One of the most struggles that parents encounter with their baby’s sleep is often in regards to independent sleep and having them sleep in a different space; supporting either solo naps or nighttime sleep, or making the transition from bedsharing or cosleeping to their own surface and space.
And I get it!
This transition can feel so intimidating and overwhelming.
Our babies are designed to want to be close to their caregivers. This is a biological norm, and it is how they are designed to attach to their caregivers. However, it is also crucial that we gently support our children through the change and towards independent sleep if we feel ready and essential to the entire family's well-being. There is absolutely nothing wrong with bedsharing or contact napping if you love it. I encourage you to examine your “why’s” motivating this change. It is important you feel confident and secure in making these changes – if you are uncertain, or only doing so because of societal pressure, you may not feel comfortable setting the loving limits and boundaries necessary for the change, and your child will feel your uncertainty.
If it is working for you, there is no rush. You can make the change at any time, there is no magical window of a baby's life that is the easiest time for the transition, and it doesn't get more challenging as your little one gets older. 100% of children who bedshared with their parents through babyhood and even to the preschool years will eventually sleep independently, even if they are left to initiate the transition at their own pace. However, if it is no longer working for you and you need to change, you're in the right place!
We are going to cover some basic tips and strategies to start the transition to independent sleep for your little one. If you are looking for additional guidance and a more comprehensive overview, Independent Sleep Through Connection is designed with everything from sleep foundations, to setting up a safe sleep space, down to tangible timelines and strategies to transition your little one.
It is important to know that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing! There is absolutely a beauty in flexible sleeping arrangements, tuning into your little one and making the transition in a way that meets both your baby’s needs and your needs. If you are desperate for a change and need to gently guide the process along, it is okay to set loving limits and boundaries, and consistency will work in your favour. But there is also nothing wrong with taking a more flexible approach to transitions if you feel that would suit your family better if there is less urgency in making the change.
Alright, let’s get into it!
So let’s start with where your baby sleeps. If your little one has always bedshared with you and is transiting to their own space, either in your room or in their own room, a floor bed can be one of the most amazing tools. This is especially true if your little one is older than 9 or so months, as a transition to the crib can be a bit trickier. Floor beds allow for the flexibility of being able to soothe them to sleep, roll out, and bedshare on the tougher nights or more wakeful nights. It is also a setup that they will be more familiar with, whereas a crib can feel a bit more restrictive and foreign.
Step number 1 is to make sure your child is familiar with their sleep space
Have them play in and around their space, both with the lights on and lights off. Be intentional about creating a positive environment and energy within their new space. You can play games, cuddle, read books, feed, make funny faces or do silly actions to make your baby laugh. The goal is to have your little one release endorphins in the space. If they do not like their space during their away/daytime, they will not feel secure in it at night! So spend as much time in the space as possible while awake!
Step 2 is to build new patterns
Add a layer into your bedtime routine where your baby spends some time in the space before sleep, such as before bath time while you sing songs or read books together. It is vital to get your little one used to the space during their nighttime routine. During this process, you're working on getting babies comfortable with their own space during the transition into sleep.
Step 3 is LOTS of practice
If using a crib, try to support your baby to sleep and transfer them into their crib. Keep your expectations realistic; it might be only for 15 minutes! If using a floor bed support your child to sleep in the ways you normally do while laying on the floor bed. Start with either the first nap of the day or the first stretch of sleep during the night. For the first stretch of sleep during the night, the sleep pressure is the highest, and the first nap of the day has left oversleep pressure from the night.
If your little one is younger than 6 months, keep in mind that it is so so normal for them to be even more dependent on closeness and connection. As they get older, it is natural for your child to be a bit more comfortable with more separation, but of course, just like everything else, this is totally baby dependent. It will also be important that your little one is set up for optimal sleep, from sleep associations to environment and routine, as this will really aid the process.
Independent Sleep Through Connection covers more information, resources and tips to support you through this transition, as well as solutions to challenges you may run into along the way.
As part of this course, you will receive
Over an hour of video/audio
A beautifully designed 75+ page E-Book Guide with ALL of the tools you need
Worksheets, checklists and additional bonus resources
All the best practices and strategies you need to make the transition successful and responsive to both your needs for a change and your little one's attachment and emotional needs