Co-sleeping or bedsharing with your child is a great way to bond with them. There are many reasons why parents start co-sleeping with their children in the first place. In my case, my firstborn son Damien slept much better when I held him close to me. I was his fuzzy teddy bear.
This is the story of how I transitioned Damien from co-sleeping in MY BED to getting him to fall asleep on his own in HIS own bed! I didn’t think it would ever happen so I need to make sure you know that there is hope!
(Hey, Susie here. This is a guest post from a friend sharing her story of how she went from co-sleeping to getting her toddler out of her bed. No judgment if you’re ever in a situation where you are co-sleeping… Take the advice that worked great for her to transition as easy as possible.)
It’s not just him. I also slept much better knowing I can be by his side whenever he needs me. Leaving him alone in a crib in a separate room was out of the question.
But eventually, my husband and I had to figure out a way to quit bedsharing with our son. We had our reasons.
First of all, if he doesn’t learn to sleep alone from his toddlerhood, it will be more difficult to do it later. Secondly, our bed wasn’t big enough to comfortably accommodate two adults and a toddler. And, an intimate night alone with my husband hasn’t happened in A LONG time. WINK, WINK.
Last and the biggest reason, I was pregnant with a second child by the time Damien was almost 3 years old. It would have been crrrraaaaazyyyyy to have two kids with us in our bedroom.
Asking a three-year-old boy to sleep alone in a separate room all of a sudden would have been rude
Your kid might feel you don’t love him anymore. The transition from your bed to his own room has to go smooth, slow, gentle, and free from any tear-jerking argument.
So these are the tips that worked for me during my transition.
Tips To Stop Co-Sleeping With A Toddler
Here are a few things you can try to make the transition easier for both your kids and you.
Prepare the Crib or BED
Do you expect your kid to just be fine with this sudden change? He will struggle to adjust to his own space from day 1. To make the transition easier on him, take small steps from today.
Instead of putting him in your own bed, make him sleep in a crib placed right beside your bed. Once he gets used to sleeping in his own little space, put the crib in his own room. It is a fail-safe method, I tried it myself and had great success.
If your 2,3 or 4 year old is ready for their own bed – get the bed set up. Make comments on how cozy the bed looks in advance of the transition. Get your child understanding that there is a cozy bed to move to.
Decorate Your Kid’s Room
Your child should have a say in how he wants his room to be.
Involve your kids in the shopping for new bed sheets, blankets, wall decorations, and stuff toys for their very own room.
It’s a great way to get them excited about having their own personal space, where they can play, roll and relax.
PREPARE FOR THE TRANSITION
The initial stage of solo sleeping can be very difficult for kids. Having to sleep alone in a dark room without parents isn’t easy. Kids feel much relaxed and fall asleep faster when they sense their mother’s presence near them.
To comfort them, you can install a baby monitor with a talk-back intercom in their room. Use it to communicate with your toddler whenever he is having trouble sleeping. Your soothing voice will instantly calm his senses.
Many baby monitors also have a soothing nightlight and can play lullabies to help them sleep peacefully in your absence.
HOW TO SLEEP TRAIN A TODDLER
Sleep training seems so scary to many parents because you probably are only envisioning “crying it out”. But rather, the idea is about teaching your child independent skills. For a toddler, the same concepts apply but you can make sure you child knows what is expected to fall asleep on their own.
It’s also helpful if your child has a bedtime routine established to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. You should also make your munchkins follow a set nighttime ritual.
Damien’s bedtime routine includes brushing, followed by a warm bath, followed by reading a book before he goes to sleep. We always look forward to our bedtime routine.
Consistency Changes Behaviors
The big change happens when you say goodnight to your toddler and you are consistent with your response. Yes, tears may happen but you need to see your efforts through. Your child needs to trust that you will follow through on the plan that you say.
Methods for Sleep Training A Toddler
Picking a method is something you need to be sure you can stay consistent with. There are several different methods to incorporate into your sleep plan – varying from gentler to more “rip the bandaid approaches” such as:
- The Chair Method
- Checking Method
- Not Checking Method
Regardless of the method, make sure that the rest of the sleep plan is presented in a very positive way. And, if this seems too overwhelming, Susie’s, Preschooler Sleep Made Easy courses prepare everything for you – even the scripts and printables. Or, you can have a custom consultation with Susie, she’s an expert at working with toddlers.
A Gentle Approach Called Camping Out
No matter what you do, your kid will still struggle to sleep without you for the first few weeks. You got to wean him off your presence gradually.
For the first 5 days, I slept with Damien the whole night in his new room. When he got used to sleeping in this new environment, I tried the “camping out method”.
Instead of co-sleeping, I sat on a chair next to his bed for the next 3 days. Then I kept rolling the chair farther and farther away for the next 7 days until I moved out of the doorway.
Yes, it did take me 15 long days to get my son to adjust to his own room but it worked. There was no tear, no anger-filled tantrum. He slept happily and peacefully in his cot since then and I couldn’t be happier.
It wasn’t just my kid who had to get used to sleeping alone. It wasn’t easy for me either, you know? Truth be told, initially, I felt guilty and selfish for making him switch rooms. I know you might feel the same at some point. But let me assure you, it is for the best. The more you delay the process, the harder it will be for both of you. So relax, get some coffee and start planning the entire thing ASAP.