Here on Little Z’s Sleep podcast, we are going to chat about how to room share with your baby! If you are a parent who is room sharing with your baby— either because you have your family in a small space or you want to share with your baby, I am going to share some tips and strategies for you on this podcast.
Before we get into the meat of this episode, let’s review the American Academy of Pediatrics’ suggestions. The AAP suggests room sharing for up to six months of your child’s first year. In fact, they say up to a year is recommended, but here’s the thing: this is a suggestion, not a rule. They are not mandates. So their suggestions are that you room share up to six months. If you can, up to 12 months of age with your baby.
There are many different types of parents out there. You may be a parent who feels like you must abide by the rules. And if that’s you, I’m here to tell you that it’s not a rule.
It’s a suggestion. I believe it’s up to you as the parent to decide when you would like to room share and when to stop. You can choose what’s best for your baby.
Secondly, I have a little bit of housekeeping that I have to do. There are distinctions when it comes to the word room sharing like co-sleeping and bed-sharing.
I do not promote bed-sharing. I have had parents email me and say, Becca, I wish you would talk about safe bed-sharing. Unfortunately, that’s not my sleep philosophy. If you would like to discuss safe bed-sharing, there are platforms that discuss that sleep philosophy. If you are going to bed-share, you cannot have pillows, blankets, sheets, or any other item in the bed.
I refer to co-sleeping as your child is sharing the same room as you, but not in your bed. Again, I do not promote bed-sharing. So I prefer to use the term room-sharing because it’s very clear the fact that you’re not bed-sharing, you’re just sharing a room.
The first thing I am going to check is the distance between your crib and your side of the bed. After 8 weeks (recognizing that in those early days you need them closer), I want the crib to be on the opposite side of your bedroom.
Even if your child has been sleeping all night, if they are just a few feet away from you, you are going to hear every little move and sound. If you have a baby that you need to share a space with, please move them away from you so you can get more sound sleep.
What type of crib should you use? I am going to recommend The SlumberPod for permanent room sharing situations. When you room-share, the crib can be safely covered with a SlumberPod to keep the crib environment dark.
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These fabric window covers attach with suction so they don’t damage your windows or leave a sticky residue. When you wake in the middle of the night and see light from streetlights, you can easily read the clock and tell it’s 2AM outside and return to sleep. But your baby doesn’t know what time it is—they just see sunlight and tell the child to wake up.
The darker, the room, the better the sleep.
After you explore crib placement and darkness in the room, you should explore white noise next. Now, when we have a white noise machine in your child’s room, I advocate for a volume of 50 decibels.
That’s the loudest it should be for safety reasons. If you don’t know your machine’s level, you can download a free decibel reader app. Measure the decibel level near your child’s crib space. The white noise machine should be at least three feet from your child’s crib space too.
After setting up all of these room-sharing strategies, walk around the room and look for paths that might be squeaky. Think about your morning and evening routine. Check for door squeaks and correct them with WD-40. Block squeaky floor areas, if you safely can, with furniture to avoid noisy floorboards.
Now that we have the room-sharing setup established, I understand this is a lot more difficult when you room share because your child is aware you are in the room. If they can see you, it’s even worse (that’s why I advocate for the SlumberPod). There are some sleep training tips you can implement after the newborn phase.
Four-month-olds and up who are waking in the middle of the night is tough on everyone’s sleep! When you begin sleep training, I recommend moving out of the room for a few nights when it is most difficult. It will be SO much easier for you to be consistent with your plan.
Additionally, if you have access to a ventilated closet, this makes a great space for an in-room nursery. My Hattie slept in a closet for eight months of her life and she was the happiest baby.
Ready to start tonight? First of all, go get our free baby course. Let’s just talk real quick about partial arousals. Babies are notorious for having wakings throughout the night, but during some of those wakings, they’re not fully alert and awake. They are actually cycling in and out of their sleep. Have you ever noticed that this almost happens every hour and a half throughout the night?
There’s a reason for that— it’s the length of a sleep cycle. It’s very normal for them to cry out or make noise during this time. So, one of my recommendations is to just wait. Often they will go back to sleep.
You need to know that you can successfully room share. You can and our free course can help! Be encouraged today that wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, make the decision that you believe is best for your family.
We’re equipping you here, and hopefully, we’re making your journey to sleep a whole lot simpler.
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