Pantley's Answer: It's important for you to know that it's okay to move your child to his own bed for the sake of your good night's sleep. Your little one will love you just as much once he's an independent sleeper. And if you make a gentle, respectful transition this can be a nice milestone for him. A good solution might be to put a soft chair or mattress next to your son's crib. Instead of brining him to your bed when he wakes up, sit or lie beside him and put your hand on his tummy or leg. Add some soft music or "white noise" recordings of ocean waves or rainfall to create a soothing sleep environment. Be consistent and in no time your child will be happily sleeping on his own!
The Second Child: Vimala from Pleasanton, Calif.:
My son will be turning one this Sunday. He has co-slept with us since birth. I am pregnant with our second and would like to transition him to his crib before then so he does not associate his new sibling with being removed from our bed. How should I go about moving him in the gentlest way?
Pantley's Answer: The approaching birth of a sibling is a common reason that children are moved out of the family bed. It's a practical choice, and one that should be made sensitively, since bringing a new baby into the family creates plenty of emotions for a toddler. Ousting him to make room for the little newcomer may add stress, so doing it gradually and thoughtfully is a good thing: all family-bed children eventually move on to independent sleep, and it's perfectly acceptable for you to choose the time for this to happen.
To make this easier on your son, try to make the change two months or more before the newborn arrives. During the transition, and once the new baby arrives, be sure to offer your child plenty of daytime cuddles. Often, co-sleeping children get used to lots of human contact and they may subconsciously miss it when they begin to sleep alone. You can offset this by making sure to fill your child's need for touch during the day, especially before bed (don't rush the bedtime routine!) and when he first wakes up in the morning.
A best bet for a new bed for a newly independent sleeper is a mattress on the floor. It's nice and safe (no fear of falls). You can even add soft bolster-type guard rails to make it into a nice nest. Create a new bedtime routine that includes story time, soft music and a massage. If you are relaxed about the change you can help your child accept his new sleeping place.