I made the mistake of co-sleeping too long. Now I can't get my 11 month old into her own bed room. She screams and screams if she isn't in our bed. I was wondering if you have any advice?

One of the difficulties of co-sleeping is just that, it is when it comes time to move your baby from your bed to their own. She is screaming for a couple of reasons. One is because her brains purely believes that she cannot get to sleep without you as you have become her sleeping cues, this is very valid. Her brain has a checklist when it comes to sleep and on that checklist is you, your warmth, your breathing, your heartbeat, your touch and your bed, your smell and the list goes on.

When you move her to her room and bed all these things are missing thus she gets upset for you to restore all those checks so that her brain can then say ‘ok, you have this, this and that, now you can go to sleep’. You and I know that she certainly can sleep without these but her brain doesn’t yet know that. For her not to be upset you need to change the checklist in her brain. You change this checklist in a couple of ways - this can be forced and dramatic and quick, a couple of weeks, or it can be slow, gentle and step by step. The choice is yours. The choice you make is usually determined by how exhausted you are, and how you parent. Usually I take parents through a couple of options and tell them how it is done and then they choose their preferred method.

If you go for the step by step method you need to consider when doing your plan, if she likes to touch you in anyway. Kids can twirl their mothers hair, have a hand resting on them, or toes touching their parents leg or rubbing their mums skin. If this is present then this is the first cue you need to change, then you need to move onto having a bit of distance between the bodies and my first aim with parents is to get their child onto a mattress on their floor by themselves. Quiet often this alone is a lot of work to achieve but once this is mastered then progress certainly quickens. It certainly helps to use the childs own mattress for this which is the feeling of comfort that you want them to cue in.
This is a bit of a process and certainly can be done, you need patience and time with the end goal always in mind. I would suggest that you certainly work through this with a psychologist and keep in touch every month once you have a plan written up for your family. To make an appointment with a psychologist you can simply phone them for an appointment or if you need to claim medicare for the appointment then you will first need to make an appointment with your gp, talk to them about the situation and they may choose to write a mental health care plan referral which will enable you to claim a medicare rebate.

Having your child sleep in her own bed can certainly be done and is very achievable. It is, I believe a great skill you can teach your child - how to sleep by themselves without being reliant on you, you are setting them up to be independent and have a great nights sleep.

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