Admittedly most of the disapproval tends to come from the older generation. Neither my husband nor I ever spent a night in our parents' beds when we were little and most of our friends say the same. It just wasn't the done thing, and for many of today's grandparents it is disapproved of even now.

My friend Anna's husband works away for weeks on end and so her youngest son obviously missed his dad a lot and wanted to sleep in with his mum. Anna was happy enough with this but her in-laws weren't and told her that if she had to she should sit outside his door holding the door shut until he got the message.

This way of thinking appears to be very in tune with the advice given by most experts. There is no end to websites providing advice on how to keep your child in his own bed. And if that's what you want, then great, take the advice but I don't think parents should be made to feel guilty for having a child sleep with them.

My thinking is more in line with Margot Sunderland, director of education at the Centre for Child Mental Health in London and author of The Science of Parenting, who says that co-sleeping makes children more likely to grow up as calm, healthy adults.

Sutherland's opinion is based on the results of 800 scientific studies into children's brains, and she advocates children sleeping with their parents until they are five.

As with many things in parenthood, I take the opinion that if it works for you then that's great. My daughter is approaching nine and rarely comes into our bed now. In a way that makes me sad, not because I am some control freak mother who wants her children to rely on her but because I know that this is just one of the many signs that she is growing up.

Do you let your children sleep with you?
What's been the reaction from others?
Do you miss it, once they don't need you?