Saturday, 13 September 2014

Co-Sleeping & SmartMom

Today I have something a little bit different on the blog. I have been doing some writing recently for a really great company called SmartMom and I have mentioned on this blog a few times how keen I am to start getting Ava sleeping through the night in her own bed. So I thought that I would intersperse the two by bringing you a guest post from one of the writers over at SmartMom on this very subject.

Hopefully when the time comes (after her 3rd birthday) these little tips will be of some use to me. And to anyone currently in the same predicament...

Ready to Ease Out of Co-Sleeping? Tips for Making a Smooth Transition

Co-sleeping has become an increasingly common arrangement in recent years: for some it’s a well-thought out choice, for others simply a survival tactic. But whether it lasts for a couple of months or several years, parents are often unsure how to best make the move to separate sleeping arrangements when the time comes.

Following are tips for easing the transition for your child:

Start slow
If your child isn’t used to spending a lot of time in her room, build in lots of time for play there; you want her to have positive associations with the space. If she’s old enough, you may also want to let her pick out some fun new “big girl” sheets or bedding.
When you’re ready for the next step, take a couple of nights to sleep in her room with her; this helps her get comfortable with the new surroundings. If your child is moving to a crib, you can sleep on a mattress on the floor.

Enlist a “friend”
A lovey, such as a special stuffed animal or blanket, can really help with creating a feeling of cosiness and security as your child gets used to sleeping without you. (Check with your pediatrician if you’re concerned about infant safety.) Hold the lovey between you and your baby as you feed her, or even sleep with the lovey yourself for a few nights to get your smell on it.

Young children can help pick out a special animal or doll and often enjoy making the lovey a part of their bedtime routine: “Let’s pick out a story to read to teddy.” Be sure to tuck teddy in at the same time that you say goodnight to your child.

Ease your child into new sleep skills
Going to sleep and staying asleep independently is a learned skill that will take your child some time to master, especially if she has been co-sleeping with you for a long time. Help her learn gradually by starting out sitting next to her bed or crib for a few nights and offering some soothing. Every few nights, you can move farther away and reduce the amount of assistance you’re providing, until you’re out of the room (within a week or two).

Stick with it!
If co-sleeping has been a long-term arrangement, expect that it will take some time to make the adjustment and that there may be some tantrums and limit-testing along the way. Be patient and loving but firm in sticking with the plan. Remember that your goal is to help everyone get good sleep, and that’s important to your whole family’s health and well-being.

It may be hard, but do not let her wander into your room during the night, and don’t lie down in her bed with her – this will only confuse her and make the process longer and harder on everyone. Instead, heap on plenty of praise for her efforts and keep going. With persistence and encouragement, your child can learn to sleep well in her own bed!

Stephanie Hughes is a mum of two, a certified sleep coach at Little Star Sleep Coaching, and writer for the SmartMom blog.  SmartMom is a app for mums who like to help each other out - you can join the community by visiting the app store.   

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