Co-sleeping can be a bit of a controversial topic, can’t it? Some parents are committed co-sleepers, while others refuse to co-sleep at all (for a variety of reasons).
But do you know what? We’ve learned, in our 15+ years of helping sleepless families, that most families don’t fall into these two extremes. Instead, we see families who never intended to co-sleep, but who are because it helps everyone get more sleep. We see families who want to co-sleep for a season, but not long-term.
For these families, there comes a time when mom and dad are ready to transition away from co-sleeping, and to move their baby or toddler into a crib (or a bed). But this is one of those ‘easier-said-than-done’ things, isn’t it? Way easier for me to type ‘transition away from co-sleeping’ than it is for you to actually do it! 😉
Fortunately, we are here to help with this process. Today, we’re looking at how you can gently transition your baby or toddler away from co-sleeping.
How To Gently Transition Your Baby or Toddler From Co-Sleeping
You can use these 4 steps to gently wean your baby or toddler away from co-sleeping, and towards sleeping in his or her own bed (and hopefully sleeping through the night!):
- Lay the ground work. This is more for toddlers than babies. Start by explaining the transition, and pointing out all the good things about it – big kid bed, new sheets, etc. There are even books like this one designed for your toddler, to help him feel better about the transition. For babies, you should make sure she has ample play time in the room and crib, so it is familiar.
- Sleep together in the “new” room. Consider moving to your baby or toddler’s room, temporarily, to help her grow more comfortable with the new sleeping space. As the days go on, add more and more distance between you as she falls asleep and as you sleep all night (or day if you are napping with your baby).
- Sit by the crib or bed while your baby or toddler falls asleep. When you feel ready, remove your sleeping arrangements out of your little one’s room, and instead sit on a chair by the crib or bed, and stay with your baby or toddler while she falls asleep. If this is tough for your little one, offer whatever comfort is necessary, but avoid getting into bed with your baby or toddler, since that would be a step backward in the process. Once your little one is asleep, leave. Ideally, it should take less and less time for your baby or toddler to fall asleep each night, as she grows more comfortable with the new arrangement.
- Leave the room before your baby or toddler falls asleep. It’s hard to say exactly when you will be ready for this step as all babies are unique. But, once you feel your little one is ready, do your bedtime routine, settle your baby or toddler into bed, and then leave. Once you’ve reached this point, you can consider the transition done, even though some nights may be easier than others. ;).
(A special note for our VIP Members. If you are looking for resources to help you gently stop co sleeping, be sure to check out our day-by-day co sleeping transition plan, a special VIP members-only resource! Written by our very own expert sleep consultants, this plan will walk you through every step of the transition process. Check it out today!)
In the end, what we want to leave you with is this… There is no “right” or “wrong” sleeping arrangement for you and your baby, provided your sleeping arrangements are safe. Safe bed-sharing, safe room-sharing, safe crib-sleeping…it can all work! And your baby can sleep well, and peacefully, in any sleeping arrangement. If you know you’re ready to transition away from co-sleeping – we can help!