When you’re pregnant and expecting your first baby, it’s natural to have a lot of questions.
One question that may come up is whether or not you should sleep train your child while they are in the same room as you.
The truth is that although parents may be tempted to sleep in the same room with their newborn, there are many downsides to this practice.
This post will help answer some of those questions with research-backed information on this topic! Additionally, if you do choose that room-sharing is the best approach for you and your family, I’ve prepared 6 tips to help you do it successfully.
What are the downsides of sleep training while room-sharing?
- Your baby’s sleep habits may negatively impact your own.
- You’ll have less privacy and independence as a new parent if you are room sharing with your child.
- You’ll be more susceptible to nighttime feedings, which can disrupt your partner’s (e.g., spouse) sleep.
- Your child may wake up more easily and be a lighter sleeper due to being in close proximity to the parent.
- Falling asleep next to your child increases the risk of suffocation.
- Tired parents are also more likely to get into car accidents. Maternal sleep deprivation is associated with a higher risk of post-partum depression, which can be detrimental to both the mother’s and the child’s well-being.
So, is it better or worse for babies if they sleep in the same room as their parents? The answer is that there are both pros and cons to this decision. Ultimately, you need to make the best decision for your child, and this decision will also depend on the other factors in your life.
6 tips for successful sleep training while room-sharing
If you decide that room-sharing is the right approach for your family, here are six tips for how to do it right:
Create the right environment
The more calm and inviting your baby’s sleep environment is, the better chance of success you’ll have and this will help reduce night wakings. Make sure there are no bright lights or sounds that will disrupt her sleeping routine or wake her up too early.
Here are a few more tips:
- To keep your baby cozy, maintain a room temperature between 68-72F (20-22.2c).
- Keep her swaddled. Being snug in a swaddle reminds babies of the environment in the womb. Swaddling has many benefits, such as keeping your baby warm and secure. Even better, being snuggly wrapped means sleeping more soundly throughout the night.
- As bedtime approaches, quiet down the entire house, dim the lights, and close your curtains to get your baby ready for sleep.
- Make sure your baby sleeps in her own safe sleeping place on a firm, flat surface.
Establish a bedtime routine
At the core of a successful sleep training process is a consistent bedtime routine. It’s never too early to start a bedtime routine for your baby. A consistent and calming bedtime routine will help you get your little one off to sleep faster, make bedtime easier on everyone, and set up healthy sleep habits that will last throughout their life.
Simply find something that works for you as a parent and your baby. It should be calming, repetitive, and soothing. In other words, it should help your baby sleep like a, well, baby.
Commonly, a consistent bedtime routine includes a routine of giving your baby a warm bath, diaper change, getting her into a swaddle, dimming the lights, and playing some white noise.
Once you find something that works for you, remain consistent. Your baby will learn what to expect, which can help her to eventually self-soothe.
Move the crib away from your bed when sleep training while room-sharing
Move the crib or co-sleeper away from the bed and as far away as possible! The further you move it, the better.
This way, your baby will be able to sleep in the same room as you without interruption and won’t get in your space at night when both of you are trying to catch some shut-eye.
What’s more, if your baby can’t see you, she will be more likely to fall asleep and less likely to cry for you.
Use white noise
Many parents don’t realize how beneficial white noise can be for their babies.
When your baby was in your womb, he was exposed to all kinds of sounds like your heartbeat, your voice and breathing, as well as other ambient noises such as blood flow in the arteries and veins.
That’s why playing these types of noises during sleep time or naps helps to improve the length and quality of sleep.
White noise masks the sound of loud noises or other sounds that might wake your baby up. It will help drown out any background noises in your home and lull your little one into a deeper sleep.
What’s more, it’s a great way of getting regular rest for yourself as well as helping your little one learn how to sleep through the night on her own.
Get a white noise machine and place it next to your little one’s crib to lull her back into a deep slumber if she wakes up in the middle of the night. White noise is calming, soothing, and perfect for helping babies fall back asleep!
The more sleep you get, the happier and healthier both of you are going to be!
Stick to your sleep training plan
You may sometimes feel like giving up – but don’t! The key to sleep training your baby in your room successfully lies in being consistent and dedicated. Just know: it will get better with time. Some babies will start falling asleep on their own in less than a few days, while others need some more time.
It may help if you set a regular bedtime and wake-up time for you and your baby. Put her down at a set time every night and have her wake up at the same time in the morning. By doing so, you’re teaching her healthy sleep habits and preventing over-or under-tiredness.
Sleep in another room temporarily
Another thing you can try is sleeping in another room for a few nights. This will help you teach your baby to sleep in her own bed and not rely on you for comfort at night.
If she wakes up, play some white noise or gently pat her on the back until she falls back asleep. You might also consider jiggling the crib gently if it helps lull your little one back to sleep.
Here’s another idea: stay in the bedroom and if she wakes up crying, sneak into the living room and wait it out there.
It all comes down to this:
Parents who share a room with their child sleep less, have more interrupted sleep and have more marital problems. The truth is that having a newborn baby in the room with you can hurt your health and the health of your baby. What’s more, successful sleep training always depends on teaching your baby how to fall asleep without your help and room-sharing can slow down that learning process.
In short, if you want to teach your little one how to sleep independely and get a good night’s sleep yourself, avoid room-sharing.
However, if you believe that room-sharing is something your family needs, then follow the 6 tips I mentioned above.