baby proof: sleeping in one bedroom.

February 11, 2015

crib corner One bedroom. Three people.

This is not a steamy story, though I do my best to keep our bedroom that way. Every night I fill a little enamel pan with water and set it on top of the radiator with the silver paint in the corner of our bedroom. The hope is that the water will turn to steam and make the three of us breathe a little easier. It usually takes two days for the water to evaporate. At this rate, I’m calculating that we get about an extra cup of moisture into the air each week. But I’m sticking to the routine anyway, because that’s what counts, isn’t it?

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I’m often asked how we’ve managed, two parents and a baby in one bedroom. I have a suspicision that the questions have less to do with us living in close quarters and more to do with the new parent/one-day parent preoccupation with sleep generally.

I think that our story about sleeping with a baby in a one bedroom apartment is like anyone’s story about sleeping anywhere with a baby. It’s a dance of sticking to routine and breaking routine. Looking for patterns, and in the absence of patterns, creating them.

In the scheme of things, the cozy situation that we happen to find ourselves in in our home isn’t especially newsworthy. Until last week, there were two other families in our building alone doing the same thing. Nine apartments, three of them with babies, none of them having more than one bedroom.

To be sure, there are a few things that stand out about life with a baby in a one-bedroom. We don’t have any need for a baby monitor. We can’t lie in bed with the lights on and read after Faye’s gone to sleep. We try to keep chatting in bed to a minimum. But most everything else I imagine is pretty much business as usual.

Mostly Faye sleeps. Sometimes she doesn’t. On nights when she doesn’t sleep it’s because of her mattress. Or the moon. Or the tiny tooth that just last week began to emerge from her tiny gums. In other words: who knows?

These days, a typical night at our house looks like this:

We bathe Faye after dinner and before bed. (Lately she prefers to lie on her back in the tub and splash the water with exuberant kicks, but that is neither here nor there.) After the bath we dress her in a pair of pajamas (usually these) and read her a story or three (lately this and this and this) before she nurses for a few minutes. We most often put her down when she’s still awake in that sweet sleepy style. She sucks on her middle two fingers until she’s asleep and then she sucks on them some more after she’s asleep. After we put her down, we close the bedroom door and tiptoe away and then basically carry on as we would have before she was here: doing dishes, watching movies, staring into each other’s eyes, reciting poetry, etc. Sometimes after we’ve put Faye to sleep and we’re sitting on the other side of the bedroom door, James sneezes incredibly loudly but she doesn’t wake up. Sometimes after we creep back into the room, James sneezes incredibly loudly and she does wake up. We sometimes hang a black scarf on the window to block out extra light. We sometimes don’t. We sometimes turn on a fan to block out any noise. We sometimes don’t. If Faye wakes up in the night and is incredibly persistant in her cries, we bring her to bed and I nurse her. We sometimes keep her there for awhile. (She’s excellent at spooning.) We sometimes decide that two parents and a baby in a double bed is not very comfortable for anyone and we put her back in her own bed. (Sometimes spooning is overrated.)

My point in recounting our routine isn’t to offer advice on one thing or another that works. Goodness knows, you’ve probably all gotten enough of that. Surely some of this works because of the temperment or sleeping styles or habits of our family. I assure you that sometimes it doesn’t work and we wake up feeling like zombies.

When it comes to sleep and babies, we’re all just fumbling along. We care for our fabulous, feisty little humans the best way we know how. In one bedroom, or two bedrooms, or no bedrooms at all, sleep after a baby is different than sleep before a baby. But then, so is breathing. So is the way your heart beats in your chest.

More about our crib, HERE. More Baby Proof posts, HERE.

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41 Comments

  • Reply moni.zuza February 11, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    I didn't know pre-baby that sleep would be the hardest part of parenting. While our little one (6 months now!) has finally (most nights) mastered night sleep, the naps are still all over the place. Some days he takes nice long ones and is cheery and rested. And others he barely naps and is needy and fussy most of the day. I've charted and plotted and have had no luck finding any rhyme or reason to the (non)patterns.

