I loved co-sleeping. I slept as soundly as a mother could sleep knowing that my baby was in the same room. But, there came a day when my husband and I had to figure out how to stop co-sleeping. By then, we had one child in kindergarten and the other was a preschooler. Although my children were out of our bed, they were still sharing a pull-out bed in our room. My husband and I agreed that it was finally time to transition them into their own room.
I'm not at all embarrassed to admit that much of it had to do with wanting to watch grown-up TV in bed again. After several years of sharing a room with our kids, we were ready to shut down Calliou and get back to snuggling in bed in front of an HBO Original Series without worrying that our kids would wake up in the middle of a violent or nude scene. Besides, they both had perfectly nice bedrooms, with brand new beds that had to be way more comfortable than a futon.
We transitioned them together, and I'm happy to say that it went off without a hitch. The kids shared a room on and off for about two years (occasionally sleeping in their own rooms if they were in the mood), and finally made it permanent one fine day. You see, there is hope.
Here are some expert tips on how you can stop co-sleeping and get your bedroom back again.
1. Teach Your Child How To Fall Asleep On Her Own
If your baby needs a lot of cuddles in order to fall asleep, it is going to be very difficult to get them to sleep in their own bed. The Bump suggested practicing falling asleep on their own before you begin the transition.
2. Personalize Your Plan
Each child is different, and what worked with one may not work with your next. Samar Bashour, MD, a pediatrician at the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital told The Bump that it really depends on your child's personality. Some babies like to have their parent sit next to them until they fall asleep and other babies need a cold-turkey approach to move out of the family bed.
3. Be Consistent
Dr. Craig Canapari of Yale Pediatric Sleep Center recommended consistency. He warned that if you relent even once in a while during the process of establishing a new sleeping pattern, you are encouraging and reinforcing undesirable behavior.
4. Work With Your Child's Other Caregivers
Before you get started, make sure to be on the same page as your child's other caregivers. This means that Daddy, Grandma, and the babysitter all have to agree to follow the same game plan. The Bump recommended have an answer to all of these questions before beginning: Who’s going to get up each time baby wakes? What are you going to do to help him fall back asleep? Will you let baby cry a bit before picking him up? How long is each of your limits?
5. Move Into Your Child's Room
It isn't fair to expect your child to sleep in an unfamiliar space alone, if he's been sleeping in your room this whole time. Canapari suggested moving with your child into his new room for about a week, and once your child has gotten comfortable in the space, you can go back to your own room.
6. Make Your Child's Room Special
Make your child's room special before moving her in. Have her pick out new sheets or new pajamas or buy some new bedtime books to keep on her nightstand.
7. Have A 'Quit Date'
Canapari recommended mindfully choosing a transition date that doesn't coincide with another big event such as a visit from out-of-town guests or a vacation.
8. Give Him A Transitional Object
This can be a new stuffed animal or, as What To Expect suggested, tucking your child in with a small piece of a t-shirt or nightgown you've worn and smells like you will make it seem as though you are close by.
9. Be Patient
It's probably going to be a tough transition, but being patient and consistent is the key. Bashour noted that the process typically takes up to three weeks, but once you are done, you will all get a good night's sleep again.