There are many benefits to co-sleeping with a baby or toddler, but by the time your child is four or five years old, you may want to consider giving him his own bed or even his own room. Not only will you and your partner enjoy your newly discovered privacy, but your child needs to learn independence and also develop a sense of his own ‘personal space.’ Here are some tips for the transition.
Explain the benefits to your child
Your child will be more cooperative if you explain why he needs to have his own bed or room. You can say that he is now a ‘big kid’ and that having his own bed will enable him to personalize his area: bedsheets, wall decals, etc. He will also be able to sleep better and deeper, which will help him have more energy when he wakes up.
Continue the bedtime routine
With such a big change your child will find comfort in continuing his old bedtime routine. For example you may still read him a story or tuck him in, just do it in his room. Sleep rituals like a warm bath and a quieting activity just before settling into bed—like puzzles or a family prayer—will help him wind down. Eliminate any distractions such as a TV, computer, or electronic toys that will keep him awake. (Read more tips on how to help your child have a good night’s sleep.)
Make your presence felt
Let him have something that reminds him of you: one of your pillows, or something from your bedroom that he really finds comforting and familiar (like a photo). And don’t just kick him off into his new space.Tuck him in, and tell him how proud you are of him, what a big boy he is. Then gradually sit farther and farther away from the bed, and eventually leave the room while he is still awake.
Take baby steps
Not all kids will be able to immediately adjust to the change. Tell him you will leave and come back; create longer intervals between your return, and your child will hopefully fall asleep during one of the intervals. However, do stand your ground. If your child comes to your bed immediately, put him back into his and soothe him in his own room.
If your child is especially agitated or takes several weeks to adjust, look into other possible reasons, does he have enough contact with you during the day? Does he have a lot of fears?
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