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Our 5 month old currently sleeps in her cot in our bedroom. We've taken one of the sides off, and the cot is right next to the the bed to make it easier for nighttime feeds, which my wife does lying on her side so the baby isn't picked up and doesn't even open her eyes.

We have always struggled to get her to sleep - only managing it by nursing her to sleep. We're going to begin sleep training in the next month or so. The end objective for us is to help her learn to get to sleep without her needing to be fed to sleep, and to transfer her into her own room. Should we:

  1. Keep her in our room for the training so that she is in the environment she is used to.

    OR:

  2. Move her into her own room at the same time as sleep training her, rather than prolonging the process. We currently start her bedtime routine in her room before moving into ours, so she wouldn't be completely discombobulated.

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It would be much easier to transition if there were no or very few night feedings. –  Dariusz Aug 20 at 10:13
    
@Dariusz this may well be another question, but we're seeing slow improvements here. –  thebunk Aug 21 at 9:53

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

In our experience, it's very hard to get an infant to sleep without nursing if he/she is in the same room as Mommy, as the infant knows where the milk comes from. We didn't sleep train, but certainly when we needed to share a room (such as during hotel stays) it was much harder to get our sons to sleep as babies than when they were in a separate room.

It will certainly be difficult, and I would suggest that every single baby is different here - so you should try different things to see what works (but try each thing for a while, of course).

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In my experience 5 months is a little early to even start trying to get a breastfed baby to sleep without the boob. That works better around 9 or ten months, if at all. (The nighttime feeding being the last my kids gave up, at age 13 months for my middle child and at 15 months for my youngest.)

That being said, I do sympathize with your desire to help establish a healthy bedtime routine. even if your baby continues to breastfeed herself to sleep, getting her to do it in her own room, and then settle herself post-tuck in (and more importantly when she wakes up periodically at night like all babies do) is a great idea.

You say you start her routine in her room. That's great. All you have to do is work on staying there. I found it worked best for me to sit and feed the baby right next to the crib, then I'd hand the baby over to daddy, he'd burp and then tuck in. If I did the tuck in, the boys would wake and want to nurse again. Daddy sometimes had to deal with a little fussiness. Daddy's do well to flex the patience and persistence muscles at times like these. It's easy to give a fussy baby back to mommy, but it'll set you back. Resist on all but the toughest nights, when she's overtired or not feeling well.

I'm not going to get into elaborate sleep training detail-there are plenty of other good answers on parenting se to questions about that specifically, but, to get you headed down the right path and answer your question, option 2 is my recommendation, based on your stated goal.

(And, BTW, if the baby is used to sleeping with you guys, you can make her feel more "at home" in her crib if you toss her clean crib sheet in between your sheet and blanket for a few days before making her bed with it. That way, it smells like your bed. She'll appreciate that more than the smell of whatever detergent you use. Scent has a powerful effect on babies, and grown ups too. Use it to your advantage!)

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I went through this recently with my now 8mo. When she was about 6.5-7mo (see this question posted by my husband on this site), she fell into a sleep regression after being weaned off the pacifier. She was sleeping in a pack & play in our bedroom and when the regression showed its ugly face and we were forced to change something to help her sleep, we decided to also move her into her own room. To smooth this transition as well as implementing a new sleep schedule/routine, we temporarily (for about a week) slept in her room on a futon mattress on the floor. We did this to help reassure her that we were not abandoning her during this change. We implemented our changes to her sleep routine and our behavior in terms of how we responded to crying, when to feed her, when to pick her up and when to keep her in the crib, etc... and all the while not leaving her side. As far as the method we used, it was kindof a mix of different things mostly from two books, one by The Sleep Lady and one by Dr. Harvey Karp.

We limited our stay in her room to one week so as not to confuse her by letting her believe we were ALL moving to a new room. After the week, she was sleeping MUCH better and longer and we didn't want her to always rely on us being 5ft away for comfort so we packed up the futon, pillows, and blankets and moved back to our room. We continued monitoring her using a video monitor. We always respond to her crying; we do not let her cry it out. This helped with keeping her trust so she will know if she needs us, even though we are no longer 5ft away, we acknowledge her crying and are here for her whether it be by feeding her, picking her up and rocking her, or just a quick pop into the room for a little rub on the back and a goodnight kiss. She sleeps longer and better since making the changes we did and moving her to her room and I believe temporarily sleeping in her room during the process was very helpful.

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