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Moving Child out of Our Bed

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When did your child leave the family bed?

March 2003

We've been co-sleeping with our 1 year old for the last 4-5 months since she decided she rather sleep with us than in her crib. We don't have a problem with this. Indeed, I think it's not natural for babies to sleep by themselves, but people keep asking me how long will she sleep with us. I don't have an answer to that. I'd appreciate the experience of other co-sleeping parents. Who usually ends the co-sleeping situation, the parents or the child? At what age does this usually happen? What kind of clues can I expect from my child to know that she's ready to sleep in her own room? Thanks! anon


Our family bed started from birth with both our children...and continues (2 and 3 year old), though they now start in their own twin beds and usually migrate to our bed sometime in the night. Cribs never worked for us, so they went from our bed to their beds. My husband and I get some alone in the bed time and then the kids get to snuggle with us in the early morning, and we all stay warm and cozy.

WE made a very concentrated effort to have both children sleep in their own bed. They resisted, but after several weeks they learned how to sleep in their own bed, and more importantly to fall asleep alone. We used to lay with them till they fell asleep and that just took up too much of our precious night hours when we could get something done without interruption. Also, we felt our children were too dependent on us to be there as they drifted off, and that sometimes took 20-30 minutes. I remember reading somewhere that at around 2 years of age a child usually decides to sleep in their bed. This was not true for our famiily, so we had to decide what we needed and then work together to make it happen. I love our morning 'family pretzel' as I like to call it, when we are all intertwined sleeping cozily togther. They are wonderful times and will be wonderful memories when our children are out of the bed entirely. am


hi--not sure that this will *answer* your question, but my almost 4 yo daughter is ('still') in our bed--we moved from a queen to a king when she was about 2--and she shows no signs of moving out for good. There have been 2 periods (each of about a week) where she slept in her own bed--perfectly nice single mattress with nice matching sheets, etc.--and then she wanted to sleep in 'the big bed' again, and we didn't push it either way, really. i still enjoy sleeping with her, and so does my husband. in fact, we don't know when she'll leave, and we don't care! i'm sure that by the time puberty hits she'll be so conditioned to have her own space that we won't worry about it-- she'll be gone. love the family bed :)
I know a lot of co-sleeping parents and I have to say that there really is no ''usually''! I suppose it's more common for parents to encourage the child into a separate bed than for the child to request it, but it does happen both ways. (One family I know bought bunk beds as part of an inducement to their 4yo to sleep in her own bed, and as soon as their almost-3yo saw the bunks, he declared that the bottom one was his, and never went back to Mom and Dad's bed.) Age 3 years seems to be a common one for the transition, but I know several who've done it earlier, often because of another baby's arrival, a few who've continued longer, and a great many who've gone back and forth at various times.

My own son turned 2 in January and we have just replaced his crib (in which he only very rarely spent the entire night, though he started out there most nights) with a twin size bed. He likes the new bed and stays in it all night at least as often as not. We like that when he does wake and join us in our bed, he can come to us rather than my having to go get him! Holly


Our daughter, who is now almost 5, left the family bed about 7 months ago. Basically, when she got old enough to visit friends who had their own rooms, we started talking about how she could have her own room too when she got a little older if she wanted. In September, we moved to a new home, and suggested to her that in our new place she could her own room if she wanted, and she was very excited about that. The first month or so, she woke up at 3 or 4 in the morning and came over to our room, which we did not discourage, but soon she was happily sleeping through the night in her own room. We never a made a big deal out of the issue or pressured her in any way, she just ''moved on'' when she was ready and it worked fine. She is a very well adjusted kid sleepwise....never afraid of the dark or anything like that, which I think has to do with never being pressured to be alone in her room trying to sleep. I should say, I (or my husband) still lie down with her in her bed each night for a few minutes until she falls asleep, and she always comes to our bed every morning for some morning family snuggles. We enjoy these moments tremendously! Karen
My daughter slept in our bed until she was 2 when we became pregnant with our second child. Not having a real plan we bought her a bed for her room, and that first night she insisted on sleeping in it. I was surprised by this as she had always sleep in our bed. She is now almost 4, and we still have to lay down with her to get her to sleep. She also comes into our bed if she wakes up in the middle of the night, but that happens in phases that last about a week and then don't happen again for months. It's worked out well, and I don't regret for a moment co-sleeping with her. In fact when she first started sleeping in her own bed, it was a little sad, and I would check on her in the middle of the night. anon

Moving 2-month-old to crib

Sept 2002

My two-month-old has been sleeping in our bed since birth. Any suggestings for how to get her to sleep -- or at least to nap -- in her own bassinet or crib? -- Tired mom Tired mom


A few tricks you can try to get your 2-month-old to sleep in a bassinet or crib:
- Try a bassinet first, it's often cozier than a crib for a little baby
- Put an empty pillowcase from Mom's side of the bed that has not been washed in several weeks over the bassinet sheet (to provide the comforting smell of Mom)
- Five minutes before you put the baby in the bassinet, put a warming pad that's set on LOW (or a hot water bottle) between the bassinet mattress and blanket to warm them up.
- Nurse the baby to sleep in a rocking chair, then slowly and gently transfer the baby into the bassinet, right over the spot where the warming pad was, then immediately place the palm of your hand over the child's belly for a few moments (to provide more warmth and your human touch) until the kid's asleep. Good luck. Danielle
In response to the person who recommended putting an empty pillowcase in the crib to get a 2 month old to sleep in crib. All the reading I've been doing lately on infants stresses the same thing -- do NOT put loose articles in a crib or bassinet as there is a link with SIDS or the possibility of suffocation. This includes things like pillowcases, blankets, toys, etc. and making sure that crib sheets fit tightly. The idea is a good one though, so prehaps the mother could cover her pillow with the crib sheet and then put it in the crib with her smell. With my neice, who kicked covers off anyway, we used warm clothing such as fleece coveralls.

What also worked well with my neice, no matter who put her down, was the following (which I've also seen published lately in many parenting magazines and books. That is, to mimic the baby's experience in the womb by 1) swaddling, 2) saying ''shush'' over and over rythmically as it sounds like what the baby would hear when listening to your blood flow and heart beat in the womb, 3) laying the baby on his/her side for a while, as being on their backs can give a sensation of falling (and being on the stomach is not advised because of SIDS). Good luck.


We have a six month old that just started sleeping through the night. He has selpt with us since birth, and for the past several weeks has been basically nursing on and off ALL NIGHT. I was tired; he was tired. This was not because he was hungry. Rather, he was nursing out of habit. What we started doing last week was putting him, well fed, to bed in his own crib (in another room), and putting a humidifier in his room (with no water. The white noise really works well). He has been sleeping 12 hours every night since. We let him cry the first night, and my husband would go in and comfort him. He did not cry the second night. With our second child, it took three nights, and with our first, it took about a week. Good luck! Mary

Moving 2.5-month-old to his own crib

Cathy and I are currently in the midst of a discussion about family bed and when is the appropriate time to transition our son Jesse (now 2.5 mo) to his own crib at night. I recall that some months ago there was discussion about this (or a similar topic about sleep). I've checked the web page and don't see any evidence of the wisdom that was passed on at that time. Is there a good book or another resource that anyone would recommend? We've already read a brief section from WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE FIRST YEAR (?), but I'm not comfortable with the stoic sense of individualism it seems to promote. We also picked up a book on family bed, but it's not what we're really looking for either (illustrations of 6 & 8 yo getting a bed of their own, or moving to sleep with siblings). Your advice is appreciated. -Bob
I have a book from La Leche League called "One Family Bed." And the magazine, Mothering, often publishes articles on this topic, giving a book list and other resources as well. When family bed, La Leche League or Mothering magazine are mentioned, often the reaction is negative, given their hard-line position on breastfeeding, family bed and parenting issues. However, I learned to use what I liked and leave the rest behind. If you are interested, e-mail me directly and I can look these things up at home and get back to you with info. on how to get them. Or, if you are interested in discussing via e-mail, same applies -- it took me several years to discover that I believe in the family bed and be able to say so without the fear that others would throw garlic at me and pull out their wooden stakes.
Tamara
IMHO, the most important factor you should consider is how you as parents feel about it. After all, how "scientific" are the books that you find on this subject? what type of answer are you looking for in such books?

To me, how my children feel is very important. since they feel very secure near us, we let them sleep in our bed since they were 10 months old. Now, both of them, 3 1/2 and 1 1/2 sleep with us, though sometimes we put the older one in her bed, which is right next to our bed, after she falls sleep. Since they both go to daycare while I am at school, I find the cuddling time before sleep very precious: we are all very relaxed and play and sing and tell stories until I tell them that the angel of dreams is here to give us sweet dreams; they have so much fun that they resist sleeping. Though I find rolling very hard, and some mornings I wake up tired, I just cannot imagine sleeping away from them.

