Catherine Completely Baby Sleep Consultant

Catherine Thompson
Baby Sleep Consultant & Owner of Completely Baby

There’s something so special about snuggling against your baby in the warmth of your bed and feeling their every breath. This nurturing sleep style offers so many benefits, from easy nighttime feeds to emotional connection in those early weeks and months. As your baby grows and the family dynamics change, you might feel the pull to give your little one a little independence in their own sleep space which brings the question: how to stop co sleeping?

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This transition is a big milestone in a child’s development and can also pull at your heartstrings as a parent. It’s not easy to let go. The move from bed sharing to their own sleep space involves plenty of patience, understanding and a well-thought-out plan for success. Here’s some practical advice and compassionate insights to make this milestone as smooth as possible for both you and your precious little one.

Understanding Co-Sleeping

Mother lying down in her bed with her infant baby

Co-sleeping can take on many different forms, depending on what works for your family. Whether you have your little one snuggled up against you in bed while you sleep, in a baby bed co sleeper right next to you, a co sleeper bassinet attached to the bed, or a co sleeping cot, sharing your sleeping space with your baby is a very nurturing experience. Co-sleeping encourages a sense of closeness and makes those long nights with your baby just a little easier.

The Benefits and Challenges of Co-Sleeping

Co-sleeping offers a range of emotional and physical benefits, which is why so many families are eager to test out this sleeping arrangement. Emotionally, it promotes bonding between parents and their little ones, creating a sense of security and comfort for the baby. This close physical touch can be reassuring during the early months of life. Co-sleeping also makes it much easier for breastfeeding mothers to respond to their baby’s needs throughout the night, leading to more restful sleep for everyone.

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However, alongside these benefits, co-sleeping comes with its challenges and potential risks. No matter your reason for taking on this journey, it’s always important to put your baby’s safety first. According to Red Nose Australia, the safest place for your baby is in their own safe sleep space, but if you do choose to co-sleep it’s about doing it in the safest way possible. Always place your baby on their back to sleep, keep all soft bedding away that can pose a suffocation risk and make sure the mattress is firm and flat. You also need to move your bed away from the wall so your baby can’t get trapped between the bed and the wall and make sure your baby can’t fall out of bed.

Balancing the emotional and physical benefits of co-sleeping with the need for a safe, healthy sleep environment is important for the well-being of both the child and the parents.

What Is The Best Age to Stop Co-Sleeping?

Young infant 6 months old asleep on bed lying on back

Starting co-sleeping is often an easy decision based on your circumstances (and often driven by lack of sleep). Knowing when and how to stop co sleeping is a different story. While there’s no best age to stop co sleeping, many experts suggest keeping babies in your room for the first 6 months (though this doesn’t usually mean co-sleeping in the same bed). This is often when babies start developing a more regular sleep pattern and may begin to sleep through the night. As they grow, their need for nighttime feeding decreases, and their ability to self-soothe increases, making it a good time to introduce more independent sleeping arrangements.

Signs Your Child Is Ready for Independent Sleeping

Recognising signs that your child is ready to move into their own sleeping space helps with a smooth transition. If your baby can fall asleep more independently and is showing a fairly consistent sleep schedule, they might be ready. Also, consider whether they are still waking for nighttime feeds or sleeping longer stretches on their own, or going through a new developmental milestone such as crawling or rolling. Responding to these signs can help you navigate the big transition with confidence.

Planning the Transition

Transitioning from co-sleeping to independent sleeping is a big change for both you and your child. After you’ve paid attention to any readiness signs, it’s important to plan your transition to prepare your little one for their new sleep environment.

Start by setting up a safe and comfortable space, such as a cot in the child’s own room. Promote sleep with a comfortable temperature, minimal light and a white noise machine. Planning a few daytime naps in this sleep space (before the big move) can help familiarise your little one with this new space and ease the transition.

Choosing the Right Sleep Training Method

While there are a number of different methods you can use to help your baby adjust to this space, infants and toddlers respond best to a gentle responsive method that meets their needs. It’s about helping your little one adjust to their new sleep space and easy them into this big change with understanding and comfort.

Implementing the Change

Newborn swaddled and being cuddled by her mother

Transitioning from co-sleeping to independent sleeping is a gradual process that requires patience and consistency. The first step is to set up a safe sleeping space for your child. This means choosing a cot that meets safety standards, ensuring a firm mattress and removing any loose bedding or toys that could pose a risk.

  • Introduce the new space: Start by spending time in the new sleep space during the day, allowing your child to play and get comfortable in their new cot.
  • Begin with naps: Start the transition with daytime naps in the new sleep space to help your child get used to it.
  • Create a consistent sleep environment: Ensure the room is conducive to sleep, with a comfortable temperature, minimal light and a quiet atmosphere.
  • Implement a responsive settling technique: Remember, consistency is key.

Establishing a New Bedtime Routine

A well-structured bedtime routine is important in promoting independent sleep. It’s one of the key elements when it comes to knowing how to stop co sleeping. A comforting routine can ease the transition and signal to your child that it’s time to sleep.

  • Develop a predictable sequence: Establish a routine that you follow every night, such as a bath, putting on pyjamas and reading a story.
  • Create a relaxing atmosphere: Activities should be calming, such as quiet play, gentle rocking, or soft music.
  • Gradually reduce active involvement: Over time, reduce the amount of time you spend in the room. Start by sitting near the cot then move to the doorway, and finally outside the room.
  • Offer comfort items: A favourite soft toy from 7 months old can provide comfort during the night.
  • Maintain consistency: Follow the same routine every night to create a sense of security.

Remember, every child is different, but with a consistent routine and a supportive environment, your child will gradually embrace independent sleeping.

Overcoming Challenges You Might Face

Newborn being comforted by her mother getting ready for sleep

Transitioning from co-sleeping to a cot can bring its share of challenges, such as night waking and separation anxiety.

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For night waking, establish a comforting, brief routine to help your child settle back to sleep. This might involve a gentle pat or a soothing word, it may require a little extra support from you but avoid engaging in too much interaction. Over time, this will help your child learn to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own in their new sleep space.

Separation anxiety is common during this transition. To ease this, spend extra quality time during the day and establish a reassuring bedtime routine. You can also practice short separations during the day and play peek-a-boo games to gradually build your child’s confidence/awareness being away from you. Use of an appropriate comforter from 7 months old can also support this transition, giving your baby or toddler something to hold during settling and sleep.

Ensuring Consistency and Comfort

Regular bedtimes and wake-up times, along with a predictable bedtime routine, build security and stability. Comforting techniques are just as important. These might include a special toy (from 7mo), soft background music, or even a night light if you have an older toddler.

If your child wakes up during the night, respond in a way that’s comforting yet reinforces the goal of independent sleeping. This could mean speaking in a soothing tone, offering a gentle pat, or briefly reassuring. Some nights might be easier than others. It’s important to stay consistent to help your child adjust to this new routine.

Wrapping It Up 

Successfully transitioning from co-sleeping to independent sleeping involves plenty of patience and persistence. It’s important to remain consistent, responsive and understanding throughout the process. If challenges arise, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice. With time and care, both you and your child can embrace this new phase of restful sleep.

Catherine Completely Baby Sleep Consultant

Catherine Thompson
Baby Sleep Consultant & Owner of Completely Baby

Did you find this article helpful? I am a highly experienced baby sleep consultant with a unique educational and healthcare background who supports tired parents to help their babies find sleep more easily. If you want to chat about your situation please book in a free chat today by clicking the below button now! Alternatively you can text or call me on: +61 406 344 010.