I’ve seen a lot of moms having troubles with switching their co-sleeping babies into their own crib, or space.
While I’m absolutely no expert by any means, I’m going to share with you what I did to get EJ to sleep by himself in his playpen without any fussing, no crying, just generally a smooth transition for everyone. I’m hoping some, if not all, these tips might make your transitioning a little bit easier for you.
To start, my co-sleeping journey is a bit different from the common ones I’ve come across.
When EJ was a new born, he wouldn’t sleep unless he was on me, and I tried everything I could think of. Including the heated rice bag trick, swaddling, you name it I tried it. So I caved and started co-sleeping, but for the first month I was so terrified of sleeping with this tiny person that I would sleep on the couch. I’d place him on my chest, then stick a pillow behind me so I was sitting up, then my nursing pillow around my waist, then tuck pillows and blankets around me. Using this, I trained myself not to move at all while I was sleeping, and if by chance I did move a bit, the pillows and blankets would stop EJ from rolling off of me. Then I started slowly sleeping with him during his day time naps, with my husband watching over us to make sure I didn’t move. I would place EJ in the crook of my arm, then curl around him. This is how I slept with him our entire co-sleeping time and I wouldn’t move. I would wake up stiff, sore from staying in one place too long, and I was tired of not being able to roll over.
So I finally decided to move EJ into his own space so I could actually roll over, or stretch, or go to the bathroom without it being an entire adventure.
The first couple nights, I stuck EJ in his crib, in his own room. It was a disaster of screaming, I would give in after a few hours of doing what I could to get him to sleep, including rocking him, sitting there rubbing his back, white noise… I went through all the tricks I could think of. I thought I was going to be stuck co-sleeping forever. But one night, my husband said to me, maybe he just doesn’t want to be that far. Duh! Light bulb. He was used to my scent, to hearing me breath, my warmth.
Here’s what I did to get him to sleep in his play pen, in our room. He slept there the very first night I tried, and now happily sleeps in his playpen every single night wonderfully.
I took every single pillow case from my bed, and my pajamas, I stuck them in his playpen for the entire day so my scent would be embedded. I also took a cozy blanket that I had made, but any blanket with your scent on it will work. I tucked it in like a sheet so that there was no hazards for EJ getting tangled or getting it over his face. I put it over top of the pillow cases, nice and tucked in, so when he was laid down he was enveloped in my scent.
2. White noise
He was used to hearing me breath, to having some sort of constant noise that he could rely on. While being right next to the bed meant he could still hear my breath, it was definitely more faint then he was used to. So I moved a humidifier into my room, which makes a very quiet noise, and then every night I stick the radio, or an audio book on very quietly. I don’t mind the noise either so it works out pretty well for both of us.
The last thing, is he was used to my body warmth, so he was used to sleeping in a very cozy environment. The blanket I had tucked in certainly helped, but I wanted to be sure he was warm enough at night so he would get his best sleep. So I picked up a fleece sleep sack, then would put him in fleece pajamas before his sleep sack. In the dead of winter, if the house was going to be cooler at night (not all the vents in the house were working) I would add layers depending on how cold it would be. Sometimes even adding gloves, or baby socks, over his hands to keep them warm.
Between these three steps, it was a dream to get him to sleep by himself. I’ve slowly started taking away some of the steps, or moving him a bit farther away from the bed as time goes on and he gets more used to sleeping by himself. He adjusts so well when it’s just small steps made instead of one big giant change. One other thing I do, just to make my life easier, is keep a feeding station on my bedside table.
I leave a small container of formula, then before bed I clean and fill all the bottles he will need with water. That way, I can quickly make a bottle when he wakes up hungry, which means he doesn’t have the chance to fully wake up, so he just falls right back asleep. Nighttime feedings take less then 5 minutes, which means more sleep for everyone in the house.
Let me know if any of these work for you, or if you have some other tips I can add in for those who need them!