I just want to mention that in most eastern cultures it is very normal and usual for children to sleep with parents until they are about 5 years old, and then siblings sleep together, until they are 7-10 years old. It is the western individualism that doesn't recommend family bed.

I have a freind who always says that if animals keep their children so close to them, then this is the natural way. I don't think if the answer is there, either. The point is that the right answer is not in any book, (10 or 20 years from now there will be books that would prove previous books were wrong!) and cannot be find anywhere. Though I encourage having family bed strongly, I think it is a very personal choice(of both parents and child) and just depends on how you and your child feel about it.
soheila


I recommend two resources: your own knowledge of your son--I think you'll know better than anyone else when you're all ready for separate beds; and Richard Ferber's book "Solve your child's sleep problems", for background on how people sleep and how infants learn to.

My wife and I had no trouble sensing when our children were ready for their own beds--our first-born showed obvious relief when she didn't have to share the bed with us!--but I wish we'd known more about sleep cycles and how children learn to deal with them.
--jk


The "appropriate time to transition" your son is whenever you, Cathy, and your son are ready to do so. You should check out William and Martha Sears' book "Nighttime Parenting" if you haven't read it already. They also talk about this in a chapter by that title in "The Baby Book". There's an faq on the family bed at http://www.islandnet.com/~bedford/fam-bed.html . I haven't read it (the faq) myself so don't know if it has what you're looking for. I wouldn't trust the "What to Expect" book on anything related to family bed since they don't endorse it in the first place; actually, I don't trust them on most anything but that's MHO. I'm very skeptical of any book that says you "must" do x "or else" y may happen. If anyone tells you that family bed leads to sleep disorders, never learning to sleep on one's own, child abuse, blah blah blah, kindly point out to them that the US is the country with the largest percentile of sleep disorders in the world and that most babies/children in the US sleep separately from their parents while the majority of babies in the rest of the world sleep with their parents. That should shut them up (and I'm not even going to *touch* child abuse).

If you're growing weary of the family bed you may want to try to give Jesse a "nudge" and see how he reacts. If he's not ready you can wait a little longer, and if he does respond you can try to make the move. There are different ways people do this. Some wait until the child's 3rd birthday, buy a "big boy" bed, make a big deal out of it, and then make the transition suddenly with a willing child. Others take the step-by-step approach. First a bed/cot/mattress/crib attached to the side of your bed, then move the mattress away from the bed but still in the room, then move it to the other room. Another "trick" is to have an older sibling for the younger one to join (may not be an option in your case since you didn't mention one), or to move two siblings that have been in the family bad to their own "family bed" in another room. I have a friend who just moved her almost 3 yr old from a crib in their bedroom to a toddler bed in his brother's room. The two have been having so much fun the younger one hasn't noticed at all. In short, he was ready.

If you don't have a crib there's no point buying one now. He's old enough for a "real" bed and climbing out of a crib can be more dangerous than a bed. If you do have a crib, you might want to try the "side-car" arrangement as a first step. We currently use this even though our son usually sleeps between us. If you do transition him out now, be prepared for "visits" every now and then, especially if he's still nursing at night.

HTH, ---Sophie


Moving 4-month-old out of my bed

Sept 1998

My 4-mo. old daughter has spent the nights of her young life either sleeping in her bassinet or in our bed, but the latter has become increasingly more common as she clearly expresses her preference! Although there is much to enjoy about this warm and cuddly arrangement, I think we may all sleep better if she were sleeping in her bassinet and eventually in a crib in another room, where she and I couldn't hear each other's every breath and movement. (She was sleeping though the night fairly regularly for awhile, but has regressed and is now waking up again). *** DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO MAKE THIS TRANSITION ???? *** If she falls aslep in my bed and then I move her, she complains as soon as she realizes where she is. She also has not taken to a pacifier or successfully found her thumb, so nursing or sucking on my pinkie finger is her main source of comfort. Gail


My 5 1/2 month old son slept with us for the first month or so, then in a bassinet next to our bed (much of the time!) for about 1 1/2 months longer. I found that, once we moved him (first in the bassinet, then into the crib) to his own room, we eventually, over a period of several tiresome weeks with wakeful periods and midnight fussings, got him adjusted to the crib so that he does not kvetch much about not sleeping with us and/or being alone, and we find that he now sleeps fairly contentedly in his crib. To be entirely honest, though, he still wakes up 1 time at night, sometime between 2 and 4 a.m., to nurse. Since I now have to wake up, find my slippers, and traipse off the to other room to feed him, the cost-benefit analysis of having successfully moved him to the crib is not entirely clear-cut . . . In short, I am pretty sure that you will find plusses and minuses no matter what route you take. It seems to me that the number one issue for new parents is SLEEP - both theirs and their baby's, no doubt because it is so hard to resolve, and because the problems occur when your metabolism and mental/emotional resources are at very low ebb - say, 3 a.m. We haven't been able to gather the strength to ferberize, but I hear it works a treat. Good luck. Wendy
Consider putting your son's crib in a sidecar arrangement next to your bed. Take one of the sides off, and place the crib against your bed with the mattresses the same height. This way your son has the comfort of having you close, but you are able to have some sense of having your "own bed." This might help him get over his fear of the crib. Good luck,
Laurel
From: Craig

Regarding kids in the bed and methods for getting them out into a crib. A friend suggested we put a (warm, not hot!) hot water bottle in the crib during the transition time, so our son would find something like a body near him in the crib. (When sleeping in our bed, he tended to sleep with one hand touching one or the other parent). Turned out to work like a charm for us -- your mileage may vary.


After five months of happy co-sleeping, we were all three ready to get more sleep -- which meant a separate bed for our baby. We have had great success with Dr. Weissbluth's book, "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby," both for night sleep and naps. Yes, it requires letting the baby cry. But what we've experienced is watching our baby *learn* how to sleep on his own -- a new skill he practices and gains competence with.

We've modified the approach described in the book to suit us. For example, our baby comes into the bed with us in the early morning for the last 1-2 hours so we all wake up together. I also still nap with him sometimes.

Dr. Weissbluth is also not at all anti-family bed and includes discussion of how to combine family bed and more sleep! I encourage you to at least check out this book. We *all three* feel so much better with the good sleep we now get, and can count on getting on a regular basis. Our son is a much happier, more resilient fellow. Finally, because our baby goes to sleep in the early evening, my husband and I can prepare and eat dinner together and have a few hours of quiet time together every evening -- a great plus for the marriage, therefore for our whole family. Best of luck!


Moving 5-month-old out of our bed

Nov 2003

Hi. My son, now five months old, has been sleeping with my husband and I since he was a couple of weeks old (when I took him to bed to nurse and finally get some sleep!). The co-sleep thing worked beautifully for a while; I slept reasonably well, and so did my son, who nursed occaisonally. About a month ago, he started sleeping more restlessly, kicking his legs, grunting, waking up, nursing frequently (on empty breasts--eeeeegh!) etc. We've decided that the co-sleep thing is no longer working for us, and that it's important that he learn to sleep on his own. Sleeping in his crib is something he's very resistant to doing (the first night we put him down, when he woke up I tried rocking him as he reached out toward my husband, asleep in our bed, and cried, leaning his whole body in the direction of the bed, all very dramatic). Getting him to make the transition from our bed to his would seem to require two different things:

1) He needs to get used to and feel comfortable in his crib, and
2) he needs to learn to fall asleep on his own, so that he can soothe himself and get himself back to sleep when he wakes during the night.

Does anyone have any tips on this? Should we first spend some time getting him used to the crib before trying to put him down sleepy (though not asleep) so that he can learn to fall asleep on his own? Any advice or bits of your own experiences would be welcome.


