My Experience Room Sharing with an Infant and a Toddler
After months of consideration and thought and research and advice, I decided to rip off the bandaid and transition my infant into her brother's room. We have a 4 bedroom split-level in the burbs, but only two bedrooms upstairs, so room-sharing was inevitable with having two littles under two. This is a process I had been dreading for months, but now, after having done it, I'm not sure why.
My baby (currently 5 and a half months) just started taking formula and now that I know she's for sure getting enough food, we are in the process of sleep training. She has been in our walk-in closet which we converted to a nursery since birth and it's just time to get her out of our room. After seeking much advice from parents who had already done this transition (I mean it's only in the past century or so that kids ever even had their own rooms so it's not a new concept), I realized there is no real "how to" on the subject. The overall consensus was "um...er...to be honest, we don't remember. We just did it, the kids got used to it and that's it." So we decided to just do it. No more waiting and pushing back what we anticipated to be an unpleasant experience.
The First Night
We started bedtime about 15 minutes early knowing we would have to stagger it. I changed Titus, put him in his pajamas and gave him some milk and he played with daddy while I changed Cecilia, fed her and put her down. Then we did Titus' bedtime routine (read books and snuggle with his tiger and goat) in the living room and then brought him in and put him to bed.
Titus normally does not cry when we put him down, but tonight he did. Of course. When Titus cried, Cecilia woke up and cried. Then within a matter of a minute they both settled down and were quiet. I assume Cecilia fell asleep, but I could still hear Titus playing quietly in his bed. That was good enough for me.
An hour later, we heard Titus banging something on the window, so I had to go in and tell him "no no." Cecilia saw me and everyone started crying for about 10 minutes. Then they were out. We checked on them before we went to sleep and they were magical.
Cecilia woke up at 4:00 crying. Titus was out like a light. I gave Cecilia her bottle, put her down and she slept.... Until she woke up crying at 5:30. We let her cry through that for a few minutes - again, Titus was still conked out. Both babes then slept until 7-ish.
All in all, Day 1 was a success. Only time will tell if it was a fluke or if it actually worked.
The Second Night
We stuck with the same structure as Day 1. Change Titus, give Cecilia a bottle and put her down, do Titus' routine in the living room and then put him down.
Titus was up talking for an hour or so before he fell asleep (pretty typical for that little dude), but Cecilia seemed to sleep through it. If she did happen to wake up, she didn't fuss at all.
Cecilia decided she wanted an extra nightly feeding at 11:00, but Titus was not phased by her crying at that feeding nor the 4:00 am one. We'll work on her getting through the night without extra bottles once we get her on solids (she had her very first solid today by the way - avocado).
Titus woke up around 6:30, and started talking and Cecilia stayed asleep until I went in and turned on the light to get them ready for the day.
This is what I would consider another successful Day.
Every Night Since
We are hitting the one week point today (PRAISE JESUS), and I can tell you every night has gotten easier and easier. Sometimes Cecilia will be crying when we need to put Titus down, but a few moment (moments, not minutes) after we put him in his crib, she settles down. I tell myself they love each other and the world is a happy place because of it. Guys, last night both kids slept from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am. BOTH KIDS! Then, this morning after they woke up, I could hear their sweet baby voices taking turns making sounds and words. I thought my heart was going to explode with happiness and rainbows. It was the sweetest ever.
I thought this transition would take way longer than it did. Really it was about 3 nights that were just a little bit off schedule, but after that it was just the new normal. If one wakes up in the night and makes noise or even cries, the other is not woken up. This really surprised me, but I guess kids are resilient. I'm glad we made the transition.
A Note on Nap times
Just a quick note on nap times. My kids have been on the same afternoon nap schedule for about 3 or 4 months now, so I thought it would be nice and easy. Turns out it wasn't. The first couple days both kids went without naps. I let them hang in their room during the time they would normally nap. They would switch from crying to playing to crying to playing and after an hour and a half of that, I let nap time be over and we went for a drive. They immediately zonked out in their carseats while I enjoyed some quiet time drinking an iced caramel macchiato driving around the lakes in Minneapolis.
Now, a week later, Cecilia will fuss for a bit, then I put Titus down and within minutes they are quiet and asleep for the next 2 hours. It is perfect.
Transition complete. My tips and advice are coming soon!
Over all I thought it went well, and I'll be posting my advice and tips while they are still fresh in the coming week. If you are dreading this process or worrying how it will impact your toddler. Remember that kids are much more resilient sleepers than we are as adults and once the transition is complete, your whole household will be happier because you will be sleeping well and the kids will get all the wonderful benefits of that!