No. You can’t.
Sorry to be so blunt, but that’s the straightforward answer. We can get into details as we move along, but for those of you who just wanted a “yes-or-no,” I thought I’d give it to you without a bunch of preamble.
So why do I think that sleep training and bed sharing are mutually exclusive?
When I meet a new client who’s been bed sharing, they fall into one of two groups.
1. Parents looking to get their kids out of their bed
2. Parents who want to keep their kids in their bed, but want them to sleep better
For those parents who are looking to move their little one out of their bed, I’ve got a variety of approaches which I personalize based on baby’s personality, temperament, and established sleep habits. When we work together, we can make this transition as smooth as possible.
For those in group two, I’ve only got one approach. I’m happy to help, so call me when you’re ready to move your little one to their own bed.
It’s not because I’m a “mean mommy.” In fact, the reason I don’t like to work with families who bed share is because I think it’s too confusing to the child. If you’ve been here a minute, you know I like boundaries and kids CRAVE them.
Sleep Props and Bed Sharing
In a bed sharing situation, baby usually has access to a breast whenever they want it, and that’s almost always their sleep prop. They wake up in the night, after completing a sleep cycle, and they instinctively go for the breast. Not necessarily because they’re hungry, but because that’s the way they know to get to sleep.
Grown ups do the same thing. (Well, obviously not the exact same thing...) But we have routines and strategies that we use to get to sleep when we wake in the night. They’re usually very brief and simple, like changing positions, taking a sip of water, flipping the pillow, or wrapping our blankets around us. These are all ways to get us back to sleep, just like nursing.
So if you’re going to break that association between nursing and falling asleep, which you have to do if you want your baby to sleep through the night without waking you up, then baby’s got to learn a new skill; one that doesn’t involve you. That’s not going to be easy when their favorite method of falling asleep is sitting right in front of their face.
The Safety Issue
Additionally, bed sharing is a HUGE safety issue. In fact, the AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics, states “Babies should sleep alone in their own crib, play yard or bassinet on a firm, flat mattress with a taut sheet. Keep their sleep surface clutter-free, with no blankets, pillows, crib bumpers, stuffed animals or other objects….” I wont get too much more into this, but I firmly believe that the risk of injury or even death is just too much with having your child (specifically, those under 1 year old) in the bed with you.
If you’re determined to stay in close proximity to your baby when they’re sleeping, try using a sidecar or a crib in the room, but there’s just no good way to teach a baby not to nurse themselves to sleep if they’re sleeping right next to you.
I’ve seen a lot of people on social media saying things like, “Don’t rush them! This time is so short! Nobody sleeps in their parents’ bed when they’re 18!”
Again, if you’re happy with the arrangement you’ve got, I’m not here to change your approach.
But I would like to point out that I’ve seen families with kids up to eight (!) years old who are still sleeping in their parents’ beds. And they are reaching out to me because the parents have had enough and don’t know what to do! Don’t assume that your little one will get finish brushing his teeth one night and say, “Actually, I think I’ll go sleep on my own tonight.” Rather, sleep habits die hard, especially with kids, so the day your child sleeps in their own bed and in their own room is probably the day you tell them they have to.
How to get your child into their own space from your bed
You can ask 4 different people about the best way to transition your child from your bed to their crib and you will probably get 4 different answers. Everyone has their opinion. And mine is to do it cold turkey - do it like ripping off a bandaid. I go this route because I feel like it is easiest on everyone - yes, there will likely be protest but, if done right, the protest will be short lived and your baby will get the picture pretty quickly. Other methods have you taking days or weeks to make the transition and I think with something like this, just do it fast.
The good news is that once your child has moved into their own bed and learned some independent sleep skills, they will typically sleep much better, more soundly, and for longer than they do in your bed. And so will you and your partner, which means the whole family will be rested and refreshed in the morning, which comes with a whole collection of mental and physical benefits.
Ready to make this transition? Book a free call with me today and we can work together to get your child in their own space and you to reclaim your bed!