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Transitions Require Planning and Patience


Here's a question about a 1-year-old who has always slept in his mom's bed and got to breastfeed as often as he likes: How to get him to sleep in a crib?

We live in a two-bedroom apartment with two kids. The girl is four and the boy is one. I, the mother, sleep with my son in a bunk bed with his older sister in the bed above us. Their dad needs to sleep alone in his room because he is in poor health, which gets much worse if he cannot sleep..

After reading Rosemond's books, I decided I should try to move my son to a crib so he learns to sleep on his own. He usually falls asleep next to me while I breastfeed him laying down, and he wakes up at least every two hours all night for more breastfeeding. His sister was the same.

I wonder how to make this big change? A little at a time or all at once? I would like to continue breastfeeding but not so much - maybe once in the morning and once in the night, if possible. How can we best make this change without disturbing the whole family?


Thank you for reaching out to Parent Guru for assistance.

Sleep training is important because it teaches babies to fall asleep independently. The process can take anywhere from a few nights to a few weeks. The good news is that at 12 months, your son’s sleep habits are still highly adaptable. If possible, it may be helpful if your 4 year old could sleep somewhere else during the transition.

To train your son to be comfortable in his own bed and make the transition as smooth as possible, below are some suggestions:

- Make sure that all sleep happens in the crib. It would not be advisable to have your son sleep beside you during daytime naps yet expect him to sleep in the crib at night. He will not understand why you sleep beside him some times but not others.

- Once you have stopped co-sleeping, cuddling with your son in a chair or rocker (vs. the bed) will help to avoid sending mixed signals.

- Some mothers have found it helpful to sleep with their baby’s crib sheet, before putting it on the crib mattress, to reinforce to their baby that they are near.

-Make sure that your son is in appropriate pajamas for the season/temperature, that the room is not too warm and that the lights are off. Darker rooms make for a more peaceful setting.

-A noise machine can help babies and children of all ages drift off to sleep more easily and sleep more soundly.

(Note: Since your son is still nursed in the night and your husband's health issues require that he sleep alone, (you) continuing to sleep in the bunk bed is the most logical approach for the time being.)

As for discontinuing breast feeding, the Academy of Pediatrics (APA) recommends exclusive breast feeding for the first 6 months, then a combination of solids and breast milk until age 1. Though you did not say, if your son is waking up every two hours in the night to nurse, you may not have introduced solid food. Starting him on solid food can help him sleep longer stretches at night and also help with the weaning process (not to mention that you will both get more sleep!). Easing into weaning by gradually omitting one breastfeeding session weekly can also help the process. Not all babies react the same but, in general, with planning and consistency, complete weaning can be accomplished in about a month, give or take.

With just two bedrooms, your husband’s health concerns, and a 4-year-old, you have some challenges to work around. Create a plan and get everything in place before moving forward (i.e. crib in place, noise machine, chair/rocker for cuddling, introducing solids, etc.). It is also very important to share the plan with your daughter so that she knows what is going on and why. The more prepared you are, the more reassuring you can be for your little one(s). Transitions take time and patience so stay the course!

Sharon Lamberth
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach

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