We’ve written before about room-sharing – what it is, how it affects sleep, and why it’s considered the safest sleeping arrangement for babies. Lots of us have probably shared a room with our babies at some point – during the newborn stage, maybe, when feedings were happening around the clock and we felt absolutely desperate for sleep!
But while many parents choose to room-share, for one reason or another, plenty of other parents room-share out of necessity – there’s simply nowhere else for the baby to sleep! And while this room-sharing has some distinct benefits, this kind of living arrangement can make sleep training really, really tough.
So how do you work on sleep training while sharing a room with your baby? Read on and find out!
7 Tips for Sleep Training While Room-Sharing
If you have the option to move your baby out of your room during sleep training, know that doing so will probably make sleep training a little easier. However, we understand that not every family has that option; we also understand that not every family wants to stop room-sharing during sleep training.
If this describes you, don’t worry; while room-sharing can make sleep training a little more challenging, there are things you can do to make the process smoother for everyone:
- Consider moving out (temporarily!) If you’re in a ‘forced’ room-sharing situation, but you don’t mind sleeping away from your baby during sleep training, then consider moving out for a bit. This is especially helpful if your baby is older (9-12 months) or if you are sleep training a toddler. Try sleeping on an air mattress in another room of the house – such as the living room, for example. You could also move your baby out temporarily, as we mentioned earlier (provided you have the room to do so). But remember that during sleep training, you want to keep things as normal as possible for your baby. So if you expect to be sharing a room with your baby for a while, it might be best for you to move out for a week or two and to leave your baby in her usual environment.
- Move the crib or co-sleeper away from the bed. If your baby’s sleeping area is close to your bed, move it away. Having some distance between you and your baby will help in the sleep training process, especially if you use some kind of divider so that your baby cannot see you. (See the next point for details on using a divider.) Another great option is to use a product such as The SlumberPod® (Use Coupon Code BABYSLEEPSITE$20 for $20 off! Use this link if you’re in Canada!)
- Stay out of sight. If your baby can see you (and let’s face it if you are room-sharing, then he can see you!), he will be much less inclined to fall asleep, and much more inclined to cry for you. You can solve this problem by creating a temporary divider between you and your baby. Shaye, one of our sleep consultants, hangs up a sheet when she travels with her daughter, which helps her little girl sleep better. You can also try draping a blanket over a collapsible coat rack in order to provide a quick (and temporary) barrier between parents and baby. Whatever you use, just be sure that your temporary barrier is placed well away from your baby, so that there’s no risk he could pull the sheet or blanket into his crib or bassinet.
- Use white noise (and possibly earplugs!). You don’t want to ignore your baby during sleep training, but sleep training may go a little easier if you do not hear every little noise your baby makes. And it will help your baby if he doesn’t hear every little noise you make, too! So, if you haven’t already, start utilizing white noise at bedtime. You can buy a sound machine; you can also download free or inexpensive white noise MP3s and apps. For more information about how white noise can help both you and your baby sleep, check out this past article. And for our recommendations about the best white noise machines and apps, take a look at this article. For even more noise-blocking, consider wearing a pair of earplugs at night. They really work!
- Stay consistent. We say this to every family we work with, whether they room-share or not. But, as you can imagine, consistency is even harder when your baby is sleeping (or not sleeping!) just a few feet away from you. However, consistency is the key ingredient in successful sleep training; that is just as true for families that room-share as it is for families that don’t.
- Stick with your sleep training plan for at least a week. Once you have your sleeping area set up (crib moved away from the bed, white noise machine/apps ready, the divider in place), implement your sleep training plan. But remember – do not expect results right away! Some babies respond quickly, but many need at least a week (maybe two) to adjust. If, after a week or two, your baby is showing no improvement at all, make changes to your sleep training plan. That may include changing your room-sharing situation, if necessary.
- Adjust your expectations. If you choose to/have to share a room with your baby during sleep training, understand that the process may take a bit longer. Even if you utilize all the tips listed above, sleep training may take longer (and feel more difficult) for you than it does for parents who sleep separately from their babies. This is okay, of course; it’s just important that you adjust your expectations going in. If your expectations are reasonable, then sleep training while room-sharing can work very, very well!
