How Can I Move My Co-Sleeping Toddlers Into Their Own Beds?

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  • June 11, 2013

Would you like to have me answer your baby or toddler sleeping question in my next video? If so, scroll down and submit your question in the comment section below. I will pick several questions a month to answer and post them here on the blog!

If you would rather read than watch my above video then here is the transcript of this week’s toddler sleep question video:

Hi. Kim West, the Sleep Lady.

In this video, I’m going to answer Kim’s question. She wrote in the following:

Dear Sleep Lady,

Could you please give me some advice on how to get both my children to sleep in their own beds? About a year ago I began working 4 nights a week, which meant that my husband started to put the boys to bed. They have a good routine: bath, story, then sleep; and they have their story in our bed, which is where they fall asleep. Our 4-year-old will then be carried into his own bed and stay there until maybe 2 or 3 am and then he’ll come in to our bed. However, our 20-month-old will very rarely even leave our bed. Even if he does, it’s only for an hour or two.

Obviously, having 4 of us in the bed is taking its toll and we’re all waking up moody and still tired. We want to try to get them both into their own beds, but the problem is when I’m at work my husband cannot be with both of them at the same time in separate rooms. I can’t even get any time off at work for the moment to try to help. Do you have a way that when I’m at work, my husband can manage to ease the kids into sleeping into their own beds? Everything I’ve read tells us to stay with one of our children in their own room and slowly work our way out. But this can’t be done with one parent and two children. I’d be grateful for your advice. Thanks so much for your help with this toddler sleep problem.

It is difficult if you’re the only parent sleep coaching two children, and you want them to sleep in their own rooms instead of co-sleeping with you. From your question, I could not tell if you want the 20-month-old to sleep in a bed or in a crib in his own room. While I understand that you want them both out of your bed and into their own rooms, I would encourage you to have the 20-month-old be in a crib. He really is not old enough to understand, nor does he have the impulse control to stay in a big bed all night long. Hopefully having your 20-month old in a crib is a possibility; if not, the situation is not impossible, but it may be much more difficult for you to have him stay in his toddler bed at night.

Let’s assume that your 20-month old is going to transition from your bed into a crib. To do this, start on a night where both you and your husband are home together (I assume that you have at least one night per week where this happens, as you mentioned that you work 4 nights each week). This will ensure that one parent can coach the 4-year-old and the other parent can coach the 20-month-old. If you can’t be home to help (at least for a few nights), then I would have your husband start with the 20-month-old first. He can get your 4-year-old settled in his room, perhaps watching a quiet video (you don’t want anything that is going to be overly exciting), reading, or playing quietly. Once he has your 4-year-old squared away, he can focus on putting your 20-month-old to bed earlier. This should help, as most 20-month-olds go to bed earlier than 4-year-olds, (maybe around 7:00-7:30 p.m.) and he can sleep coaching your toddler with The Sleep Lady Shuffle.

What to Expect When You Transition Your Co-Sleepers to Their Own Beds

Now, when you begin The Sleep Lady Shuffle your husband is going to have to leave and do checks with the 20-month old. You can read more about timed checks in the age-appropriate chapter of Good Night, Sleep Tight. Once the 20-month-old is starting to go to bed on his own, then you can begin sleep coaching your 4-year-old.

Before you begin sleep coaching, I would have a family meeting with both of them and say, “Bedtime is going to change. Mommy and Daddy talked to The Sleep Lady and we’re going to teach you both how to sleep in your own beds, in your own rooms. You’re gonna feel so proud of yourselves when you do it.”

And finally, be patient. It’s going to take a few weeks and most importantly it’s going to take complete consistency on both of your parts, but it’s absolutely possible.

To read more about helping your children transition from co-sleeping to their own beds, I have written an article that offers additional tips for transitioning your co-sleeping toddler into their own bed.

Okay, good luck.

Kim West, The Sleep Lady

Do you have any tips for transitioning your toddler into his own bed?

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Video filmed by In Focus Studios

If you have struggled with trying to sleep coach two children at the same, feel free to share your experiences and support. Please feel free to click the “reply” link under this article and leave them a comment. Supporting each other makes parenting so much easier!

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2 Comments

  • marymary says:

    Our daughter is going to be 3 next month. She has been co-sleeping 

    with us for the last 13 months. Over Christmas we redid her room 

    and she has been very excited about getting a big girl bed from 

    Santa. We started the sleep training for afternoon naps and night 

    time simultaneously. 

    Days 1 and 2 I sat on the bed with her and got her to sleep as we 

    normally do. She did wake up few times at night and I went in and 

    helped her settle down. 

    Days 3-5, I moved to the chair next to her bed. Have been trying to 

    shhhh and reduce the hand holding/touching…and insteading sshhing 

    or patting her back as needed. She has been very excited to sleep 

    in her bed. But seems like she is waking up a lot esp at night. Day 

    time nap…maybe she will wake up once. But last night (day 5), she 

    was up every hour…just for 2 mins…I wasn’t in her room for more 

    than 5 minutes…I think she just called out to me and expected to 

    see me sitting in the chair anytime she woke up. 

    Also she only wants to go to bed with me…she will go with her dad 

    if I am not at home. But if I am, it’s only me for nap and bed 

    time. 

    I am hoping you can provide some suggesstions to help reduce the 

    frequent night time awakenings and encourage her to go to bed with 

    her Dad also. 

    Any help/advice will be very much appreciated. 

    Thanks
    Mary

  • marymary says:

    Our daughter is going to be 3 next month. She has been co-sleeping 

    with us for the last 13 months. Over Christmas we redid her room 

    and she has been very excited about getting a big girl bed from 

    Santa. We started the sleep training for afternoon naps and night 

    time simultaneously. 

    Days 1 and 2 I sat on the bed with her and got her to sleep as we 

    normally do. She did wake up few times at night and I went in and 

    helped her settle down. 

    Days 3-5, I moved to the chair next to her bed. Have been trying to 

    shhhh and reduce the hand holding/touching…and insteading sshhing 

    or patting her back as needed. She has been very excited to sleep 

    in her bed. But seems like she is waking up a lot esp at night. Day 

    time nap…maybe she will wake up once. But last night (day 5), she 

    was up every hour…just for 2 mins…I wasn’t in her room for more 

    than 5 minutes…I think she just called out to me and expected to 

    see me sitting in the chair anytime she woke up. 

    Also she only wants to go to bed with me…she will go with her dad 

    if I am not at home. But if I am, it’s only me for nap and bed 

    time. 

    I am hoping you can provide some suggesstions to help reduce the 

    frequent night time awakenings and encourage her to go to bed with 

    her Dad also. 

    Any help/advice will be very much appreciated. 

    Thanks
    Mary