How Can I Gently End Co-Sleeping With My Toddler?

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  • July 28, 2014

Hi, Kim West, The Sleep Lady and in this vlog, I am going to answer Cristina’s question:

“Please help. My son is a year and a half and he’s co-sleeping with me. He doesn’t want to sleep in his crib. He wakes up in the middle of the night. I’ve tried everything. I’ve shortened his naps. I’ve lengthened his naps. Nothing seems to work.

“Sometimes I’m afraid he might fall off the bed. I really need us both on a good sleeping pattern because he’s going to Head Start soon and I’m going to go to college and we’re both going to need the sleep. Any suggestions? I’ve tried everything and I don’t know what to do.”

 

Use The Crib

 

It sounds like you want him to sleep in a crib, and you are ready to sleep coach him. I don’t know if you will have already started college by the time you see this video, but let’s assume you have. You probably want to start on a Friday. Hopefully, your son’s Head Start program is making sure that he has a good afternoon nap. If you do start on a Friday, make sure that he has a good nap and then an age-appropriate bedtime. The average night sleep needs at his age is 11 ¼ hours of sleep at night and 2 ¼ hours during the day.

 

Do Some Math

 

You’ll need to do the math backwards, depending on when he has to get up. Even if he has to wake up at at 7:00 a.m., although it would be the weekend. For a 7:00 a.m. wake up time, he needs to be asleep by 7:45, to get that average amount of recommended sleep. You’ll want to start there. Watch for his sleepy cues, and don’t let him nap during the ride home from Head Start.

 

Use The Shuffle

 

child nappingI would also be sure to follow the rules of The Shuffle.  I would put him in the crib after your soothing bedtime routine saying, “I love you, sweetie pie. Night, night,” and then sit next to his crib. If his crib is really close to your bed, go ahead and just lie down on your bed. You can pat through the slots of the crib if you need to saying, “Night, night, sweetie. Lie down.” Encourage him to lie down. Don’t get into a struggle of lying him down because you’ll never win, especially with a toddler. Eventually when he lies down, you could do a little patting or shushing until he’s asleep. Then you have got to respond consistently to every single awakening.

 

Have Realistic Expectations

 

I know this is tough, and it will get worse before it gets better. That’s why I want you to start on the weekend. You could potentially nap with him on the weekend at the same time and rest up yourself to make sure that you can be consistent at night. You’ll need to really dedicate a good solid two weeks at night and be super consistent, making sure that Head Start is supporting your efforts and making sure he is well-napped sometime in the afternoon (after 12 noon). My book gives lots more details and also I have a course online where you can get support to help you through this process.

Video filmed by In Focus Studios

If you have experienced a similar situation or have had success, please share your story on The Sleep Lady’s Facebook page.  Supporting each other makes parenting so much easier!

Kim West
Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 24 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. She is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight, its companion Workbook and 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. Click here to read more about her.

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