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transitioning from co-sleeping

Hi. I’m Kim West, The Sleep Lady, and in this video I’m going to answer Donna’s question that she posted on my Facebook page. Here’s what she wrote:

Hello. My 10-month-old has been co-sleeping with me as I found it easier while breastfeeding. So, where do I start getting him to sleep in his own room? – Donna.

Donna, there are a couple of different options that we can try and there are several steps to follow. I have lots of articles on co-sleeping in my blog that I welcome you to go and read and then a chapter in my book, Good Night, Sleep Tight.

Start By Sleeping In His Room

You could start, first of all, with sleeping in his room. If he has a crib or a cot in his room you will begin by preparing a makeshift bed for the two of you. Throw a twin mattress or futon in there. Whatever you use, be sure it is safe and reasonably comfortable. I want you to start by sleeping in there for anywhere from 3 to 5 nights.

Night Wean In His Room

If you need to factor in any night weaning, you can do that with him there, in that room. You can wean down to one feeding (or no feeding) during the night. During the night weaning you can even get dad (or the other parent) involved to help out — particularly on the nights when you stop nursing. It is helpful if the non-nursing parent is available to cuddle and spoon him back to sleep. After weaning is accomplished you will co-sleep in his room for 3 to 5 nights as said in step 1.

Choose A Good Night To Begin the Transition

You will pick your first big night to put him into the crib and begin after a day of good naps. To sleep coach him you will do The Sleep Lady Shuffle, which involves staying with him and offering physical and verbal reassurance to help him go to sleep.

Sleep Near His Crib At First

For the first 2 to 3 nights you could sleep in the makeshift bed that’s in his room so you are able to respond to him quickly.

But Don’t Get Stuck There!

A 10-month-old can easily sit up and look for you and be like, “Oh there’s mommy. Okay, good. And that’s where mommy sleeps now!” Before you know it, that’s where your bed is! So, again, don’t get stuck there.

It’s okay to sleep on the mattress for a couple of nights. But soon you want to move that mattress out of there and respond to him — if he’s still waking during the night — by using The Sleep Lady Shuffle.

How To Handle Naps

At some point you will also have to address the nap coaching. However, during the process of sleep coaching at night you may want to use something other than co-sleeping for naps. You could try putting him in a stroller, wearing him, or rocking him to sleep. All of those are okay to do so that you don’t have to do everything — sleep coach both at night and during the day — at once.

In some cases I have seen the mom continue to co-sleep for the naps and dad did the sleep coaching at night. I think that can be an interim plan that also works well.