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As parents you often have one common question – how to get your child to sleep on their own? But before discussing why, what and how, let us first be aware of the fact that there is no right time to start making your child sleep in a separate room or bed. You may get advice saying a child should be sleeping alone by 3 years or that you should start the weaning at 3 years.
Experts and doctors say that there is no fixed timeline, but that the weaning process should start at a time when the child is not going through any other major change in their life.
Starting preschool or day-care, weaning off the bottle or pacifier, toilet or potty training and hitting any other major milestone are times of upheaval. Such time periods should be avoided to bring any change in routine.
The best way to start weaning off the family bed is by talking to the child. As some studies highlight, children are mini-adults and telling or informing them is the first and best step towards a major change. Tell them often that their resting space is going to change soon and give them time to process the information.
You may also move favourite objects — blanket, soft toys, books – to the bedroom that is going to be theirs. This will give them a sense of ownership, familiarity and comfort. You can proceed in two ways.
1. Start putting your child in their bed and sleep with them for a few days, gradually decreasing the number of hours you spend there.
2. Start by putting your child to sleep for a few hours in their bed and gradually increase the number of hours. This can also start in the afternoon before starting to sleep alone at night.
Whether you choose the first or the second method, be ready for a lot of inter-room travelling and sleepless nights. You may also realise underlying fears, such as fear of the dark, and insecurities, afraid of growing up and losing your affection — and this weaning will be a good opportunity to erase those too.
Yes, it may be difficult, but a few weeks are fleeting considering a long-term sleeping arrangement that is good for your child and good for you too.