I'll skip to the chase - sleep training in a one bedroom apartment is impossible, or nearly so, at least for me! I searched the web high and low for sleep training guides focused on families in small apartments forced to share a bedroom with their little one. And you know what, I couldn't find a single one. Sure, I found the occasional question on a sleep training forum, with a few suggestions such as "put up a barrier so baby can't see you", etc. But I'll tell you, it's not easy and for us it just wasn't happening.
Baby wakes up for whatever reason: transitioning between sleep cycles, a loud truck rolled by, the neighbors dog was barking, you name it. Baby wakes up just enough to start crying and stand up in his crib. Then he sees you, or if you have the barrier up or are hiding under the covers, he still knows you are there. Thus begins the process of getting himself so worked up that eventually he's dinosaur screaming (you know, where it's all guttural high pitched screaming from the throat, that sounds like he's in excrutiating pain). Maybe you are deteremined to let him cry it out. Commence torturous moments or even hours, if you have the will and heart of coal. Maybe baby gives up and lies down, but is up and at it again in 5 to 30 minutes. You finally cave, thinking something must be terribly wrong with your baby - he's hungry, teething, has a poopy diaper, is gassy, had a night terror, sees dead people, who knows!?!?! it's the middle of the night and you're exhausted and you're scared your child is crying for a real reason and you've been ignoring him! Worst mother ever!!! So you pick up your screaming child and the SECOND you pick him up out of the crib he is the most quiet and peaceful thing you have ever seen. Your mind suddenly switches from terrified to angry - YOU BIG FAKER!!!! But he's angelic and sweet and so you cuddle or nurse him and he's back to sleep in no time. Finally you put him back down in the crib, maybe he protests with a few cries, maybe not. But he's back to sleep and you know the cycle will just repeat in another hour or two.
Welcome to the #ZombieMom Zone.
I've been here for about 7 months, since my perfect little sleeper turned 5.5 months and decided he would no longer sleep 11 hours through the night, would no longer find comfort in sucking his thumb, and would begin torturing his parents on a nightly basis. #ZombieMom Zone is not just uncomfortable, it's dangerous. Your ability to reason and to have patience of ANY sort whatsoever are out the window. It's not healthy for you or your family or the world. The longer you remain in #ZombieMom Zone, the deeper you go until you don't even remember what it's like to function like a normal thought processing human being. Every cry of your child in the night sends you to the edge, making you remember the words of your discharging nurse after birth warning you about shaken baby syndrome: "no baby every died from crying - do not even go near that crib if your thoughts are anything other than warm nurturing ones".
I used to bring him into bed with us, but I broke that habit with our last attempt at CIO sleep training a few months ago (that attempt did help - he's now a great napper and goes down at night usually without crying at all, it just didn't help with not waking up every couple of hours!), and don't wan to start the habit again or confuse him with sometimes allowing it and sometimes not. I love co-sleeping actually, but my biggest fear is baby will fall out of bed in the middle of the night. He's really restless and does acrobatics all over the place. Co-sleeping is not conducive to me getting a good night's rest, unfortunately, so it's out of the question.
Yesterday I analyzed our living room and realized there is a spot by the window that I can fashion a makeshift room for Kenzo. If I put the sound machine in there, and we are super quiet when are going about the rest of the apartment, he should be able to sleep in there...
So, our plan was not to go to Kenzo unless he was crying for at least 20 minutes. How did it go??
AMAZING NIGHT OF SLEEP!!!!!!!!!!!!
I put him down at 8pm. While we were still awake and working in the kitchen, Kenzo woke up and cried for a minute or two at 9:45 and again at 11pm. There were a few more times during the night were I heard him cry very quietly for a minute, but it was the kind of cry you could tell he wasn't really awake, and thankfully he just laid himself down and went back to deep sleep. He didn't really wake up until 6:45am. Hooooo-freaking-rah!!!!!!!!!
I'll still put him down in the bedroom in his crib for naps, so I can get stuff down around the house without tip-toing around, and then we'll continue the nighttime sleep in the living room. I really hope last night wasn't a fluke and this is the solution until we move to the new home in 2 months and he gets his own for real room! Also hope this cold-turkey night weaning doesn't land me with another bout of mastitis! Eeeek!
