Taking Back Your Bed

happy child with parents in bed at home

Before many families have their first child, they are so excited about the idea of co-sleeping. You may have had a vision of your partner and you sleeping nicely with your little baby snuggled oh-so-peacefully between you. Those few dreamy moments in the morning when you looked at each other over the little miracle you had created.

Reality was somewhat less romantic because apparently babies like to move around a little when they sleep.

And they can 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 the fact that you don’t like being woken up by having a tiny finger jammed up your nose.

So after awhile, many parents decide it is time to reclaim their bed, but by then, baby had gotten fairly accustomed to sleeping next to you, and wasn’t going without a little protest.

Or, has your child been starting the night out in their crib or bed and making their way into your bed sometime in the night? Perhaps you are too tired to move them, so they end up sleeping with you for the rest of the night, and this has begun to happen more and more frequently. One big mistakes parents make is allowing it “just this one night” because they are too tired to get up and walk their child back to their own room. Once your child knows they can stay in bed with you, protest will be more intense when you try to get them back to their crib/bed in the future.

So if you’re in the same situation and are looking for a way to get your baby sleeping in their own room, allow me to offer 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 crib, 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. Explain that they’re not allowed to sleep in your bed and let them know what the consequences will be if they do it again.

(Side note: A great consequence for this is closing their bedroom door for a minute or two if they leave the room. I’ve used this one myself and it has been super effective.)

On the positive side of things, you might want to set up a reward program for good nights 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 behavior 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 are drifting off, as this can create an association issue, but feel free to sit in a chair while they are falling asleep so they can see that you’re there, and gradually start working your way out earlier and earlier.

If your child complains they are scared in the middle of the night, address their fear (don’t get into too much detail in the middle of the night), reassure them everything is okay, stay in their room until they are calm, then leave and let them fall asleep independently. Do not make a big deal out of it and the problem should go away. If they are really scared, set aside time during the day to address their fears.

Again, there’s probably still going to be a little bit of crying, but once your baby 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 baby anyways. I can’t promise anything from your partner.

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