Sleep Sweet

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My Kids Share a Room. Can I Still Sleep Train Them? 

Many families have more than one child, and often they share a room.  Parents frequently ask how they can sleep train in this situation.  It depends on the situation, but the most common is a baby and a toddler sharing a room.  Often the baby has been in a bassinet in the parents’ room and now it’s time to move into the crib in the toddler’s room. 

The easiest answer is if you have another room, use it!  Is it better to have a guest room that is used 2-3 weeks a year and make your kids share a room, or to put your baby in the guest room and let her sleep in a portable crib in your room when you have visitors?  If the kids are separated, they will both get better sleep without interruption most of time, and they’ll only be disrupted for a few nights when you have visitors. 

If you don’t have another room, the next best strategy is to get them both sleeping independently through the night before moving them in together.  This means putting the crib in your room (or you can use a pack ‘n play) and go through the training program separately.  If the toddler is the one with the sleep issues, train him in his room and keep the baby in yours until the toddler is sleeping well.  Once both kids are sleeping well, move them together.

You will likely see some behavior issues from the toddler.  This is an exciting time, or it could be an annoying time.  You’ll do well to sit down with the toddler and explain the rules.  Make sure your toddler understands that the baby will be sharing the room now, but mommy and daddy will still be taking care of baby.  The toddler doesn’t need to worry about what to do if the baby wakes up, mommy or daddy will handle it. 

Even if you can’t keep them separated for training, it’s still better to train than to do nothing.  It’s better to be tired for a couple weeks of training both children at the same time than to keep doing what you’re doing, right?  Do you want to keep getting up every time the baby makes a sound because you don’t want her to wake the toddler?  Wouldn’t it be easier to train her to sleep through the night than wake up every few hours for the next 3-5 years? 

One thing you’ll have to accept when training in the same room is that they’ll wake each other up.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve got twins or a toddler and a baby, there’s really no way to avoid it if they’re in the same room.  Getting up and quieting the awake child may help preserve the sleeping child’s sleep, but what is it doing to you?  It’s not good for the child that is waking up a lot either.  Sleep is important for development and the ability to learn; if your little one isn’t learning to sleep independently, he’s going to have a harder time learning and having fun. 

Naps can be tricky with a single baby; it gets more complicated with twins in the same room.  I recommend putting one down in a pack ‘n play in a different room and just make that your permanent nap plan.  Naps are such a short sleep period that the odds of them both getting good sleep in the same room are pretty low.  Naps are light sleep, so it’s likely that they will wake each other up more than once.  It’s a little easier if the kids are on a different nap schedule because they won’t both be in the room at the same time.

So sleep is definitely more challenging when sharing a room, but it’s do-able.  You just need a little extra patience.

Sleep Sweet!

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