Parenting is full of fears you never knew you had. Diaper rash. Car seat safety. Weird snuffly noises. And chief among them? Your baby’s sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends room-sharing to prevent SIDS and promote parent-child bonding. But the next step — transitioning baby to his own room — can be challenging and full of new fears. Here’s how to pull it off so baby feels safe and you feel like a human again:
How to Smooth the Transition for Baby
1. Start Small
Going cold turkey on sleeping with mom and dad can be difficult for a toddler. Instead, start with nap time. As baby gradually gets used to sleeping in his own room during the day, you can start introducing the idea of sleeping there at night, too. Explain the plan to him beforehand. Try feeding and rocking him to sleep in his room. If he wakes up and fusses, you can bring him back to your room for part of the night. Then, gradually increase the amount of time he spends in his own room each night.
2. Share Baby’s Room
If the transition proves too difficult, try sleeping in baby’s room for a little while. With parents nearby, baby may become more comfortable with his new surroundings and gradually come to accept his room as a safe place to sleep. Then, once good sleeping is established, you can move back to your room.
3. Wait for a Happy Time
Ease baby’s transition by attempting the move during a happy and healthy time. If baby is sick, toilet training or teething, he will wake and cry more frequently. Moving to a new bedroom during an already tumultuous time may turn your sweet little prince or princess into a furious creature of the night. Instead, make only one change at a time.
4. Bring on the Comfort
Moving to a new sleep environment is stressful for anyone (think about the last time you slept well in a strange bed!). So incorporate lots of comforting bedtime rituals during this transition, like story time, rocking, cuddling, or nursing. Consider putting baby to bed with a favorite stuffed animal, warm water bottle or a soothing white noise machine nearby that simulates the sound of a heart beat.
How to Smooth the Transition for Mom and Dad
1. Keep an Eye Out
Anxiety about what could be happening to your baby in the next room will stop your sleep in its tracks. To calm your nerves, install an HD wi-fi security camera in the baby’s room. Mobile connectivity, motion-triggered push notifications, and two-way audio capabilities will help you discreetly monitor baby from a distance and give you peace of mind.
2. Take Turns
If baby wakes more frequently in his own bed at first, try taking turns to get up and comfort baby every other night while the other parent sleeps undisturbed. Allowing yourselves to get enough sleep will help you both have the patience, tenderness and wisdom needed to be a good parent during this transition.
3. Get Support
Watching your child go through a tough change can be even tougher on a loving parent. If the change proves to be too intimidating, reach out to other parents for support. Join a mom’s group or online community. Ask others for their tips, or simply listen to their stories and realize that this will not last forever. Cherish baby’s neediness now — soon he will be walking and talking and all grown up!