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How to stop co-sleeping

There are many ways in which co-sleeping with a baby can be beneficial to new parents – including getting that all-important night’s sleep, as it often helps the baby to fall asleep faster and encourages them to sleep for longer. Co-sleeping with a baby can also be a great way to connect with your little one if you’re out at work all day, but it can be a pretty hard habit to break. So if you’re wondering how to stop co-sleeping with a baby, we’ve put together a few tips and tricks to help you successfully shift this routine and get your own bed back.

When to stop co-sleeping

Before you learn how, you need to know when to stop co-sleeping. There’s no right answer to this question though – it’s all about when it feels right for you. But as a general rule, the earlier the better. Toddler’s habits are more likely to be established as they get older, so we would recommend moving them to their own room before the age of three. Otherwise, you may run the risk of making the transition more difficult for the both of you – and you don’t want to get too comfortable. Although no matter what age you stop co-sleeping with a baby, you’ll find that your little one is likely to put up a bit of a protest – so don’t let that deter you.

How to stop co-sleeping with a baby

At a younger age, your baby is susceptible to change in behaviour and patterns, so it may be easier to crack the habit earlier on, rather than later down the line. The transition may need to start off slowly, but that’s okay. Learning how to break co-sleeping with a baby can be a sensitive process, so stopping gradually will help to make this change a little easier – for both you and baby. But this is by no means a small project, so getting the whole family involved will make those night shifts a little easier to handle.

We’ve put together a list of tips on how to stop co-sleeping that you can follow to make this transition a little easier for everyone. Discover our top tips below.

1. Consistency is key
This is one of our top co-sleeping tips. When deciding how to transition a baby from co-sleeping to crib, you need to be consistent. At this age, babies don’t have an understanding of time or sleep patterns, and you’ll confuse them if you switch between co-sleeping and cot. But putting a plan together (one that you and your partner agree on) will ensure that everyone understands the routine and the "rules". So don’t mix up their bedtime routine – keep it consistent or it might get a little messy.

And even if it’s just for a quick cuddle, try to keep your bed off limits for the first few months to avoid any confusion.

2. Two’s a crowd
If you’re specifically wondering how to transition a baby from co-sleeping to crib sleeping, don’t just "abandon" them in another room from the get-go. You may want to start off by slowly moving their cot further away from your bed each night – so that they can get used to sleeping in their own space, while still being close to you. Then, once they’ve adjusted, you can move the crib into their own bedroom. Or switch it round and bunk up with them for a few nights. After a fortnight or so they should feel comfortable enough to be left alone to sleep in their own space.

If that doesn’t suit, try sitting with them until they fall asleep before getting into your own bed. And then every night after that, get a little further away so that they can get used to not having you right next to them.

3. Naptime trials
For co-sleepers, naptime is the ideal opportunity to teach your baby to fall asleep on their own. But it’s unsafe to leave them alone in your bed at naptime, so start by trying them in their crib. It’ll give them time to familiarise themselves with that environment, and then the transition to a night in the crib won’t be so bad. They may get a little restless to begin with but sticking with it is the key. The trick is to put them down as they start to get drowsy, but while they’re still awake so they’re aware of what’s going on.

4. Comfort cues
Plan ahead and condition some comfort cues while you’re still sharing a bed, at least six weeks before you decide to make the transition. Then, when you decide to make the jump, your little one will have a source of comfort and familiarity to help them settle down.
  • Smells: Giving them something that smells of you can help them to adjust, while still having the comfort of “you” being near them – making them feel more secure in your absence. Perhaps cut up an old blanket, t-shirt or even a cuddly teddy bear?
  • Lights: From night lights to coloured lights that they can familiarise themselves with when in the other room.
  • Sounds: Whether that’s a white noise machine or a series of ambient sounds that can help them fall asleep, but can also be a source of comfort when they move into their own space.
5. Sleep havens
If your little one is used to sleeping in a bed with you, you may find they might not be happy sleeping in a cot or crib. So, if you feel comfortable doing so, you may want to skip the cot and go straight for a mattress on the floor. Though stick to a single mattress or smaller, as anything bigger may get a little overwhelming.

How to transition a baby from co-sleeping to crib

The key to learning how to stop co-sleeping with a baby is creating the right sleeping environment. Before you take your steps towards stopping co-sleeping with a baby, you need to set up their bedroom to make it as comfortable for them as possible. If they’re a little older, give them the opportunity to have a say in their décor – from wall stickers to colours and themes. Make sure you play with them in their room on a regular basis and allow them to get used to that space, so they can familiarise themselves with the smells, colours and everything in between. As long as the bedroom is “child friendly” you should be good to go – so secure all the furniture and don’t leave any loose wires or leads hanging about. And remember that babies under 12 months should be in bed with sleeping bags, and not duvets.

Co-sleeping tips: The final touch

You may also find that there are other external factors making this transition a little more difficult – from pesky allergens to fluctuating temperatures. At a young age, your baby struggles to regulate their body temperature – meaning they’re often left feeling too hot or too cold, making it harder to fall asleep.

The solution? Wool.

As a natural material, wool works to draw moisture away from the skin, leaving your little one feeling cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s not. Better yet, this process results in a clean sleep environment that warns off dust mites and fights off those sniffly noses.
If you’ve followed our advice on how to stop co-sleeping with a baby and are still having trouble, be sure to get in touch with your GP for further advice.

Make transitioning from co-sleeping with a baby a little easier with quality wool baby bedding, and help them get to sleep, comfortably.