Sleeping Independently | Part 2 – Signs of Readiness + Safety Precautions

To read Part 1 of this post, click here.

Signs that Laddoo was ready to sleep independently

In March 2020, Laddoo started sleeping in her own room. Here are the signs that helped us decide that she was ready to make this transition.

  1. She was no longer breastfeeding, so didn’t need me at night. [Weaned in November 2018]
  2. She was sleeping through the night (waking up once, rarely, if we were not in bed by then) [ since December 2018]
  3. She had started communicating clearly, could let us know her likes and preferences, as well as dislikes and things she wasn’t comfortable with.
  4. As far has household safety is concerned, Laddoo:
    ▪️ Could understand basic instructions and safety precautions
    ▪️ Knew the basic dos and don’ts
  5. She seemed excited when we spoke to her about it. This was the most crucial point for us.

Disclaimer: These are just the signs WE saw and thought were enough. The signs and the ‘right time’ for you and your family can be completely different.

If you have been co-sleeping before the transition, you’ll be in a better position to know your child’s patterns. Here are some questions you can ask yourself and determine if it’s the right time for you:

  • Do they still wake up at night?
  • If yes, how often? And do they need you/a parent to help them settle down and go back to sleep?
  • Do they like to get out of bed and wander around the house?
  • How often do they ask for water?
  • Do they need help to go to the bathroom at night? And how often?
  • Do they understand basic safety instructions, and can you confidently leave the child alone in that room if they’re awake?

All of this will help you decide when YOUR child is ready.

Like I said before, even after all the preparedness, if she didn’t want to sleep separately we wouldn’t have pushed it. We expected her to resist for weeks, if not months, and mentally prepared ourselves that she’d be sharing the bed with us like she always had. Fortunately, that didn’t happen and the transition was very smooth for us. Of course, the situation is a little different at present. But we’re hoping it is temporary and Laddoo will soon go back to sleeping by herself.

Precautions we took (and still take) to ensure Laddoo’s safety

With the child sleeping in the other room, away from parents who are used to co-sleeping, we were initially apprehensive about whether she’d be okay by herself at night. What if she needs us? Needs something else? What if she’s scared? Will we be able to hear her? Respond to her? Will she be able to reach us if we don’t hear her in time?

These were the questions that bothered us. So here are some things we do/follow to make sure this entire process is stress free for all of us.

1. No locking of doors from the inside.

This is a general rule in our house, not specific to night time. Doors can be closed, but not locked.

The only exceptions are:
▪️ During sex. Then doors MUST and WILL be locked, but opened immediately after.
▪️ When grown-ups are getting dressed.
▪️ When a grown-up needs privacy (for whatever reason) and there’s another grown-up with the child(ren).

At ALL other times, the child(ren) should be able to walk into our room and we, theirs. In our house, when doors are shut but aren’t locked, we have made it a habit of knocking before entering any room, hers or ours. This ensures safety as well as respects Laddoo’s privacy and each other’s, thereby teaching her to respect ours.

If there’s a chance that doors might accidentally get locked, or the child might lock it accidentally, disable the lock if possible. A manual latch on the inside on top of the door will work when you really need some privacy as mentioned above. We haven’t disabled locks in our house so we keep the keys to the rooms in the kitchen so we will always be able to reach it.

2. Lock/Seal all exits.

Before we go to bed, we make sure that in our absence Laddoo cannot open any door or window that lead outside the house in case she wakes up and decides to wander around the house.

▪️ The main door that leads outside the house is latched and bolted shut. Laddoo can’t unbolt it even if she climbs on a chair.
▪️ Since we live on a higher floor, the French windows in the living room that lead to the balcony also stay locked (there’s a manual lock on the sliding windows that she cannot open. Yet.)
▪️ All our windows have a box grill so that even if she manages to open any of them, she’s safe inside. We would have had this even if we lived on the ground floor.

3. Safe even without supervision

Again, in case Laddoo wakes up and decides to wander, we make sure the rest of the house is safe for her to move about. This means no sharp items like knives, scissors, etc. can be within her reach. They’re all stored out of her sight. The same goes for breakables like glass and ceramic items, as well as for dangerous liquids like floor cleaners, disinfectants, etc.

It also helped that at the time of the transition, she was at an age where she understood what’s safe and what’s not, (for instance she knows she’s not supposed to put her fingers inside sockets, or drink the mosquito repellant – we’ve heard stories about this happening – so we were okay with those being within her reach) but we still don’t leave other things to chance, which is why for us, it was one of the qualifying criteria to be able to leave her alone in a room.

For a younger child who does not or CANNOT understand this, putting them in a crib that they CANNOT get out of instead of an open bed, might be a much safer option if they’re not sleeping in the same room as you.

4. Help the child help themselves

WATER: We make sure that her basic needs are taken care of in case she wakes up and the most important one is water. Her filled water bottle is kept on a stand right next to her bed. In fact, we make her a part of the process and insist that she keep it there herself so she knows how to find it if she wakes up thirsty.

MAKING FALLS SAFE: Even though Laddoo’s bed is very low and has railings on the sides, we still put a bench next to the open side so that in case she rolls over, she will land on the bench and not on the floor. If we didn’t have that, we’d have put a couple of pillows or a thick rug on the floor to cushion the fall if it does happen. In an entire year, she has rolled over and fallen down just once and we’re still trying to figure out how that might have happened because it just doesn’t seem easy.

FIND HER WAY TO US: The ideal sleeping environment is pitch dark, but we had a night light installed in her room just in case. Turns out it was a good idea because Laddoo needs the light on. This helps her walk to the door in case she wants to come to us. We also keep a soft light on in the kitchen that shows her the way to our room. That way, she cannot stumble, or run into the door or a wall.

SAFE TO MOVE AROUND: We make sure her room is clutter free (again, she’s involved in the process of cleaning up before bed) so she doesn’t accidentally step on or trip over something in the dark on her way to our room.

5. Always Welcome

Whenever she walks into our room, no matter how sleepy we are, or how crammed it gets with the three of us on the bed, we have NEVER turned her away. She knows that she is always welcome to join us on our bed whenever she feels like it. She was only 3.5 when we made the transition and as of today, even at 4.5, she’s still very, very young. We do not want her to feel abandoned or unwanted. So when she does join us, one of us (usually me, rarely my husband) moves pillows around to put hers and make sure there’s room for her. We also check if the light and fan in her room have been turned off before we come back and cuddle back to sleep.

Despite all of these precautions, if you’re still worried, getting a baby monitor might make it easier for you as a parent. Because let me tell you, the first 2-3 weeks that Laddoo slept on her own, I peeped into Laddoo’s room every hour or so before I turned in just to make sure she was asleep and that she was okay. And paranoid that I am, I woke up a couple of times even AFTER I had settled into my bed to go to sleep, just to be extra sure. A baby monitor would have helped me realise if she was really up and crying or if I was just imagining things.

That’s all for this time. I have only shared my experience – things that we did and worked for us. It may or may not be the same for you. In any case, if you have any questions, do let me know in the comments and I’ll try my best to answer them. Also, if you found this post helpful, please share it with someone who may benefit from reading this. Thank you ❤️

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