ParenTalk- How To Graduate Kids To Their Own Bedrooms
One of the major challenges in every parenting journey is the baby’s sleep. Right from the day you bring the baby home, you are conflicted. Whether to put the baby in a crib or co-sleep, whether to use white noise, whether to nurse them to sleep or let them cry it out, many confusions cloud the mind of a new parent. What makes it worse is the parent’s sleep deprivation and an overwhelming inflow of advice from all directions. While parents and parenting experts around the world vary in their opinion about co-sleeping, most children sleep in their parents’ bedrooms in the initial months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep in their parents’ bedroom till at least 6 months of age to avoid the risk of SIDS.
Sharing room seems like a great idea in the beginning because it makes it easier to feed and change diapers through those seemingly endless nights. However, at some point, children need to graduate to their rooms. Here are some reasons parents consider moving children to their rooms:
- To encourage independence in the child
- To sleep peacefully through the night
- For parents to get some privacy as a couple
- To encourage the child to be responsible
- To ensure a disturbance-free space as they sleep
Whether you co-sleep or your child is in their bed, the transition from parent’s bedroom to kids’ bedroom is one of the major transitions in your child’s life. It is important to give it time to ensure a smooth transition.
A well-planned transition will ensure that there are minimum tears and the child can get their own space without feeling lonely or secluded. Let us be honest, most parents also struggle with their emotions during the transition phase. The feeling of a rapidly growing child is overwhelming for most of us. Especially for parents who co-sleep, the idea of not having the cuddle bug by their side could be discomforting.
When to move the child to their room
There is no formal recommendation about the right age to move the child to their room. It varies from family to family. I remember sleeping with my parents till I was in 6th grade and my sister in 2nd grade. Do my parents regret this decision? Well, no! However, they certainly wish they had more time for themselves as a couple. My mum often advises me to consider moving my elder one to his room before he turns 6. I have also heard first-hand experiences of friends witnessing intimate moments between their parents in the shared bedroom. As parents, we must weigh the pros and cons to assess if the move will be beneficial.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- Does your child need you in the night? If your child is breastfeeding or going through a phase where they regularly get nightmares, it probably isn’t the best time to move. It may require you to keep moving between the rooms at night and may not be comfortable.
- Would you prefer the child to be independent? The ideal answer to this question is yes. Just like other milestones, sleeping independently is a milestone too. It helps to make them more confident. However, many of us would like some more time for the transition. This is because we are struggling with our emotions or fears. It is important to be fully confident before beginning the process. Sleep expert Lisa Sanbury says that if the parents are uncertain about the move, the child will pick the vibe and resist the transition.
- Does your child have any health issues? If your child requires monitoring through the night due to a chronic illness, development delays, or some temporary illness such as eczema or teething issues, you must delay the move. It is ideal to consult your pediatrician for a green signal in such cases.
- Are you transitioning because you are expecting another child? If the arrival of a sibling is your reason to settle your older one in their room, you need to be extra careful with the planning. You must ensure that the child doesn’t feel insecure about having to leave their space and proximity to their parents due to the new baby.
Tips to make a smooth transition:
Once you have decided to transition the child from parents’ bedroom to kids’ bedroom, here are some tips that can help to make the transition smooth:
Be consistent with the bedtime routine:
If you have a fixed bedtime routine, you will be only changing the location and nothing else. An early childhood educator, Magda Gerber believed that predictability helps children to form habits and once habits are in place, they will not have trouble following rules. Regular routines help babies to expect what’s coming next and thus they do not face trouble in falling asleep.
If the child already sleeps separately, it is ok to begin the transition to a different room. However, if you co-sleep, it is better to move them to a different bed in the same room first. This will help them gain the confidence to sleep away from you. You can later transition them to another room.
Make them excited for the move:
Make the idea of moving sound exciting. Talk about fun things about having a room. You can involve them in getting the room ready or invite them to decorate it as they wish. Paint their favorite characters or paste stickers all around. Someone I know painted stars using glow-in-dark paint on the ceiling and the child was super excited to move in.
Help them become familiar with their bedroom:
Familiarizing them with the room will ensure that they feel comfortable when they go to the room to sleep. Spend some time in the room every day with the child. It may also help to let them take their day naps in that room for some days before making the night transition.
Host a room warming party:
Once the room is ready, celebrate the occasion with your child. Host a little party and address the room as their room. Put a name board outside to give them a sense of ownership. It may sound excessive but will help condition the child into accepting the change.
Set the mood for sleeping:
You must ensure the mood in the house is conducive to falling asleep. Dim the lights as you approach bedtime. Play calming music and restrict all screen time at least 3 hours before bedtime. Ensure that there are no stimulating games or conversations as they get ready to sleep. Make the room pitch dark and play white noise if there is noise around. These steps will avoid the child from getting overstimulated.
Boundaries make kids feel safe. A crib works best for infants. However, if the child is in a floor bed, Lisa Sunbury recommends creating a boundary with pillows or a child gate. She also recommends putting a pop-up tent for the child to sleep in. A cozy, nest-like environment will help them feel secure and ensure better sleep.
Offer company for a few nights if they are too reluctant:
Some children find it easy to move to their room whereas some others resist the transition. If your child is finding difficulty, you can offer company for a few nights. A trial published in British medical journal 324 has concluded that fading of parental presence is an effective technique to graduate kids to their room. For the first few nights, sit by your child’s bed till they fall asleep. Sit between the bed and door the following nights; do this for a few nights and then go out of the door.
Do not force the child:
If your child consistently doesn’t stay in the room and comes back to you, they are probably not ready for the transition. You can get back to a shared bedroom and try later. Stay patient and let them take their time to adjust. Rushing will only make them resist it more.
All the best!
Smriti is a freelance content writer and an avid reader. She quit her 6 year-long IT career to embrace her love for writing. She writes content across genres and takes pride in her ability to research and carve magic with words. She passionately writes about parenting and is currently working on her book. When not writing or reading, she can be seen running behind any of her 2 kids or learning Deutsch.