When Should I Stop Co-Sleeping?
The question that almost everyone will disagree on! Co-sleeping has become a controversial topic in recent years mostly due to concerns around safe sleep, but experts almost unanimously agree there ARE ways to safely co-sleep with your baby. The best way to co-sleep and ensure your baby is kept away from dangerous adult bedding is by using a co-sleeper bassinet. Not sure what this is? Have a look here!
Of course, lots of parents will never co-sleep and that’s okay too! For those Mums and Dads, the question about when to stop co-sleeping is a redundant one, but for families who do co-sleep there are several factors to consider when deciding on the right time to move a child into their own room.
1. Your living situation
For lots of people – particularly those in one-bedroom apartments – the option to move your baby into another room becomes difficult! If that’s you, rather than co-sleep you could move to room sharing instead by bringing a separate cot into your room for your baby to sleep in. This will be a necessary move when your baby reaches around 5-6 months of age and outgrows their co-sleeper bassinet.
For other families with more rooms to choose from, you may like to keep your baby in a room close to yours, or use a reliable baby monitor so you can still hear and respond to your baby overnight.
2. Your parenting style
If you align with an attachment parenting style you may never want to cease co-sleeping, and that’s okay! Ultimately, when to move away from co-sleeping is an entirely personal one. If co-sleeping is working for you, your partner, and your child, stick with it!
If, however, you’ve noticed having a baby in your sleep space is killing the romance between you and your partner, it may be time to consider whether it’s working for your family. That’s especially the case if your child is unable to settle to sleep or stay asleep without your presence. It means your ability to do anything in the evening becomes basically non-existent!
3. Your baby’s temperament
Believe it or not, some babies do NOT sleep well when co-sleeping. Although some parents may start out with having big hopes of co-sleeping, they may quickly discover their baby is Mr or Miss independent from the get-go!
For other babies, closeness to their caregivers is of particular comfort during the ‘Fourth Trimester’ but becomes less of a requirement as they get older and sleep for longer periods of time between feeds.
4. Sleep quality
After birth, a mother’s brain quite literally changes. The amygdala – the part of the brain that drives emotional reactions like fear, anxiety and aggression – increases in size. This change makes a mother hypersensitive to their baby’s needs, which is why mothers will often wake at the slightest of movement or noise from their baby while their partner is blissfully unaware! For a mother who is already a light sleeper, this doesn’t bode well when room-sharing with a grunty, noisy newborn! In situations such as this, moving the baby into their own room may help to ensure the whole family is as well-rested as feasibly possible.
Equally, there are many babies who are easily disturbed by movement or noise in the room, triggering them to wake. Parental snoring, rolling around, or early alarms can disrupt a baby’s sleep, making it yet another scenario where co-sleeping or room sharing may no longer be in a family’s best interests.
Ultimately, there isn’t a definitive time frame on when a family should stop co-sleeping. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all when it comes to sleep, so the decision is an entirely personal one. If co-sleeping or room-sharing isn’t something you want to maintain long-term, we recommend moving your baby into their own room from 6 months of age. You can transition them slowly by firstly moving their bassinet into their room, so their sleep space (the bassinet) stays the same while they get used to being in a different room. From there, it’s relatively easy to move them into a cot. Sleeping with their cot sheets can be helpful so their new sleep space smells like you!