How To Gently Transition Your Baby or Toddler From Co-Sleeping

How to Gently Stop Co-Sleeping

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!):

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

Are you ready to make the transition away from co-sleeping?

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23 thoughts on “How To Gently Transition Your Baby or Toddler From Co-Sleeping”

  1. I really need help… My 2yr old daughter has been co sleeping since birth but me and her father just decided it’s time for her own bed, we got one and put it in our room she falls asleep in it but oh my gosh after we go to sleep and she wakes up there’s hell she refuses to go back to sleep she screams tantrums everything until she gets her way
    What should I do???

    • Hi @Tanita –
      Thanks for writing! Sorry to hear that transitioning your toddler from co-sleeping has been rough! We’d love to help! It is often an overall process to transition a baby or toddler to sleeping in their own bed, especially since she’s been doing this for 2 years now! At this point, your daughter sees your bed as “her” bed and she doesn’t think of the crib as her bed. Perhaps you can start with spending some non sleep time in her bed, maybe reading quietly or singing songs so that she starts to see the bed as a positive place. You can start out by putting her to sleep in her own bed for naps too. Once she seems to have adjusted to that, then work on putting her to sleep at night too!

      You may also want to consider our Toddler Sleep Ebook where we do cover this and much more when it comes to toddler sleeping troubles! You can read more about this book here:

      Hang in there Tanita! We know how tough this can be and we’re here to help!

  2. My 14 month old has been sleeping in the bed with my husband and I since he was 4 months old. He would wake up every hour or so, so we started letting him sleep with us and now it’s been so long we don’t know how to go about getting him to sleep in his crib again.

    • @Heather – Thank you for reading and for sharing. Boy, do we feel your pain! Transitioning a toddler from co-sleeping can be pretty tough to tackle but following the tips in this article and being gradual and gentle about it can go a long way to it being a success. We’re rooting for you all since we know how much patience is required for this. Hang in there, Heather!

  3. We have a 9 month old daughter who started co-sleeping with us a couple months ago. From the time she was a newborn to then, she slept in her bassinet to crib thru the most of the night with no problem. Then she started waking up about 4 am, so we would just put her in bed with us for the next hour or so til we got up the our older children. Now, the moment I put her in her crib she wakes up, crying. We love snuggling with her, but I really miss my space and decent sleep in bed. We definitely want to transition her back, so it’s not harder the older she gets!

    • Hi Ashley,
      Thank you for visiting The Baby Sleep Site! I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having so much trouble transitioning out of co-sleeping. I know it can be really hard not to have your own space at night. We have an article on getting your baby into the crib that I hope will help:
      We also have a lot of resources about transitioning away from co-sleeping in our Members Area, if you need them. I hope this helps, but please let us know how it goes!

  4. My son is 18m and we end up cosleeping for the majority of the night. He goes to bed in his cot independently and will sleep for several hours but then wakes and I end up in the bed in his room with him after that. It’s generally around midnight, maybe a bit later, and he will mostly go straight back to sleep with me. But I crave an uninterrupted night in my own bed. How do I handle the middle of the night? I’m so worried about waking up my OH and my eldest. Will CC work, or should I sit with him etc? Any tips?! X

    • Hi Rebecca,
      Thank you for using The Baby Sleep Site as a resource! I’m sorry to hear you’re having trouble transitioning away from co-sleeping. This is a really common issue, and you’re not alone! Almost any sleep coaching method you choose can work, you just have to make a plan and be consistent. It might not be possible to sleep coach without disturbing your other children at all, but remember, sleep coaching isn’t forever, and you ALL deserve to sleep well. Maybe you can think creatively – can the older kids sleep somewhere else for a few nights while you sleep coach your youngest? If not, can you plan to sleep coach over the weekend, or at a time when people can take naps and catch up?

      If you do need more help with a concrete plan, please feel free to look over our consultation services, too. I’m not a sleep consultant – they will have a lot more resources and experience in creating a sleep coaching plan that will work for your family and your situation.

      I hope this helps, and good luck!

  5. Few days ago, I started trying to transition my daughter, who is still nursing, into her crib, My daughter falls asleep on my hands and then I put her in her crib, she will be up in few hours and each time I try to put her back to sleep in her crib she will wake up and start crying, after an hour of unsuccessful attempts, I usually give up and take her back to bed with me. Any recommendations? Thank you.

    • @Marina – Thank you for stopping by our sleepy little village and for sharing with us. You didn’t mention how old your little girl is but I’m going to assume she’s at least 5-6 months old. From what you’ve described, it sounds as though your little girl has likely developed a sleep association and will need for you to help her fall asleep whenever it is time for her to sleep or whenever she awakens in the night. This often keeps babies from sleeping in longer stretches. In order to help remove this association, you’ll want to start to teach her to sleep more independently.

      As a starting point, you may want to read this series of articles for tips on how to teach your daughter the skills needed to be able to learn how to sleep on her own. It will also give you an overview of different sleep training techniques including “no cry” and “limited cry” methods: Once you’ve read this, you can see what type of sleep coaching (if any) you would like to try. We generally suggest consistently sticking to a technique or a plan for at least 1-2 weeks before gauging success or changing the plan unless your child is very resistant to the method. Changing a baby’s schedule or sleep habits is a tricky process that can take some time even when you consistently stick to the plan you set.

      If you would like more one-on-one help with your daughter’s sleep, feel free to contact us and we can work with you on some options. You can contact our team here:

      Hang in there, Marina, and please keep reading!

  6. @Cheryl and Amber
    Have you asked your doctor about whether your babies have acid reflux? My baby will not sleep laying down unless he is on his reflux meds. The acid keeps coming up his esophagus, making it painful for him to sleep unless he is in an inclined position or constantly nursing to keep the acid down. It’s definitely worth checking out! He’s on meds to neutralize the acid and still co-sleeping, but at least he doesn’t need to lay ON me, just beside me. He’s also MUCH happier during the day than he was before the reflux was addressed.

  7. @ Cheryl – oh, I am so sorry you are going through this! I can imagine how distressed the CIO must be making you 🙁

    Have you thought about trying a personalized consultation? You can see our personalized consulting packages here: With a consulting package, you would be able to work one-on-one with a consultant who would craft a Personalized Sleep Plan for you that would help you accomplish your sleep goals. The approach would be one that you felt comfortable with, and your consultant would help you each step of the way and make any changes you felt were necessary to the the plan. I think this would be a great fit for you; we have worked with SO many families in your boat! Transitioning from co-sleeping can be really tough, so don’t feel bad, Cheryl – what your’e going through is so normal.

    Hope this is helpful, Cheryl – and thanks for taking the time to make your first comment!! 😉

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