Transitioning My Son Gently Into His Own Room
I had always co-slept, at least partially, from the time I brought Jordan home from the hospital. At first, he started out the night in his crib and when he got up, I brought him into our bed. When he was 4 months old he started getting up a lot due to teething pain, so I just co-slept with him full-time. My husband was having a problem with this as space was limited, so we bought a king size bed and that helped my husband deal with it. When Jordan turned 12 months old, my husband once again started complaining about Jordan sleeping with us as Jordan was still getting up a lot at night to nurse.
So we decided to move him into his own room, but we wanted to do it in a gentle way that didn’t involve crying it out. I also wanted to cutback on his night nursing as he was getting up 3-6 times to nurse and I wanted to do this as gently as possible. What we did was put away the crib, why waste time in trying to get him to sleep in it. We then child-proofed his room, put our old queen mattress on the floor and a gate at the door for safety reasons. I also accepted that this wasn’t going to happen overnight.
We kept his usual bedtime routine and I nursed him to sleep as usual. I would go into his room with him when he woke up and nurse him back to sleep. I gave him a couple of days to get used to not being in our bed and then I started cutting back his nursing time, telling him as I unlatched him “It’s okay to roll over and go to sleep”. Sometimes this worked and sometimes I had to continue to nurse him. In the beginning, I was in there most of the night but as he got used to this new nighttime arrangement, he started sleeping longer stretches and I rarely had to stay in his room to get sleep. By the time he was 17 months old, he was only getting up 0-1 time a night, which was much better than the 3-6 times a night.
When he was around 22 months old, we bought him a twin bed and moved the queen mattress into the spare bedroom. He slept in his new bed without it changing his pattern. Around this time, we also wanted to change his going to sleep routine to one where he didn’t nurse to sleep. So what I did was nurse him to the count of 10 on each side, rock him and sing to him. I then laid down with him in his bed until he fell asleep. He accepted this and will now go to sleep by himself in his room some of the time, which is okay, he is only 2 years old and is still learning independence.
There are times when he does come into our bed, such as when he is sick, when his teething bothers him (he is getting his 2 year molars) or when he has had a bad dream. He has no problem going to sleep in his room after the nights he is in our bed.