When we first meet our baby, our instinct is to stay as close as we can. They are so small and defenseless. We desire to be in contact with them as much as possible and our babies love this attention and protection. Often this desire to protect extends to nighttime as well, so we take our little one into our bed.
Can you share a bed and sleep train at the same time?
I get it. I really do. After all, I’m a mother myself and I know plenty of families that co-sleep and swear by it…initially.
Then I hear about the midnight escapades – being poked in the eye at 3 am or having a foot jammed into their nose. Babies and toddlers just haven’t figured out the etiquette involved in sharing a bed. They wiggle, they wake you up, they want to nurse at any hour of the night, etc.
Can you Co-sleep and Sleep Train?
Parents will ask me if sleep training will help their baby stop fidgeting, squirming, and flipping around in their sleep. Or they ask will sleep training stop their little one waking up to nurse fifteen times a night? (which for the record, your eighteen-month-old doesn’t need to do.)
Parents hope that I will say yes to this question. That we can work together and figure out a way to co-sleep and not be woken-up repeatedly.
Unfortunately, the harmony between these two best-case scenarios is unlikely for a couple of reasons.
- Toddlers are animated sleepers.
Babies and toddlers twist and turn naturally in their sleep. If you’ve co-slept, you’ll have experienced finding your toddler facing the complete opposite way or he has somehow squirmed to lie horizontally above your head. If you haven’t co-slept, it is always amazing to walk up to the baby’s crib and see which way they are facing.
- Your baby loves you.
They think you are the greatest and when they wake up at night, they see you and get excited. They attempt to engage you…unfortunately, by jamming their finger in your eye or slapping you in your face. It’s not nice, but it’s an effective way to wake you up.
Sleep training doesn’t fix these behaviors.
Sleep training is not a sedative.
Sleep Training is all about teaching your baby the skills to fall back asleep independently. Babies will naturally wake-up as they move through their nightly sleep cycles. Sleep training doesn’t get your baby to fall into stage 3 sleep and stay there for a solid 11 hours. It teaches your baby to fall asleep again and again without any external help.
It’s possible to teach your child to sleep independently in your bed, but you will still be dealing with the constant squirming and wiggling. Plus, you’ll see better results if you get your baby sleeping in their own bed without distractions.
Not ready to make this big of a change? Here are a few suggestions:
- Start with a crib in the same room, when your baby is young.
Make sure to have a separate bedtime for your child, so they learn to fall asleep without you in the room. Also, if he or she does wake up in the night, wait to respond. Give him or her the chance to fall back asleep.
- Have Cuddle time
Once your baby is ready to be in their own room and you still want to enjoy cuddle time in your bed, set aside 15 minutes in the morning after everyone is awake. Cuddle, play, sing songs, play-wrestle, and enjoy each other… You can both still enjoy the closeness that comes with sharing a bed without creating any associations that might mess with their ability to get to sleep at night.
If you’ve already been co-sleeping for quite a while and have decided it’s time to reclaim your bedroom, but your little one has other ideas, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, click on the link below to set up a time to chat. I’ve worked with countless families to get them through this exact scenario with tremendous success and I can help yours too.