Co-sleeping is an experience many parents choose to use with their babies in order to strengthen the bonding between the newest member of the family and themselves, and most parents truly enjoy this time. This makes it a bit traumatic for both parents and their offspring when the time comes for the child to sleep in a bed of his or her own. Getting through the weaning process without an emotional breakdown is the goal, and the following suggestions may make this possible:
Preparing for Weaning
Parents choose the age at which their children should begin sleeping in their own bed for a variety of practical and personal reasons. In making the decision about easing children into separate sleeping units, parent should be mindful of the fears expressed by their youngsters. In order to sleep soundly, children need to feel safe and secure. If this means that they are still sleeping in the family bed at three years of age, then research shows that this will do them no harm. However, parents need to openly communicate with each other about the pros and cons of having a child in their bed at later ages and make the decision about the right time for weaning as a team.
To get ready for this process, parents need to obtain a crib or bed that is safe for their child’s age. If children are old enough, they should help in this selection process to give them a sense of ownership. Once the new bed is ready, the objective of the parents should be to move the child from the current sleeping arrangement to the new one with the least amount of psychological trauma. This requires great patience and the ability to empathize with the child’s feelings.
Helping a Child Adapt
It is best to get the child used to a new bed during their normal napping times. At first, the parent should help the child relax in a routine way, such as singing, reading a book, rocking or listening to music. Once the child’s eyes are beginning to droop, he or she should be placed gently into the new crib. If the child cries out, parents may need to pat them gently for a few minutes or continue to sing in a soothing voice until they are able to return to sleep. Many parents find that a background noise of some kind, such as a fan or white noise machine, helps a baby feel less frightened. Once a baby has adapted to napping in the new bed, it will be much easier to make the adjustment to sleeping through the night there.
Although many parenting books advocate letting children cry themselves to sleep in order to teach them to sleep in their own beds, this philosophy is completely foreign to the desire of most parents who have chosen co-sleeping in the beginning. The challenge is to keep the baby calm and happy as they move to another stage in life.
Jennifer Lewis has a keen interest in child development and psychology. She writes for a site that provides advice on scholarship foundations for women and aims to help moms ease the financial burden of returning to education.