Sleep Training While Room Sharing
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep in their parent's room until at least 6 months of age, ideally until 12 months. We also have research that shows children are ready for independent sleep around 4 months. So can you have it both ways? Can you continue to room share while also guiding your child to independent sleep? You bet! Here are some tips on how to make it happen.
First ask yourself, do you want baby to stay in your room for the next few months? If the answer is no, consider moving your baby to their own room now or waiting to begin the sleep training process. You don't want to sleep train twice in a short amount of time - first, when baby is in your room and then again a few weeks later when baby moves to their own bedroom. If you plan to have your baby in your room for the next few months, then read on. Side note: you can always change your plans at any point. Maybe you want baby in your room for the next 6 months, but ultimately decide to move baby sooner - that's okay. You have the right to change your mind!
Now that you've decided to start sleep training while room sharing, look at your baby's sleep space. Are they in a bassinet or crib? Are they using a Dock-a-Tot or something similar? If possible, I recommend bringing your baby's crib into your bedroom for sleep. This will ease the transition when you eventually move baby to their own room. Now is also the time to get rid of the Dock-a-Tot, swaddle or other sleep aides that you would like to discontinue.
Next, can you and your partner sleep elsewhere for the next week or two? Sleep training may be more successful if you are out of the room. Baby can no longer smell you, see you or hear you, so they no longer rely on you for extensive soothing. If possible, move to the guest bedroom, office or family for sleep. It won't be permanent! Just a week or two until your child has more independent sleep skills.
If you can't leave the room, is there a way to "divide" your room into baby's area and parents' area? For example, can you move the crib into the closet or behind a dresser? I've even had parents hang a curtain to near the crib to give baby their own sleeping space. Again, this in not permanent, but allows some temporary separation between parent and child to make sleep training easier.
At the very least, move the crib as far away from your bed as possible. If mom is nursing, move it as far away from mom's side as you can, even if it's just moving the crib to your partner's side or switching sides of the bed with your partner. When your baby is further away from their "usual soother" sleep training tends to go better.
Finally, be consistent. As with all sleep training methods, your child will catch on only if you are consistent. Pick a method and stick to it. Be confident in your plan and be patient with your child. You got this!
Need more help? Contact me for a free consultation to discuss how I can help!