Cosleeping to crib: When to make the move, and how? Separation anxiety, night nursing, naps. Babble.com’s Parental Advisory.Ceridwen Morris and Rebecca Odes
Thus far your daughter’s sleep situation sounds quite successful. She’s napping in her room. Her night wakings are totally appropriate for this age. She’s able to put herself back to sleep at least some of the time, or she wouldn’t be sleeping stretches that long. (Babies have more than a few waking moments a night; they either go back to sleep by themselves, or they don’t.) But you’re right to anticipate a change.
She’s not getting any smaller, so we’re guessing she’ll be growing out of that cozy bassinet soon. If not because she’s too big, then because she’s too mobile. Before you know it, she’ll be able to pull herself up to peer around, and possibly heave herself over the edge. All babies like parental proximity to some degree. But a higher level of need is likely to appear when “separation anxiety” proper kicks in. This can start as early as six months. It may be a brief phase, but it sometimes lingers into the second year. And as you point out, your daughter seems to be roused by your own nighttime maneuverings. For all of these reasons, we second (and third) your instinct that now may be a better time to make a move than later.
She might wake up more often in her room, at least at first. A period of adjustment is common, even for those who sleep solo for naps. There may be some insecurity at bedtime and/or other times of the day too. Some babies get with the new program quickly, and others get sketched out for a lot longer. You can decide how to handle any resistance. It’s probably a good idea to go in and comfort her while she’s getting used to things, to help build a positive association with the new space and situation. You can decide what that comfort means (feeding or not, etc.) and how to evolve it as time goes on.
It is true, though, that the separation might be harder for you than her. There’s a lot to be gained from sleeping close to your baby. There’s the breathing factor you mention. It’s totally normal to check on the baby through the night. We all do it. But parents do eventually learn to trust that respiration is happening even when they’re not watching. A sound or video monitor is a useful tool for those who need to hear/see it to believe it. What may be hardest is pulling yourself out of bed for those two nighttime feedings. To minimize any prolonged waking, go in to feed her before she works herself up into a frenzy. Keep it very dark and quiet. And avoid eye contact. You may be able to get in and out pretty fast.
Some babies do so well once transferred that their parents wonder why they waited. And then you can start to enjoy the good parts of sleeping apart. You may find having your room back leads to a deeper sleep, not to mention a luxurious sense of independence. Just being able to turn on the bedside lamp without being seized with panic can feel liberating. You’ll be able to enjoy some unadulterated reading, conversation and whatever other illuminated and/or noisy bedtime activities you may want to engage in. Still, we sympathize with the sad stuff; moving the baby out is a milestone. It’s okay to be a bit bummed out about it. But we’re confident you’ll find plenty of bedtime bonding opportunities once she’s in her own room. It could be time to think about another nighttime milestone. We’ll leave the details up to you.
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