Most parents sleep in with their baby in the early days, preferring to have the bassinet close to their own bed for easy access during night wakings. Some parents co-sleep. Some don’t. Some parents room share with their babies for a lot longer than the usual six months or so, and some find that the family’s sleep is not benefiting a lot sooner than that. However you do it is absolutely fine- it has to work for you, your baby and your family. But eventually all parents will face the same task: making the move from your room to theirs.
Your baby will, sooner or later, need their own space. If not for their ever growing stash of toys, books and toiletries, but also for development and for a good night’s sleep. And that’s what we’re all about! You may find that as your baby gets older, he also gets a lot more aware of movement and sounds around him. You may find that his sleep cycles alter a little and there’s a very good chance that you coming up to bed can disturb him. You may also find that you are not fully relaxed when you go to bed (scared to roll over, anyone?) in case you wake the baby. All of this is not conducive for a good night’s sleep, and it all indicates that time’s up on room sharing. Here are some quick tips for making it as painless as possible:
- Don’t let your emotions get in the way. This is so much easier said than done, but it’s top of the list for a reason. Room sharing (and especially co-sleeping) is a wonderfully intimate way to bond with your baby and it is little wonder that making the transition from your room to theirs brings a lump to your throat. But you know that it can’t last forever. You have to allow your baby space to grow and develop and you also need to ensure that the whole family is getting a good rest at bedtime. It will be strange for a while without a crib in your room, but if you really feel it is the right decision to make then allow yourself to feel sad- but don’t let it change your mind. Think on your room sharing fondly, but remember it was only ever a temporary arrangement.
- Make sure your baby is familiar with their room before the move. Going cold turkey may not be the best option for your little one. Take some time before the move to introduce your baby to his room first. Spend a little longer in there each day, reading a story or playing with toys. Make sure you refer to the room as ‘his’ and talk about how all of his things are there for him. After a day or two, let him explore his bed, perhaps even dedicate some play time actually inside the bed too. Let him see that the room is safe, and that the bed is safe too. This all helps to familiarise your baby ready for the big move.
- Don’t make the move during illness or teething! If your baby is out of sorts with a cold or if he is teething, there’s a good chance sleep will be disturbed anyway. The last thing you want to do is cause added distress by changing his surroundings at this time. Wait until all ailments are over and repeat the familiarisation process if necessary. There is no race and timing could be crucial for a smooth transition.
- Start with naps. When your baby is ready for the transition, start off with day time naps in his own room. Talk to your baby as you put him to bed and let him know it is okay for him to be sleeping there. As with any major change, doing it during the day time is often a lot easier for everyone. Once he has settled into the routine of sleeping in his own bed during the day, sleeping there at night will be a much more natural next step.
- Be Brave! When you put your baby into his own room for the first time, don’t hover outside the door ready to pounce when he snuffles. I know the temptation will be there! Give him a chance. If you’ve done all that you can to make the move as painless as possible, there’s a really good chance he will settle easily. If he doesn’t, remember your sleep training methods and stay strong. If you’ve never sleep trained before, do take a read ofprevious posts and info on your baby’s temperament for some tips. Don’t leave your baby to cry if you don’t want to. Go in and reassure him, let him know that you are there for him when he needs you. But do allow him to fall asleep independently. This is a skill he needs to learn. Get in touch if you’d like help with this.
Good luck! And do let us know how you get on with the move!