INFANT SLEEP IN A SHARED ROOM
PART 5 OF 7 AREAS COMMONLY OVERLOOKED OR NOT STRATEGICALLY PLANNED
Sleep training often seems daunting on its own. Add on navigating how to implement that for a child who shares a room with a family member? And it can seem even more so.
When we talk about this, two major scenarios comes up. Let's touch on each one. To make this easier to discuss, let's call the child who is receiving help to create healthy sleep habits Sylvia and the older sibling Evie.
SCENARIO ONE: SLEEP TRAINING A CHILD SHARING A ROOM WITH A SIBLING
If a family reaches out to me to help Sylvia improve her sleep and she shares a room with Evie, we have to take both kiddos into consideration. Before discussing a plan, I first want to know the history of sleep and what sleep currently looks like Evie.
If Evie doesn't have much trouble sleeping, I suggest sleep training Sylvia in their bedroom while moving Evie out until Sylvia is doing well at night. Here are a few suggestions:
If you have a spare bedroom, have Evie sleeping in there.
Start on a weekend and make it a special time for Evie to camp out with one parent while the other focuses on sleep training Sylvia.
Set up a fun weekend for Evie to go stay with a family member or friend.
Basically? We want to sleep train the child who is having the most difficult time sleeping in the space they will be sleeping long term. Evie will be able to move back in shortly. If Evie is old enough to understand, explain to her that this change is temporary while Mommy and Daddy help Sylvia get healthy sleep so that Evie and everyone else can, too.
If Evie is not a great sleeper, what to do?
In the past, I have had a few clients proactively reach out as they wanted to focus on helping Sylvia with her sleep so that she doesn't end up with sleep issues like her big sis. That's when we have a heart to heart and usually come to the conclusion that the focus for better sleep should first be on Evie.
Ok. But what if both Sylvia and Evie aren't sleeping well?!
You know. That isn't a question I can actually answer without more details! This is where a 15-minute phone call to discuss your situation would be best because what to do will depend on your specific situation, your children's ages, and your children's personalities.
SCENARIO TWO: SLEEP TRAINING A CHILD SHARING YOUR ROOM
How to help Sylvia get some good sleep if her crib or bassinet is in your room?!
First, reflect on your sleep goal for Sylvia. Are you wanting her to be in your room for much longer or would you like to make the transition soon?
Perhaps your child is still a young infant and you are not yet ready to transition her to her own room. Or maybe you literally don't have another bedroom to provide to Sylvia. Whatever the case might be, it is up to you as a parent to make the best decision for your child, your family, and for you. Regardless of what you decide, know that you don't have to wait forever in order to improve her sleep and your own!
If you are sharing a room, you can either sleep in your bed or in the living room while going through the sleep training process. I often suggest using timed checks as described in the book The Happy Sleeper by Heather Turgeon with this scenario but other options can be discussed. If sleeping in your room, you either sit up or get out of bed and walk over to your child's crib for each check. What you decide will depend on the size and layout of your room. If you are sleeping on the couch, you would set up the baby monitor to see Sylvia and pretend like your room is her own room for now with each check.
Now if you are going to be transitioning Sylvia to her own room, rip that bandaid and start sleep training with her in her own room. If you are waiting a bit but plan to move her soon, provide the components necessary for healthy sleep but hold off on implementing a sleep training method to strengthen the ability to fall asleep and connect sleep cycles independently until the move is made.
Whatever your scenario is, you probably have options with which you aren't even aware! Don't go months and years without sleep just because you don't think there is anything that can be done. Let's chat if you are unsure about how to help your newborn, infant or toddler with sleep. You might surprised at what your child can do when you provide the necessary puzzle pieces and add a little bit of creativity!
Check out other related posts covering the other areas that parents often overlook when trying to improve sleep for their little ones: