A question for the ages...okay, well maybe not, but definitely a question for this mama who has a toddler and an infant at home, and only one room to put them both in.
How do you get two kids to sleep in the same room (without completely losing your mind or getting zero sleep, that is)?
You do it by keeping your kids on a schedule, staying consistent, and having the room set up to ensure that both your kids sleep soundly!
Since I am currently going through this journey on my own, I've been doing the research to make the transition as seamless as possible for everyone at home, and here's what I've come up with:
Preparing the Older Child
The first thing that needs to happen is giving your older babe the heads up that he's going to have to share his space. More than likely your child has gotten the hint since their little bro/sis hasn't disappeared after the novelty has worn off. But, in case the idea hasn't stuck, reminding them that baby will be sharing his room is important.
Another thing to help with the transition is to put baby's bed in your child's room. With our kids, we put a toddler bed into their shared room a few months before our son was ready to sleep in it, and just recently made the switch. Now that he has been sleeping in his big boy bed for a few weeks with no issues, we felt confident that he wouldn't be upset when baby started sleeping in the crib in the same room.
Sleep SchedulesKeeping kids on a sleep schedule is always important for a good night's sleep (for everyone in the house), but is especially important now that you have two little ones with different sleeping needs in the same room. Do your best to keep your older child's schedule consistent, even with the new sibling showing up. Our son (2.5 years old) has consistently gone to bed at 8 p.m. and slept 12 hours at night. We would pretty much be distraught if that changed at all. But now that our little one is old enough to sleep train, we had to find a way to do it without messing up the older one's situation. Tall order, huh, mama? Sleep training isn't an easy thing with one babe, and with two, things definitely get more complicated. Doctors recommend starting around 2 months to sleep train, but this will vary depending on how long your child is going without eating. We knew our babe was ready to go a little after 2 months, because we were getting 6-8 hour stretches at night, so we felt good about moving her to the shared room.
Stagger BedtimesThis was more for our older child than our younger, but it was definitely necessary to keep them both asleep for longer, and to make sure that our son didn't wake up when we laid our little one down at night (and let her whine herself to sleep). Putting the kids to bed at the same time would have been a mess for that same reason. When you have a toddler in his big boy bed, putting his little sister in the crib across the room, while she is struggling to fall asleep, is going to push back his bed time. So, we decided on putting down little girl a little earlier than her brother. This helped to keep him on the same schedule that he's been doing so well with, and even gave him a little one-on-one time with mama and dada before going to bed (something he's been lacking since babe showed up). Staggering bed time also helps to make sure that both kids get a consistent, full nighttime routine. Our son obviously has an established routine-- we brush teeth, change into jammies, read a couple of books, say our prayers, and do hugs and kisses. By putting babe to bed before him, we're able to keep that all the same.
White NoiseSince we chose to stagger their bedtimes, we needed to make sure that there would be ambient noise to keep baby from waking up once we put our son in bed. The white noise machine is something that I have absolutely sworn by since our son was born, and has now become a favorite for our daughter as well. We put a white noise machine in their room (out of reach of our toddler, thank you very much Mr. Grabby) and turn it on to put our little one to bed, and it stays on all night. This also helps our son sleep when our little girl wakes up in the morning hours (sometimes more than usual) since the sound of her crying/whining isn't the only sound in the room.
Baby Proofing the Room
Because you're going to have two little ones in the same room, but one of them is possibly more mobile, alert, and aware of what's going on than the other, it's important to baby proof to make sure it's as safe as can be. That means taking out any toys small enough to fit in a little mouth. Putting any drapes, cords, or blankets up out of reach. Covering outlets. Making sure all furniture is anchored to the walls. It is also a good idea to get a baby monitor in the room (even if you share a wall like we do), just to make sure you can hear when one of your little ones is awake/moving around in there. Some mamas will even swear by monitors with cameras so you can see what's going on in there without needing to make an entrance, but that's totally up to you, mama! You'll probably need to modify this for your kids depending on their ages and your room set-up, and you'll probably make some changes once you actually get them sleeping in the same room for a couple of nights!