Maybe you began to co-sleep with your little one when she was a newborn, keeping her close in order to meet her needs throughout the night. Or perhaps when she got her first high fever, you brought her into bed with you for the night, only to find that she wanted to sleep with you every night after that! Once your baby reaches toddlerhood, you may begin to long for the days when you could stretch out in your own bed, and you might see the value of teaching your toddler to sleep independently. Ease the transition with these tips.
- Put it on the calendar. Put a date on the calendar for the transition. Like a lot of other transition plans for young children, including potty training, it’s easy to let things slide and put them off. Schedule this transition for a time when you won’t be jetting off on vacation, hosting visitors, or starting a new childcare arrangement.
- Start to prepare your child. It’s Time to Sleep in Your Own Bed is a great book for parents and children who are preparing to end a co-sleeping arrangement and transition to a toddler bed. Talk with your child about your plans, and let her know what she can expect when it comes time to go it alone at bedtime.
- Create a space together. Head to Target with your child, and let him pick out items that will make his bedroom a fun and comfortable space. If he loves cars and trucks, maybe a new set of sheets will make his bed more fun for him. Does he like dinosaurs? A stuffed dino friend to sleep with might be the key. Plan his room together so that he feels like he has some input in the situation.
- Haul out a mattress. Some kids might take to the transition really well, but if your toddler is fearful, consider pulling out a mattress and sleeping on his floor for a night or two. Make it clear that this is not a permanent arrangement and set a date for you to move out. But spending the night with him may show him that his room is a safe space for sleeping.
- Baby steps. Is your toddler still resisting this big change in his life? You might want to gradually take steps to help him feel more independent at bedtime. Start with the mattress. Then, after spending the night, tell him you’ll stay on the mattress until he falls asleep. Finally, get rid of the mattress and sit in a chair near his bed until he falls asleep. This gradual process may ease him into things.
Have any of you broken the co-sleeping habit? What was successful for you and your child? What blew up in your face? Let us know in the comments section!