Another baby sleep question -- co-sleeping baby to shared room?
August 25, 2016 1:32 AM   Subscribe

Our six month old gorgeous baby now sleeps with us -- I'd like her to be able to sleep on her own, in a crib, without the Merlin sleep suit, through the night, and gulp, in the same room as our toddler. Hope me?

Our six month old has slept either in a sidecar co-sleeper or in bed with us since she was born. She is snuggly and sweet. She's still breastfeeding. To get her to sleep, we either rock her or nurse her to sleep. At night, she's actually not so bad -- not incessantly nursing, but does want to nurse maybe 2-3 times a night, and is usually easily resettled. At night, I sometimes see her self-soothe, by turning her head a few times or (rarely) taking her thumb.

Oh, did I mention she uses one of those Merlin sleep suits? She LOVED being swaddled, and still doesn't seem to have great control over her arms and legs, so the Merlin suit has helped.

She naps pretty well in the sidecar crib -- a longish nap in the mornings and afternoons (45 minutes to 1.5 hr) and a short nap in the late afternoon.

Co-sleeping has worked out for us -- we get a lot of sleep, and I like seeing her little face. But, you know, we need our bed back.

BUT the place she will eventually sleep is with my toddler. My toddler is now a great sleeper in general, though a bit of crying when I leave the room is inevitable. The toddler goes to sleep about a half hour after the baby's ideal time (can shift this.) Toddler seems OK with baby joining the room. We bought the crib, and are planning now to set it up in our room temporarily, and then putting it in with the toddler.

So how do I do this? I am not entirely anti-CIO, but I did Ferber in desperation with my older kid and it was just so awful and it only lasted a few weeks (I was probably inconsistent in retrospect.) But yeah, I know at least some crying is inevitable.

I'm happy to do this in stages, but don't want it to take longer than a month ideally.

Any thoughts/suggestions on how to do this? I've read so many sleep books but would love personal experience!
posted by caoimhe to Human Relations (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think the issue you may encounter is the baby waking up the toddler. Not necessarily with crying, but as babies are wont to do, they can play happily with quite a bit of noise too. I'd be concerned about that because this is what would have happened with my kids at that age. My own co-sleeping journey was different, but here it is with my youngest (and it's important to note I am three years on the other side of it):

-We coslept until she was about 18 months old. That was in part my choice because it was easier and I needed sleep. At 18 months old, she was old enough to understand that people come back, so it made sense then to start putting her in her own bed. We'd put her to sleep on a mattress on the floor about half an hour before my son, and she'd cry a bit and we'd appropriately check on her, but eventually she got used to it. She'd wake up halfway through the night and spend the rest of the night with us because my getting up to put her back to bed would have led to more wakefulness on my part and I did not want that.

-When she was two, my husband would intercept her before she could reach me and put her back to bed. This led to lots of fussing and wailing for awhile. And it took a good while for her to get over that habit, but she did eventually. We still had to get up to change her diapers/pull ups. And we also noticed that she went to be much more easily if I wasn't home -- as in, she'd crawl on my husband's lap, rest her head, and he'd ask her if she was ready for bed, and she'd say yes and he'd put her to bed. The end. But if I was home, it'd be an all out battle. Eventually she got over that, too, but my work schedule for awhile was such that I missed bed time quite a few nights so it worked out well on the sleep front for everyone. But a few times, our oldest complained because apparently the youngest tried to climb into bed with him sometimes, or she'd wake him up in the morning when she got up.

-Now she's almost five. A few months ago we had a babysitter for a few hours for her when my son was on a sleepover. When we got back from dinner, the babysitter said, "Yeah, so I put her to bed and I asked her if she needed anything and she said, 'No. You can leave now.'" I consider that a victory.

I was really hoping, when she was around your child's age, to have her start sleeping alone by a year, but it didn't work out for a lot of reasons. At a year, we had to change daycares and that threw her off enough that we didn't want to add more stress. She was already transitioning fully to cups from bottles, too, so it was a lot on a tiny person. If we hadn't changed daycares and routines, we might have pushed on it a lot more. I know mine was significantly older than yours now, but I did find the stages and slow progression we used worked out okay. It was all temporary. And now she's been sleeping on her own for longer than she ever slept with us. My suspicion is it's honestly going to be trial and error, and it might take awhile. Or you might get lucky and have a baby who totally goes for it right away (mine were not those kids, but I know other parents who had those kids).
posted by zizzle at 6:35 AM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

