“Co-sleeping” can mean different things to different people. For some, it’s sleeping in the same room as their baby or toddler (with the child in a bassinet or crib). For others, it’s sleeping in the same bed (which is why people also use the term “bed-sharing”).
But, no matter how your family does it, there will come a time when everyone feels like they need their own space.
Your baby learning to fall asleep, and stay asleep, by themselves is a big milestone for them.
And the chance to go into your own bedroom after they’ve gone to sleep without having to tiptoe or whisper is often a relief for parents as well.
So, when should you end co-sleeping? And how do you do it? Let’s take a look.
In this article 📝
- When should you end co-sleeping?
- How to stop co-sleeping
- How to end co-sleeping with a baby
- How to end co-sleeping with a toddler
When should you end co-sleeping?
There’s no hard-and-fast rule for when to end co-sleeping — it depends on your situation.
However, it’s sometimes the case that the older your child is when you try to stop room or bed-sharing, the more daunting they find the transition.
So, on paper at least, it might be easiest to move your baby into their own room when they’re between six and 12 months old.
But if that window has already passed, don’t worry. We have tips for encouraging a toddler to sleep in their own bed later.
How to stop co-sleeping
Before we get to the how, it’s important to remember that there are several benefits to room-sharing, especially when your little one is very young:
- It’s recommended that new parents sleep in the same room as their newborn for the first six to 12 months to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
- Having them nearby throughout the night can make it easier to breastfeed and bond.
- It may also make it easier for you to get some well-earned rest — potentially keeping postpartum depression at bay (sleep deprivation can increase the risk).
But there are a few downsides, too.
- We don’t mean to frighten you, but the bed-sharing variety of co-sleeping has been linked to an increased risk of SIDS in some circumstances. It can also be more dangerous in general, because large pillows and heavy blankets can cause suffocation or overheating. There are “baby nest” products that aim to make bed-sharing safer, but they don’t necessarily reduce the risks.
- It can take your baby longer to fall asleep, and having you so close could mean that they need more attention during the night.
- It might also impact your sleep quality, as you’ll be able to hear their every stretch and squeak.
- It can eat into your alone time. Whether you want to get intimate with your partner or relax with a book or a movie, co-sleeping can make this tricky.
So, how do you gently end co-sleeping? Here are our top tips:
How to end co-sleeping with a baby
With babies, ending co-sleeping comes down to a mix of routine and sleep training (also known as “sleep teaching”).
- Start by getting your little one into a calm, soothing bedtime routine to help them wind down after a busy day. It’s entirely up to you what this looks like, but it could be as simple as a nice warm bath, storytime, and snuggles.
- Once they’re in their PJs and ready for the land of nod, you can start trying out some baby sleep training methods to help them sleep in their own room.
Sleep training can help to teach your little one to drift off without your help, but not every method is right for every family.
And it’s worth taking some time to consider what strategy you feel most comfortable with before you start, because consistency is really important here, even if it takes two weeks to see results.
How to end co-sleeping with a toddler
If you have a toddler hogging your covers, there are still ways to end co-sleeping successfully — it might just take a little longer.
The thing is, your toddler is a creature of habit, and all they’ve known is sleeping in the same room (or bed) as you.
So, making the transition from co-sleeping to crib with a toddler can seem daunting.
Here’s what you need to know to make the move a smooth one:
1. Talk it over
In the lead-up to the move from co-sleeping to crib or toddler bed, talk with your little one to help them prepare for the change.
Try to offer plenty of reassurance, and make a song and dance about the fact that they’re a big kid now and they’re ready for a big kid room.
They could even get involved in choosing a blanket or decorations for their room to make the change exciting.
2. Make sure you time it right
Try to avoid moving your toddler into their own room during a major life event, like the birth of a sibling or starting childcare.
When there’s already a lot of change going on, it can help them if some things stay consistent.
3. Don’t rush it
Your toddler will probably benefit from a gradual switch from co-sleeping to independent sleep, and that’s going to take some patience, mama.
Here are a few ideas to try:
- Use their room for naps at first. This could help them adjust to the idea of sleeping in a new space and a new bed for short bursts. Once they’re used to it, you can introduce overnight sleeps.
- When you do, you might want to start by sleeping in their room with them, whether that’s in a sleeping bag on the floor, or in a comfy chair by the door. Over time, you can move a little closer to the exit or leave the room a little earlier each night. Either way, the idea is to offer them comfort and reassurance while they drift off in their bed until, eventually, they can do it without you there.
- You could enlist the help of a cherished stuffed animal (or treat your toddler to a new one as part of that “big kid” graduation). This could help soothe your child and make them feel safe when you’re not in the room.
Need some more ideas to help end co-sleeping? Chat with your fellow mamas on Peanut.
😴 More on baby sleep:
When to Stop Using a Sleep Sack for Your Baby
Your Guide to Baby Sleep Regressions
How Much Do Newborns Sleep? A Rough Guide
Managing The 4-Month Sleep Regression: Your Expert Guide
What to Know About the 12 Month Sleep Regression
Newborn Sleep Schedule: Rough Patterns and Timings
Babies Waking Up Too Early: What to do
Baby Sleep Temperature Guidelines to Follow
How Many Swaddles Do I Need?
When to Stop Swaddling
Is White Noise for a Baby Good?
How to Dress Baby For Sleep
How to Get Your Baby to Sleep in a Crib
When Do Kids Stop Taking Naps?
Bassinet vs Crib: What to Know
15 Tips for Flying With a Baby
Can Babies Have Nightmares?
What Do Babies Dream About?