Ending Co Sleeping with an Autsitc Child

From the day little man was born, he has always slept tucked into my arm. Cosleeeping with our children was always a natural choice for me, especially since I breastfed. Now the he is 3 and 45lbs (ya, he is a brut!), cosleeeping really isn’t comfortable for any of us. Learning how to end cosleeeping with an Autistic child is a whole different ball game than neurotypical children.

Little man is our fourth child, and our second child with autism spectrum disorder. With all my years experience, you would think it was be a walk in the park, right? Well, I’ll tell you a little secret that’s a well-known phrase in the autism community. ” If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”

Every child is different and so if every parent. This go round was harder than with our daughter, but with the same steps we finally accomplish little man sleeping in his own bed (without me!).

Today, we are going to go over the tried and true steps for ending Cosleeeping with an Autistic child. The only factor to can cause these steps not to work are your own emotions. If you are not ready to separate and having them sleep on their own, you will have a very hard time going through with ending Cosleeeping.

After we go over ending Cosleeeping with an Autistic child, I will cover some advice on helping you through the change as well. So, let’s get started!

Ending Co Sleeping with an Autistic Child- Cosleeping is awesome, but time will come to move your child to their own bed. Learn these tried and true steps to successful end cosleeping in a peaceful and happy way! Keywords: Autism, Parenting, Cosleeping, Co-Sleeping, Parenting Hacks, Parenting Advice, Autism Parenting Advice

Ending Cosleeeping with an Autistic Child

Step 1- Preparation

When planing a major change in an Autistic child’s routine, the first thing to focus on is preparing everything. When it comes to ending Cosleeeping with an Autistic child, this can be one of the longest steps.


The first thing to do is to prepare their new bed space. Ideally, this will be a bedroom close to yours, with simple surrounding to limit sensory overload.

A bedroom with their bed, simple decorations, a few of their favorite stuffed toys and possibly a small selection of books to read at bed time. By limiting the distractions, you will greatly ease the process.

Routine –

Another huge step in preparation is creating a routine. Ideally, you would take your current routine and just transfer it to the room. Now if your anything like we were, this can be difficult as you are the main factor of your child falling asleep.

Decide on a routine that works best for your child and you. Then, create a visual schedule that reflects that. (You can access ours free in our resource library). Hang the visual schedule in their room, in a spot that they can easily see it.

Step 2 – Introductions

The next step to ending Cosleeeping with an autistic child is to introduce them to their new sleep space. Familiarity is very important, so you cannot expect your child to sleep in a new space they are unfamiliar with.

Start by making it a big deal. A be excited when you show them their new room/bed space. Try sitting on the bed to read a book or play with stuffed animals.

The key here is just to make this a familiar place. No expectations to sleep, just that this is now their “big boy/girl” bedroom or bed.

Make sure from here forward that you refer to your bed as “mommy/daddy bed” and their bed as “name’s bed.” This gives a sense of ownership to both beds and helps dramatically as the process continues.

Step 3- Nap Time

For kids that still nap-

Sleeping in a new space is difficult. If your child still takes naps, this is the best opportunity to introduce them to their new bed.

Let your child know that we are going to take a nap in their new big boy bed. Make it a very simple direction, making sure not to ask a questions. Giving simple, straight forward directions will help your child understand your expectation. By asking questions, you create the opportunity for argument.

(Personal note) One thing that helped us was taking all the covers off our bed before nap time. Then when little man argued that he wanted to sleep in mommy’s bed, I had a very visual excuse of why we couldn’t!

When it comes to nap time transitions, if you typically lay down with them to nap, it is absolutely okay to do that during this transition. The idea is to make this a comfortable and safe feeling place for them. If they already nap on their own, score!

Do this for two to three weeks to develop a new routine and for this space to become the norm for nap time.

For kids that do not nap

If you are past the nap stage, don’t fret. Most children still need time to calm down. Sit with them to read a book, or even let then watch their tablet if that is what calms them down. Set aside at least 20 minutes a day to do this.

Do this daily for two to three so that the space becomes familiar to them.

Step 4- Bed Time

This is where the hard work comes in for ending Cosleeeping with an Autistic child. The key to making this fully successful is following through. Make sure that you will be able to put them to bed at the same time every night (while following routine) for at least two weeks.

At the start of your bed time routine, casually let your child know that “we are going to sleep in (child’s name) bed. Yes, I said “we.” You have slept in the same bed this long, so easing them into their new bed means a few nights of you in theirs.

Days 1-3

This is when you and your child will lay in their bed. According to your size and their bed size, this may be the most difficult. A twin size bed would be ideal for this transition.

Day 4-7

This is where things get a little more comfortable for you. Make a bed in the flirt directly next to their bed. Go through the bed time routine, let them know you are going to sleep on the floor next to them. More than likely, you’ll have no argument. If you do, just simply say because mommy/daddy back is sore so your going to lay on the floor tonight.

