Many parents are choosing to co-sleep with their babies. Some of these parents decide to continue co-sleeping into the toddler years or beyond. I co-slept with my daughter until just after she turned two. Making the switch to having her sleep in her own room wasn’t without its difficulties, but it wasn’t as hard as it sounds either. Here are some tips for transitioning from co-sleeping with your toddler or young child to having her sleep on her own:
Decide whether to switch to a toddler bed or a twin bed
For us the decision was easy. We had bought a convertible crib for our daughter before she was born — little did we know she wouldn’t get much use out of the crib part of it though. When we were ready to be done co-sleeping, I converted her crib to a toddler bed. I personally like the toddler bed because it’s small and my daughter loves being able to climb in and out of her bed by herself. However, to save some money, you may want to go straight to using a twin bed. Just be sure to get some guard rails for the side of the bed if it’s high.
Let your child pick out the bed set
My daughter was a little too young to be interested in doing this, but if you want to encourage an older child to sleep on his own, consider letting him pick out the new bed set. Take him shopping or look online together for a set he likes.
Stick to your regular bedtime routine
It’s important to continue with your regular bedtime routine as much as possible when ending co-sleeping. Also, it may help to have a transition item that your child has slept with in your bed. My daughter has a favorite puppy doll that signs bedtime songs. She listened to it while she was still co-sleeping with us, and when we switched to a toddler bed, she took it with her.
Include cuddle time in your bedtime routine
At least for the first month or so, it might help your child to transition from co-sleeping better if you lay next to her during bedtime in her new “big girl bed”. Lay down together as you read a story, talk about her day, or sing to her. You can choose to lie next to her till she falls asleep or to get up when she’s very tired but before she falls asleep. You can then gradually reduce the time you spend laying next to your child.
Don’t make any other big transitions at the same time
Don’t overwhelm your child with other transitions around the same time. You may be considering weaning him around this time, or potty training. Be sure to give your child ample time to adjust to each change on its own. Even changes like moving or starting daycare or school can make ending co-sleeping a more challenging process.
More from this contributor:
Benefits of Co-Sleeping with Your Baby
Books about Sharing for Toddlers
Table Manners for Toddlers