Parenting Advice

How to Transition from Co-Sleeping in 5 Easy Steps

To co-sleep or not to co-sleep? That is the question.

As a parent coach, one of the first questions I ask my clients is if they have a child sleeping in their bed. About 50% of my clients with young children answer “yes.” Of those, about 95% tell me they do NOT want their child in their bed anymore. These parents hired a parent coach, in part, because they do not know how to reclaim their marital beds!

Effective Child Discipline begins…

…once the child is out of the marital bed. Many of my clients do not like hearing this. But it’s true. When a child (not an infant but the APA and I have an opinion about that, too. Read on!) sleeps between his parents, he feels he belongs there. He feels he is in the same level of authority as his parents. But he is not. It’s essential that parents set healthy boundaries and the marital bed is boundary #1. Also, it is not easy to get an unwilling toddler or preschooler out of the warm, cozy confines of mom and dad’s bed. It’s best to transition before the habit takes too deep a root.

There are many arguments for co-sleeping – I am not taking a position completely against that philosophy. I believe that as long as it is done safely and it’s done with both parents 100% on board, there is nothing wrong with co-sleeping. If you do prefer to co-sleep, just make sure to do your research, The American Academy of Pediatrics is a good place to get educated on the safest ways to co-sleep.

I am of the mind that it is best NOT to begin the habit of co-sleeping. All of us end up sleeping alone, and my view is that it is safer and better to teach children how to sleep independently. Room sharing is different, and I do recommend that for about the first six months or until the parents are ready to move the infant to his own room or room with siblings. I’ve found that co-sleeping begins mostly because new parents want to sleep! Here’s my way to do just that.

I have a 5-step plan for new parents on how to get the best sleep.

  1. Do not fall into the habit of allowing your baby to sleep with you. Once the habit of co-sleeping is learned, breaking the habit isn’t easy, so it is best to avoid developing the habit.
  2. Create a sleep schedule and STICK TO IT! For example, Dad is on baby duty from 9 pm until 1 am. Mom is on baby duty from 1 am to 5 am.
  3. Mom goes to bed ON TIME (at 9pm). Seriously. The above schedule will only be helpful if mom follows it.
  4. No screens 30 minutes before bedtime. Libraries still lend books…and they are FREE!
  5. When baby wakes, whoever is “on duty” goes into the nursery and says nothing. If it is a diaper change that is needed, attend to it with no talking, cooing, or snuggling. If it is a feeding that is required, then give the feeding (breast or bottle) with no talking, cooing, or snuggling. It is essential that you do not turn the lights on because your baby will get confused, think that you are running your daytime routine. Remember that consistency is key and you are training your child to understand that waking in the middle of the night is no problem, he gets his needs met, and he goes back to sleep.

If the habit of co-sleeping has already been established, that will take some undoing. And that’s what a parent coach is for!

Have a toddler or older child you’re trying to transition? You’ll want my Take 5 Technique for calming an upset child!

Download Your Free Take 5 Technique PDF

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