Even if you swore you’d never, ever co-sleep, once you actually have a baby (and every moment of sleep counts), even the best-laid plans can go out the window. Most babies love being in the big bed with their parents, and oftentimes “just this once” turns into, “Oh my gosh, will she ever go back into her crib?” The good news is, there are ways to reclaim your bed that aren’t harsh.
Make a personalized plan. There are different strategies to adjust baby, and it starts at bedtime. How you put baby down each night depends on his personality and what you feel comfortable doing. “Some babies do better with a parent sitting next to the crib, and others do better with a cold turkey approach,” explains Samar Bashour, MD, a pediatrician at the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital. If you decide to stay in the nursery for a bit at bedtime, “try to leave the room when your baby is dozing off but not yet asleep,” she says. “And each night, move the chair further away from the crib toward the bedroom door.”
Teach baby to fall asleep on her own. Okay, this is the tough part. Every baby wakes throughout the night, but in order to go to back sleep without intervention (which is, in your case, a trip to your bedroom followed by lots of cuddling) they need to practice falling back asleep on their own. Some parents find success going to baby in the middle of the night and reassuring her, without picking her up or bringing her to bed with them.
Work with your partner. Make no mistake — this will be a family project, so get on the same page with your partner before you get started. Who’s going to get up each time baby wakes? What are you going to do to help him fall back asleep? Will you let baby cry a bit before picking him up? How long is each of your limits?
Expect resistance, but be consistent. Once you’ve finalized your strategy, start doing it — and stick with it even if baby tries to resist (and trust us, she will). “Your baby is likely to put up a big protest the first few nights,” she says. “This is normal and expected. Stay firm and reassuring, and remember consistency is the key.”
Be patient. Co-sleeping isn’t forever. As with any type of sleep training, returning the crib may take lots (and lots) of practice before it becomes a habit, but it will — Bashour says the entire process typically takes up to three weeks. In the meantime, try to be extra-patient with baby and remember: You _will _sleep again.
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