Get the book ''Secrets of the Baby Whisperer'' By TracY Hogg. Though it is geared toward newborns, we used it with my daughter at 9 mos. I think it will help you understand what your baby is going through and what you need to do to get him to a) sleep in his own bed/crib, and b) go to sleep on his own. Your on the right track being concerned that he needs to feel safe in his environs. That's the first step...Good luck.
The Baby Whisperer, The Baby Whisperer, The Baby Whisperer.... It worked wonders for me and really the point (for us) that hit home the most was making sure our son got good naps during the day and that he was getting enough calories during the day (baby food as well as breastmilk) that he didn't NEED to wake up at night any more. I love this lady for writing the book and now I have the Toddler Whisperer book (son just turned 1) and its proving to be just as good.Not all things work for all people, so try everything and see what works best for YOU. Good luck! Shaana
We did the bed to crib transfer about the same age or a little later. Have you read the no cry sleep solution? It might be helpful. She has lots of ideas for a gentle way to teach them to fall asleep w/o the breast. We got my husband involved in the final good night. I also recall that we did it gradually. Like she had to start in the crib and then first came in w/ us after the 1st wake up, then only after the second. A sleep sack was really handy b/c they can't kick it off like they can blankets. It's colder in the crib! It's been a blessing b/c at 27 mos, she's still in a sleep sack and she can't throw a leg over the side of the crib in it. I'd introduce a new bedroom routine (bath, song, story, comfort object). Gradually reduce amount of time for the night night nursing. Prepare for a little to a lot of crying. This could be supported crying where you are there. Pantley, like baby whisperer, recommends persisten! ce over cold turkey crying. (pick up, say there there, you are learning to fall asleep.let's try again). We also tried to do some daytime play time in the crib to make it a happy spot. But that wasn't a big success. My daugther I think did feel caged and separated from me. But the few times it worked a mobile was useful. But now she loves her crib and reaches for it at a certain point in her bed time routine. Talking about their day is a great winder downer. Start now even when you're doing all the talking and they'll take over later. Be patient. Expect either you or the child will relapse. Understand travel often negates every stride. But it can be done and it's great to have the bed back! It is harder at first though, to get up and breast feed when you are used to lying down. That I hadn't counted on. But 2-3 times was better than All Night LOng! anon

Moving 5-month-old to her own crib

Dec 2003

My doctor suggested to me that if we want our baby out of our bed, it has to be done around 4 months of age or sooner. She felt that 6 months would be ''too late'' in the sense that it will be very difficult. I want to move her out of our bed, but am not able to yet for a few different reasons. Any advice on transferring a baby from the family bed to their crib? She is 5 months right now.


I don't think you need to be in a hurry to move her to a crib. We moved our now 13-month old girl from our bed to her own crib in her own room at 7.5 months and the transition could not have gone smoother. Although I loved having her in bed with us, she started getting really active in her sleep around 7 months, so at that point we decided it was time to make the swit! ch.

Before then she took all naps in our bed. The only time she'd spent in her crib was 5-10 minute spurts under her mobile. Some people advised us to start letting her nap in the crib to get used to it, but we decided to go cold turkey thinking it would be less confusing for her and that worked for us.

She was exclusively breastfed until 10 months. By the time we switched her to her crib, she was sleeping through the night and did not need to nurse until morning. I think that helped with the transition. If she did wake up and cried for us, we went in to her room, did NOT pick her up, patted her tummy and said it was still sleepy time, and walked back out. Sometimes we had to do this several times, but eventually she'd go back down.

A little luck and good timing never hurts either :) In our case, I think she was just ready to move to her own bed. A couple months before we moved her we bought her a Comfort Silkie and it has been a godsend. (I think the url is comfortsilkie.com.) I tucked it in with us while she nursed and she had it during naps and at night. When we moved her to her crib she had that to transition with. Bottom line, you gotta go with your gut...good luck! Dawn


Why do doctors insist on giving non-medical sleep advice, I wonder? Drives me up the wall. Anyway, I suggest that you work on moving your baby out of your bed when (and if!) you are ready and not before. It is true that it might have been a little easier, in some ways, to do it at 4 months than at six, but every baby and every family situation is different. I have known parents who were successful in moving their babies to their own bed at 4 months, at 6 months, at 9 months, at around 1 year, at around 2 years, and later. I have also known parents who attempted it at each of those ages and were *not* successful. You know your baby best and you know what will work for you, and it makes no difference whatsoever to the medical health of your baby whether or when she sleeps in a crib, as long as she is in fact getting enough sleep. Mom of a frequently cosleeping 2yo
I moved my daughter out of my bed and into her crib when she was about 14! months old. I just decided the time was right, and it was all very smooth. She had been napping there, so she did know it was a place for sleeping, and I told her it was time for her to sleep in her crib and she did. I don't think she was thrilled, but she didn't have much choice and she didn't complain too much. Really what I think is that how easily it happens has at least as much to do with the temperament of your child as it does with making sure you pick the exact right time. My child is easygoing, and transitions like this have been easy--other, less easygoing kids have a harder time. no problems
Our son co-slept with us until he was 6 months old. We heard the same thing--all the warnings about how we'd never get him out of our bed! The first night we tried, we both lay awake all night listening to every breath on the monitor because ! we were so sure he'd start crying any minute. Well, he slept through the night and we lay awake all night for nothing! Go with your instinct and don't worry about what anyone else says. In our case, the decision was mainly based on the fact that our baby was getting too big and mobile (kicking, sleeping horizontally, etc.) for our queen-sized bed, and we all slept better once we moved him to the crib. But I am so glad we did the co-sleeping for as long as we did, because it is such a sweet experience! Plus it sure made nighttime nursing a lot easier! Tracy
I don't know where your doctor came up with the magical age of 4 months old to move the baby out of your bed. I actually think that you can do it at almost any age, really. The difference will be that the strategies w! ill be slightly different depending on the age. With my son, it was important for him to be in bed with me until at least he was night weaned (at 8 months). Otherwise I''d be disturbing my sleep to nurse in the middle of the night. My philosophy was also that little babies don't have an understanding of time and reason, but when they are older, they develop a sense of security and you can also explain things to them.

We eventially moved our son into a crib in our room, then we moved the crib to the far side of the room. Then at 2 yrs old we moved him into his own room. Yes, for the first week, he physically walked down the hall back to us, and we firmly walked him back into his room. But in general, all of these sleep changes can be done at any age! anon


Transition 6-month-old to crib now or later?

May 2004

My husband, 6 month old daughter and I are currently sharing a bed, which seems to suit all of us pretty well for now. We used to put her down in her crib for the first part of the night (once I'd nursed her to sleep) but then she started resisting going to sleep so we couldn't put her down at all. We tried CIO for 4 nights and the crying never diminished (from 30-40 minutes each time) and on the 4th night we discovered later that she had thrown up on herself and her bed was cold and wet. We were so traumatized that we brought her into our bed where she has been ever since. Frankly my husband and I really like sleeping with her, though some nights are better than others. Our concerns are

1)leaving her in our bed when we aren't there, afraid she'll roll off; and

2) what happens when we want to transition her to her crib, say 6 months from now, or when I get pregnant again etc...

I don't want this to become permanent, but am concerned that transitioning her when WE are ready may be upsetting to her. Is it as my mother says that transitioning her now will be much easier on her emotionally than later?

Any thoughts you may have would be much appreciated. Caroline


I didn't seriously try to move my daughter out of our bed until I found out I was pregnant again when my daughter was 18 months old, so I have no point of comparison about when it would be easiest age-wise, but...I found that being able to communicate w/ my daughter verbally (''Yay! Your own room to sleep in!'' for example) made the transition fairly easy. She is a fiercely spirited little gal and we knew that lengthy crying it out would not really work for her (or us), so we would let her cry for 5 minutes (or even less) go and soothe her and then keep it up until she went back to sleep. We combined the transition w/ night weaning and it was very helpful that my husband did at least 1/2 of the night-time soothing w/ our daughter. I'd imagine that it would be a harder transition with such a tiny one. Why not wait if you can? My daughter *did* fall out of our bed once, but it was during a long period on the bed alone. I put her into her crib for naps after that. MG
Our 22 months old is currently in the process of transitioning out of the family bed. She's always been sleeping in our bed at night. Naps during the day would often take place elsewhere, like in a sling, backpack, stroller, a blanket on the floor. She would usually fall asleep nursing or eating or being walked around. I got very contradicting advice from other people as to when she should start sleeping at night alone, and when it would be easier (-similar to advice about weanig, btw). There were times when I felt is was getting too crowded in our bed, and there were times where I couldn't imagine she would ever agree to sleep anywhere else at night. I trusted we would somehow figure it out, since I knew of others who moved out without tears as toddlers.

A couple of weeks ago, I put a mat on the floor for her, right next to our bed. (Actually, as it was an experiment only, I just used a 4-fold folded thick woolen blanket that we had anyway.) She would sit there surrounded by her stuffed animals and dolls, imitate us reading a book, talk about night-night, but not lie down longer than a second. Ultimatively, she'd crawl in with me, nurse and sleep. I thought, okay, that was it, my experiment clearly failed. Then, a week or two later, a weird thing happened a few times when it was about to go to sleep. She burst out into tears pointing to an area between our bed and her toys, books, potty etc., demanding I sit down to nurse her to sleep there. That really wasn't comfortable for me and I didn't comply until I finally understood that she actually wanted to sleep there. When I got out the blanket again her eyes lit up she repeatetely exclaimed her name and she happily fell asleep there. This has now become our routine, with her joining us in the bed around sunrise to nurse a sleep a little more (all of us :-)). The time of her choice and the importance of imposing it her way (a different place than the one I had initially chosen for her) makes a lot of sense when seen in the developmental picture. She's close to 2, and very much into ''mine!'', do it herself, ''big!'' (speaking of herself) etc. with the usual yo-yo effect of regularly assuring closeness to her parents.