  • Reply Nicole February 11, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    I just love reading your words even though I rarely comment. This post is my life right now, we have a 4 month old and despite the fact that she has a room of her own she is in our room and you have perfectly captured our sleep dance. I love the moments it all works perfectly and during the other moments I just remind myself the lovely moments will be back. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Reply Erin February 11, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      Thanks so much for reading, Nicole!

    • Reply admin February 11, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      So glad you saw this! Agreed: the smile the first thing is the best part!

  • Reply Amanda February 11, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    But then, so is breathing. So is the way your heart beats in your chest.

    • Reply admin February 11, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      totally. (smooches.)

  • Reply Valentine February 11, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing Erin! I was actually one of the persons who asked you about this because I was wondering whether the waking up of a baby was caused by sleeping with the three of us in the same room or whether it is just normal baby behaviour to wake up…. I tend to agree with you that it is not so much the one bedroom but the behaviour of babies regardless whether or not you share a room. What I personally like about sleeping with my baby in the same room is that you can hear the steady breathing when she is asleep and the first thing in the morning is her smile from her cot while looking at you! Thank you for sharing your story. The sneezing makes me smile in recognition (why do men sneeze so loud???). xo

    • Reply Erin February 11, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      So glad you saw this! Agreed: the smile the first thing is the best part!

    • Reply admin February 11, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      Ha! Sounds great! Our place isn't *too* dry, so we haven't sprung for a humidifier yet (but also mostly because I don't really want to add another something to our little place!).

  • Reply Amanda February 11, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    (That was call and response, right? It could only have been call and response.)

    • Reply Erin February 11, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      totally. (smooches.)

  • Reply Hannah S February 11, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    You have a very sweet way on talking about your loved ones.
    Why not try a humidifier in the bedroom? We have been able to get about 1/2 liter dispersed every day into our tiny studio and has helped with the dry skin by a lot.

    • Reply Erin February 11, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      Ha! Sounds great! Our place isn't *too* dry, so we haven't sprung for a humidifier yet (but also mostly because I don't really want to add another something to our little place!).

  • Reply Jacquelyn | lark&linen February 11, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Erin, you paint such a beautiful picture of motherhood – the good and the bad! You make me excited for my own future with babies

  • Reply Jana | One Drawing A Day February 11, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    I love this simple view. I love that your home is not over run with baby stuff everywhere. There's so much pressure to do it "right" when there is no right way. And I love that crib!

    • Reply admin February 11, 2015 at 11:27 pm

      Thanks Theresa! Certainly didn't intend to mock the questions, but I do think we all need permission to laugh to once in a while 😉

  • Reply Anonymous February 11, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    Oh Erin, I couldn't have said it better!! Sleep with a baby is totally different than pre-baby…but then everything is most wonderfully different! We have an interesting sleep situation in our house, but it gets us sleep…all of us!…so that's all that matters to me.
    Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂

  • Reply Anonymous February 11, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    I love the undercurrent of dry humor in this post. I understand you're quite sincere in your writing (and that's why I keep coming back), but I also detected a bit of "c'mon people, there's not a formula for everything, just f*ing wing it!" Much appreciated (if that was in fact your intent).

    Theresa

    • Reply Erin February 11, 2015 at 11:27 pm

      Thanks Theresa! Certainly didn't intend to mock the questions, but I do think we all need permission to laugh to once in a while 😉

      • Reply admin February 12, 2015 at 4:21 pm

        Remembering the "fleeting" part is especially valuable!

    • Reply admin February 11, 2015 at 11:25 pm

      Quietly?

    • Reply admin February 12, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      😉

  • Reply Tiffany @ Savor Home February 11, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    I don't have kids yet, but I loved this! So beautifully written… 🙂

  • Reply suzanne morris February 11, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Thank you for your lovely (as always) post. What I'm wondering about is not sleeping in the room with baby. I'm wondering about those other things men & women enjoy doing when they are in bed together. Things less quiet than sleeping. Without revealing too much, how do you suggest coping with that challenge?

