Stop Co sleeping- From Bed Sharing to Cot

How to Stop Co Sleeping

In the recent post ‘Controlled Crying – Naptimes and Cosleeping’ I explained how the Ferber technique wasn’t suited for families with a co-sleeping arrangement due to the very nature of the method. We had a question come into the site from a lady who wanted to know the easiest way of making the transition from a co-sleeping arrangement to a cot in the baby’s own room and how soon after she could start using Ferber. I explained how the transition could be made a little easier and in this post I will continue where I left off.

 

I have spoken to many parents, with first hand experience, who warn others not to adopt a co-sleeping arrangement as baby will never take to the cot. They go on to explain that babies presented with the transition will scream blue murder until you eventually give in to the relentless bombardment and accept them into your bed with the promise to yourself that you’ll be tougher on them the next night!

 

I’m not going to get into the whole co-sleeping or cot debate for newborns as we have covered this extensively in previous posts. This post is about helping those who are already in the predicament above.

 

So what do you do when you are co-sleeping and your baby reaches the age where you feel she should be in a cot in her own room? The answer, I believe, is to take things very gradually. The problem is that your baby has got so used to sleeping next to you that if she suddenly finds herself plonked in unfamiliar surroundings, with no sign of you, she is unlikely to be in the frame of mind to sleep! She’ll be worried that she can’t see, touch, smell or hear you next to her anymore. This will undoubtedly result in some serious screaming and crying out. In my opinion, this is an alarming and stressful experience to put your baby through and it certainly should not be attempted using the Ferber technique.

 

Instead of going from one extreme to the other, you should consider getting hold of a cot that attaches to your bed and letting your baby get used to that sleeping arrangement first. This is a much easier transition to make because you are still close to her and her surroundings haven’t changed a great deal. I wouldn’t advise being tough at this stage. If she complains, comfort her in the same way she is used to until she learns that things haven’t really changed enough to complain about.

 

Once she gets used to that arrangement you could try moving thecot away from your bed a little bit and seeing how she takes to that. If she is fine with that, keep moving the cot further and further away until you decide the time is right for her to have her own room. Hopefully, the gradual change should make it much less stressful for her.

 

When she wakes up and finds herself in a new room she will still undoubtedly cry out for you. I would still be inclined, at this stage, to comfort her in much the same way as she has been used to. Once a few nights have gone by, if she is still waking and crying frequently, you could consider starting the Ferber Technique (as long as she is more than six months old).

 

There are no hard and fast rules for the above and the most important thing is for you to use your instincts to judge how the transition is going and when it’s right to move onto the next stage.

 

The major problem that parents face when attempting the transition is that they only decide to start once their baby’s sleep has become disrupted. This usually means that just as baby is experiencing teething and other developmental milestones, her parents decide that this is the best time for her to move out! Obviously, this is not going to work and will just make the problem much worse. My advice is to start the transition while your baby is sleeping well. The decision to deliberately sabotage your sleep is a tough one to make but trust me, in the long run, it will be well worth it.

 

For those parents who have left it too late and are sharing a bed with a baby who is already experiencing the developmental milestones, my advice is to try and wait it out. It will be a very difficult time for all of you but there is no miracle cure for this one unfortunately.

 

To close, I want to offer one final tip that has been passed on to me by many parents who have described their baby reacting to the cot, during the transition, as if it were ‘electrified’ even if they were fast asleep! They reported after much trial and error that it was often the temperature of the cot that caused the adverse reaction. Babies are very sensitive to temperature and if they have been used to being wrapped up warmly in your bed and suddenly find themselves on a cold, stale matress, they might have something to say about it! You might want to try warming the matress by rubbing it with your hands or using a hot water bottle for a couple of minutes.

 

Good luck and let me know your own experiences with this!

Comments (10)

spignhils
December 12, 2008 - 9:31 pm /

Hi!
My name is Jessika!

Elizabeth
December 12, 2008 - 10:37 pm /

My husband and I are trying to get our 8-month-old, newly-teething, co-sleeping, night-feeding son to sleep through the night in his own bed. His cot is right beside our bed. Before he began teething, he would wake up a couple of times in the night. Since the teething, however, he wakes up about six times between his bedtime (7pm) and his get-up time (7am).

We found this web site via Google search on the Ferber Technique. Your blog had us laughing, nodding our heads and gave us several “a-ha!” moments. This article in particular is spot-on with our experience. Nothing seems to wake up our baby quicker than being put into his own cot!

We are first-time parents and have also been trying to make sense of all the contradictory information out there, in order to help our son sleep better.

We’re thrilled that your blog has given us a practical plan of action. Our first step will be to get him used to sleeping in his bed, then stop the night feeds, then try a sleep-training method.

