How to get your baby to sleep in their cot

So, this being my second baby, I was quite certain on him having a bit of a grace period before starting to teach him my (our) way of family life.

One of the most essential steps to becoming an independent little member of the family, in my opinion, is for a baby to be able to sleep on his own. There are numerous sleep sites out there, all with different ways of sleep training, but a question that often comes up is how to get your baby to sleep in that big, empty space that is their cot.

The boy was not a fan of his cot in the slightest. In fact, he hated it. I had spent many hours of my pregnancy stripping and painting the wooden cot, which we got from family members, in a lovely duck egg blue colour. The colour was chosen way before we knew what we were going to have; it’s a happy accident that we ended up with a boy in a blue cot. It’s an even happier accident that everything, from the cot organisers to his curtains, also match. Seriously, I did not plan this.

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But no matter how lovely it looked, my little man hated being behind bars.

So here’s what I did:

I figured, the first thing that needed sorting was his fear of the cot itself. That was an easy one. From the age of 2 weeks, he was briefly put into his cot first thing in the morning when I was busy sorting out his clothes, tidying his room or making the bed. I made absolutely sure he could see me, talked to him and played him some music on his wind-up toy. Gradually, he accepted his cot as a safe space to be in.

We then needed to establish that it’s safe even when I’m not there, so I left him in his cot for a short time, e.g. while I had a brief shower. I always took the monitor with me, of course.

Nap times took a week or so to establish. It’s quite a difference lying on a warm body, hearing a heart beat to lying on a flat surface in a quiet room. I know you can get white noise apps etc., but this will have to stop eventually (and with cot teaching comes sleep teaching, after all) and I can’t sleep with any sort of noise around me. And as much as I love the boy, there is no need for a warmed-up bed in a modern-day house, even in winter. Eventually, he got used to nap time in his cot, especially after I started using the same sleeping bag (or – depending on the weather – breathable blanket) as the one he used at night times. It also helped that he went down at roughly the same time each day.

It took until he was 12 weeks for me – not him – to be ready to stop co-sleeping. The day came when we’d had two nights of very little sleep after my normally quiet young man had turned into a squirmer, so we were waking each other up. The same happened with my daughter when she was that age. It was time to let go and put him into his cot, following the same night routine we have always had: bath, feed, bed. He slept like an angel.

We are now at a point where he can go down in his cot for any nap or sleep. I still tend to take him into bed with me for his 5am feed to get some more rest myself, but other than that, the cot has enabled up to both get a minimum of 6 unbroken (and up to 9 total) hours sleep each night.

I will wait until the recommended 6 months before moving myself out of the room completely.

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