Let's face it, at one time or another all parents let their little ones climb into bed with them. Whether it's due to a nightmare, trouble sleeping, or just wanting cuddles, both kids and parents enjoy those bonding moments. However, those small moments can turn into prolonged co-sleeping situations that are hard to break.
So how do you encourage your tots to stay in their beds throughout the night? How do you teach your babies to fall asleep on their own? We've got some of the best answers to help you end co-sleeping!
These helpful hints may take some time to get used to, but can effectively put an end to co-sleeping if done consistently and with patience.
10 Consistency Is Key
It can be confusing to a young child to be told to go back to bed in their own room one night, while being welcomed to cuddle in mom and dad's room the next. That's why consistency is very important when trying to end co-sleeping.
This includes not napping with your little one in your bed. After all, this can be a confusing thing to little ones' minds as they may have trouble understanding why they can sleep in mommy's bed at certain times of the day and not at others. While it may be tempting to bring your child into your bed to get those last few hours of sleep at 5 a.m., this can also create a tough situation to break and can lead to confusion.
9 Create A Welcoming Environment In Your Child's Room
One key part in encouraging your child to stay in their own bedroom at night is to create an inviting and warm environment for them to call their own. If their room is a cold and foreign place to them, they may be less likely to want to sleep alone there. Make it a fun place to be by playing games in their room during the day, reading bedtime stories, creating a cool fort for them to sleep in, or letting them pick out some decorations or bedding to make the room their own.
8 Make A Plan
Having a plan is the first step in discouraging co-sleeping. A plan creates consistency. This allows both mom and dad to have a reference point for when those late night awakenings happen.
You'll know exactly what to do at 3 a.m. when a crying child tries to climb in your bed instead of groggily thinking about what's best to do, which can lead to mom and dad having different expectations. Creating a plan also allows parents to tell their children exactly what is expected of them as bedtime arrangements will have an established set of rules.
7 Stay With Your Child In Their Room At First
Help your child acclimate to sleeping in their room by first staying until they fall asleep. You can slowly fade back by sitting on their bed, then a chair next to their bed as you move farther away until you are no longer in their room. Or, you can sleep on their floor those first few nights then see how they do on their own. However, going from a co-sleeping situation to expecting them to stay in their room alone on the first night may be too high of expectations.
6 Don't Let Them In Your Bed During The Night
It's inevitable your little one will wake up in the middle of the night and try to climb into mommy and daddy's bed. However, allowing this only takes you back to co-sleeping.
Instead, you can either take them back to their room each time or have a place for them to sleep on your bedroom floor. But do not allow them to sleep with you. This may sound harsh, but as stated before, consistency is key. Letting them come sleep with you at 3 a.m. but not at their 9 p.m. bedtime can be confusing for little ones.
5 Transition Them To A Crib Near Your Bed
If your child is still young enough for a crib, transition them from your bed into a crib close to you. You can move the crib farther from your bed and then entirely into their own room. This slow transition can allow your child to feel comfortable on their own and also gives you back the freedom of your own bed.
4 Have A Bedtime Routine
Bedtime routines are important for a variety of reasons, including having your child get a full night's rest. Sticking to a routine is similar to having a plan and you need to be consistent. After all, it's not a routine if it's not consistent.
An hour or two before bedtime, start prepping your child. Have them brush their teeth, turn off electronics, and read a story to wind down from the day. Incorporate going to their room in the routine, such as for story time. This can help your child mentally prepare to sleep in their own room as well as tell their body it's time for rest.
3 Prep Your Child For The Change
If your child is a toddler or a bit older, they probably are accustomed to the co-sleeping arrangement. If this is the case, start talking to them about why it would be better and more fun for everyone to be in their own rooms and beds at night. Springing the fact they have to now sleep on their own can be overwhelming and scary, so discuss it first. This can include making it fun, allowing them to pick new bedding, or incorporating a new bedtime routine.
2 Reward Them For Sleeping On Their Own
Providing some type of reinforcement when they spend the entire night in their own room can increase the likelihood they continue to sleep in their room.
Let them choose what they would like to earn for being a "big girl/boy" by sleeping in their bed, and immediately reward them with it the next day. This will show them that it's in their best interest to sleep in their bed while you get what's in your best interest- no kids in mom and dad's room at night.
1 Talk With Your Child
If your child is still apprehensive about sleeping on their own, talk with them about it. Find out what they're thinking and why they are hesitant to be alone. Perhaps they're scared or have anxiety about the change. Perhaps they simply aren't tired enough to fall asleep. These are things you can help them through as a parent. Reassure them and talk through fears. If they aren't sleepy, then engage them in activities throughout the day to help them sleep better, such as no screen time a few hours before bed and make sure they're getting enough activity.