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Sleep problems - going from cot to bed! Sleep expert Mandy Gurney offers her advice… Time for a big bed!

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  • Sleep expert Mandy Gurney offers her advice… Our daughter is 19 months and still sleeping in her cot at night — but we need to use it for her new baby brother. How can I make sure she stays in her new bed and goes back to sleep if she wakes in the night? Ready for a bed?

    For example, my husband is an extremely light sleeper, and having her so near means that he often lies awake listening to her every snuffle and yawn. Speaking to consumer watchdog, Which? A Co-Sleeping Cot, also known as a baby side sleeper, combines the best of the two opposing sleeping options.

    Ideally you should aim to keep your toddler in a cot for as long as possible but generally by the age of 3 years, most children have moved to a bed. A sure sign that a child needs to be transferred to a bed is when they persist in attempting to climb out of the cot or are successful in escaping! If you give in and take her into your bed, the waking is likely to continue — after all, snuggling up with mum and dad is the ultimate reward for her night time waking. At the same time, she may develop inappropriate sleep associations and lose the ability to self-settle alone during the night.

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  • Make it gradual A gradual retreat program will help teach your daughter to settle alone at bedtime and go back to sleep by herself during the night. This technique will minimise crying and is less likely to disturb her baby brother and the lucky parent whose turn it is to stay in bed!

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    Gradual retreat is a method of gradually distancing yourself from your daughter little by little until she no longer needs your presence to fall asleep at bedtime.

    It should teach her how to return to sleep independently during the night. STEP 1 After her usual bath and bedtime story routine, get her into bed with whatever cuddlies she sleeps with, and stroke her arm or shoulder as she settles.

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    STEP 2 Stop stroking and gently pat her to sleep. After a couple of minutes of steady patting start to pat intermittently, with gradually increasing intervals between contact.

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  • STEP 3 Place a hand very lightly on her and rest it there for a couple of minutes. STEP 4 This is where you start to quietly move your chair further away from her bed — quietly move it two feet away and sit for a couple of minutes; then move it to the middle of the room for a couple of minutes; and then move to beside the door.

    This sleep method normally takes around three or four weeks to complete. Controlled crying is one method you can try with a baby over 6 months… Find out more National Sleep Foundation Check out its module on Children and Sleep. Covers common sleeping problems, including night waking and difficulty settling, and offers advice on developing good sleeping patterns and daily schedules to prevent sleeping problems developing in the first place.

    Changing mat — Perfect for night time changes or if you choose to take baby in to their own room for changes during the day. Go for a good quality black out blind or curtains.

    Bright illustrations will appeal to toddlers.

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