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!