December 16, 2008 - 10:54 am /

Hi Elizabeth

Thank you for you lovely comment, please keep us updated with your progress.

Lullaby Babies has recently received some national press I have therefore been very busy working on the retail side of our operation. After the Christmas rush is over I will be putting a lot more time into writing this blog with a view to maintaining and expanding its usefulness as an impartial resource for new parents.

I hope you are managing to get a few hours sleep at night during this difficult time! Have a lovely Christmas.

Richard Jenkinson
Lullaby Babies

Rachael
January 23, 2009 - 2:03 pm /

My baby was 7 weeks premature and spent a month on Special Care in an incubator. When I got him home he had to be swaddled or held and very warm. If he got cool he would scream the place down. He instantly shut up when I held him and as I was breastfeeding him he often fell to sleep in my bed. He would then just wake for a feed and go back off to sleep. Problem is that he is now 8 months, teething, crawling and starting to say words. He has started to be unsettled at night again, crying in his sleep and being restless. I never wanted to co sleep but it seemed to help him develop well and his paedatrician is amazed how well he has caught up as he was only 3 lbs when he was born. I now would like to get him into his own room, I realise I wont be able to just put him in there and leave him as he will scream blue murder, we tried this and he screamed and screamed until I couldnt take anymore. I cant leave him to cry it distresses me too much. Any solutions would be appreiated.

January 26, 2009 - 7:31 pm /

Hi Rachael, I’m sorry to hear about this. I realise the predicament you’re in but unfortunately it is a really bad time to attempt to instigate a huge change in your baby’s sleeping habits without suffering the consequences of many nights worth of screaming. The Ferber technique, or one of its derivatives, may be able to help but I would never advise this with a baby born 7 weeks premature. You’d need to ask your paediatrician to check whether he or she thinks it is safe to try. In my opinion I think it would probably be safe because you mentioned your baby has put on weight well and that your paediatrician is happy with his progress.

However, given the developmental milestones he has just reached, there is a real possibility that the technique will not work in any case. Teething and other milestones cause huge disruptions in sleep for nearly all babies and to add to this by suddenly changing his surroundings is probably a recipe for disaster. In the post above I discussed the method of attempting the controlled crying technique in small steps. You could try putting him down in a cot right beside your bed and gradually increasing the distance of the cot from the bed every few nights. At this point you would be responding to his cries as usual. Then once he has adjusted, moving him into his own room and increasing the crying response time would be the final step (see above). However, he is likely to put up a strong fight still so there will undoubtedly come a point when you will have to decide whether you can stand to get tough with his cries. If not, there is little point attempting the technique in the first place. If this is the case, your options would be: a) to keep things as they are while his teeth are causing him such discomfort (and starting the Ferber technique at a later date) b) to try a less drastic version of the technique to try and teach him to comfort himself back to sleep. I will investigate the other techniques available and write a post in the next few days so you are in a better position to weigh up your options.

There is not going to be a magic answer unfortunately and I really do sympathise with your predicament. I wish you all the best with it, let us know how you get on, and I’ll write a post soon to discuss the above further.

Laura
May 26, 2009 - 2:40 pm /

Hi,

I have read your blog with great interest and wonder if you could offer me some more advice. My daughter is 9 months old and was in our room in a crib next to the bed for 6 months as i was breast feeding and this was easiest. I had to return to work when she was 7 months so thought it best to move her into her own room from 6 months (stopped breast feeding at 5 months). This was easy enough at the beginning as she would fall asleep with her night time bottle and would then sleep in her cot all night, waking on one or two occasions to get her dummy. She now manages to find her own dummy so for a few weeks we had restful nights with only a couple of occasions where she needed comforted.

She then developed a bad cold about 4 weeks ago, which I put down to teething, and needed a lot of comfort. As i was back at work it was easier to bring her into our bed to settle her, which worked instantly, rather than stand for 90 minutes trying to soothe her. We are now in the tricky situation where she settles down to sleep with her bottle and at 2am is back in beside us. My partner and I are aching all over as she now takes up most of the bed and we have inches each and we are so sleep deprived that she’ll be lucky if she’ll have two parents who even like each other soon!

We have tried everything but nothing seems to work except bringing her into our bed. I have even contemplated putting a pillow in her cot as she cosies up to ours when in our bed, but am worried she is still too young.

We have tried the ferber technique but after 2 hours of trying to settle her, and usually with me crying as well, we always cave in and just take her into our bed.

I spoke to my partner about moving her cot into our room but it was tight enough with the crib and i feel that if she sees us in the bed she’ll still want in beside us. He also feels it would be like a step back. I fear this may go on for months as she has had teething symptoms for 2 months but still no teeth.

