Whether or not to let your child sleep in your bed is a decision that every family has to make for themselves.
Yes, there are safety concerns with newborn co-sleeping, but plenty of people in cultures around the world have managed to do it successfully for centuries – I’m not advocating one way or the other, just pointing out that many of us will one day face the struggle of convincing our littles to at least GO to bed in their own room.
I was not someone who was invested in co-sleeping with my first baby. He slept in a bassinet or his own crib as a newborn, but as an older infant and toddler, he often wound up in our bed at some point during the night. At 3+ years old, we still see him about 5 nights out of 10.
My second? Co-slept from the beginning for about 6 months because I was too tired to fight it.
Now, though, my husband and I are thirsty for that time between when the kids go to bed and we crash ourselves – we can watch television, clean up, read books, do our own thing or something together, but it’s precious.
And we only get it if the kids sleep in their own rooms. Bless.
If you’re facing a similar struggle, here are a few tips to make the transition less painful.
It starts, like everything else with little kids, with offering them a role of their own.
“Start by talking about them getting a bed in their own room. Have them be a part of the process,” recommends Dr. Roseanne Lesack, a licensed psychologist and director of child psychology at Nova Southeastern University.
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Mother had all intentions of sending small offspring to his own place of slumber…. as you may appreciate, things didn’t quite go to plan… again. This is a prime example of how this small interesting species has the ability to very strategically twist and manipulate mothers arm and hence has claimed his mothers resting grounds as his own. 🦁 #parenting #mumlife #foreverprisoner #mamaandmax #singlemumlife #personalspace #whatispersonalspace #isthatathing #cosleeping #attachmentparenting #helicoptermum
Make it clear that the reason they’re getting a new bed, bedding, and other objects that will help comfort them is because they’re going to sleep in there instead of with you.
Next, you’ll want to stay with your child at first until they fall asleep. They may still be restless, but expecting them to go from having the warmth and comfort of a family bed all night to not at all is asking too much.
As your child gets more comfortable settling in their own space, you can move to the edge of the bed, then next to the bed, then the hallway, until you’re out of there altogether.
No, it’s not easy. No, it’s not quick. No, it won’t be the same for every child.
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When young children are having a hard time settling down for rest at bedtime, one of the big red flags to look for is their attachment "cup"- is it full or empty? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Deborah Macnamara says that one of the big challenges with bedtime is that it is a major separation for the child and can also be where accumulated separation alarm from the day appears. "Sleep and unconsciousness represent the biggest separation of a child's day, with no one directly caring for them." ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Macnamara suggests the idea of "bridging" the nighttime for children, to fill their attachment cups before the long separation of sleep. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ If you're having trouble at bedtime, try these ideas to fill your child's cup! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 1. Connect and relax at bedtime. Give your child your complete undivided attention for their routine. Look into their eyes, sing, laugh, read, cuddle-do whatever makes them light up, and show them that you are completely tuned in, undistracted, and unruffled. If you’re stressed and rushed your child will most definitely pick up on that energy and fight you all the way! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 2. Assure them that you are always nearby. You can tell them you'll check on them while they're sleeping, or tell them you'll be right next door, etc. Place a picture of yourself under their pillow or right by their bed. Give them one of your shirts so they can smell you. This helps them with the "sensing" level of attachment. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 3. Focus on when you will connect again (morning). Make a plan for the morning, and tell them you can't wait to see them when you wake up. Talk about what you'll do together the next day. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 4. Stick to your routine so it’s predictable- this makes children feel safe and secure. If you need to write it out with words or symbols it can be a nice visual for older kids. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Remember that it’s very normal for young children to need you at bedtime- and many young children need their parents to lay with them while they fall asleep. They are facing a MAJOR separation from you! It won’t be like this forever.❤️
The technique is called “fading,” and it should work eventually as long as you wait for your child to become acclimated to each new situation.
“Three nights in a row of success,” advises Lesack. “Success is when the child is not upset, is not crying, and falls asleep within a normal time frame. I wouldn’t move further away if the child is upset.”
If your kiddo wakes up in the middle of the night, it’s fine to go and comfort them. Maybe try going back to the spot you were when they went to sleep and waiting, again, until they’ve settled back down.
The transition is complete when your child is able to fall asleep with you not in the room, and done right, it should be relatively painless (except for the time commitment) for everyone.
“If you fade yourself out slow enough, there shouldn’t be any crying. If there is long, dramatic crying or problem behavior, you either have to decrease that step, or consider the possibility that your child isn’t ready to give up co-sleeping.”
If you’re ready to give up co-sleeping, you’ll just have to be more determined than a toddler.
May the odds be ever in your favor.