Before I had my first child, I was so excited about the idea of co-sleeping. I had these visions of my partner and I sleeping peacefully with our little baby snuggled oh-so peacefully between us. Those first few dreamy moments in the morning when we looked at each other over the little miracle we had created.
Reality was somewhat less romantic, because apparently babies like to move around a little when they sleep. They can also make a lot of noise and they have no respect for your personal space, or the fact that you’re trying to get a little sleep, or that you don’t like being woken up by having a tiny finger jammed up your nose.
So after a while, I decided it was time to reclaim my bed. But by then, baby had gotten fairly accustomed to sleeping next to me, and wasn't going without a little protest.
So if you’re in a similar situation and are looking for a way to get your baby sleeping in their own room, allow me to offer up some helpful hints.
First off, prepare yourself for the resistance. Nobody reacts well to changes in their sleep routine, so there’s almost definitely going to be some push-back.
If your little one is able to climb out of their cot, they’ll probably make a few late night trips into your room and attempt to climb back into bed with you. When this happens, don’t get upset. Keep your cool and walk them back into their room. Remind them that your room is for yourself and your partner, and their room is for them. The sun’s not up yet, it’s time to go back to sleep and you will see them in the morning.
If your child is 3 or older you might want to set up a reward program for a good night spent in their own bed. A treat or a sticker on the calendar can be a great incentive, but keep the time window short. Kids have a hard time understanding rewards if they’re expected to maintain a behaviour for a full week, so a daily reward usually works best.
The other way to soften the blow of moving your little one into their own room is to stay in their room with them for a few nights while they’re making the change. Don’t rock them to sleep or engage with them while they’re drifting off, as this can create an association issue, but feel free to sit in a chair while they’re falling asleep so they can see that you’re there, and gradually start working your way out earlier and earlier.
Again, there’s probably still going to be a little bit of crying, but once your little one gets the hang of sleeping in their own room, your whole family can look forward to much more restful nights, and far fewer wake ups from an unintentional kick to the face.
From your child, anyway. I can't promise anything from your partner.