There are nights when things go a little backwards. She's a toddler, after all, sometimes overwelmed by her emotions and in need for closeness to settle down. And, of course, when she's sick she needs this, too. I would say she's now sleeping with less interruptions when she's on her own, but, since I didn't conduct a randomized trial on her sleeping place, I do better assuming that this simply is confounding with her choosing to sleep with us when she's not feeling well.

I love this experience. It's one of those processes couldn't picure before and then the child grows and develops and it all falls into place. This is not to say I did not take any initiative. It was me who offered her seperate sleeping place, put her there along with all her stuffed animal and dolls, had bought her a blanket a while ago (she saw it in a store and wanted it for ''night-night''), talked to her about sleeping there, talked about other children sleeping in *their* bed. Pushing toward independence, but not insisting. A style which I, to some extend, learned from the very experienced caretakers in daycare. They go for consistency and structure rather than battle, and they give the kids time. Often, a toddler refuse or ignores whatever is asked from them, but after a little while, after working it out themselves, he would change his mind and do it out of his own initiative. As to your question about rolling out of the bed, yes, that can happen before you know it, and you want to get bed rails or move your mattress/futon on the floor. Good nights, Julia


Good for you for being comfortable re-thinking your decision to transition her to her own bed that first time. I think the idea that it is easier now than later is questionable. It totally depends on the kid. My son didn't sleep in a crib until he was over a year! But he was happy when he did transition to it. And we did not need to be strict about it. He could still come to our bed during the night or early morning if necessary. The night my second baby was born, the older kid, at 21 mos., went to sleep in his crib and slept the whole night through! The thing that has helped us is not expecting the kids to sleep through the whole night, and therefore not getting stressed or seeing it as a problem if they need/want us during the night. So logistically, we had great success with a matress and futon on the floor. No worries about falling out or getting stuck between the headboard and the mattress, etc. Plus, with the two beds on the floor, there was room for the baby on one mattres and my husband and me on the other! That was the secret to transitioning to the crib for us. First he got used to sleeping on his own futon next to us. Later, when there were two small kids, we could each sleep with one in a bed, but still all sleep together. It was just nice for both kids to feel like there was room for them. I think it alleviated a lot of potential stress, which may have hampered independent sleeping. Good luck. alicia

Moving 6-month-old to crib

June 2004

We are moving our 6 month old to his own room/crib from our bed. We are thinking of using the Ferber method to help him learn to put himself to sleep as it has become more and more difficult to get him to sleep as he gets older. He is not a good sleeper or a good napper. He uses a pacifier to fall asleep about 50% of the time. Should we use the pacifier along with the Ferber method? Any other advice on making this transition easier on the whole family?


If you do decide to do the Ferber method, please take the time to read his book. Its informative and will answer all of your questions.
Mom of a good sleeper
We moved our son to his crib in a different room at 6 months. He also would not fall asleep without a protracted nursing ritual at this point (he'd nurse to sleep, then wake up when we put him down, so we'd have to do this over and over until the point of exhaustion for all of us). Needless to say, we were at our wit's end. We got some good advice, and did the following, which seemed to work: we came up with a short routine (pjs, nursing, book, sleep sac, song, a little holding, then in the bed) which involved a separation of nursing from the putt! ing to bed (he had to be awake), and also dad actually doing the putting to bed. We also put him to bed much earlier than we had been doing (at 7:30 instead of 10pm). We modified the Ferber by going in to him every 15 minutes and picking him up for a minute and holding him before putting him down again. As anyone who has done this will tell you, it is excruciating, and yet it works, and --I believe-- is not traumatic for the baby. Another modification of Ferber which I felt was important was that we had a time limit of 2 hours for the crying (anything more than that and we would feed him again, or rock him or whatever --this only happened once) and also we did not feed him again if he woke up again within 6 hours of going to bed. By night 3 he cried for (only) a half hour, and after a week, he wimpered for about 10 minutes on average. After a month, it only took a ! minute or 2 for him to fall asleep, and slept through the night (as opposed to waking up every few hours to nurse). Hooray! We were all much happier and healthier as a result. I swore before I had my baby I would never do Ferber, but I am very happy I did this. Good luck whatever you try!
cry it out convert
We moved our baby from our bed to a crib in our room at about 6 months. We first started trying to get him to nap in the crib, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, but we didn't worry about it too much. We then started to put him down in the crib at night, but most nights we would end up moving him to our bed sometime overnight as he still continued to wake up every few hours. None of us got a good night's sleep. We finally moved him out of our room at about 7 months and we've all been sleeping really well since then. Our baby started sleeping through the night without any feedings shortly after the move. He still occasionally wakes once during the night but usually falls back asleep within a minute or two of crying/fussing. Good Luck
No longer sleep-deprived Mom (& baby)

Moving 6-month-old from family bed

May 2004

My husband, 6 month old daughter and I are currently sharing a bed, which seems to suit all of us pretty well for now. We used to put her down in her crib for the first part of the night (once I'd nursed her to sleep) but then she started resisting going to sleep so we couldn't put her down at all. We tried CIO for 4 nights and the crying never diminished (from 30-40 minutes each time) and on the 4th night we discovered later that she had thrown up on herself and her bed was cold and wet. We were so traumatized that we brought her into our bed where she has been ever since. Frankly my husband and I really like sleeping with her, though some nights are better than others. Our concerns are

1)leaving her in our bed when we aren't there, afraid she'll roll off; and

2) what happens when we want to transition her to her crib, say 6 months from now, or when I get pregnant again etc...

I don't want this to become permanent, but am concerned that transitioning her when WE are ready may be upsetting to her. Is it as my mother says that transitioning her now will be much easier on her emotionally than later?

