Watching my brother and his fiance raise my niece has provided me with an education in the art of raising a child and just how difficult it can get. I was surprised to hear that while I was battling sleep problems and trying to readjust into my old sleep patterns so was my niece.
It started with the festive season where all we wanted to do was be with each other; a time during which she slept with either her parents or either one of her grandmothers. Even during nap time I remember her napping with an aunt or uncle each time.
Though James has always been an independent, free-spirited baby and adapted quite quickly the first time they attempted to get her out of their bed and into her pretty room she's been having a hard time going to sleep in her own bed, alone.
First and foremost James' parents had to look at the move from her view. Why are children fond of the family bed?
1. It's safe and represents comfort.
2. In the bed they always know that mum or daddy is always there with them.
3. Maybe a lot of other things have been changing in the child's life. In my niece's case she started play school, got a lot of afternoons with her grandmother (my mother) and just as she was about to get used to it, it was the holidays and she had her mum and daddy with her most of the time again.
4. Separation anxiety. With the changes the child becomes unsure about their surroundings. Some (older) children can even go back to nervous habits like bed-wetting.
How to get the child back to their bed:
1. Resume their bedtime rituals: bath, book and maybe a song in (their) bed.
2. Explain to them why they are going back to their bed. Make the child understand mummies and daddies sleep in their bed and kids in their own beds/rooms.
3. Make the readjustment easy for them. Allow them a night night, stay with them until they fall asleep or leave their door open.
4. Give it time. If during the night they wake up and stumble into your bedroom or wherever the adults are kindly take them back to bed and sit with them until they go back to sleep.
Do you have any other tips for my niece's parents? Please share in the comments section.