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Toddlers and Co-Sleeping

Updated: Jan 29, 2022

It starts so simple our child is sick, so we want to be there to comfort them, or they coming running into your room at 3 am from the worst nightmare and, of course, we offer that cuddle and fall asleep holding one another. The trend is that we always come from a place of love, doing our job of being a loving and supportive mother, responding to that natural mother instinct inside us.

So, what happens when the one night has now turned into months of co sleeping, awful bedtimes and exhausted parents from not getting any real sleep at night? What do we do? Do we just go with it and say its fine they won’t want to sleep in our bed when they are 12? Do we stand up and say "no, this isn’t working for us anymore" and take the judging eyes and remarks from those who enjoy co sleeping? It’s a very hard place to be, to have a child that once slept independently and slept so well to now a toddler who fights bedtime and will only sleep in your bed. The only way to make a change is to make a PLAN! We can call this plan of action the “Stop My Toddler From Co-Sleeping Plan” If we truly want to make a change we can, we just need to be ready. The family as a whole needs to be ready for this change. Our toddlers deserve our patience and understanding as this is about to be a big, but healthy, change. Toddlers do well when we give time for them to mentally prep and understand what is about to happen. They need to be involved in the process, one focused around support and positive reinforcement. Our child will need to feel our love during this transition as it should not be seen as a punishment or consequence to now sleep in their own bed again. The next important step is to create the plan with your partner, adding in your child once you have done the work. You will want to cover things like how you will to address any night wakings. Creating a realistic bedtime routine, one that is easy for your child to follow. Visuals work great! If you need an easy chart, send me a direct message. I will gladly share some of my toddler posters with you. If the goal is to no longer co-sleep at any point during the night then it is important that you stand firm on this decision and follow through consistently throughout the night and for all nighttime wakings. Once you have a plan in place, it’s absolutely crucial to be consistent—even in the middle of the night when you’re tired and not thinking clearly. Toddlers push, it's in their nature, and it's a normal stage of their development. We don’t want to send any confusing or mixed messages throughout the day and night. This has been quoted by Behavioural Scientists as the “intermittent reinforcement”, meaning they won’t actually be able to understand what type of behaviour is rewarded and what type of behaviour is not. Inconsistent parenting or inconsistent expectations is the hardest type of behaviour to modify or change. It will take longer to change this unwanted behaviour, always getting worse before it gets better. This is particularly true of a child who’s more than 18 months old. Therefore, once you get started, don’t give up! Toddlers can take a full 30 days before you see major positive changes, it can then take a full 4-6 weeks to truly establish this a new normal behaviour for them. Wanting our child to sleep in their own bed does not mean we are any less of a parent. We still love our child just as much as someone who is okay with co sleeping. Parenting is a journey and one we must navigate in our own way, one that works for the entire family. Sleep Tight,

XO Mandy

This blog was originally published here.

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