Any thoughts you may have would be much appreciated. Caroline


I didn't seriously try to move my daughter out of our bed until I found out I was pregnant again when my daughter was 18 months old, so I have no point of comparison about when it would be easiest age-wise, but...I found that being able to communicate w/ my daughter verbally (''Yay! Your own room to sleep in!'' for example) made the transition fairly easy. She is a fiercely spirited little gal and we knew that lengthy crying it out would not really work for her (or us), so we would let her cry for 5 minutes (or even less) go and soothe her and then keep it up until she went back to sleep. We combined the transition w/ night weaning and it was very helpful that my husband did at least 1/2 of the night-time soothing w/ our daughter. I'd imagine that it would be a harder transition with such a tiny one. Why not wait if you can? My daughter *did* fall out of our bed once, but it was during a long period on the bed alone. I put her into her crib for naps after that. MG
Our 22 months old is currently in the process of transitioning out of the family bed. She's always been sleeping in our bed at night. Naps during the day would often take place elsewhere, like in a sling, backpack, stroller, a blanket on the floor. She would usually fall asleep nursing or eating or being walked around. I got very contradicting advice from other people as to when she should start sleeping at night alone, and when it would be easier (-similar to advice about weanig, btw). There were times when I felt is was getting too crowded in our bed, and there were times where I couldn't imagine she would ever agree to sleep anywhere else at night. I trusted we would somehow figure it out, since I knew of others who moved out without tears as toddlers. A couple of weeks ago, I put a mat on the floor for her, right next to our bed. (Actually, as it was an experiment only, I just used a 4-fold folded thick woolen blanket that we had anyway.) She would sit there surrounded by her stuffed animals and dolls, imitate us reading a book, talk about night-night, but not lie down longer than a second. Ultimatively, she'd crawl in with me, nurse and sleep. I thought, okay, that was it, my experiment clearly failed. Then, a week or two later, a weird thing happened a few times when it was about to go to sleep. She burst out into tears pointing to an area between our bed and her toys, books, potty etc., demanding I sit down to nurse her to sleep there. That really wasn't comfortable for me and I didn't comply until I finally understood that she actually wanted to sleep there. When I got out the blanket again her eyes lit up she repeatetely exclaimed her name and she happily fell asleep there. This has now become our routine, with her joining us in the bed around sunrise to nurse a sleep a little more (all of us :-)). The time of her choice and the importance of imposing it her way (a different place than the one I had initially chosen for her) makes a lot of sense when seen in the developmental picture. She's close to 2, and very much into ''mine!'', do it herself, ''big!'' (speaking of herself) etc. with the usual yo-yo effect of regularly assuring closeness to her parents. There are nights when things go a little backwards. She's a toddler, after all, sometimes overwelmed by her emotions and in need for closeness to settle down. And, of course, when she's sick she needs this, too. I would say she's now sleeping with less interruptions when she's on her own, but, since I didn't conduct a randomized trial on her sleeping place, I do better assuming that this simply is confounding with her choosing to sleep with us when she's not feeling well. I love this experience. It's one of those processes couldn't picure before and then the child grows and develops and it all falls into place. This is not to say I did not take any initiative. It was me who offered her seperate sleeping place, put her there along with all her stuffed animal and dolls, had bought her a blanket a while ago (she saw it in a store and wanted it for ''night-night''), talked to her about sleeping there, talked about other children sleeping in *their* bed. Pushing toward independence, but not insisting. A style which I, to some extend, learned from the very experienced caretakers in daycare. They go for consistency and structure rather than battle, and they give the kids time. Often, a toddler refuse or ignores whatever is asked from them, but after a little while, after working it out themselves, he would change his mind and do it out of his own initiative. As to your question about rolling out of the bed, yes, that can happen before you know it, and you want to get bed rails or move your mattress/futon on the floor. Good nights, Julia
Good for you for being comfortable re-thinking your decision to transition her to her own bed that first time. I think the idea that it is easier now than later is questionable. It totally depends on the kid. My son didn't sleep in a crib until he was over a year! But he was happy when he did transition to it. And we did not need to be strict about it. He could still come to our bed during the night or early morning if necessary. The night my second baby was born, the older kid, at 21 mos., went to sleep in his crib and slept the whole night through! The thing that has helped us is not expecting the kids to sleep through the whole night, and therefore not getting stressed or seeing it as a problem if they need/want us during the night. So logistically, we had great success with a matress and futon on the floor. No worries about falling out or getting stuck between the headboard and the mattress, etc. Plus, with the two beds on the floor, there was room for the baby on one mattres and my husband and me on the other! That was the secret to transitioning to the crib for us. First he got used to sleeping on his own futon next to us. Later, when there were two small kids, we could each sleep with one in a bed, but still all sleep together. It was just nice for both kids to feel like there was room for them. I think it alleviated a lot of potential stress, which may have hampered independent sleeping. Good luck. alicia
I think transitioning out of the family bed should be done at a pace that you all feel comfortable with. We had originally planned to transition our now 15 month old son out by 6 months, then 12 months, and now it's open-ended, as we find it's much easier to comfort him if he's in bed with us (well, me, really -- his mom, as I can nurse him back to sleep). Plenty of cultures continue the family bed indefinitely with no harm and plenty of positives. Read ''the Continuum Concept'' for some cultural comparisons. Anyway, he naps in our bed, but I lie with him and read or nap also; at night I'm almost always there. Also, you can use bed rails or a thing called the ''snug tuck pillow'' (designed for co-sleeping, can be bought online) to keep him more securely in bed, or move the mattress to the floor. Go to this site for more info about family bed, safety etc.: http://www.mothering.com/discussions/forumdisplay.php?f=37 Jennifer
1) To avoid falling off the bed, take your matress off the frame and put it directly on the floor. If you baby rolls out of bed it is a little bump but nothing that would really hurt. You can also buy bed rails to put on the sides and the foot of the bed. 2) Move your mattress into your babies room. When it is time to move her out of the family bed, you are the ones moving out of her room, NOT her moving out of your room. When our son was 7 months we put our mattress on the floor because he had joined our bed. After a month of not getting enough sleep (because there just wasn't enough room for all the moving bodies), I moved our mattress into the babies room and set it side by side of a extra long twin. Now we all get sleep and I am hoping the transition will be easier because we will be the ones moving out, not him. Best of luck. The Happy Family Bed

Time to move 9-month-old out of our bed?

July 2003

I need advice regarding when I should place my baby in her own bed. I believe in attachment parenting. My mother and mother-in- law say that it's time for her to move into her own bed (she is 9 months old). I am still nursing her. She sleeps through the night and maybe nurses once or twice for a few minutes early in the morning. She is used to rolling over and having access to my milk and feeling the warmth of mommy. I've starting placing her in her crib but when she wakes up (a few hours later) and realizes that I am not there, she starts crying and I place her in bed with me and she goes right to sleep (I know that sounds lazy but I'm an exhausted single mother). Any suggestions for getting her to sleep alone?


''If it ain't broke don't fix it and even more importantly if it ain't broke don't break it.'' It sounds like you, the only true expert on your own baby, know what's right and that you are trying to force your mother and mother-in-law's advice onto a situation that is working perfectly for you and your baby. Witness the results an unhappy baby and exhausted Mom. Which course of action seems to be bringing the most satisfactory results? It sounds like this is your first baby and if that is the case I know how extremely difficult it can be to figure things out. But something I wish I had done when my now teen-aged son was young was to ask myself in many situations ''Is this truly working for us? Am I thinking for myself or am I blindly following others' advice?'' I have many regrets about following the advice of others without asking myself if it truly made sense. Once again difficult to do in a brand new situation where you have no experience, but very important I believe. I'd like to reiterate that the subtext of your letter shows that you seem to know EXACTLY what to do in this situation. TRUST YOURSELF, TRUST YOURSELF, TRUST YOURSELF. Joan
Mothers and mothers-in-law are always quick to let you know what they think. It does not matter what they think, but how you feel. I too am a single mom and my son has always slept with me. I was just too exhausted after a full day's of work to move him to his own bed. Quite frankly, I liked having him with me because I missed him so much during the day that this was our time together. He is now 8 and still sleeps with me every once in a while. If you like your baby with you, than just ignore the well intentioned advice from the elders and do what feels right to you. another mom
Trust your instincts! If you and your baby are getting better sleep together, stay where you are. There's nothing wrong with what you're doing. My 1st baby was out of our bed at about 9 months and my second was out of bed at a little over a year old, and anecdotally that seems pretty average for my peer group. I think at around this age some parents get pretty tired of having the baby in bed with them. That might be where your family is coming from. That said, do what's right for your family, not what your mom and MIL say. Laurel
It's time to move your baby out of your bed when *you* no longer enjoy having her there, or when your baby isn't sleeping well there. Your mother's and mother-in-law's opinion is totally irrelevant.

Many AP parents prefer to keep baby in mom's bed until baby is old enough for a BED rather than a crib -- at a year or two old. Around 3 years, many kids decide on their own to sleep in their own beds. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and the studies of long-term co-sleeping that have been done show that the children themselves aren't much affected by it one way or the other -- statistically, the kids who slept in their parents' bed for a year or more are no more and no less healthy and well-adjusted than the kids who slept in a crib.

What you're doing right now -- putting her in the crib for the first part of the night, bringing her to your bed when she wakes -- is fine too, if you don't mind the sleepwalking to her room in the middle of the night. It does allow you to have a little more adult time after her bedtime and before yours! I did exactly that for a long time, most nights, and like your daughter, my son would sleep through the night if he started out in my bed but wake up if he started out in the crib. We moved him into a twin size bed at about 20 months and I LOVE it. Now, instead of my having to go get him out of his crib at night and nurse him back to sleep, he just gets up and comes into my room on his own, climbs into bed next to me and goes back to sleep without nursing and usually without waking me up! (He's 2 1/2 now.)

I *like* waking up and finding him cuddled up with me in the morning. If you feel the same way, go ahead and be ''lazy'' about putting your baby into her own bed for as long as you want. Holly


I'm sure there will be an avalanche of responses to this, but I'll risk being one of the multitude Tell your mother and MIL to buzz off. You say you believe in attachment parenting and that co-sleeping works for you. It sure sounds like you're both getting better sleep this way. If you want to feel more confident about your choice, read some more of ''The Baby Book'' by Sears & Sears. I believe there is also a book called ''Attachment Parenting.'' I still co-sleep with my 3-year-old and it works for us. Jennie, another single mom
If attachment parenting is working for you and your baby, I wouldn't change things just because your mother and mil say it's time. Do it in your own time when you're ready. I do think training the baby to sleep by herself will entail some sleepless nights with lots of crying. Perhaps your mother/mil would like to help out during the transition period while you take a little vacation? Seriously, I'd also recommend Dr. Weissbluth's book ''Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.'' ellen
The ''right'' time for moving a child to their own bed is when YOU want them to - not when others say it's time. Your bed, your child, your body. Yes, she will wake up and cry in the night, and yes, it's absolutely okay to bring her back into bed with you. You are not being lazy - you're being practical. Sounds as if you're okay with the situation, so perhaps you either need to ignore their advice or discuss why they think it's so important to move her. If they argue that it will be harder to move her out later, well, maybe, maybe not. There's plenty written on the topic, so plenty to discuss. Ellen
Are you sure you want to move your baby to her own bed or are you just getting pressure from mother and mother-in-law? Nine months sounds very young to me. I slept really well with my daughter through toddler-hood, the early morning nursings gave us all a few extra hours of sleep. At 4 1/2, she decided she wanted to move to her own room when we offered her the option, and there was no trouble at all. Occasionally, she'll still come to our bed, for example, if she has a bad dream, and we all enjoy this precious time together. karen
I believe that you will know best when it's time to move your child out of your bed. Do it when it feels right to you, when your baby indicates that she is ready. Do it now or in 10 years, but do it for good reasons. I don't believe that other people's comments - even though well-meaning - are good reasons.

