Question - How do I break the habit of co-sleeping with my three year old? I didn’t intent to allow my daughter to sleep in our bed but when she awoke at 4am I’d let her in and now she thinks mum and dad’s bed is her bed. She had always slept in her cot/bed until about six months ago. How do I gently get her back to her bed?
Answer - Everyday in my clinic I would see a parent who is co-sleeping with their baby or child and didn’t intend to. I fully understand how it happens, you are tired, they are awake crying yet again! Or if they are a toddler and can get out of their bed and wander down to your room for a cuddle, it is so easy just to let them slip in your bed and go back to sleep telling yourself you will work it out tomorrow or that they will outgrow and stop coming in. Usually it just gets worse and then they want to go to sleep in your bed at the beginning of the night too.
How to get her back to her bed? I’d start with reading to her on her bed at different times. Then the main part to work on is getting her to go to sleep in her bed at the beginning of the night. A string of led battery powered lights placed along her window is usually lovely to look at and enticing. Stay with her until she falls asleep if this is what she is use to in your bed. As soon as you have achieved that then you need to leave the room and then come back and check her. The aim is for her to fall asleep on her own in her own room. As this is essential to change the night time wake ups. While you stay with her until she falls asleep at the beginning of the night, she will come looking for you during the night. So progress as quickly as you can. When you night time visitors arrives, then you need to get up, and take her back to her bed to resettle her there, no matter how tired you are! The fact that she slept there 6 months ago is still in her memory so it just needs you to be firm and start. Good luck and if you need any help ask for professional advice to work out the steps with you.