Q: Our newly adopted 15-month-old refused to sleep in a crib, so we let her sleep in our bed. Three years later, we’re still co-sleeping, but I think it’s time she starts sleeping by herself. We’ve been encouraging her to sleep on a small bed in our room. Any other suggestions?
A: There’s nothing wrong with sharing a family bed, but if you’re sure this isn’t what you want for your family, here’s how to make the transition. First, instead of placing a small bed in your room, get a bed that can accommodate your daughter, plus one or both adults, for her room. Sleep with her in that bed until she becomes comfortable sleeping in her own room, then wean yourself out of her bed.
Don’t sneak out after she’s asleep – if she wakes up at night, she’ll probably just make her way back into your bed. Instead, explain each step you’ll take in the bedtime ritual (sleeping with her for the entire night, lying down with her until she’s drowsy, sitting next to her bed until she falls asleep, and so on). Let her know that you’re doing this because you’ve seen that she’s ready for it. Stickers or other small rewards for progress can make a big difference for preschoolers. She should begin to feel confident and safe in her own bed within a few months.