For every cozy bed-sharing child, there will come a common, beautiful and sometimes scary rite of passage. We wonder, if our attachment strong enough to help them through the transition to one’s own bed? Is it too strong? Will we fail and sleep fitfully in pile until college?
There is no certain age or time for this transition. Either you have become sure you need the bed to themselves again or you suspect that even your child will get more restful healthy sleep without bumping into one another all night. Here is a little FB video I recorded on the topic of gently helping your child learn to feel safe in their own bed. Below that are bulleted main points.
This was recorded on Facebook LIVE 2017. Join me for future videos at Facebook.com/SavvyParentingSupport
- It is important to prepare children ahead of time for the transition into their own bed. Ideally you can tell them two days ahead of time what to expect from the new room, new bed and with your own planned behaviors toward their nighttime behaviors and challenges. If you do this/say this, I will do that.
- Consider a Montessori floor bed (full size or bigger) where you can help them transition to the new room and bed while still getting to spend some time snuggling. This gives child agency and safety to crawl onto and off of the bed. Agency and control as well as safety are important for toddlers and preschoolers. Or you may consider a toddler bed low to the floor with a very comfy chair for you that you will have right next to them (You would need this if you use the chair extinction method for an older child). Making sleep changes can be exhausting and if you are waiting for your child to fall asleep in a new space, you might fall asleep yourself- as most parents I know are generally ready to fall down at the end of the day, myself included.
- “Patience Building” is my method as an alternative to the common chair extinction method (moving the chair slowly out of the room). We begin with very gradually moving from secure attachment to secure separation during the day. I only use this once the child is comfortable with their new bed and room. Asking the child to be alone while you do a chore for only 20seconds moving up to longer periods of time as they become more comfortable and have many opportunities to learn this. After a week or more of really working on this security of being alone during the day, we can ask them for short and then longer increments to say in their own bed.
- Commit to any new sleep arrangement for 4 nights before you make changes in your plan of having them stay in their own bed or freak out that it isn’t working. Most children will protest any change to habits- as all humans do. Children need time to adjust and if we keep changing our plans or attention in the beginning
- Plan bedtime a little early because it can take kids a while to figure out how to fall asleep in a new way, in a new space.
- Try not to create new sleep associations that require work from you that you wouldn’t want to also do during a middle of the night wake. Don’t suddenly begin rocking them to sleep in their bed, or bring in a bottle that hasn’t been there, or begin nursing more frequently than usual.
- A younger child may be able to use an older sibling as a “lovey” comfort person in a Montessori bed for the two as long as the youngest is old enough to crawl (for safety)- unless your youngest still wakes frequently which may be too disturbing.
- If your child is waking frequently at night, I strongly suggest work on the sleep associations causing that (movement or oral) BEFORE moving into the new bed. It will means you are going across the hall less and night, so you’ll be less exhausted and your child will experience less crying- therefore having a more positive experience in her new space
- The goal is never simply to have your child fall asleep in a new space. The goal is to create a new sleep security. Simply falling asleep does not mean we will stay asleep or get ourselves back down to sleep if we are scared. By making this move thoughtfully and gently, you can set your child up for a lifetime of sleep success!
Check out my affordable Get Your Bed Back sleep consulting package if you would like some more personalized support in your transition or in other sleep challenges.