How to Stop Co-Sleeping

By Sheryl Faber
Children in the bedroom can disrupt sleep and relationships.
Children in the bedroom can disrupt sleep and relationships.

Your bed seems to be getting smaller and smaller as your toddler grows and continues to insist on sleeping with you. It may be time to get him to sleep in his own room. Co-sleeping is when parents choose to have their infant or baby sleep with them in their bed. When this continues beyond the first three to four months and into the toddler years, it can be difficult for the child to make the transition. It takes discipline and consistency to help a child adapt to sleeping on his own.

Enlist the aid of your child in decorating his room. The act of buying a new bed especially for him and letting him know what a big boy he is may help. If your budget allows, a bed shaped like a race car or with sports- or cartoon-themed bedding may entice your son, while a young girl may love a white canopy bed or a doll-themed headboard and bedding. Allow the child to help arrange the room and make the new bed. The more involved he is in assembling a "big kid" room, the more likely he will be to stay in his own bed to sleep.

Be firm and structured. Develop a bedtime routine where the child goes to bed long before the adults. Give him a bath, help him brush his teeth, tuck him in, read a few story books and then leave him on his own. Turn on a small lamp or nightlight to make him more comfortable and leave the door open a crack if necessary. He may resist, but it is important to put him right back to bed if he gets up. This may go on for several nights until he adjusts to the new routine.

Stay with him until he falls asleep for a few nights if necessary. This will cut down on stress and crying jags until he is comfortable in his own bed. But don't give in to constant demands for a drink of water or one more story.

Be prepared for your child to wake during the night and attempt to crawl into your bed. Simply take the child by the hand and lead him back to his own room. Repeat as many times as necessary. It may take closing the bedroom door to keep him in his own room. If you awake during the night and find your child asleep beside you, pick him up and bring him back to his own bed.