If you opt for bed-sharing, there comes a time when it has to come to an end; whether it is because the child desires it or it is the parent’s choice. This decision is usually made due to a variety of reasons. It could be that the child wakes up frequently, there’s another baby on the way or regain their privacy and intimacy.
The decision to move the baby is largely dependent on the baby’s and parent’s readiness. There is no set ‘right’ time for this but it is generally recommended that a preschool child aged over 3 years should sleep in a separate room. The move to a separate bed may be easier if it’s done before she’s 6 months old and when the habit of bed-sharing isn’t ingrained.
Regardless of the reason, it is likely that the change may upset the child and she may suffer from separation anxiety. Parents usually need to help the child transition.
Making the transition
It helps to speak to your pediatrician about the transition. For premature infant babies or those have experienced some form of trauma that affects their sleep and sense of safety, it may help for them to sleep near their parents.
- Starting the process
To make the transition easier, it is best to gradually wean the baby off your bed. To do this:
- Encourage her to nap in her own room during the day so that she gets used to sleeping on her own.
- Place her in a smaller bed next to yours or on a mattress on the floor so she gets used to sleeping on her own but with you close by.
- If the baby has a comfort object and is old enough to sleep safely with it, encourage her to do so.
- After a while, explain to her if she’s old enough that she needs to sleep in her room and you’ll be right next door in case she needs you.
- As she gets used to her bed, start moving from lying down beside her until she’s asleep to sitting on the bed slowly then to the floor and finally moving to the door and letting her fall asleep on her own.
- You may need to slightly change her bedtime ritual such as removing some things she feels she needs to sleep.
- Dealing with resistance
Resistance to the transition is rather common and you may have to make multiple night visits to your child’s room.
- Keep an extra mattress on your bedroom floor so that when the child wants to, she can come in and sleep on it if you don’t want to be woken up. If however you want her to remain in her room, wake up, escort her to her room and stay with her for some time as often as needed.
- Help her overcome her fears.
- Depending on the age, let the child help decorate her room and pick out her beddings.
- If you have older children, let her share the room with them.
- Be patient with the child but don’t allow her back to your bed unless you are concerned about his safety.