So happy I found this blog! My son is half Japanese and we live in Brooklyn in a one bedroom apartment, so very similar before you had your twins. He’s almost 5 months old and the past month decided to stop sleeping 7-8 hours and instead go to bed at 11ish after nursing and then somewhere around 4am he sounds like he is dancing or doing a whole work out in his bassinet which is right next to our bed, followed by crying. I was considering when we assemble his crib to move some things from the living room into the bedroom and give him a sleeping area out there, but wasn’t fully sold on that thought. Recently the slightest rustling of blankets, or the creaky old floors wake him when we go to bed. So I’m happy to hear that the living room worked for you and may try that!
4/16/2014 07:51:49 pm
I'm in a one-bedroom apartment and I'm considering sleep training my baby in the living room. We trained him before ages ago, but when he finally started growing teeth, it took us a while to figure out the best way to manage his pain, and then he forgot how to put himself to sleep. Now he's a year old and he screams way louder than the first time we trained him, hence the living room idea.
Hey Justine! We had a pack 'n play that he used in the living room at night, and his crib in our bedroom for daytime naps. It's been working well, he sleeps through 10 hours straight some nights, and others he'll wake up once and cry for a few minutes and go back to sleep. We actually moved TODAY and he's going to have his own room after we have the temporary pressurized walls installed to turn our dine-in kitchen into a nursery. So excited!! :) Good luck to you mama! You can do it!
12/12/2014 05:53:00 am
Hey there, just scowered the Internet for sleep training in a one bedroom tips. We are in the exact same boat. We have a nine month old that still nurses every three hours around the clock. She's not even hungry just needs the comfort to get back to sleep. She always ends up in our bed by morning and ain't nobody sleeping. We are so tired. Our problem is our living room has like a thousand windows and no little nooks to put her in and I feel really uncomfortable putting her out there by the front door and a thousand windows at night while we are tucked away in the bedroom. Is that crazy? I just don't like the idea of her being the first line of defense if someone broke in. I know it's a long shot, but still. We only have one closet outside the bedroom and it's located right by our tv so that's not an option. Any other ideas you can think of?
Hey Lauren thanks for your reply! Every situation and family is different and unfortunately there's no simple solution. This one I wrote about worked for a while but wasn't a permanent fix. We moved to a bigger place where he had his own room but he would just cry and cry and we were sleeping on his floor it was a big mess! Finally we moved his crib back into our room, took down one rail and placed the bed touching ours so it's almost like one big co-sleeping bed but he has rails on 3 sides of his crib. He was still waking up 2-3 times a night to nurse or get comfort until we finally weaned a few weeks ago and since then it's been amazing. he sleeps through the night 9 hours without waking up. i really think the final thing was weaning, because he knows waking up won't get him any boob haha!! Whatever you end up doing, just know that the frustration and sleeplessness is all temporary. We did some pretty horrible sleep training that was all short lived and looking back I wish we hadn't even bothered. Our child just kinda worked things out himself as he grew older. Other kids and families do well with sleep training. So, long story short, I don't think you can sleep train with a still-nursing baby in your room - he'll smell you and it's game over. Once you're weaned, co-sleep in same bed or same room and it should be fine... Sorry it's not much help. Just know you're not alone and many many families out there are struggling with similar issues. Good luck!
1/5/2021 02:14:50 pm
Just wondering when you wean from night feedings and eventually breastfeeding altogether if it is hard (I bedsheets with my 1.5 yr old) and if you have any tips to help avoid middle of the night screaming for breast?
10/28/2015 07:04:55 pm
This article is very inspired I also have an apartment with a nice sized too narrow with only 1 bedroom
1/2/2018 04:21:01 pm
What a relief to have come across your post from January 2014 today in January 2018. It feels like I've read all the online advice one can on sleep training in a one-bedroom, but for the first time I can actually relate (I'm trying to transition my breastfed 5-month-old out of bedsharing in our one-bedroom Williamsburg apt). Thanks for chronicling your journey!
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I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1), focusing on fun and honest product and travel reviews, saving moms time finding the best for their families! Find what you need in the menu bar or search section above!