I often wondered why family members so often try to get between mother and child, they must be suspicious about the strong bond, which, after all, is the most natural thing on earth and without it our species wouldn't be on earth anymore. Why did my mother who I would consider an attachment parenting mother by intuition w/o reading any of Sears' writing, why did she try to convince me to move my 10 week old daughter into the stroller rather than carrying her in the sling? Just because she wasn't used to the sling, she didn't want to use it? She never critized the bed- sharing, maybe because she did that with my (much) later born siblings herself. I was always allowed to come to my parents bed, too, but it's not the same thing. I still have vivid memories on lying in my bed awake at night as a toddler, wishing to be with them, but scared to be attacked by the bad guys from the fairy tails waiting for me in the hallway that separated our rooms.

Most American and European parents and parents-in-law critical about bed-sharing. They are not used to it, they bring up some concerns about it which may or may not make sense. For sure, they don't have any scientific evidence that there is any problem with it. Or do they, on some level, regret they followed the advice from some doctors or psychologists in the 50s and 60s to keep physical distance to their children, and feel uncomfortable seeing their own kids acting differently?

You probably know that you can move your child out of your bed gradually - literally inch by inch - in various ways. Like weaning, every child will find her way eventually, and there is no right age. Some kids just leave on their own, proud of having their own bed. I belief that the kids now very well what they need. Yes, they also need limits, but I don't think limits should amount to borders between parents and children at this young age in such a sensitive matter as sleeping and night-time. Limits should be set to their actions during the day, to materilistic demands, to aggressive behavior etc.

To keep peace, you can put up a crib somewhere, use is for your child to play with, and to put her stuffed animals to sleep in. Or you give them something to read, or talk to them about your reasons for co-sleeping. What are they scared of? What bad things could happen? It's their turn to give good reasons. In any case, you don't have to justify to them what you are doing, but only to your child. You bear all the responsibily, you and your child will have the advantages and will suffer the consequences of your decisions. Good night(s), Julia


I was in exactly the same boat- well my mom didn't have and issue with our sleeping situation but my more aggerssive and verbal MIL sure did. My twin boys slept with us since birth or in the co-sleeper (or later cribs) next to our bed. Eventually we moved them to a futon next to us when they got big. If I had just had one baby I probably wouldn't have moved them out as soon but our bed was only SO big and my husband was already retreating to his own space by the middle of the night. Now we have a new baby too (my boys are 3.5 and the baby is 7 mos) and we did finally move them to their own room just to keep the baby from waking them up and vice versa. I do miss them even thugh they are right next door, but it doesn't stay that way for long. They either climb in with us or I will go in there with them. I wish they made a double king-size bed so we could all fit more comfortably but for now this is where we are. I know others think we are insane but after 3.5 years of being a mother and now a second-time mother, I am through feeling torn and guilty and adamant about doing what is right for US. I love waking up with them and got the most wonderful gift the other morning. The baby was next to me and rolled over and started to pat one of his brothers who was in bed too. My older son then sleepily put his arms around his baby brother and gave him a little kiss on the cheek and smiled at him and started talking to him. It was a precious moment and one that I would never have gotten to see if everyone were off in their own bedrooms. Sweet Dreams Doing it my way

Moving a 10-month-old to crib

April 2004

I know it's been posted and talked about, but I'm looking to see if anyone was able to move a 10 mo. old or older from the bed to the crib without using the Ferber method or some type of cry it out method. If so, how did you do it? I would love to get some suggestions or maybe I'm being un-realistic. I'm so tired, it's hard to sleep with her - but we kept her in our bed due to a lack of good heating in our house (we just had proper heating put in about 1 month ago). 'Looking forward to hearing from you. Tired, but hate the ''Cry It Out''


I think our oldler son was a little younger than 10 mos.when we moved him from bed to crib, but we started by putting him in the crib for just a few minutes with me (mom) standing there and holding him (with the bars between us) and playing. Then I'd take him out. Did this for a few days. Next, I'd put him in but not hold him....talk to him, play, sing, etc.....next, move across the room and he'd be in the crib and I'd be in the room. Next, I think we'd put him in the crib for naps...or maybe when he was already asleep (this can be tricky if child wakes up when moved). It only took a few weeks before he was totally used to the crib and slept there just fine. My little one, was easy...he always loved his crib...untill he was able to climb out even before he could walk, but that's another story. glad they're older now

Moving 11-month-old to his own crib

June 1999

My 11 month old son has slept in bed with my husband and me since he came home from the hospital with us. We've enjoyed having him there, but now feel that it is time to transition him into his own crib. We plan to put the crib in our room at first. Also, he has always fallen asleep nursing and still wakes up at night to nurse once or twice. I can't figure out how on earth I'll get him to sleep in the crib, but I feel it's time to try. Does anyone have any suggestions for me? I will appreciate it! Thanks.


Put the crib sidecar style next to your side of the bed, secured and with a board beneath connection area of your mattress and baby's mattress. About a month like this is what we did. When baby nursed in middle of night, then drifted off, I'd shift him over into the crib, which he didn't like, wanted to snuggle in to me. So I patted his back or just layed my hand on his back. Kind of fussed at first but then got with it. After setting the crib up in his separate room, and nursing in rocking chair, in middle of night when he woke, I'd lay him gently in the crib, keeping my hand on his back. Again he fussed and didn't go for it at first, so I'd pick him up and hold him some more, then set him down with back pat again, repeating 2-5 times. First week was murder. By the time he got back to sleep I'd be wide awake, but the time I got back to sleep he'd be ready to rise. But then he got with it. Thank goodness for Peet's, patience and persistence.
We did the same with our son until he started crawling at 7 and a half months cause I didn't feel it safe to be in the bed alone (just couldn't watch him all the time). Hard transition but we've persisted and endured the tears (all of ours). Two months later and he now accepts the separation. I get up to feed him once during the night still (told to stop it before one year or he'll never change) though there have been nights he can go without feeding for 7-9 hours. Never thought that was possible. Against most advice, I bring him into bed with me in the morning and it does not appear to have confused him as we're consistent about putting him in the crib every eve at the same time and bring him into bed at roughly the same time every morning.
I suggest you read Ferber's book, Solving Your Child's Sleep Problems. I found it to be very useful in helping my daughter sleep through the night. It deals with how to get your child to sleep on his or her own. It also describes how to deal with several sleep problems which can occur throughout childhood - night terrors, jetlag, etc. I liked it personally because it describes the sleep cycles of a child and helped me estimate how many hours she should be sleeping during the day/night and how that changes as they grow older.
We also have an 11-month-old whom we are in the process of moving from nursing to sleep in the family bed, to his own bed. The advice I've gotten from several friends who have done this is to go gradually. Other people have suggested the "Ferber" method, but that didn't feel right to me; since our child is so used to being so close to me at night, I just thought it would be too much of a shock to him. I thought a good first step would be to get him to sleep without nursing, even if we didn't change anything else right away. I've started nursing him a little before bed, then lying down and turning off the lights while he's still awake. I've just said, "It's time to go to sleep now", and held him or let him crawl around a bit, without interacting with him much, and to my surprise he's been falling asleep within a few minutes (he goes to sleep when I do, so it's not that far from what he's used to just to fall asleep next to Mama, even without nursing to sleep). Next we may try something like putting him down in our bed and just sitting with him, or patting his back, and then having me come to bed a little later after he's asleep. We'll probably put his new bed in our room for awhile, maybe staying with him with a hand on his back while he falls asleep at first, then one of us might sleep in his room near him for a few nights if that seems best at the time. Nighttime nursings have been surprisingly easy to cut out recently for us; he was nursing several times a night, every time his sleep got a little light. Recently I've been trying not to nurse him, but just hold him or pat his back a little to get him back to sleep. At first this worked occasionally, then more often, then last night he went through the whole night without even wanting to nurse; we've only been at this for a couple of weeks now. I guess he didn't really need the milk, but it was more just a habit to nurse at night. We don't know exactly how this will end up, but from what some friends have told me it seems that it is possible to make these changes gently. Good luck.
We just got our 14 month old to sleep in his own bed, and we never used a crib. Every time we put him in his crib (asleep), which was in our room, he would wake up and start to scream. It felt traumatizing trying to force him to use a crib, so we opted out of that phase. We are into the attachment parenting philosophy and sharing the family bed, so his bed is in our bedroom. Our first challenge was to get him to sleep through the nite, without waking up to nurse (another story). Once he was comfortable with that, we slowly moved him into his own bed. His bed (actually the crib mattress) is right next to our bed (my side) on the floor. We lowered our bed, putting our mattress on the floor so his mattress is right next to it. He use to sleep between my partner and I. We moved him next to me for one week (I'm the non-biological Mom), on the outside of the bed. Then we moved him off of our bed right into his own bed. I can put my hand out and touch him, if he needs a reassuring pat during the night, or more often, cover him up when he kicks off his covers. His bed is next to the wall, surrounded by those long body pillows that pregnant woman like to sleep with. So when he nestles up in the corner, he doesn't hit a cold wall. His bed is very inviting. Our friends usually have to lay in it the first time they see it. It makes our bedroom feel very comfy and cozy. Which ever method you choose--good luck!
We did this transition from our bed to the crib with our twin daughters when they were about 9 months old. We had actually started a couple months earlier with me nursing them to sleep, then putting them in a crib next to our bed, but didn't have much success. They would wake up frequently throughout the night and even after falling asleep while nursing, would wake up as soon as I put them in the crib.

