You can’t roll over, there’s little hands and feet kicking and hitting you all night, and there’s a little person permanently wedged between the two of you in bed. It’s time to make a change.
The key to a good night sleep child-free
Having children sleeping in the parental bed has long been confrontational, and it’s a debate that’s not going away anytime soon. As with any parenting choices, one of the biggest keys to success is doing what you feel is right for your family. For some, this means co-sleeping for months or sometimes years, for other parents, their bed is a no-go zone for children.
Whatever your decision, if you’ve hit a time when you need to help your child sleep in their own bed instead of trying to sleep with you, then these strategies will help make that process easier.
Start with small changes
Depending on how long you’ve been co-sleeping or how intent your child is on staying in your bed, one of the best ways to ease them out of the behaviour is to start with small steps. Try by doing something as simple as offering a mattress or sleeping bag beside your bed. This allows your child to feel the comfort of being close to you, without them actually being in your bed.
Other small steps include starting the night with at least half an hour in their own bed, or another suitable length of time, before they are allowed to transfer into your bed. They will slowly get more comfortable with staying asleep in their own room.
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There’s no point starting the process of having your child sleep in their own bed if you’re not going to follow through. This just makes the process drawn out and stressful for the entire family. If your goal is for your child to sleep in their own bed throughout the night, then stick to your goal and don’t budge.
Set rules of when and why your child can come into your bed need to be in place, and sticking to the rules is important. Know what the boundaries are, let your child know what the boundaries are, and no matter how difficult or heartbreaking it may feel to stick to your own rules, it’s much easier in the long term than changing the goal posts and leaving your child confused and less likely to follow through if you fail and need to try again.
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Negativity, yelling or becoming frustrated with your child will not make the process any easier. Using positive language is the first step. Make the child feel special about their ability to sleep in their own bed. Be excited about growing up to be a big person and let them know how wonderful that is.
Use positive rewards to encourage solo sleeping. Things like rewards charts can work really well and help your child to see their achievement when they are successful at sleeping separated for the night. This allows them to take pride in their achievement.