I was very opposed to co-sleeping before I had children. I thought it was dangerous & for people who let their children walk (or lay I suppose) all over them. Then I had my first son…
We went through two months of trying to get him to sleep in his bassinet in our bedroom. By the time I could get him into a deep enough sleep to lay him down in his own bed, he would sleep for 15 minutes before waking up screaming again. It was not working. At all.
One night I accidentally fell asleep with him on my chest, & I did not wake up until about three hours later. I was in awe that he slept for 3 hours straight without screaming & insisting on breastfeeding. I was also a much better mom with a reasonable amount of sleep.
From that point on I started reading more about co-sleeping. I found a lot of information that was assured me that I was not ruining my child for life, but of course in the back of my mind, I was worried that I was setting him up for a lifetime of bad sleep habits & delaying the inevitable struggle of transitioning him to his own bed.
Turns out that I was right to let go & do what worked for our family. Turns out that he transitioned to his own bed with no harsh methods & no tears. Turns out that he is now 4 years old & sleeping through the night.
So how did we do it?
When our first son was about 18 months old, I couldn’t take it anymore. He had started waking up more frequently all of a sudden, & he was nursing all night long. Co-sleeping was not a pleasant experience anymore, & I needed a change.
The problem was that our son had never even slept in his own room, by himself, or in a crib before. So we got a Queen size mattress, & me, my husband, & our son all slept in the nursery together for a few nights. Once our son seemed to be used to sleeping in there, we decided to just have my husband sleep in there with him.
I assumed that I would be woken up two hours into the night by my son screaming for milk, & we had agreed that I would go in as needed. We wanted to make the transition as gradual & smooth as possible for all of us.
To my surprise, he slept through the entire night no problem!
After about a week, my husband was able to leave him in his room alone & just go in as needed throughout the night (usually once or twice).
We were so pleasantly surprised. We were preparing ourselves for an uphill battle, but instead we got our bed back without our son feeling upset.
Okay, great. But every situation is different.
I totally understand that our process will not work for every family trying to transition from co-sleeping; however, I hope that our story will help you to start thinking about what will work for your family. Think outside of the box (or the crib).
Take the time to communicate with your family members & see what their ideas are. I would not have been able to transition our son without tears if my husband wasn’t on board. He was the key piece of the puzzle so be sure to talk to your spouse & figure out how they can be involved in creating long term success.
I also understand that every child is different. My second son is not taking to the co-sleeping transition as well as my first did; but we also may have rushed it a bit since he is not 18 months old yet (and that seemed to be the magic number first time around). We were able to successfully wean him off of night nursing, & he sleeps in his own room – just my husband often bunks with him.
As with every parenting situation, listen to the child, listen to your spouse, & listen to yourself. Don’t get stuck in a situation that isn’t working. There is always a solution.