The Channel 46
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Channel 46