When and how to end co-sleeping?

Eve - posted on 11/16/2010 ( 15 moms have responded )

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Hi, all,

Up until he was about 10 months old, my son was sleeping through the night in his crib. Around 10 months, he got a cold and wasn't eating well during the day. As a result, when he woke up around 3 or 4 in the morning and acted like he wanted to nurse, I figured he was probably truly hungry and didn't feel well. I started taking him back to bed with me to nurse and snuggle. We both sleep pretty well this way, and I certainly don't mind the snuggling!

Bottom line, he figured out that was a pretty nice deal, and he doesn't want to give it up. I'm okay with continuing IF I can trust that at some point in the future, when he's a little older, he will be able to make a smooth transition to sleeping in his own bed all night. I'm afraid that the longer we co-sleep, the harder it will be for him to stop.

For those of who who co-slept with a child, at what age did you stop? Was it an easy transition, or did it require a lot of difficult nights?

I just don't know whether I should be concerned about this or not, but the nighttime wakings are intensifying. Not sure of the reason, but he's waking up more frequently, earlier in the night, getting harder to put back down in his own bed, and sometimes even resists going to sleep in our bed. I am wondering if the attempts to start getting him to spend more time in his bed are backfiring? How will we know when he's ready, if he's not ready now?

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Kelly - posted on 11/20/2010

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Hi, my son co-slept with me from birth. When he was a little over a year old I bought him a toddler bed and began the transition. He was doing pretty well, but we lived in a bad neighborhood at the time and he ended up back in my bed after someone tried to break into the house. Now that we have moved to a safer neighborhood, I started the transition again. It's been about 2 months and he will stay in his bed until about 3 am. He is also still nursing. I'm hoping by next month he will be fully transition,because thats when his sister will be born LOL I pretty much decided for him that he was ready for his own bed. Hope to have helped.

Christine - posted on 11/20/2010

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I think your fears are valid and you should do what's best for you and the safety of your child. Your son will eventually adapt to which ever sleep habits you make for him so, worry more about yourself and your need for sleep. It is usually a hard transition at any age but, there are books and internet sites that give helpful advice for different ages. Most likely you will have to construct an individual plan by combining different methods. I have found that consistency is the most important factor. Keep in mind that he use to sleep through the night in his own crib so, he can definately do it again!

Arlene - posted on 11/19/2010

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I keep saying he was 2 1/2 but he was closer to three, two months away to be exact. We had a toddler bed in our room that we tried to transition him to, but he didn't like it. And so when we moved we just did it all at once, new bed in a new room and it was smooth!! He definitely must have been ready because we never had a fight or a sleepless night trying to keep him there, he just did it right from the first time we tried.

Arlene - posted on 11/18/2010

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When my son moved to his own room, it was during a time of a lot of changes. I was pregnant, and we were moving to a new house. My son spoke really well and understood a lot so we discussed how big boys have their own beds in their own rooms. We really played up the big boy status. We had a queen size spare bed and gave him that until we could afford a single bed for him, so a few times when he wanted to sleep in our bed (not a fight, he would just askk if he could sleep with us) one of us would lay in his bed with him until he was asleep, but he would stay there the rest of the night. I guess we really tried to make having his own room exciting and fun and grown up. I tworked well with Lukas. And I really needed the space for my growing belly :) I hope this helps a little!

Rachel - posted on 11/17/2010

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I co-slept until my little guy learned how to crawl. I had to put him in the crib. He jumps out of the bed, dives into the wall,takes the headboard and slams it into the wall. it was just too much. especially when I woke to him diving off of the bed and onto the carpet. It was a miserable week or so when I did put him in his crib, but i know he is safer there. He cried and cried. i felt horrible but it was worth it. i miss sleeping with him soo much but it was the right thing to do. in your case, if your baby is good in the bed I would continue. why not?

Vicki - posted on 11/17/2010

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There are some ideas in 'No-cry sleep solution' for how to transition. A twin bed (or just a mattress on the floor) is one. Another idea is to put baby in a crib/cot attached to the bed with a side down. After awhile put the side up, then slowly move it away from your bed night by night then move into the other room. Starting with naps in their own bed is common. The other one was feeding to sleep if that's what they're used to then putting them in their own bed (wouldn't work for my boy!). There may have been more I can't remember!

Obviously I haven't tried any of these yet...

Eve - posted on 11/17/2010

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A bit of info on why I am concerned about needing to transition Alex to his own bed: the older he gets, the more active Alex is becoming, and he wakes up during the night wanting to crawl off the bed and play. Most nights this is just annoying--he keeps us all up while we fight to get him back to sleep. He is now trying to crawl off the bed, though, and I am afraid he will hurt himself trying to climb down if we are sleeping too deeply to notice. Our bed is quite high, so getting down safely would be an issue, and even if he managed that, our bedroom is RIGHT at the top of the stairs. Due to the sloping baseboards, we haven't had any luck with baby gates fitting securely on our stairs. We can get one up enough to slow him down during the day when we are awake and watching, but I don't think anything would be snug enough for me to feel safe at night.

