Transitioning your toddler from co-sleeping to his/her own bed is a huge change and a very challenging process for the parents. Patience here plays the main role. To make the process easier for you, and the little one as well, you’ll need to attempt a slow and gentle transition. And here are some useful tips to successfully achieve that.
Stop Night Feedings
If you still wake up during the night to feed your child, no matter whether you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, you should first start weaning night feeds and only then consider to stop bed-sharing. The reason for this is that it can be overwhelming for the child to handle two big things at once, the night weaning and the transition from co-sleeping. Plus, when the little one is used to waking up in the middle of the night for feeding, he/she can experience anxiety or fear from being all alone in the room. Luckily, there are many ways for gently weaning night feeds.
The appropriate age for weaning night feeds is different for everyone, but generally, somewhere between the ages of 4 and 6 months, most babies get enough calories during the day to sustain them for five or six hours at night. Therefore, after the little one turns six months of age, it’s safe to try gentle night weaning.
It’s important to approach the weaning process gently and gradually. You should keep in mind that your child is still young and has an immense need for closeness and comfort from the mother. During the period of teething, or when they catch a cold or are going through a developmental change, it is probable that children will wake up more often and they may want to nurse or take a bottle as a way to reconnect with their parents.
Install a Night Light
Installing a night lamp that will give the child a little bit of extra light at night may be an effective method of stopping the bed-sharing. The lamp will provide him/her with some light to look around the room, watching the toys and decor. This way he/she may easily fall back to sleep. Plus, the light gives comfort to the kids who are afraid of the dark.
Accustoming your little one to sleeping with a light on can be beneficial for the parents too. How? Well, the glow of the night light is just bright enough to help you avoid any toys that need to be navigated around in the darkness when checking up on the child. Also, it can prevent you from tripping on furniture or bumping into walls, and making any noise that can easily wake up the little one. So, place the night lamp so that it illuminates a clear path for you to enter the nursery and go to the crab.
Give Them Other Comfort Items
Expectedly, your presence is incredibly comforting to your toddler at night. Nothing calms and comforts children sleeping solo like mummy’s smell. It also helps them feel secure in your absence. Hence, tucking the little one in with a T-shirt you’ve worn, will remind him/her of you and will make you seem close by. Plus, this will keep the child from waking often.
In fact, you can even think about conditioning a certain sensation while still bed-sharing. For instance, a certain blanket, a certain storybook, certain music, etc. You shall do this for at least six weeks while still co-sleeping with your child. This is a very useful method when transitioning a toddler from co-sleeping to a separate bed because this way the new bed will feel more like a familiar environment.
Make a Cosy Bedroom and Get Your Child Used to It
Setting up your child’s nursery should be at least two months before you plan to stop bed-sharing. This way you can spend time with the little one playing in the bedroom and accustoming him or her to this new environment. They need to view their new bedroom as a really fun and positive place to be. It is recommended the nursery to be on the cool side, and the crib to have only a firm, well-fitting mattress with nothing else on it, meaning no pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, bumper pads, etc.
Once you finalise your strategy and start doing it, be sure that the child will try to resist, especially in the beginning. It’s normal and expected for him/her to protest. Eventually, as time passes, it will become a habit, but first, it will take lots of practice. It is believed that the whole process of transitioning from family bed to crib, usually takes up about three weeks. So, you can’t expect that changing your toddler’s sleep habits will happen overnight. Therefore, the most important thing during this period is to stay firm and decisive. It will be difficult, but be sure that it will result with success.