(Personal note) I placed my hand on his back until he fell asleep. There was one night where I woke up with him laying in the floor with me. This was rather humorous as we were both laying in about 2 ft of space.

Step 5- Sleeping Alone

This step varies slightly based off the location of your room to their space. If your rooms a close, then this step will have you back in your bed. If not, I would suggest making yourself a bed slightly outside their room until they are sleeping in their bed without concert.

Take out your make shift bed from beside their bed. Let your child know you will be sleeping in your bed tonight, then follow through with the bed time routine. Let them know if they wake up, to come get you. You may need to stick around until they are almost asleep, then leave the room.

If your child wakes up, take them back to their bed to have them fall asleep again. Remind them that you will be in your bed if they wake up. As many times as this happens, just follow through with putting them back in their bed. Every child is different, so this may take just a few days to a week or so for them to get used to. Just be patient, and follow through.

Step 6- Success

This is where that weird, magical moment happens. You get your child to sleep in their bed and then you go on to seep in your own bed. The next thing you know, it is morning and your child did not wake you up. First, you will go make sure they are still alive (we’ve all done it, lol). Then you will realize that you both have actually done it.

There will be plenty of nights where your child will wake up still and come get you (or call your name). That is just a part of everyday parenting. There may even be nights where you wake up and your child has climbed in bed and you’ll have no clue That is all okay.

Coping with Parent Guilt

According to how long you have been cosleeping, you may feel guilt or even loss when ending cosleeping. If you have a spouse or significant other, this would be a great time to reach out to them for comfort. These are absolutely normal feelings! I cried the second night our son slept completely alone (the first night I slept though!). It is a big change for you as well. You can also reach out to a close friend, family member, or other parents of autistic children.

Another thing that can help is a body pillow. I was very used to having my son sleep in my left arm. So when he began to sleep on his own, I struggled with sleeping on my own! Hugging a body pillow was a huge help on the transition for me!

Ending Cosleeping with an Autistic Child

Ending Cosleeping with an autistic child is a process. The length of time that it takes will depend on you and your child. Just remember to have patience and always show love in your actions. If you need support along the way, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact me through the contact link above or join us over on our facebook group called Embracing Neurodiversity!

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  1. So lovely to read you consider the moms loss too 😉 Thankyou. I’m dreading it. But i think this method will work.

    1. Your welcome! It is very hard, but with patience you can do it! I still miss little man’s snuggles, but we all sleep so much better when he is in his own bed. I can’t say I mind though when he occasionally wakes up early just to get a few snuggles in! 🙂

  2. My old pregnancy body pillow (a snoogy, I think) was a great help for my toddler’s transition to his own bed. I let him start snuggling it in our bed when he got to be a kicker, and then transitioned it to his twin bed. We call it his “nest” because it curls around him.

    1. Oh I like that idea!

  3. I have a slightly different problem with ending co-sleeping with my autistic son (he’s 5). He has no problem at all going to sleep in his own bed, provided I’m there while he falls asleep. The problem is when he wakes in the night, as he does every single night, often several times (I have not had a single full night’s sleep since he was born!), if I’m not there he cries for me and then screams for me, going into meltdown mode very quickly. Which at the same time then wakes his twin brother, who goes into his own meltdown (both twins are ASD/SPD, second twin is also ADHD). Net effect is then that we spend the next hour to two hours trying to calm them both down enough for them to go back to sleep. Oh, and in the process, their 13 year old ASD sister – who doesn’t sleep well herself – will have been woken, and will then take a good hour plus to get back to sleep.

    I have no clue how to stop this happening!!! I would dearly love to not be co-sleeping with my son, but cannot see how.

    1. Hey There! I will email you and give you my phone number so we can brainstorm together on this one! We have three on the spectrum as well, so I know just how big a struggle this is!

  4. I like that this is a gentle and reassuring approach to sleep training! I have a 4yo son with ASD and a 2.5yo son as well; they both crawl in bed with me at various times of the night and if one wakes up crying or is crying from my sleep training efforts, the other will oftentimes wake up too. I just ordered another sound machine to help with noise control. I’m hoping this improves soon. I’m at my wit’s end!

  5. Hey I’ve read this and I’ve tried this before and I agree with Helen. I too have a son who is autistic and he’s 6 he has a rough time sleeping alone on his own room and I get no sleep 😴 I just had a daughter last year she’s now 1 but she is normal and she’s breastfed and when he wakes up she wakes up I’m so tired I just tag her along along with me in his room. He has a queen size bed…we all just sleep and it’s how I get my sleep and they get their sleep but I would really like to end this and have him sleep alone. I’ve tried the floor thing many times and it works for a bit.

  6. Hi, I have twin boys who were both diagnosed with ASD. They’re 4 years old and not talking yet. I’m starting to train them to sleep in a separate room. And I worry about the same thing, the three of us not getting enough sleep as others have mentioned, one waking up the other, And me worrying about their safety as they can get into lots of stuff that are not safe like what if they go downstairs and paranoid mom is sleeping soundly 🙂

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