The second issue is that we are planning to start TTC again in a few months. I know how tired I was during my first pregnancy, and sleep will be tougher as I get more pregnant. I don't think I will be able to transition Alex effectively when I'm that tired, and I don't think I will sleep well with him in our bed at that point. If he's not in his own bed by the time we have a 2nd child, then a family bed gets even more crowded. I'm sure there are some dedicated family bed advocates who say this is a myth, but I am concerned that a rambunctious older sibling in the bed with a new baby is a safety issue.

So...a few of you have mentioned making the transition between ages 2 and 3, but no one has really given any details of how.

I see one person is planning to move a toddler into a twin bed where they can co-sleep in the child's room for awhile. Is that what others have done?

I do appreciate the info. If nothing else, you are all giving me permission to trust my instincts and not worry about transitioning him if that's what I want to do! :)

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I love co sleeping! We had to move in with my in laws when my son was 13mths and due to pressure put him in a separate bed in a different room. Then a month later when we were able to move to our home, he would not go to sleep alone and I had to sit with him everynight till he fell asleep and if he woke up during the night we would let him come sleep with us til morning. My mom kept telling me you never meet a 15 year old that still chooses to sleep with their parent and don't pressure him to sleep alone he will be ready when he is ready!

With my daughter she decided when she was ready to move out of our bed-at 9mths. I knew she was ready as she kept trying to crawl into her brothers room to sleep in his bunk bed :)

Now with my 3rd I will let him guide me as to when he is ready to move out of my bed.

Jacqueline - posted on 11/17/2010

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I co slept with all three of my little ones still am with my youngest she will be 3 in January. there is no sure fire way or time that every child with switch most i can do is guarantee they will not sleep with you forever both my older two where in there on beds before they started school. they currently are 12 and 9 and very much like having there own room.

Arlene - posted on 11/17/2010

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We co-slept with our son until he was 2 1/2. At that age he transitioned to his own bed in his own room with no problems whatsoever. Good luck...I hope it's a smooth transition for you all whenever the time comes!

Katherine - posted on 11/17/2010

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I'm jealous that you had sleep filled nights with your boy! My daughter who will be one in two weeks has slept through the night ONCE and that was in May. Then she started to teethe...

I am a mother of two. We do the co-sleep thing. My son is three and half, he has his own room and own bed. He often comes to "cuddle" with us in the early morning. My daughter has a playpen in our room. She starts off her night there and then when she wakes for a feeding she comes in with my husband and I.

We are moving in a few weeks to a larger place. There I'll have room to set up her crib (yay!) and I will begin to "wean" her from our bed. It is pretty much in line with what we did with our son. I don't expect it to happen quickly. I don't need it to. I love th cuddles I just miss comfortable sleep with space...

The night waking could be for many reasons. I have found that when they are hitting developmental miilestones they practice their skills in their sleep, growth and teething also contribute to broken sleep.


The transition from the family bed to a bed of one's own can be long, at some point they will love having their own space. It will also waver back and forth depending on how much support your child needs. They are all different and they all do it at their own pace. You will find what works best for you and your son. Good luck!

Merry - posted on 11/17/2010

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Oh and yes, trying to get him back in his bed might backfire, he will think he needs to cry more to get you to hold him, he might nurse more to try to stay with you. So for everyone involved I'd say just keep him with you and let nature take it's course! And enjoy it, it's a beautiful time.

Merry - posted on 11/17/2010

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I have heard many say that between the ages of two and three many kids will decide they want their own bed. It can happen easily if you don't rush it. Remember that no matter what anyone says, nature intended on babies sleeping with mom, so there is alot of myths about it and one being that they will never want to leave! If you don't rush him, he will want his own bed when it feels right for him. And extra bf in the night is ok too, it's also totally normal and not going to rot his teeth, another myth! It's a wonderful time and you will not regret those nights of snuggling! And it will make you two so much more bonded! He will have an instinctual bond to you and I bet that will be worth anything to you!

Vicki - posted on 11/16/2010

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My boy is 16 months and we're still co sleeping. I don't mind and I don't have an exact timetable. I have bought a very low single bed for him but haven't got around to setting it up yet. I figure as it's a single rather than a toddler bed we can gradually transition. At the moment I feed him to sleep early in the evening then I get up to be an adult for a few hours. I plan to continue this on his bed. I don't mind playing musical beds for a long time, I don't care if he comes in for cuddles until he goes to school! But yeah, planning to start a gradual transition to at least spending part of e night separate very soon.

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