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18 thoughts on “7 Tips For Sleep Training While Room-Sharing”
My 17 month old toddler goes to sleep fine by laying with us in bed and then we move her to pack in play in our room. She used to sleep through night but now she wakes up every night between 2-4 and wants in our bed. How do I get her to sleep all night and what is best way to transition to her room? When putting her in her crib before she wakes up screaming cause she’s not in our room. This was so easy with our little boy but not so with her.
@April Jenkins, thank you for writing to us. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been struggling with your daughter’s wakings and transition to her own room. Here is a link with tips to help your child sleep through the night that may help: https://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-through-night-free-ebook/
Since you’ve got a few things going on, and several goals you want to achieve, I’d also recommend working closer with one of our Sleep Consultants. They would love to help you through this by looking at your daughter’s full sleep history, your parenting preferences, and her temperament, and they will create a step by step plan for your family to get her sleeping better again and into her own room. Here is a link to the different services we offer: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-toddler-sleep-consulting-services/
If you have more questions about this or our packages, please feel free to contact us directly at [email protected] and we’d be happy to help you more from there. Hang in there!
My one year old has strong sleep associations with nursing and being held. She sleeps 11-12 hours straight at night. Naps are harder to get her down. Are there any articles on breaking this habit? Any advice you may offer?
Thanks so much in advance,
@ Larissa – the majority of our articles are about solving negative sleep associations like this, actually! That’s what the process of sleep coaching is all about. Here are a few articles that’ll get you started on understanding how to sleep coach, and how to break your toddler of the habit of needing to nurse/be held in order to sleep.
Sleep Training Cheat Sheet
5 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through The Night
How To Help You Child Learn To Fall Asleep Independently
Hope this helps, Larissa! Best wishes to you and to your family 🙂
Essentially, your goal here is to help her learn to fall asleep independently, without any help from you. Once she can do that, she’ll have an easier time going BACK to sleep when she wakes too early.
We have an 18 month old and a 5 month old, and this is starting to be our problem as well. Our 18 month old has been sleep trained, and is a wonderful sleeper most of the time. Our 5 month old has a crib in the same room as her brother, but still sleep in a crib in my room. She was sleeping through the night, but is now feeding 1-2 times again. This week she also decided she wants to fuss all night, but as soon as she hits a pillow in my bed, she’s out. 1) I don’t want to create a new problem with her in my bed, and 2) her constant waking and crying wakes her brother in the adjacent room who sleeps with a sound machine a a door closed. I’m at a loss but know we are at a critical stage! Is it better to move her into the nursery and battle both kids together? How do we train her to sleep without derailing the 18 month old? Room sharing, with parents or siblings, is getting rough!!
@ Bambi – It sounds like your daughter may be struggling through the sleep regression that happens at 4/5 months (https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-sleep-patterns/4-month-sleep-regression/) Often, babies will start sleeping great between 2-3 months, only for everything to unravel at 4-5 months.
The good news is that you can gently help her learn to get back to sleeping soundly at night. Our free e-book is a great place to start with that: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-sleep-through-night-free-ebook/
As for whether or not you should keep your kids in the same room – that’s up to you, but it can be a lot easier to stick with sleep coaching if you have your 5 month old in a separate sleeping area. Do you have an extra bedroom you could use for awhile? The move would be temporary, obviously, but it might help sleep training go more smoothly, as you wouldn’t have to constantly be worried about waking your toddler.
What do you think?
Hi again Sheri! It sounds like you are making great progress already! Having him in his own bed for naps and bedtime are big steps! I understand how hard it must be to move out of your room for now, and would try giving it at least one week and see how things go. Once you move back into the bedroom, having a room divider (even a sheet/blanket hanging from the ceiling) may help. If he cannot see you there in your bed, he may be more likely to stay in his bed. There may be bumps in the road, but you will want to return him to his bed every time, with little to no interaction. Make it boring and “not worth it” to get out of bed.
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