Co-sleeping has been garnering a lot of positive reception from doctors these days. Even in the West, there’s been a lot of talks, of late, about the benefits of co-sleeping, that is, sleeping in the same room or same bed with your baby or toddler. Indian parents, of course, just call it ‘sleeping’. It’s always been the default arrangement. A lot of parents don’t buy a cradle or a crib at all, opting to have their baby snuggle next to them on the bed from day one. There’s a lot that’s good about it – the bonding between mom and baby, the warmth and reassurance for the little one, better night’s sleep.
But at some point, the difficulties of sleeping together can outweigh the advantages and you may consider moving your child to their own bed. Welcome to the days, I mean nights, of getting hurt! If you are parenting a toddler, you’d know what I mean! Each night somebody’s going to get hurt real bad and that somebody is mommy. Or daddy. Or both.
Weaning Your Child From The Family Bed: What’s The Right Time?
If you have a big enough bed to fit everyone and an admirably high tolerance for being elbowed every time your little darling turns over, that’s great and say hi to happy days. But if your junior’s nocturnal wanderings are proving exhausting for the whole family, it might be time to take action. Frankly speaking, I’ll leave the timing to you. If you do it too soon, it could cause separation anxiety or a sense of detachment in the kid. If done later, it can get extremely difficult to break that dependency.
I would say, try and figure out the ‘right stage’ instead of ‘right age’ for bed weaning.
If your child is healthy but is waking in the night, causes you to get broken sleep, or if you sense that you’re losing the joy in your spousal relationship, you may consider transitioning from family bed to child’s own bed. In any case, it might take anywhere from a few weeks to months for gaining this independence for your child.
5 Ways For Parents To Make Kids Sleep In Their Own Bed
You are considering taking a step that will very likely upset your child. And trust me, it’s okay.
Here are a few ways to help you and your child in this transition.
1. Make Your Child’s Room Sleep-Friendly
Before you begin insisting your child stay in his room all night, make sure his room is sleep-friendly. A soothing environment calms nighttime fears and promotes sleep.
Each child’s idea of what a relaxing environment looks like is different, however. While one child may enjoy some white noise and a night light, another may want a stuffed animal, complete darkness, and utter silence. Experiment with a few different things to see what helps your child feel most relaxed. Easing nighttime fears can be key to getting your child to sleep independently.
2. Take It One Step At A Time
When it comes to any aspect related to parenting, I would never advice going ‘cold turkey’.
It may not be reasonable to demand that a child who’s accustomed to sleeping in your bed suddenly stay in their own room all night. If your child has been sleeping in your bed for a long time, perhaps even all of his life, he will need a little help with the transition to his own bed. So try making the separation more gradual. Create a step-by-step plan that will help your child become more independent a little at a time.
For example, gradually moving yourself out of the room may help you and your child largely. Explain to your child that you will stay on the floor next to them until they fall asleep. The following night, move to a chair nearby. After a few days, the goal will be to phase yourself out of their room. The idea is to slowly withdraw from the equation. Your child may also benefit from keeping their bedroom door open. A child may feel better falling asleep on their own if the door is open at least halfway. You can also try using a nightlight to increase their level of comfort while they are trying to fall asleep. Giving them something to think about is a great tool to help them fall asleep. Instead of simply telling your child not to get out of bed, teach them how to fall back asleep. I tell my kids (now 5 years old) to stay in bed, close their eyes, and think about something fun, like what they want to do on their birthdays
3. Establish A Healthy Bedtime Routine
A healthy bedtime routine will help your child unwind and get ready for sleep. A warm bath, a few good books (maybe fairy tales or short moral stories), and some cuddling can help your child get ready to sleep in his own bed.
Then, when it’s time for lights out, shut off the lights and leave the room so he can practice falling asleep on his own.
4. Establish A Sense Of Security
Your absence or the thought of a monster lurking under the bed can leave your Bub wide-eyed at bedtime. Ease the transition from sleep to waking up, and calm her fears, with comforting objects such as stuffed animals, blankets, or even a nearby goldfish tank. Let there be another presence in the room that reassures your child.
5. Be Consistent
While many parents want to consistently return a child to his own bed when he sneaks in their room during the middle of the night, they’re often too tired or frustrated to be consistent. But if you want your child to stop sleeping in your bed, you have to send a clear consistent message every single night. If your child sees that his persistence and protests are effective, you’ll teach him he can manipulate you. Be consistent in returning your child to his bed and don’t make exceptions that say he can sleep in your bed because he’s tired or because you had a rough day. Sending mixed messages will only prolong the problem.
Needless to say, positive reinforcement and praising your child (and rewarding at times too) will help your child associate their behaviour with achievement. When your child does end up sleeping a night successfully by himself, do let him know you are proud of him. Give him a celebratory snack or a breakfast treat. Sticker charts work well for toddlers and preschoolers too. This can provide an incentive for doing it again until it becomes a habit. You can also tell him that he is brave and he will sleep alone again feeling proud of himself. Combine rewards with praise and make it clear that you’re pleased with your child’s progress. And don’t forget the key to anything in parenting – that is, being patient!