Co-sleeping can be a great way to bond with your child, but eventually there may come a point when you want him to learn to sleep without you. James McKenna, M.D., a father of one and the director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame, says there’s no formula or magic age to end co-sleeping, but once you’re ready to make the transition, here’s how:
Be positive Build up the anticipation around having a big-kid bed, McKenna says. Start early, asking your kid what kind of sheet he’ll choose for his new bed and what kinds of books you’ll read together in it.
East into it You don’t have to cut your child off cold turkey: McKenna suggests first letting him sleep in a cot at the side of your bed for as long as you deem necessary (every family has its own timeline). You can also encourage him to make a stuffed animal his bedtime buddy, which will comfort him even when you’re not there, McKenna says.
Create a new routine Try spending time—20 to 40 minutes—each night talking and reading to your child in his new bed, McKenna recommends. And remember, it’s OK for there to be some back and forth during this period. “Don’t get discouraged if your child doesn’t adapt right away,” McKenna says.