What finally worked was that my partner would rock them to sleep after I nursed them, and if they woke up before the next "reasonable" nursing time (we started with every two hours and have been gradually stretching that out and are now at 4-5 hours), he would get up and rock them to sleep. It was hard for us all at first, and became much easier when we moved their cribs into their own room so that they didn't see/hear/smell me while they were being rocked to sleep. We're still doing this and it seems to be working out ok.

We did this transition from our bed to the crib with our twin daughters when they were about 9 months old. We had actually started a couple months earlier with me nursing them to sleep, then putting them in a crib next to our bed, but didn't have much success. They would wake up frequently throughout the night and even after falling asleep while nursing, would wake up as soon as I put them in the crib.

What finally worked was that my partner would rock them to sleep after I nursed them, and if they woke up before the next "reasonable" nursing time (we started with every two hours and have been gradually stretching that out and are now at 4-5 hours), he would get up and rock them to sleep. It was hard for us all at first, and became much easier when we moved their cribs into their own room so that they didn't see/hear/smell me while they were being rocked to sleep. We're still doing this and it seems to be working out ok.


One-year-old won't return to crib after short stay in our bed

March 2004

When our one year-old daughter got sick last month, we let her to sleep in our bed with us so we could comfort her during the night. When she got better, we tried putting her back in her crib at night. But she stands up and cries in protest. When we tried letting her ''cry it out,'' she stood in her crib for TWO hours and cried until I rescued her. It seemed too cruel to let her continue standing. Now, the only way we can get her to sleep in her crib is to rock her to sleep, then put her in the crib while asleep. Still she usually wakes up in the middle of the night and stands up and cries until I bring her to our bed. We don't want her sleeping in our bed on a regular basis. How do I break this cycle? Is crying it out the only method? Somehow I don't think it will work now that she can stand. (By the way, her nanny gets her to nap in the stroller.) What have others tried? Janice


I had the same problem you had. As an infant, my son always had a difficult time sleeping and staying in his crib. By the time he turned one year old, he'd be screaming his head off! The straw that broke our back was him standing and crying it out one night for 4 hours! I know that sounds cruel, but we thought we could ''win''. We finally realized he couldn't stay in the crib any longer, but we didn't want him sleeping in between us. So we used our blow-up queen size mattress and put it on the floor. To prevent him from wandering out of his room at night, we put up a baby gate at his door. Since then, he's been doing well. Granted, we still have to stay with him until he falls asleep. At night, we read him his books and he rolls around on the mattress until it's ''lights out.'' It's been almost 6 months since we took him out of his crib. He still wakes up 2-3 times a night. We go to him each time because he can't fall asleep on his own. But he falls back asleep quickly after a few pats on the back and a familiar face. It may be that your child wanted his ''freedom'' from the crib like ours did. Hope this helps! Karen
The way I got my son to go back to sleeping in his crib after an illness or travel, was to take a blanket and pillow down to his room, tell him I would stay with him until he fell asleep, and then lie down on the floor right next to his crib until he drifted off. After a few days of this he always went back to sleeping on his own. Karen
We're in a similar situation, and concluded that our son just doesn't like his crib. We tried to let him cry-it-out, but the whole process was upsetting for all of us. Since comfort, or lack-thereof, was also an issue, buying a larger bed crossed our minds (ours is only a full-size), but we agreed that getting him to sleep in his own space was the priority...We don't have a bed frame, so our bed is pretty low to the ground. We pulled his crib mattress out and put it right next to ours, a co-sleeper of sorts (with pillows on the periphery). He's able to fall asleep on his own and when he wakes, we just pat him back to sleep. If he still can't sleep, he ends up climbing into our bed, but lately, it's been at about 4-5am, just a little while before we need to get up for the day anyway. We figure this is good training for a toddler bed; we plan to eventually move his mattress back to his room. I know our method may open up a whole new can of worms later on, but for now, we're all getting more comfortable sleep and there's much less screaming at bedtime. Good luck! Anna

Moving 17-month-old from mom's bed to own room

October 2002

I have a 17 month old who has to sleep with his father and I every night. He has his own room with a very confortable bed in it. But he loves to feel skin while he's dosing off so if you move he will wake up and look for mommy or daddy. My mother in-law says he falls to sleep by his-self when she sits for me while I'm at work but he just won't do it at home. I know I waited too long for this transition but what about that old saying ''It's never too late'' hopefully it applies to my situation;) Does anyone have any suggestions. I want my bed back!!!!


We are a ''family bed'' family in the process of moving our 15 1/2 month old daughter into her own bed in a room adjacent to ours. Here's been our approach (still a work in progress): First we night weaned her by having her sleep with her Dad in our bed and me in another room. We did that for about a month. Then, a few weeks ago, we put a double mattress on the floor in her room where she and her Dad sleep. Most recently, I switched from nursing her to sleep to nursing her on the couch and having her Dad take her upstairs to sleep. So, now she is sleeping (basically) through the night, in her room with her Dad. In the next few weeks we plan to bring my husband back into our bed. Hopefully she will be adjusted enough to be able to sleep alone. Hope this helps. Our experience has not been without a few tears, but also not nearly as difficult as we were expecting. Good luck! jquiroz

Moving 18-m-old from family bed to toddler bed

Sept 2004

Our 18 months old son moved from a family bed to a new toddler bed in his room last week. We wanted to move him out from our bed because we wanted to sleep better. My son moves and kicks alot while he is asleep. Well, the transition has been very difficult, to say the least. He has been waking up 2-4 times and each time he cries and walks to our bed. I take him to his bed each time, and he can fall asleep quickly. But after 2 hours or so, he gets up and comes to us... I don't want to give it up yet, but I am so tempted to pick him up and bring him to our bed because I AM SO SLEEPY! Anyone out there had (or having) a similar experience? (I read the previous recommendations already.) sleepy mom


Can your toddler bed be in your room, next to your bed for a while? Gradually moving may be easier on him. Or try a sleeping bag on your floor, for when he feels he really wants to be near, but he won't be kicking you in bed! R.K.

Moving 2-year-old out of the family bed

March 2005

My daughter will be turning 2 in three weeks. For the past three months she has been sleeping with my husband and I in our queen size bed. I had never really wanted a family bed, but due to her continual night wakings and a move to another city, she ended up in our bed every night. The problem is she still wakes up often, kicks and rolls over, and in particular, cuddles up close to me. Therefore, I am getting very little sleep. My husband and I are in agreement that we have to move her into her own sleeping space. The difficulty is that when we put her in the crib she cries and tries to climb out. She will also throw around her body. Two times she has ended up with a cut lip (that was the final bang that resulted in her sleeping with us all night). So, now that that she is almost two, should we buy a bed now or try some more with the crib? She also has a terribly difficult time falling asleep without being hugged / cuddled by one of us. I know that consistency is important with any treatment that we try but I am not sure what road to take (bed vs. crib). We (parents) are also horrible at tolerating long periods of screaming. Any advice would help. tired and frustrated mom


We moved our daughter out at 18 months.

Some things that helped: she had her own bed (never took to the crib) which she'd been napping in for a couple of months. She'd watched Sesame Street where Oscar tucks Slimy Worm into bed. And, finally, we just toughed it out, despite screaming (went on for about two weeks).

The first little while we'd bring her in to our room when we went to bed, but eventually we just left her in her own room. If she got up and came in, my husband took her back to bed (no nummies!) When we weaned her, we did the same routine, with my husband taking her to bed for about a week.

