When a baby sleep regression hits, it can seem like all bets are out the window. In fact, dealing with that sleep regression can put you so far beyond the state of exhausted that all you want to do is cry. And maybe eat a ton of chocolate. But that’s totally normal – because being exhausted is the worst. I know – I’ve been there. And, when you share a room, it can seem like a lot of the baby sleep advice is totally irrelevant. Well, let’s get all y’all back to sleep.
A baby sleep regression means NOBODY is sleeping as well as they could be
First off, ANY baby sleep regression is hard. Everyone’s getting woken up left and right. Add in sharing a room and it can be even harder! Even if you learn to “sleep through it,” you’re probably not sleeping as well as you would have been otherwise. That’s because everyone’s getting woken up more than normal.
You’re waking up.
Those baby noises that are so cute? They wake you up. And then you check to make sure the baby is still doing well because that’s motherhood.
Baby’s waking up.
And you’re making some noises while sleeping – because, well, we all do. It’s normal. Then, you’re checking the baby to make sure they’re ok – and that wakes them up, too!
In other words, y’all are waking each other up.
It’s nobody’s fault! That’s just what it means to share a room. Disrupted sleeping is a fact of life. Generally speaking, though, it’s not the end of the world. It makes sleep training a TON harder – but it’s still doable.
So let’s cover a few things we can do to make sleep a reality when we’re sharing a room with a cranky, overtired baby who’s totally in the midst of a baby sleep regression.
So let’s get everyone back to sleep already.
We shared a room with our babies for the first few months of their lives. In fact, we shared with them until we realized that we were all cranky – because we were waking each other up. But even then, it took us some time to make the transition to having the baby in their new room…. okay, so only our oldest boy ever had his own room. And that was only until he had a younger brother!
Transitioning a new baby into sharing a room with their older sibling isn’t an overnight process, friends. It can take 2-3 weeks. And during that time, nobody will be well rested! But once they settle in, it’s magic.
So here are a few things that worked for us.
First off, keep nighttime DARK.
Especially those middle of the night feeds! They’re a fact of life – they’re going to happen until your baby outgrows them. Mine didn’t outgrow them until at or after a year of age. And while you won’t feel properly rested until they’re a thing of the past so that you’re sleeping through the night, we can still minimize the sleep disruption.
For example, at about 10 months of age, my boys would discover that they could eke some playtime out of me after their 3:30 AM feeding. I was simply too exhausted to do much but let them have at the toys in their room! So they’d play while I sat there, despairing and wishing for my bed. Until I realized that this wasn’t going to change until I put a stop to their antics.
So, I stopped turning on the dim lights for those middle of the night feedings. (I was lucky – my kids were each breastfed, so I didn’t have to deal with making a bottle in the dark. If you do, just keep it as dark as possible. And turn off each light as soon as you can!)
Second, keep nighttime BORING.
Next, it’s important to remember that your kids LOVE you. It’s pretty awesome, right? Anyway – they love you and want to spend time with you. So if you’re awake and willing to play, they want to play! It’s cute unless it’s the middle of the night.
So make and keep nighttime boring, y’all. We used to keep toys in our kids’ rooms. Then I learned better. Now, we keep bedrooms just for sleeping. Our kids’ bedrooms are totally boring. They have a bed, a dresser for clothes, and shoes and storage in the closet. Zero toys. As our kids get older and learn to read, we let them take a book to bed.
After the nighttime feed, I quickly realized I had to fake being asleep. While we still shared a room, I’d put the baby back in their pack’n play and roll over so I couldn’t watch them try to get my attention.
Faking sleep usually turned into dozing off, so I found I was getting slightly better sleep. And, after several days of consistently boring nights, my kids finally caught on that no more playing would happen.
As we transitioned our baby into their own crib in a shared bedroom, I’d fake sleeping on the floor next to them for a few minutes. Then I went back to my own bed.
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Third, be consistent and patient – and accept help!
The only way this works is by being consistent. Part of the reason we ended up moving our kids into their own room was that I had a hard time with pretending to be asleep for more than a few nights in a row!
It actually worked best with our daughter, because by then I’d tried it three times with her brothers. Forget that third time… the fourth time was the charm for us!
When you share a room, adjusting a sleep schedule seems to take longer. So be patient – both with yourself and your baby. If you can get a nap, take one. After a particularly rough day, my husband would send me for a nap after he got home from work.
Fourth, make daytime the BEST EVER.
Finally, the biggest key to making this work is to make daytime the best ever. Make it fun. Go on lots of exhausting adventures. Get out in the sunshine.
Maybe that means the zoo – or a trip to the park. Or maybe it means a long walk around the block because that’s all you can muster. That’s ok! Do what you can. Get outside. Enjoy the sunshine, weather permitting.
My pediatrician actually recommends sending the kids out every day, even in crazy weather, as long as they’re dressed appropriately. Kids need that sunshine – on so many levels. But especially the level that regulates their sleep!!
One last idea – try thinking outside the box
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When you share a room and space is tight, sometimes not even the most amazing white-noise machine ever can drown out those inadvertent sleep noises that wake everyone up. So, let’s think outside the box. Because, as long as we do it safely, it can be awesome.
One of my friends had an amazing, ingenious, and revolutionary idea to help everyone get more sleep, even when they couldn’t move the baby into his own room…
Y’all, she turned her walk-in closet into the baby’s bedroom.
Okay, so it’s not like she took anything out of her closet. Rather, she just moved her baby’s portable crib play into the closet each night. It was a small walk-in closet – just barely big enough for the pack’n play. But that way, there was an extra layer of soundproofing, even if it was a flimsy closet door. That little idea was enough to get everyone some better, sounder sleep at night.
And, it’s a great idea you can use when traveling, too! When I was 8 or so, I remember one vacation where I totally slept in a closet. In a strange twist, the A/C at that bed and breakfast only worked in the closet. So when I woke up, my sisters had joined me!
In any case, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Use the closet. Maybe you can set up some kind of temporary barrier, like those folding changing screens. Use the family room if you have to! Or maybe, one day, you can rearrange the sleeping arrangements, as we did.
Sharing a room isn’t the end of the world. In fact, our kids love having a roommate. When we were finally going to move our daughter in with the big kids, they tried insisting that all four kids could share a room. Uh-huh. Like that would end well!! We ended up moving the two oldest into their own room and rooming the youngest two together. But the kids fought hard to try and stay together! It was cute.
In any case, hang in there. Because, with some consistent training and time, things will get better.
- How to Survive Any Sleep Regression at Any Age
- The 2 Types of Infant Sleep Changes You Need to Know About
- How to Set the Right Sleep Schedule for Your Kids
- How to Get an Overtired 11-Month-Old to Sleep
- Free Sleep Assessment by Dana Obleman of The Sleep Sense Program
- Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, MD