My partner, who is studying at the moment has actually slept in the spare room the past few nights as he has important exams, but obviously this situation is far from ideal.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. sorry for the rambling, but I blame the sleep deprivation. 🙂

May 28, 2009 - 2:34 pm /

Hi Laura,

I am sorry you’re going through a really difficult stage. I’ll try to advise as best I can.

Basically, I think your problems have arisen because she has been swapping sleeping arrangements and is subsequently confused. Babies need a consistent and predictable routine to be able to sleep well. Having said that, I fully understand that you had little choice but to move her during her illness. Obviously, her preference is to sleep in bed next to you and if she thinks this is on the table, she will cry until you give in every time.

Your goal is to set a consistent pre-bed routine that you can stick to every night which culminates in her being put down in her cot,in her own room, where she can comfort herself to sleep. You don’t have to use the Ferber technique but you should follow the key principles of putting her in her cot while she’s awake and when you do go in, comforting her gently without picking her up.

Also, make sure the temperature of her room is correct as it might be that lying in bed next to mum and dad is much warmer than her own room at 2am and this is what she is objecting to. You could also try putting something in the crib that smells of you, but please don’t put a pillow in because for babies under one year old, this is a serious safety risk.

It won’t be easy by any means but it is only going to get worse if you carry on swapping her around. Once she learns that her new arrangement is solid and is not about to change, she will adapt and learn to comfort herself back to sleep when she wakes in the night.

I hope this helps and I wish you all the best with it. Sleep deprivation can put serious strain on relationships but if you recognise that you’re both going through the same thing and that it’s just as tough for both of you, you can give each other strength and help each other through this testing time.

Jesse
July 12, 2009 - 11:11 pm /

Hi!
My name is jesse. I have a nearly 8 month old daughter. 2 months ago she had been sleeping fine from 9-5, woke up for a feed and went back to sleep till 8. she was always rocked to sleep. Then we happened to go for a holiday to thailand which disrupted her sleeping (flights and time difference). when we came back after 10 days her sleeping went haywire and she started waking more often. I thought this was because she was hungry and started weaning her(at 6 months). things did not improve and I took her into my bed to make her sleep better. She started sleeping but then again she is waking every 45 mins till I go and sleep with her. We also want her to start sleeping in her own cot again but she wont . she is still rocked/fed to sleep and would wake up as soon as you lay her down in the cot and start screaming. I dont want to make her cry as I cant bear it. What else can I do? any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Joanne
December 20, 2010 - 1:25 pm /

Hi there, i wonder if you could advise us please. I have a 20 month old girl and an 8 month old boy – they share a room. About 4 months ago my 20 month old a very bad cold so came in with us and we have only just realised the time elapsed!! We need our marriage back and need to get our daughter back into her own bedroom with her brother. She sleeps in their in the daytime lovely, and goes to bed fine but about an hour later screams blue murder, this scares the baby boy so we have to move him out which then makes her jelous and makes her even worse!!

I feel at a dead end, i have waited 2 and a half hours one night of endless screaming, i went in every 10 mins, didnt say a word just lay her back down and a few times tried cuddling her, but nothing worked.

Any ideas please, i would be most grateful. Thank you for your time, joanne x

ana
February 15, 2012 - 3:39 pm /

Hi,

JUST LOVE THIS BLOG!!! 🙂

My son is 11 months old…. at the begining I was very determined not to cosleep with him due to the fact that I heard many many stories about mommies that fell asleep while breastfeeding and the babies died suffocated with mommys breast… anyway .. we decided not to take him to bed. He was waking up a few times during the night I was breastfeeding him and he was sleeping again.. 🙂 happy happy!!! but noooo I had to do this wrong!!!!! He got sick, temperature and everything and in his room I have only the baby kot I don’t have any other bed so i told to myself that we will ddo this JUST during this period!!! NOW… everything is hell!!! I am working so usually we are tired, I take him to bed, put him to his bed, to his room but he wakes up every 30 – 45 minutes!!!!! just like the bed is burining him!!! When I give up, I take him and on our way to my bedroom he fels asleep in my arms, doesn’t wake up until the morning!!! 10 days ago he was sick again so we have 10 days now co-sleeping happily!!! He sleeps at 8 and wakes up at 7! NOT JOKING! i wake him up at 4 for his medicine but he is with his eyes closed!!! even if it happens for him to open his eyes he sees me and sleeps again!!! Ok it is very nice slleping with him, as he hugs us and kisses us and everything but I still think that he should sleep in his bed and I STILL wish to find a solution to put him back there!

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