WHAT IS CO-SLEEPING?
Co-sleeping is often thought to be synonymous with bed sharing—aka letting baby sleep in the same bed with you. But co-sleeping can also mean simply putting baby to sleep in the same room as you but in a separate bed. And doing that gets the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) seal of approval.
MYTHS ABOUT CO-SLEEPING
Myth #1: Co-sleeping is always dangerous
If it involves sharing the same bed as baby, most doctors say don’t do it, since it can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). But you can practice safe co-sleeping if you put baby to sleep in a separate bassinet next to your bed—as opposed to in your bed. (This is your happy medium!) In fact, the latest AAP recommendations encourage parents to room-share with baby for at least the first six months, and ideally a year, since having baby nearby actually lowers the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
“Putting the baby’s crib or bassinet in your room means your baby is right there with you—steps away. But she’s in her crib, which is the safest place for a baby to sleep. Your baby’s crib should be her safe haven. This is what’s best—for her and for you—and what will help you both get the most sleep!
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Myth #2: Bed-sharing is okay if you’re a light sleeper
“Being a new mom is exhausting. It’s unlikely you’re sleeping lightly! Also, it’s critical you get the best sleep when you can. If you’re co-sleeping and worried about your baby’s safety, you aren’t sleeping as well as you should be.
Myth #3: A tragedy won’t happen to you
Even if you’re going to doze off for just a few minutes, even if you remove your fluffy duvet to make it a “safe” co-sleeping bed, even if you only do it this one time, the truth is, it doesn’t matter. All it takes is a single opportunity for tragedy to strike. Co-sleeping statistics suggest the majority of sleep-related fatalities in babies can be chalked up to bed-sharing: A 2014 study found that 69 percent of babies were bed sharing at the time of their death.
“I’ve had four families lose infants to SIDS when co-sleeping. There’s one thing every family who loses a baby to suffocation or asphyxiation when bed-sharing says: ‘I never thought it would happen to us.
TRUTHS ABOUT CO-SLEEPING
Truth #1: Co-sleeping is more common than you think
Think none of your friends are doing it? Think again. A 2013 study found that bed-sharing nearly doubled between 1993 and 2010—from 6 percent of parents in 1993 to 13.5 percent in 2010. And that means one parent in your circle is probably sharing a bed with baby.
Truth #2: Co-sleeping can help boost baby’s development
Sharing your room with baby is said to help her senses develop. Babies need to learn to respond to the sensory signals of others, including smells, movements, sounds, touches and heat. To put baby alone in a room and close the door doesn’t help baby learn, grow and develop those sensory distinctions. When baby first enters the world, she’s building a relationship with her mother, father or caregiver. She depends on these people to help teach her to react.
Truth #3: Co-sleeping shouldn’t kill the romance between you and your partner
Sleep deprivation will probably leave you wanting more sleep than sex, but co-sleeping with baby in your room shouldn’t put a damper on the romance. Where you decide to let your baby sleep isn’t the sole reason for the dissolution of your marriage or the reason you and your partner are no longer intimate, emphasizing there are always bigger issues at play. For some parents, room sharing with baby requires them to find other ways and moments to be romantic and actually helps spice things up: It’s makes the intimacy between me and my husband more interesting because we have to be more creative.
What exactly can I do because my baby won’t sleep in crib?
If this is a question you have because you wonder how to get baby to sleep in crib after cosleeping. This can be a tough transition – babies can become quite used to what they have at bedtime when they fall asleep! Getting her used to a different environment at bedtime will probably take some time, practice, and consistency.
The thing that will best help baby to sleep overnight in her crib will be to help her learn to fall asleep on her own in her crib, in all likelihood without even having you in the room as she falls asleep. Before you get there, though, you need to set things up so she will be as successful as possible and so that things will go as smoothly as possible. Remember, falling asleep at bedtime is a skill that we all learn how to do. We get used to certain things around us that help us drift off to sleep, and when those things aren’t there, it can be tough. Think about it: if you sleep somewhere other than your own bed, or without your favorite blanket or pillow, it is probably tough to do at first.
