Some mothers choose to share their bedroom, and at times even the bed, with their newborns, as it is more convenient when it comes to responding to the child’s needs. This also gives a mother peace of mind and enhances bonding with her child. Paediatricians concur that it is advisable to share a bedroom with your newborn until she is ten months or a year old before moving her to a separate bedroom. By this age, most children are fairly independent in the sense that they are able to turn themselves on the bed and do not wake up often at night, and some sleep throughout the night. Also, this age is ideal as the child is less attached to you, meaning she will respond to the transition without too much fuss.
Moving your child to a separate room should also depend on how fast she responds to change, and whether she has any condition that may need special attention. If your child is generally healthy, you shouldn’t hesitate to move her. Allowing your child to continue sleeping in your room for longer than one year is likely to create problems for both you and the child. For instance, your sex life will be constrained, as you will both be afraid of waking up the child. Also, your child will be too attached to you such that she will throw a tantrum everytime you leave her or when you eventually relocate her to a different room. To avoid these problems, it is best to move your child to a separate room at an early age. But if you are caught up by time and your child is already over a year and still in your bedroom, the following tips will make the move easier.
Ready your child: It is important for you to psychologically prepare your child for the transition. Consider talking to her about the change and ask her how she feels. Chances are that she will respond negatively, mostly because she may be afraid of sleeping alone. You need, therefore, to reassure her that she will be safe. Involve your spouse in this.
If your child has been sleeping in your bed, as a first step, shift her to a baby cot but keep it in your bedroom for a while. Ensure that your child sleeps in it every time, including when napping. Practise this for three to four months to give her time to get used to being on her own. Many are the times your child will want to move from her bed to yours and instead of scolding her, calmly talk to her and carry her back to her bed. Entice your child to sleep in her bed by rewarding her each time she sleeps there. You can give her a new toy or allow her to watch her favourite TV show for an hour longer than usual. When your baby is used to sleeping in her own bed it will be much easier when moving her to a separate room.
The actual moving: Once your child is comfortable sleeping in her own bed, proceed to the next step of shifting her to a separate bedroom. Begin the process strategically; do not just dump her in her bedroom. You can start by using the new bedroom as a day napping place and allowing the child to sleep in your bedroom at night. Shift her fully to the new bedroom when she starts getting used to it.
Make the transition exciting, for instance you can allow your child to choose her bed and the position she would prefer it to be placed. If you have a big house, allow your child to choose her bedroom. Make the room cosy and fun; paint the walls with bright colours and allow your child to decorate the room with toys she likes. Buy colourful bed sheets and curtains or those adorned with your child’s favourite cartoon character.
Since your child will get scared of sleeping in a room by herself, it is advisable to let her sleep in the same room with the house help at the beginning until she gets used to being alone. If not, consider leaving the door open and lights on when she is sleeping. You can also buy your child a teddy bear to hug when sleeping.
Bedtime stories and lullabies come in handy: Your child might feel neglected when you move her to a separate room. You therefore need to reassure her and show her more affection. One way is to read her a bedtime story or sing her a lullaby while cuddling her before she sleeps. Do this as many times as she might want until she falls asleep. Involve your spouse in this process. You can do it together or take turns.
Create a new schedule: Since your child will be sleeping in a separate room, it is important to create a new sleeping schedule, as she might take longer to fall sleep. Create a schedule that will allow you time to soothe the child to sleep and one that ensures she gets enough sleep. You can add an extra hour or two to the new schedule. In addition, keep checking on the child throughout the night to ensure all is well.