Moving out of the family bed

Moving out of the family bed

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Why it happens

Perhaps your toddler's squirminess and noisy breathing are keeping you up all night and having her in your bed has put a damper on your sex life. Or maybe you're moving your toddler to make way for a new baby.

Whatever the reason, helping your toddler make the transition from the family bed to sleeping alone can be a challenge. And it's only natural that she should protest. After all, she's gotten used to snuggling up to you in the middle of the night.

The transition may take anywhere from a couple of days to several months, depending on your child's age and how long she's been sleeping with you.

What you can do about it

Plan on wearing out the carpet between your child's room and your bed for the first few nights while you go back and forth to reassure him.

This change will be particularly hard for a 12- to 18-month-old, who may be experiencing separation anxiety anyway. If your child is between 18 months and 3 years old, you can explain that it's time for him to sleep in his own bed, in his own room, but that you'll be nearby.

It may help to let your toddler decorate his new sleeping quarters with favorite stuffed animals and toys.

Strategies to ease the move

One first step is to have your toddler get used to sleeping in her crib during naptime.

You can also gradually make the transition by first sleeping with her in her own room. Expect some protests about this new sleeping spot, but rest assured that having you nearby will ease the transition.

Finally, you can start with just bedtime, having your toddler fall asleep on her own in her own room but bringing her into your bed when she awakens at night. After a couple of weeks, you can take the final step to having her sleep in her own room all night.

Give your toddler plenty of comfort while she makes this transition. Once she's finally settled in her own room all night, don't bring your toddler back to your bed — this will only confuse her and send the message that she'll be rewarded if she cries long and hard enough.