I can tell you based on my experiences traveling with a baby and toddler that when they shared a room, it was truly amazing how well the toddler slept through the baby's wake-ups. It gave me the impression they could have shared a room fairly smoothly. One of my cousins has two kids who have shared a room since the baby was about 8/9 months and older child was 2.5. She says bedtimes were sometimes tricky to navigate, but in general the older child always slept through baby wake-ups. Her kids are very close and I often wonder if it's because they share a room. I know she loves that they share a room and it's something her and her husband thought was important. They have a 2 bdrm house and it works out well for them. Final anecdotal point: I used to babysit for a family with three kids that shared a room. Ages were about 3, 5 and 1. The baby would go to bed in his crib, then about an hour later the two older kids would go to bed, and they could read or chat in their beds a bit, but knew to keep pretty quiet. They were old enough to whisper and know "waking up baby is not a great idea." I babysat them on an almost weekly basis for more than a year, and I don't remember bedtime troubles. They were a very well-behaved family actually and the kids didn't have to share a room, but wanted to. I don't know how old baby was when they moved the crib into the shared bedroom, but it could have been earlier than 6 months. And this was the 90s when all the families I know "sleep trained" their babies without really calling it that. I know you're probably a very tired momma, so I just want you to know this can work out and probably will work out very easily. You could try moving baby to crib, then moving crib to other room. Or just do it all at once (that's what I would do). If it's waking up toddler too much, try it again later when baby's older. I know these decisions feel so monumental right now, but you can try one thing and then try something else. I can think of so many parenting decisions that I worried and worried about, only to find later that my kids very quickly adapted to something I thought would never work.
Re sleep training: I successfully had two babies sleeping well at relatively young ages. I'm glad to chat Ferber, etc or emphasize with you over memail. I find ask mefi to not be a great place to discuss sleep training, but I'd be glad to talk with you privately about it. All the best to you and your little ones!
posted by areaperson at 7:09 AM on August 25, 2016

I asked a similar question back in 2011. It wasn't exactly the same, since we hadn't been co-sleeping, but it might be similar enough that the responses will be of some use to you.

Five years later, I can report that everything worked out fine for us.

One key: we didn't move our youngest in with our oldest until our youngest could sleep through the night. We had already Ferberized with our oldest, and we knew how hard it is not to rush in at the first cry. We knew it would be even harder with the added stress of worrying that Youngest's crying would wake up Eldest.

Every family is different and the right answer is whatever works for your family -- but for what it's worth, if your family is roughly the same as ours, you might find you can make the transition in a month (if you're willing to be pretty strict about sleep training), or you can make it more gradually over many months or perhaps years (if you don't want any crying), but you will find it a real challenge to radically change a 6-month-old's sleeping habits in a month without significant crying. Again, just based on my own family, which could be totally different than yours!

By the way, "Ferberizing" is sometimes used to as a generic term for hard-core Lock The Door And Let Them Cry It Out sleep training, but for what it's worth, Ferber himself actually prescribed a gentler approach, which involves checking in with your kid at gradually increasing intervals. We used the method described in his Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems and it worked for us.

It's a very sensitive topic and you'll find lots of passionate disagreements on this, but just to report my own family experience: our kids do not seem to be hurt by a few nights of crying in the safety of their own home, but they do seem to have benefitted tremendously by being able to fall asleep on their own, sleep through the night, and wake refreshed. Also, it turns out they benefit tremendously from having a well-rested mom and dad who can devote full brain power to parenting instead of stumbling around the house like zombies!
posted by yankeefog at 7:17 AM on August 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

We had our baby in a crib in the same room as us parents until he was just under a year old. We had started to talk about maybe thinking about moving the baby in with our almost 4 year old when suddenly we had a bedbug in the master bedroom. (after $1200 worth of treatment, it turned out to probably be a single or two same-sex bedbugs, but at the time we were horrified and envisioning a bedbug apocalypse).

I'll spare you the details of all the logistics but suffice it to say that suddenly "strategizing about how to move the baby in with the toddler without disruptions" became "they move in together TONIGHT" so that the master bedroom could get treated. It went completely without a hitch, the little guy loved sleeping with his big brother and the big brother enjoyed the little guy's company, and in fact the baby started sleeping better. We had originally envisioned this only being for a few days while we figured out the bedbug issue but it worked so well we just left them together.

Obviously our kids were a bit older, but things may go better than you expect.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 8:38 AM on August 25, 2016

Depending on your breastfeeding goals, Kellymom does not recommend night-weaning until 12 months of age, to preserve the breastfeeding relationship and keep your milk supply up. Here is's page on Night Weaning. The Milk Meg doesn't recommend it until 18 months of age because the child can better understand at that time what is happening. Here is her recommendation for getting your bed back. I'm all for the best way for everyone to get the most sleep. For me, that's been continuing to bedshare. I hope you figure out something that works well for you and your family, too.
posted by jillithd at 9:02 AM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

I can't speak to transitioning from co-sleeping specifically, but you might want to take a shot at making subtle gradual changes and see how it works-- i.e. switch from whatever cosleeper you're using to sidecarring her long-term crib against the bed in the same spot with one side down, then same spot but all four sides on the crib, then move the crib further away in your room, etc.

Also I don't know if you've tried the Zipadeezip but it worked great as a transition for our little swaddle-lover and they're safe for rolling babies and can be used for years.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 10:37 AM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

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