Moving your Baby out of your Room
Transitioning from your bed/bedroom to their own space
Babies learn to sleep in a variety of environments. While it is not recommended, many families do find themselves with a newborn baby who sleeps best in a co-sleeping set up. This is often easier for Mum and baby when breastfeeding and all concerned may enjoy a more settled night’s sleep. Co-sleeping is not without risks so any decision to do so should be done responsibly to ensure no risk to your newborn baby.
Some babies co-sleep or share their parent’s room for a short period before transitioning to their own nursery or a shared room with a sibling. The current guidelines encourage baby to be put into a moses basket for the first six weeks approximately, then to be in a cot in parent’s room until age six months. This is in line with safe sleeping recommendations which aims to reduce the number of cot deaths.
If the arrangement is working well and, as a family you enjoy your shared bed or space, they there is little to worry about apart from the obvious issues around safe sleep which should be considered each time you put your baby to bed. So what happens when this is no longer working for your family- what is the easiest way to transition from the family bed into a space of their own?
Making the decision to move your baby
When you finally decide that the time has come to address your sleeping arrangements, ensure that you are choosing to move your baby out as it is no longer working for either of you. This should be your decision rather than the decision of well-meaning friends or family. Discuss your concerns with your GP or Health Visitor before making the change as they often have some fantastic suggestions for addressing concerns or making the transition easier. Don’t feel guilty for making the decision, if your baby is ready and so are you, then plan your moving strategy and commit to it with the support of your partner or a close friend/family member who can support you if you feel it is becoming challenging.
So, where will baby go?
Have you decided where you will move your baby to and how it will work during the day and night? Have you prepared the nursery with all the essentials to ensure your baby is safe, comfortable, warm and nearby? A baby monitor can be a useful tool for reassurance and some even have a video option so that you can check on your baby without having to go in and disturb her.
Will your baby sleep in a cradle or a larger cot? Initially, it can help to use the same cot or sleeping environment (unless it was your own bed) which is moved into the nursery so that there are not too many changes all at once. If you are moving baby from sleeping with you in your bed where you had a co-sleeping arrangement, you may wish to first get your baby used to sleeping in the cot that he will use in his own nursery. You can do this by transitioning him first from your bed to the cot in your room. Once that move has been successful and you’re confident that you’re ready to move to the next step, you can move the cot to the nursery. This phased approach helps you and baby to adjust without having complete separation right away.
A word on baby monitors. Some parents find that baby monitors keep them awake more than necessary. Consider whether they are a good option for you or not. If your baby is nearby, you may decide to leave all doors open so that you can hear your baby. Alternatively, if space allows, some parents will move temporarily into the nursery, placing a spare bed in there so that they are nearby while baby gets used to the new environment.
If your baby is older, or is already into the toddler phase, the move can be more challenging. If your toddler has shared your bed since birth or moved to your bed at some point and it’s now become the norm, there are some steps you can take to address this issue.
You may wish to start with a mattress on your bedroom floor. This should be the mattress from the cot or bed that your toddler will use to sleep on when they’ve made the move to their own room. Role play can have a big impact at this stage. You can start by giving your little on cues about what is going to happen. Ask them to help you move the mattress into your room. Talk to them about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and how exciting it will be for them to have their very own bed. You could even include some new bedding or a new bedtime teddy or comforter. A little clock and some new bedtime story books if your toddler would respond well to these items.
Timing is everything
The strategy you use to move your baby depends on their age. The first nap or sleep in the new bed should be done when your baby or toddler usually has their best most settled nap. It is also a good idea to keep the change simple and low key. There should not be any other major changes going on in the house. For example, if you’re having work done on your home or you’re moving, wait until things have settled down again and life is going on as normal. Too many changes can set you back before you’ve even started.
For some parents, the prospect of another baby on the way is the motivator for making the move. It would be almost impossible to accommodate the needs of two children in your bed or in your room without creating certain disruption. That said, you should start to talk to your baby or toddler about the move. Some will understand more than others, depending on age and if your baby is young then your soft soothing voice will help to keep them calm and secure.
The more you discuss the move, the more prepared you and your child will be when the time comes. A low key, soft approach is ideal. You could start a week or two before you actually make the move, discussing the move, making small subtle changes and suggestions about the changes ahead.
All babies and toddlers are unique
You know your baby best. If your baby or child seems more anxious than others, you know that the process may be longer and more drawn out, requiring a gentle approach that considers your child’s emotional well-being at all times. If your baby or toddler is easy going, they may welcome the change and require little in the way or settling in. For some parents who have a more laid back baby or toddler, the experience can affect them more than their child!
Regardless of your baby or child’s personality, the planning and phasing in stage is important. You want them to feel confident and secure when they’re moved so try not to show your own concerns or anxiety over the transition as they will quickly pick up on this and it will be a more challenging task for all.
The whole process can take weeks. It is not a quick fix scenario. As discussed, some babies will adjust more easily than others. Be prepared to put in a couple of weeks’ worth of work to settle your baby. They may get worse before things get better but in the end, if you’re gentle, consistent and prepared then it won’t be long before the whole process is behind you. It may feel daunting to consider the prospect of weeks of broken sleep, however in contrast, the idea of months or years ahead of poor sleep for all concerned will have a far greater impact on your quality of life versus the few weeks spent addressing the issue. Try to keep that in mind as you move forward.
Make a written plan
List every step you’re going to take. Talk to your partner and or supportive friends and family. Hash out any potential problems and how you’ll address them if the issues arise. Once you move your baby or toddler from your room to theirs, do so with a happy and confident approach. It won’t be long and you’ll all be sleeping soundly once again.
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