That said, start by setting a consistent bedtime routine (3 to 4 activities) that begins at an age appropriate bedtime (~7:30 p.m., no later than 9:00 p.m.) that ends in the room where you would like your baby to sleep (crib in your room, crib in her room, etc.). Also, make sure feeding is the first step of the routine instead of the last to avoid any associations between feeding and falling asleep. If you already have a set routine, then I suggest simply starting to do the routine in her room instead of yours (or at least out of your bed) and then holding her until she falls asleep. If you have never done a consistent bedtime routine before, then you can certainly do a few nights of the routine in your room so you are not changing too many things at once, then after a few nights you can go ahead and move it into her room.
Once you have a set bedtime routine and set bedtime that you are able to do in her room (or where you would like her to sleep), you can start working on changing how you end the bedtime routine. For some babies, it might be enough to create a consistent bedtime routine with feeding occurring at the start of the routine, doing the routine in her room, and ending the routine by holding her until she falls asleep. Most of the time, though, helping her learn to fall asleep on her own in her crib is the way to go. To change the way you end the routine, you can take one of two main approaches. For the first main approach, simply put her down awake in her crib after the bedtime routine, leave the room, then return as often as you would like and give her a consistent verbal response like, “goodnight, I love you.” Do this consistently until she falls asleep. She may cry or resist this change for a while, but responding consistently is really the key to helping her at this point. Also, sometimes the second night is harder than the first, but then things tend to get better in the nights after that.
The second approach is a bit more gradual. Instead of going right to putting her down awake, make small changes every several nights that more gradually fades your presence – or decreases the amount you need to help her to fall asleep. So, instead of holding her to sleep, go ahead and put her down awake in her crib and pat her until she falls asleep for several nights. For the next few nights, stand in the doorway and provide those consistent verbal responses. Then, you can go ahead and leave the room, returning as often as you wish to give her a consistent response. It will take some consistency and practice, but you can do it!
Make a personalized plan. There are different strategies to adjust baby, and it starts at bedtime. How you put baby down each night depends on his personality and what you feel comfortable doing. Some babies do better with a parent sitting next to the crib, and others do better with a cold turkey approach. If you decide to stay in the nursery for a bit at bedtime, “try to leave the room when your baby is dozing off but not yet asleep. And each night, move the chair further away from the crib toward the bedroom door.
Teach baby to fall asleep on her own. Okay, this is the tough part. Every baby wakes throughout the night, but in order to go to back sleep without intervention (which is, in your case, a trip to your bedroom followed by lots of cuddling) they need to practice falling back asleep on their own. Some parents find success going to baby in the middle of the night and reassuring her, without picking her up or bringing her to bed with them.
Work with your partner. Make no mistake — this will be a family project, so get on the same page with your partner before you get started. Who’s going to get up each time baby wakes? What are you going to do to help him fall back asleep? Will you let baby cry a bit before picking him up? How long is each of your limits?
Expect resistance, but be consistent. Once you’ve finalized your strategy, start doing it — and stick with it even if baby tries to resist (and trust us, she will). Your baby is likely to put up a big protest the first few nights. This is normal and expected. Stay firm and reassuring, and remember consistency is the key.
Be patient. Co-sleeping isn’t forever. As with any type of sleep training, returning the crib may take lots (and lots) of practice before it becomes a habit, but it will. The entire process typically takes up to three weeks. In the meantime, try to be extra-patient with baby and remember: You will sleep again.
Finally, if she wakes during the night, do what you typically do to get her (and you) back to sleep as quickly as possible – even if that means bringing her back to bed with you. Be sure, though, to move all soft bedding and pillows away from her in your bed, and that she is monitored so that she does not fall out of a bed without rails.
Parents who co-sleep, using a bedside bassinet to avoid any safety pitfalls, tout the practice as a way to improve sleep for both their babies and them and bolster the parent-child bonding experience.
These are just some of the things you can do when you are concerned about how to get baby to sleep in crib after co sleeping. It can be quite a daunting task to change what appears to be an already established pattern. However, the truth is you have to be confident and patient at all times when you are trying to get your baby to sleep in her crib. Remember the following:
Consistency is the key. Pick an approach that feels most comfortable for you and your family — and stick with it. The transition from family bed to crib often takes up to 3 weeks.
Many approaches work, depending on your family’s preferences and baby’s temperament. Some babies do better with a parent sitting next to the crib, providing reassurance. Others do better with a “cold turkey” approach. Ask your pediatrician or a child development specialist for guidance in picking the best approach for your baby, if you’re unsure. There is nothing wrong with asking for help .
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