    • Reply Erin February 11, 2015 at 11:25 pm

      Quietly?

    • Reply Sophia February 12, 2015 at 2:04 pm

      ha! good answer!

      • Reply admin February 12, 2015 at 4:20 pm

        Thanks so much, Abbie!

    • Reply Jami Yaeger February 12, 2015 at 4:11 pm

      In another room? On the sofa? In the kitchen? In the shower? On the floor? Against the wall? A dramatic sweep of everything off the dining room table? Or, yes, play the quiet game!
      This is the one question I often received about sleeping with a babe in our room or in our bed. I always told people that it seemed quite boring to ONLY do it in bed.

    • Reply Erin February 12, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      😉

  • Reply Anonymous February 11, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    Our youngest is 18 months old. Her little nursery is the renovated en suite off our bedroom. It is lovely and at night when she wakes she reaches for our bed. It has become the routine and she spends the remaining hours snuggled in our bed. yes sometimes it is uncomfortable, but we know it isn't forever. And I think all the advice on "how a baby should sleep" is overrated. Whatever works is what is right 🙂

  • Reply Monica February 11, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    Love this. Love it because there is so much about parenting that can't be quantified and qualified and that's what everyone wants. They want to know the ONE way to do it so everyone is happy. We have two bedrooms, and we still sleep in one room, when all of us are in there that's two adults, one toddler, two dogs and a cat. It's cozy!

  • Reply Kari February 11, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    You do what you have to do. We slept with our daughter in our room until she was three, because we didn't have another room to put her in at the time. (She wouldn't have fit with our son in his tiny room.) When she got too big for the crib we just had her sleep on the crib mattress on the floor. It worked. It wasn't a great arrangement, but you'd never live life if you waited till everything was great.

  • Reply Anna February 11, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Ah, baby sleep….I am still working on it with my 20 month old, although he does much better than he used to. We shared a room with him for most of the first year until we thought he might wake up less if we were in another room so we moved our bed into another room. I think the key with baby sleep is doing what works for you. If having your little one in bed works, do it. If it exhausts you, like it has me lately, figure out a better plan. It can be really hard but we all try to do our best.

  • Reply blants February 12, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    This is so great to read! We are 5 people in 2 bedrooms, which most people from my hometown (Midwest) find down right shocking. We have our youngest in the room with us for now in a mini-crib, but she's taken to waking up at 3am and screaming because she's standing up and can't get back down. Equal parts hilarious, frustrating, pathetic and endearing. Each of the little darlings has presented new sleep challenges (or perhaps I am just that much more tired?) but we are just trudging along, making it work. Most importantly trying to remember to build good habits, yet recognize how fleeting this stage is. -Shelby

    • Reply Erin February 12, 2015 at 4:21 pm

      Remembering the "fleeting" part is especially valuable!

  • Reply Abbie February 12, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    This is hands down the most delightful "how does my baby sleep" post I have ever read anywhere. Thank you.

    • Reply Erin February 12, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      Thanks so much, Abbie!

  • Reply Nancy Cavillones February 13, 2015 at 2:46 am

    I think we all just do what we have to do! We lived in a studio apartment with two kids, and we made it work somehow until we, thankfully, upgraded to a slight bigger space and added another kid shortly thereafter. We have tons of room now but my son is sleeping in my room. I'm in no hurry to get him out. I like having him near by, whether by choice or necessity.

  • Reply Craftysquirrel February 13, 2015 at 9:18 am

    I love this post , so describes the sort of low key upheaval a baby brings to life and sometimes the path of least resistance is totally the way to go. Brings back very fond memories of the "sleep dance " we had when our daughter was small, sometimes now at 8 she makes her way into our bed – sometimes the spooning is good and sometimes it is enough and one of us migrates back to her bed 🙂

  • Reply Anna-bird February 13, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    This was perfect. I wrote a less-perfect post on baby sleep this week, too 🙂 http://www.anna-bird.com/2015/02/hushabye-baby.html

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