Aug 10, 2011

How to Transition Baby/Toddler From Co-sleeping to Sleeping in Their Own Room

Co-sleeping makes night nursing much easier on a nursing mother in the first few months of  their baby's life when newborns wake often to nurse, but with continued co-sleeping, mothers will notice that their babies wake to nurse more often during certain times (while teething, sick, going through a growth spurt, or during a time of any distress like during that separation anxiety stage). That is why, at an age that feels comfortable for everyone, nursing moms choose to night wean their babies and encourage them to sleep in their own rooms. Here are some tips for making the transition from mommy and daddy's bed to crib or toddler bed.

Establish a Bedtime Routine. This one is important, because babies and young children like routine. If your baby or toddler becomes used to the idea that a few activities in a certain order at night means bedtime is soon, they will have an easier time transitioning to their own sleeping space if they have their usual sleep time routine to follow. A bedtime routine is also useful for parents and baby because it gives parents an opportunity to wind baby down at night to make sleep easier and it allows for great one on one time with baby. A bedtime routine may evolve and change over time, but it will be a wonderful part of your family's day for years.

Start with naps. If your baby does not nap in their own room in a crib or toddler bed during the day, they will not likely recognize this as a comfortable, familiar place to sleep. This will make the transition that much more difficult for parents and babies. If you are considering night weaning, begin with relaxing baby in their room before nap time and put them to sleep in their crib or toddler bed (if age appropriate). This way, they will learn to associate their own sleeping space with a pleasant place to sleep.

Begin the night with your baby sleeping in their own room, then bring them in to your bed when they awake to nurse at night or in the early morning. It may help to begin the night with baby sleeping alone, then bring baby to bed with you for the rest of the night after the first one or two times baby awakes during the night. This may help baby feel less overwhelmed about the change. You are more likely to put in the extra work of getting your baby to sleep in his crib and have a stronger resolve in the evening before bedtime than at 2 a.m. when it's easier to keep your baby in bed with you.

Keep in mind that this may be a gradual, and possibly difficult process for some families. Babies have their own temperaments and you know your baby better than anyone, so trust your instincts. Other parents may have completely different experiences with transitioning their baby to their own sleeping space. Follow your instincts when it comes to sleep. If someone suggests letting baby cry it out and that does not feel right to you, don't do it. If you are not ready to night wean, but face pressure from others to do so, again, do what feels right to you.

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