Being a parent is wonderful, but it is also demanding, exhausting, and stressful. As joyful as it is to be able to watch your baby grow and become a happy and healthy child, the process can be long and the stress can certainly take its toll on parents. Children love routine and it takes time for them to adapt to any change, even if the change is for their own good. Co-sleeping is useful, but after a while it becomes unnecessary, and it takes some skill to help your baby become more independent. Here are six ways to help all of you transition and adapt:
This is a lengthy process and it takes time, so start slowly. Bedside sleepers are a good starting point because they are something between having your child sleeping in a separate bed and sleeping with you. These sleepers are like bassinets that you can place against your own bed, and they are very convenient because they allow you and your baby to sleep separately but still stay close. If you don’t already use one, borrow a bedside sleeper for a few weeks, as there are many people who use them for their infants and not later.
Instead of simply taking your baby out of your room one night, allow them a chance to adjust to the new situation. You should start by putting your toddler in his crib but keeping them in your room for a while. Sleeping in their own bed might be strange for them, especially if they’re used to you being close and comforting them, so take things slow and allow them to adjust to the new bed. When they are comfortable sleeping on their own and in their own space, it will be easier for you to move the crib to their room and avoid the fuss.
If you don’t already have a routine, it’s high time you created one. You should start with a nice warm bath, take your time to dry the baby off afterward, and take them to their own room. Cuddle while telling them a story or read them one from a book, get them their own lulla doll, give them their milk, kiss them and wish them a good night. This way, they will look forward to bedtime, and you should stick to the routine. If you notice they are fussy without you being there, you can give them something with your scent on it so they feel like you’re close.
If your baby's room has another bed in it (or if there's space for a cot, a comfortable chair or even a sleeping bag), bed down in your child's room with him (you in the bed, him in his crib) for a few nights while he gets used to his new surroundings. Some parents even choose to sleep in the nursery for a few days: if there’s a couch or a bed there, it will be easy, but even if there isn’t you could take a sleeping bag and spend a few nights there.
Once both of you are ready for the new room, you should try ‘sneaking out’ of the room slowly. Sit by their crib when they’re falling asleep, and be there to offer comfort while they settle in. Over time, you should move your chair further and further away from the crib, until you get to the door (and eventually, your own room). If you’ve been sleeping in their room, you can start sitting in a chair by the crib and slowly move the chair away. Of course, you should always have a baby monitor in the room so that you know they are fine and so that you don’t have to check up on them every few minutes.
As they grow, children will likely sneak out of their own beds and try to sneak into yours again in the middle of the night. Even though you might think this is adorable at first, you should send a clear (and consistent) message, and not change your mind later. If they understand that their protests are effective, they will manipulate you. Return them to their bed, try not to make exceptions, even if they’ve had a rough day. If you’re sending mixed signals, the problem will only be prolonged.
We have to keep a close eye on our babies and it can be difficult for parents to relax and get a good night’s sleep even when they’re exhausted. It’s important to take things slow, but it’s also important not to give up when you reach the first obstacle. Staying determined even when things get tough at first will ensure that both you and your baby have a chance to sleep well in the future, and that is something to strive for as a parent.