I'm trying to slowly get my still nursing 15-month-old out of my bed. I have eight months until the new baby gets here, so I have time. I would like to co-sleep with the new baby, like I did my first, but simply won't have room.
I refuse to do cry-it-out, but I am lost on how to get started.
Lydia (via Facebook)
Yes, let's make room for the new baby. I think it's a great time to establish another sleeping place for your older one. The goal is to create the pattern—however incrementally—of your toddler sleeping through the night in his or her own room.
Don't worry, it's very doable. And it's smart to do it well before the new baby.
You don't have to go all-in right away, but you'll want to start with having your toddler fall asleep at bedtime in his bedroom. It's great that you're still nursing. If it's a sleep association, let's move it earlier in the bedtime routine, so it's not the last thing your toddler does before drifting off (otherwise, he'll want you right there when he wakes at night). Feed your toddler after having a bath, but before reading books, for example.
Understandably, you don't want to do something harsh or simply shut the door.
Do the last few steps of the bedtime routine in the child's bedroom.
Understandably, you don't want to do something harsh or simply shut the door and not go in (which, amazingly, some people still recommend). That's not needed. But your toddler is sure to have big feelings about being put in the crib and falling asleep in a new way (without you there). There's no doubt your child is capable, but it will take some time to make this a regular habit.
The Happy Sleeper method for accomplishing this goal is the Sleep Wave (a system of checking and responding to baby without resorting to the old pattern), so you can read the book or schedule a session with us if you want personalized help.
If your toddler wakes in the night after falling asleep independently at bedtime, and you want to bring him in your bed, you can do that and work on extending the night gradually.