A lot of parents want to move their youngest into a room with their toddler, but are unsure how to sleep train without waking up the older child.
That’s a valid concern, and I wish I had a magical solution for you that would ensure your toddler will enjoy the same uninterrupted sleep that they did when they had the room to themselves, but unfortunately, that’s just not realistic.
Having a baby at home involves some crying, and when he learns to walk, when he stumbles and falls, he will probably cry too. But that doesn’t mean you’ll stop him from learning to walk, right? The same will happen in the sleep training, but you will be around to offer comfort and encouragement.
Sleep training one baby in a room with another is going to mean some wake-ups on the part of the older child. But it is better to cause an interruption in the family's sleep for a week or so, than to suffer from this problem for a few years.
So once you’ve decided to go ahead with the process, it’s time to examine how you can minimize the impact it’s going to have on your toddler, and on that note, I do have some great tips for you.
First off, if possible, start the program in your own room. Put baby in a bassinet next to your bed and, separate the room by hanging a curtain or a blanket between your bed and the bassinet. It’s not going to look terribly stylish, but it will keep baby from being able to see you, which will reduce the stimulus for her.
Once baby has learned some skills and seems to be able to fall asleep independently, then you can move her into your toddler’s room.
Now, unless you’re extraordinarily lucky, this is going to be met with a little resistance, both from baby and their sibling. It’s a change to the routine and that’s usually going to make bedtime a little harder for your little ones, so try to plan this transition for a weekend, or better yet, a week when you’re not facing a lot of other obligations.
Take the time to explain to your toddler what’s going on, and let them know that when baby wakes up crying, you’ll be in shortly to take care of things. The more they understand what’s going on, the less they’ll be agitated by their new roommates nighttime shenanigans.
As for naps, I recommend you keep your little ones separated. Put one in the bedroom and put the other in a Pack n’ Play in another room. The fact is, naps are the toughest part of the program, and you’re probably better off just making an accommodation in this situation in order to ensure they both get the sleep they need.
Finally, I know some parents tend to take this approach despite having an extra bedroom because they want to hold on to the spare room for their in-laws or other visitors who might need to spend the night.
If the extra bedroom is an option, I strongly suggest you use it. This will eliminate a number of difficulties that may come your way. And it’s easier for them to sleep together when you have a visit at home, than to share a room on a permanent basis.
In short, regardless of the setting and space of your home, there is always a way to teach your little ones to fall asleep independently. I can assure you that the outcome will be worth the challenge.