This is actually a tricky situation that I see a lot of parents handling with. They want to move their youngest into a room with their toddler but they are not sure how they can sleep train without waking up the older child.
Yes, this is a valid concern and one that I don’t have an absolute solution for you. I wish I could tell you that your oldest will sleep through all of the sleep training but that is just not realistic.
(Before I get into this next paragraph, let me just say that I do NOT use a cry-it-out approach when sleep training. I will never ask you to leave a crying baby alone until they fall asleep)
Having said that, sleep training is going to have to involve some crying. I simply don’t believe that for the most part that there is a no tears approach that works. In fact, having a child no matter what is going to involve a lot of crying, so I’m sure that comes as no surprise. And sleep training one baby in a room with another is going to mean some wake-ups on the part of the older child.
I always tell my clients this: is it better to cause an interruption in this child’s sleep for a week or so in order to get the whole family sleeping through the night, or is it better to just get through the next few years of nightly wake-ups instead? I’m sure you agree that when it is out in those terms, it is actually a no brainier?
Once you have decided to go ahead and sleep train your youngest. It is then time to start examining how you can minimise the impact on the older child.
I would say firstly, start the program with the children in separate rooms. Can the oldest come in with you? Stay at a friends or relatives for a few nights? Be put in another room?
Once baby has learned some skills and seems to be able to fall asleep independently, then you can move them into the same room.
This is likely going to be met with a little resistance, both from baby and their older sibling. It will be the change to the routine and that is going to make bedtime a little harder for your Little Darlings, so try to plan this when you have a cleared schedule and can have lots of downtime during the day.
Take the time to fully and repeatedly explain to your toddler what’s going on, and let them know that when baby wakes up crying, you will go in to take care of the baby. The more they understand what’s going on, the less they’ll be agitated when they are woken up.
As for naps, I recommend you keep your little ones separated. Put one in the bedroom and put the other in a travel cot in another room. This is because, naps are the toughest part of the sleep training process, and it is better to plan for it so you can ensure that your toddler can catch up on their sleep during the day.
I know some parents tend to put their children in together despite having an extra bedroom because they want to hold on to the spare room for their in-laws or other visitors who might visit.
If the extra bedroom is an option, I ABSOLUTELY suggest you use it. Sleep training when siblings share a room isn’t impossible, but it is a much more difficult process.
To summarise… it is difficult to sleep train whilst your children share a room, but it is not impossible, and in my opinion, it is much a much better option than not teaching your Little Darlings to fall asleep independently. I can assure you that the summit will be worth the climb.
If you would like help making that transition, book in for a free sleep evaluation call to discuss how I can help.