It helped that I'd left my job when we moved her and knew that she was getting PLENTY of parental attention during the day. Sara


My daughter is the same age as yours, and, apart from the part about throwing her body around, my husband and I endured a similar situation for about a year. It took an hour of cuddling or 90 minutes of singing to her in her crib to put her to sleep every night, and then she'd wake up at 2am and come to bed with us. We got fed up with the kicking and not getting any sleep about three months ago, when our daughter was 21 months. Here's what we did:

1. On the Friday of a long holiday weekend, we explained to her over the course of a day or two that she was a big girl now and could sleep all night in her crib. The first night was the worst, with her waking and crying a bit every 30 to 60 minutes, asking to ''sleep in bed.'' I slept on a bed next to her crib, with my hand through the rails, and explained over and over that she needed to ''sleep in crib.'' Since I was right there, she didn't cry much, which was good, because my husband and I both have a low tolerance for prolonged crying. The second night was much better, and by the third night, she only woke up a couple times, and I didn't need to sleep nearby that night. We were grateful to have an extra day in the long weekend to recover some sleep before we headed back to work.

2. A couple nights into step 1, we realized that she was kicking off her smallish baby blankets, and one of the reasons she awoke during the night was because she was cold. We bought a throw-sized fleece blanket that we could tuck in at the edges of the crib mattress. By night five, she was sleeping through the night consistently!

3. About 5 or 6 weeks after starting step 1, I had had enough of spending so much time putting her to sleep in the first place. I explained, again, that she was a big girl, and could go to sleep by all by herself in her crib, and that I would be right in the living room. This seemed to be very important info to her -- she kept repeating ''Mommy living room'' at bedtime for a long time. I made sure she had a very busy day, and would be pretty tired out by bedtime. So we did the usual bedtime routine, I told her that I'd sing her one song when she was sitting in my lap, and then I put her in the crib, and walked out the door. I was shocked that she went to sleep within 5 minutes, but she did! And she's been putting herself to sleep with the same routine ever since.

Because she was such a wretched sleeper, my husband and I had been getting a lot of advice/pressure/judgements from family/friends to let her cry it out, etc., so we were pleased that we stuck to our guns, did it our way (gradually), and didn't have to endure much crying. No promises this approach will work on any other kid, of course, but it worked great for us. Good luck. - Sleeping Now


Get her a bed. At bedtime, lie down with her in her bed and cuddle until she falls asleep. Then sneak away.

Yeah, sometimes you'll fall asleep in her bed and wake up, uncomfortable, in the middle of the night. Sometimes she'll wake up and join you in yours, in the middle of the night. But it's the most painless way to begin the transition to separate sleeping quarters.

For safety, you may need to gate off access to anywhere OTHER than your bedroom, so that she won't wander around the house at night. Some people gate the child's room (and very carefully babyproof that room!) so that the entire bedroom essentially becomes the crib. This works but it does mean that if she wakes in the night and needs you, she'll cry until you wake up and come get her. Whereas, if she has access to your room, she may come to you without waking you up. (That's what happened in our case and boy was it nice! Nobody in our household missed the crib at all. Our son was 2 at the time. He's been sleeping through the night in his own bed, most of the time, since shortly after he turned 3, and we never had to do any 'training' to accomplish that.) anon


How to get 3.5 year old to sleep in his own bed??

January 2006

any advice? on and off over the years we've tried various things aimed at promoting sleeping through the night (in own bed after a point), which with a lot of effort would work for a few weeks and then always back to him coming into our bed to sleep (starts off in own bed). he wants to cuddle and not be ''lonely'' but thrashes around and pushes us into odd positions. we've tried ''positive incentives'' and walking him back to his bed, even a baby gate (too much fussing in the middle of the night), but it all seems to get old and we end up back in the same boat. any ideas????? thanks.


Our situation was just like yours. Here's the ridiculous and embarassing solution I came up with: For about one month, I set up our air mattress in my daughter's room and slept in it with her, just to break her habit of crawling into bed with us. We called it the ''camping bed'' and she really enjoyed having me next to her. Then I started a chart/sticker reward system where she would receive a sticker for sleeping in her own toddler bed. Once she received five/seven etc. stickers, we took her to the store for a small ($5) reward. But here's the kicker - I had to sleep next to her bed on a small air mattress and sleeping bag so that she couldn't crawl into bed with me during the night. This went on for another few weeks. Finally, I continued the reward system only if she went to sleep in her own bed and didn't come into our bed during the night. I would tuck her in, read her as many books as I could stand while she relaxed in her bed, then sing her a song. I would then tell her I had to go do some specific but short chore (feed the cats, brush my teeth, etc) and then I would be right back. And I would always keep my word. She would usually get up a few times during the night in the beginning and I walked her back to her bed. Now I have a kid who can go to sleep in her own bed by herself and life is SO much easier. I was only slightly sleep- deprived, but it did take a while. Best of luck to you! Victoria

Moving 4-year-old to her own bed

September 2002

I have always allowed my almost 4 year-old daughter to sleep in my bed, save for the occasional ''I can sleep by myself'' foray. Because she is almost 4, and I have developed marked insomnia over the past year and a half, I am now ready to help her transition to her own bed and am meeting with a lot of resistance. She cries and tantrums, and longs for me, and if on occasion she is asleep when I put her in her own bed, she wakes in the middle of the night and comes into my bedroom. Complicating this somewhat is that my partner of one year, who is not my daughter's dad, feels uncomfortable spending the night at our house when my daughter is there because she throws such fits about going to, and staying in, her bed. Also, he just isn't comfortable sleeping in the same bed with the two of us--and I am finding it harder and harder to get enough sleep. She rolls around, clings to me, and pushes me to the corners of my queen sized bed.

I am trying to help my daughter make the transition to her bed independently of my wish to have my partner be able to spend the night at our house, but I suspect that she is linking the two things, which would understandably make her feel pushed out of my bed so he can be there--an impression I wish to avoid. Any tips, advice, encouragement for a stressed out, sleepless mom?


I am in the same situation and I have found that using a chart and reward system worked for my child. I broke the problem into a couple of parts: going to sleep in her own bed (at which point she would join me in my bed at 1:00am or so) and staying in her own bed. For going to sleep in her own bed, I laid down with her at first and gradually moved to sitting in the room, moving to the door and finally sitting outside of her door, while she fell asleep. This took a few weeks. Then for sleeping in her bed through the night, I used a digital clock, with the minutes blocked out and only the hour seen. She can only get up and come to my bed after 5am. After a certain number of successes at each stage, she got some kind of reward. It has worked well with her. The whole process has taken a few months but has been relatively smooth. Now she goes to bed in her own bed and sleeps through the night many nights. anonymous
I have a few thoughts on the postings about four-year-olds and sleep problems. My younger daughter has a hard time going to bed alone & staying in her room. Her basic problem is that she's lonely in her room, she wants someone to sleep with her. Well, neither her older sister nor I are willing to go to bed with her at 8:00, & she's the kind of revved-up kid who can't really relax into sleep if she's around other people. She needs to be alone, even if she doesn't want to be alone. What has helped is making sure she has enough nightlights & a small desk lamp by her bed so she can see well enough to look at books or play with her toys, since I've always told her she can play quietly if she's not able to fall asleep right away, or if she wakes up during the night. She also has a radio & tape player, so she can listen to music in her room. She also has a hamster in a cage in her room, who often is awake at night running in her wheel or eating or drinking, providing some companionship. If she stays in her room after I say goodnight (my daughter, not the hamster), she gets a sticker in the morning, & after 5 stickers she gets to choose a prize from the prize box. So it's a combination of addressing the underlying problem (loneliness) & bribery. It works pretty well -- she gets a sticker most mornings, little prizes are cheap, so are hamsters. Melinda
You are right on when you suggest that your daughter is linking her transition out of your bed with your partner now sleeping in your bed (or, to your four-yr-old, in her place.) Even if you were to allow her to sleep with the two of you I expect she would still feel threatened by having to share her place in your bed with your partner. The way I see it, your partner in your bed is only setting your daugher up to feel hatred towards him and deserted by you. Save everyone some pain and keep your partner out of your bed. This way your daughter will be able to make the transition to her bed independently of your relationship with him, and she will get the reassurance she needs from you that she is #1 in your book. anon

Getting 4.5 year old into her own bed

Feb 2003

Does anyone have any tips on how to convince my 4 1/2-year old daughter to sleep in her ''big girl bed''? She naps fine in her bed, but is afraid of night-time...says she's scared of monsters. We talk about it a lot and she sometimes says she's ready, but when bedtime approaches she ''chickens out'' and comes back to our bed (which includes our 16-month old daughter as well). I love the family bed and it's worked out fine, I just feel that she should sleep in her own bed soon! thanks, Alexis


We also do the family bed. When our second arrived we had a twin bed next to our king for our then 3-year old daughter. She will be 7 years old this month and is still sleeping in that bed. Yes, our bedroom is 2/3 bed. I have had a few moments of concern that she shows no interest in sleeping in her own room alone, but I recall those vulnerable childhood feelings during the night and I don't feel like children should have to endure those alone especially when they let you know they are not ready. I trust that when my daughter is ready, she will move on. Until then I still enjoy the sweetness of waking up together. Mary

(editor note: advice also received about Monster Fears)


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