My baby is 7 months and still sleeps in my bed. I’m finally ready for her to go to her own room but not sure how to do this? Every time I’ve tried putting her in her room, she just cries, so I end up bringing her back into bed with me so we can both get some sleep. Any advice would be appreciated.
Just as adults rely on predictability in their day, so do children. If your daughter has only slept in bed with you for 7 months, she will feel unsettled sleeping on her own. It’s a new environment (her room) and you aren’t sleeping next to her. As you begin this transition, keep in mind that this is new to her and it will take time for her to adjust. You are asking her to do something she’s never done before – sleep in her own bed, in her own room, without you. Children are creatures of habit so once she learns that this is the place you want her to sleep, she’ll then adjust her expectations and she’ll expect to be in her crib (versus in your bed). You will have established a new normal for her.
Just this week the AAP has announced new sleep safety guidelines that are worth mentioning as you make this transition. The reason the AAP continues to make recommendations is so that we as parents can stay abreast on the newest information in regards to SIDS and healthy sleep practices. The AAP now encourages parents to keep baby in their room until the age of 1. With that being said, you as the parent need to make your decision based on what works best for your family. I’m not here to tell you what you should do in this instance; I’m merely offering the most up to date information so that you can make an informed decision for your family.
When moving your daughter into her crib, I would first recommend that she get in good quality naps during the day before making the transition at bedtime. An overtired child has a much harder time falling asleep at night so you will want to make sure she is getting adequate sleep during the day so she can begin the night time routine in a better state of mind. Babies have an amazing ability to “read” a parent’s emotions so make sure when the time comes to place her in the crib, you feel calm and confident. After placing her in the crib, try to calmly leave the room. If she begins crying, you may go back into the room and either sit in a chair adjacent to the bed OR you could have a blow-up mattress for you to rest on adjacent to the crib. This way, although you changing WHERE she is sleeping, you are still in close proximity to her, which is something she has come to rely on. You can pat her if touching her helps her calm down. I recommend having a “sleep phrase” so that you have go-to phrase to say as she tries to calm herself to go to sleep. You can repeat this as often as needed but I wouldn’t veer from the script. If you are saying different things to try and calm her, it can become more stimulating than calming. An example would be, “It’s time to sleep. I love you.” I recommend staying in the chair until she falls asleep, and then leaving the room. Every time she awakens, you will begin this process over again. Slowly, over the course of a week or two, you will want to begin offering less interaction with her at night and also move the chair further from her crib. This way, she’s becoming less reliant on you for sleep and more comfortable with her current environment.
This isn’t a quick solution but it does work with patience and consistency. This is a common, but challenging situation many parents find themselves in. If you need further help as you navigate this transition, feel free to contact me for a consultation.