How do you sleep train when your kids share a room? This can be a tricky scenario but definitely is not impossible. When it’s time to move your youngest into a room with your toddler, how do you do it without waking up the older child?
I wish there was an easy answer. The reality is that your toddler isn’t going to immediately enjoy the uninterrupted sleep like when they had the room to themselves. It’s going to take some patience and adjustment.
What about crying?
Sleep training doesn’t mean you have to use the cry-it-out approach. I’d never ask you to leave your baby to cry alone until they fall asleep.
This doesn’t mean that there won’t be any crying. Babies cry, especially when their routine changes. So sleep training one baby in a room with another is going to mean some wake-ups on the part of the older child. The younger child will wake up the older one.
Keep in mind that this crying is short-term. After several nights, both your children will be sleeping through the night. Would you rather cause an interruption in this child’s sleep for a week or so in order to get the whole family sleeping through the night, or ride out a few years of nightly wake-ups instead?
How to minimize the impact of sharing a room
Once, you’re ready to proceed with sleep training, here are a few tips to minimize the impact that it’s going to have on your toddler.
- Start the program in your own room.
Use a bassinet or crib next to your bed or preferably in the corner of your room. You may want to create a barrier with a curtain to keep your baby from seeing you. I know, it won’t be stylish, but it’s important to create an independent space for your baby.
- Have the toddler’s room ready and once your work is done in your room, you can move the crib into the toddler’s room.
Get everyone on board with sharing a room. Explain to your toddler that once baby is ready, they will be sleeping in the same room.
- Use the weekend to transition your baby to their new room.
Once your baby has learned some skills and seems to be able to fall asleep independently, then you can move her into your toddler’s room.
This will likely be met with a little resistance from both siblings as it’s a change to the routine. Expect a time of transition and bedtime might be a little harder for a little while. So plan this transition for a weekend when you have more time to adjust.
- Take the time to explain to your toddler what’s going on.
Let them know that when their brother or sister cries, you’ll be there shortly to take care of things. Explain that they don’t have to get up and get you. The more they understand what’s going on, the less they’ll be agitated by their new roommate’s nighttime shenanigans.
- Consider using your spare room.
I know it is nice to have a guest room, but I suggest that at the beginning of sleep training, use it for your baby. It minimizes the interruptions to both your children’s sleep. Once both your little ones are strong independent sleepers, you can re-evaluate and move them into the same room. Now it’s time to juggle two bedtime routines!
What about Naps?
Keep your children in separate rooms for naptime. Put one in the bedroom and put the other in a Pack n’ Play in another room. Naps are extremely important and you don’t want to have to deal with overtired children because they’re chatting with each other. Even though we prefer that children sleep in the same place for naps and bedtime, you’re probably better off just making accommodations in this situation in order to ensure they both get the sleep they need.
Sleep training when siblings share a room is possible, but it does add an extra layer of difficulty to the process. However, once both your children are sleeping through the night, that initial struggle will be worth it.
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