Your baby got used to sleep in bed with you and the idea of finally seeing him sleep in his cot all alone seems like a utopia to you, right? Fear not, actually the way to make him take this new habit exists and we will explain it to you shortly.
Of course, let’s put ourselves in his shoes: anyone would love to sleep in a big bed, pampered and protected by mom and dad. The more time passes from birth, the more difficult it will be for the baby to abandon this habit. This is why today we want to suggest an action plan to be able to move even the most reluctant child into the cot. But first let’s try to understand together what are the advantages of this solution.
Why get your baby used to sleeping in the cot
In the first weeks after the birth of the baby, it is much easier and more natural to practice co-sleeping, that is to sleep with him in the bed. This is because the mother does not need to get up every time she has to breastfeed him, and she can go back to sleep with him comfortably.
It’s also true that weeks quickly turn into months and, in no time at all, your child starts talking and walking without showing any intention of sleeping in his cot. There comes an age, however, when it is good to get him used to sleep alone and the reasons are different:
- it is safer for a newborn to rest in his dedicated space, where the risks of suffocation are minimized thanks to devices such as our Koala Perfect Head pillow;
- sleeping in the cot helps your child to develop a certain autonomy and self-confidence;
- for a healthy couple life, it is good to maintain a space of intimacy in which to recover the role of partner without the constant presence of children.
It is up parents to decide whether to start from co-sleeping and then get the baby used to sleeping in the cot at a later time, or to let him go to bed alone right away. What you both must be aware of is that, as we said before, the more time passes, the more difficult it will be to change a well-established practice..
How to teach your baby to sleep by himself
If you ask ten different experts, rest assured that they will show you ten different methods for teaching your baby to sleep by himself. What we recommend instead is to customize your strategy: no one knows your child better than you. Put the various tips into practice, combine them, see what works and what doesn’t. You will certainly have to have patience regardless, but we are sure that among these you will find what is right for you and your little one.
1. Consistency, always
The first thing to keep in mind, and perhaps the most crucial, is that parents need to be steadfast and united with each other. If it is decided that the time has come for the baby to sleep in the cot alone, both the father and the mother must show determination and not give in to compromises. Both must contribute to choosing the strategy and then applying it: teamwork will lead to better results.
2. Create a welcoming environment
For some children, falling asleep is difficult because doing it unconsciously means having to detach from the parents without the certainty of finding them upon awakening. Sleeping alone in the bed can amplify this feeling. This is why it is important that the bedroom is cozy and pleasant: the little one will feel relaxed and more easily indulge in sleep.
The environment must be dark (perhaps with a small light on) and the temperature comfortable but not too high (around 20-22 degrees). The blankets must not be cold and the pajamas must be comfortable: in this way sleeping will be easier.
3. Choose the right bed
The bed is the most important element if you want to teach your baby to sleep alone. Our advice, if he is already old enough, is to go together and choose it, perhaps choosing for a Montessori bed. Its main feature is that it is very low, so the child is free to get on and off independently without the risk of getting hurt. Let him explore and use it even during the day, especially at the beginning: it is important that he can interact with this new “companion” to feel at ease.
4. The activities of the evening
What you do in the evening after dinner must be preparatory for the end of the day. No to rowdy games or cartoons full of colors and energy. Go ahead instead for reading books, listening to relaxing songs and static and less stimulating activities on a physical level.
5. Go to bed early
The first firm rule to apply is the one on bedtime. Don’t fall into the trap of keeping your baby awake late with the thought of making him tired and therefore sleeping more. In fact, when they are very tired, children struggle to fall asleep and are extremely agitated. So set a time, making sure it’s early and always remains the same.
6. Build a routine
Time is one of the elements of the bedtime routine, which however is enriched with other behaviors and is perhaps the most powerful tool for teaching a child to sleep in the cot alone.
Activities must always be carried out in the same sequence, just as if they were a ritual that tells the child that it’s time to go to bed. An example? Teeth washing, hot bath, massage with moisturizing oil, pajamas, story or lullaby with the baby already lying in his bed in the dark.
7. Be prepared for relapses
It will happen: you will feel like you have made progress, and then suddenly you will find your child crying desperately in the middle of the night because he wants to come to your bed. Or because he just doesn’t want to fall asleep without you by his side. Take on this adventure knowing that it involves steps forward and then backwards, and so on.
But, we promise, your child will eventually learn to sleep in the crib and will even be happy to do so. And you and dad can take back your bed!