As much as we enjoy co-sleeping as new parents, all the cuddles and ease of feeding, it’s not always easy nor is it always comfortable! When we co-sleep for too long, our children can become co-dependent on having us around to obtain a good night’s rest. On top of co-dependency, I’m sure many parents feel the pain of having a toddler in your bed taking up all of your space and kicking you in the side. Co-sleeping becomes more difficult as we begin to co-parent as each parent may have a different routine at their individual homes. Although difficult, taking on co-sleeping while co-parenting is possible, and it does not take both parents having the same routine to do so. Children adapt well to routine, even if they know there are different routines to be followed at Mommy and Daddy’s house. It helps to be adjusted in both homes but not necessary. I know of co-parenting situations where the child co-sleeps in one home and not the other, every situation is unique. Below are some tips to use to help.
1. Allow the child to be the designer of his or her own space. Make it a big production by going shopping and allowing him or her to pick out all the accessories, sheets, blankets, etc. Maybe gear the theme to their favorite character or colors. A child will feel proud of a space they created themselves, no matter how it may look to you.
2. Make it cozy and functional. You don’t want to put the bed near a window where the child may be exposed to more noise while trying to sleep. Choose the room layout wisely for appeal and functionality.
3. Use sound machines or music. If you have a lot of other children in the house the sound machine really drowns out some of the noise. The music is also very soothing for the children and it helps to keep them in that deep sleep for a longer period. It also gives consistency when you travel because you can create that same environment for them wherever you go.
4. Co-sleep with him or her in their own room (not in the bed). By allowing your child to sleep in their bed with you right next to them for at least 2 weeks, this can set a routine and eventually you can begin going back to your own bed after they fall asleep.
5. Offer rewards for staying in their room all night. The next morning when they come into your room, make a huge deal out of how much they are growing by learning to sleep in their bed all night. Maybe have a special toy, sticker, coupon or certificate to give them. As a nurse, I do not advise on giving food as a reward as it creates unhealthy eating habits.
6. Use sleeping toys to help your child transition and feel safe. This can be a special blanket, a teddy bear or stuffed animal, even a book that the kids read before bed. My youngest daughter loved her Tinkerbell eye pillow.
Just remember, there WILL be nights that they will crawl back into your bed and that’s ok, just take them back to their bed and be consistent. Do not make it a painful experience or it will be more difficult, stay positive! It takes lots of time, patience, and emotional support. Good luck parents!