Your sleep schedule tends to go haywire after you become a parent. During your child's first year, you may have decided to co-sleep or room-share with your baby, whether out of deliberate choice or exhausted desperation. But now that your child is older, you might be asking yourself — should toddlers sleep in their own rooms? Advice on this topic will vary, but with a lot of thought and research you'll make the best decision for you and your family.
When it comes to toddlers sleeping in their rooms, everyone seems to have a different opinion, from your own mom to your mom friends to the random moms in a Facebook parenting group. But what do the sleep experts advise? The simple answer — it depends on whom you ask. "Children over the age of 12 months should be sleeping in their own rooms," advises Christine Stevens, a certified sleep consultant at Sleepy Tots Consulting, in an interview with Romper. Though she adds, "Ultimately, the choice should be a family decision based on parental beliefs and preferences."
This is why the topic of toddler sleep can be so tricky — the answer varies from family to family, culture to culture. "It’s really a case by case question," Dr. Matthew Edlund of the Center for Circadian Medicine tells Romper. "Chinese mothers may sleep with their children to age 5 and beyond, while most western moms want their children to obtain as much independence as early as they can." And so, you shouldn't feel guilty if your current sleep setup works just fine for your family's needs. There isn't a set deadline when your kid should move into a different bedroom, and for some families this isn't even an option due to a lack of space.
But if you do feel ready to reclaim your bedroom, there are numerous ways to smooth out the transition for your toddler. Stevens recommends making your child's room as comfortable as possible. "Spend some time playing in the room when your toddler is awake to familiarize them with the room," she suggests. "And if your toddler doesn't already have a lovey or comfort object, this is a great time to introduce one." You may also want to start a dedicated bedtime routine or snuggling your child to sleep initially, according to Parenting magazine.
It can be a struggle deciding when to transition your toddler into their own room. While you should consider the advice of sleep experts, you shouldn't make your choice based on what your friends or parents may think. Instead, keep in mind that there is no right or wrong answer and that you know your family's needs the best.