If you have a ‘family bed’, and this works for you all then you should carry on. I am by no means saying that I disagree with what you’re doing, or that you need to stop. Each to their own and all that! However, if you have been sharing your bed and for whatever reason have decided that this is no longer right for you or your child then this may also work for you!
I had never planned to co-sleep. It sort of just happened. I knew I didn’t want to do it forever though, and that as much as I loved it I had to stop. I felt that Devin was getting too old at 5 months to continue co-sleeping, because he was becoming more and more aware of what was going on around him. I knew it would get harder and harder to move him to his own room. I know that there are 3 and 4 year olds that still co-sleep too and there are other methods that can be used with these children too. It has to be fair though. You can’t just suddenly stop doing it. If your child has learned that this is the way we sleep, it would be far too confusing for them! What I’m talking about here is really just for babies.
Devin started on solids at 4 months. He was a very hungry baby and my own supply couldn’t meet his demands. My dad used to say I needed a wet nurse! I also had to start back on treatment the following month, so I stopped breastfeeding before he was 6 months. So, he was no longer being breastfed at night when I stopped the co-sleeping.
Here’s what I did:
- We put him into his own cot, with a cot duvet rather than blankets (to make it as much like our bed as possible). I put the cot right up next to my side of the bed so that I could reach in and touch him when he was looking for me during the night.
- For the first few nights I would take him out of the cot and into the bed with me if he was upset.
- A few nights later I would take him out and comfort him, but then put him back in and only reach through the bars to touch him.
- Eventually he was happily sleeping in his cot. At this point I moved the cot a little bit away from the bed. You can gradually move the cot further and further over time (provided your room is big enough.)
- During the day, all naps were in the cot – helping him to understand that this is where sleep happens!
- By 7 months he was ready to be moved to his own room. I set his room up for him with some of his favourite toys and spent a lot of time with him in the room during the day, so that he would become familiar with it.
- At 8 months, I moved the cot into his room. He didn’t seem to notice anything had changed at all! I of course was in tears! But then something amazing happened, I went to bed and that first night was the best night’s sleep I’d got in 8 months!