Here we are with a baby in our bedroom again! This is our second time sharing a room with a baby, this time in a different house and with a whole different set up. (You can see our first shared master here.)
Weighing our options as the birth of our second approached, the possibilities were:
- move to a bigger house
- put the baby in with our 2-year-old
- have the baby in our room
Since we definitely were not ready to move, and collectively decided that a newborn and a 2-year-old room sharing would be good for no one, we decided to have the littlest Jackson room in with us until he's ready to join the big leagues and move in with his brother.
Here, I'm talking about the basic set up, what's been most successful, top tips, and things that I think helped make this experience feel smoother (or, as I generally refer to it - more LUXURY) than the first time around.
Setting up a baby area in a master bedroom
The thing that mostly influenced me in figuring out how to optimize our room for two adults and one baby was knowing that our baby would be in there temporarily. Unlike our last shared room where we were all moving out together, the goal here is to be able to migrate baby stuff to the kids' room and have our room go right back to being an adult room. Think of this as a bare-bones that meets-all-our-needs set up.
What you need for a baby in your bedroom
The only things you really need in a bedroom for a baby are a place for them to sleep and a changing station. Everything else is extra!
Somewhere to sleep - We initially had this bassinet in our room (which we love because it can be wheeled around wherever you want it!), but once that was outgrown moved on to a mini crib. We had originally planned to use our pack n' play after retiring the bassinet, but since we imagined this being a longer-term setup, went with a more permanent option, and we have really liked it!
A fully-stocked changing station - We put a changing pad on our dresser right by the drawer with all the diapering essentials and miscellaneous nighttime supplies (swaddles, jammies, etc.). Admittedly most diapering now takes place on a blanket on our bed because it is optimal height and it's just so convenient! Which is to say a changing station can happen wherever your supplies are - dedicated changing table or not.
Getting it ready
Make some room - One of the best things we did pre-baby was do a big purge of our room. Anything that wasn't being used was given away or went to live somewhere else in our home. An entire dresser drawer was cleared out and readied for dedicated baby stuff. Things we needed to have in our room were shuffled around to make the most use of our space.
Figure out what you need - I find it really helpful to sit down and think through all of the things you're planning to use your space for, then make a list of all the items you'll need to make those things happen. This list is key to a well-functioning room!
Organize - Once you have some space set aside for baby things, and have all the supplies you decided you need, it's time to figure out where everything will go. We kept almost all baby items in our room so they would be accessible whenever needed: Diapers, wipes, clothes, swaddles, toiletries, and burp rags all fit comfortably between a dresser drawer and my nightstand.
No matter how much space you have, having a storage system that works for you and your space will make life feel a lot more orderly.
What I've liked best in our shared master
Things that have worked well in this set up include:
The mini crib. It's been nice having a more permanent-feeling piece of furniture for longer-term room sharing. This has the same footprint as a pack-n-play, so fits really easily into a lot of places. Plus, it collapses for easy storage AND is on wheels, so we can just fold it up and wheel it away when the time comes for it to move out of our room. It also comes with a mini mattress which seems pretty comfortable.
A TV on the wall. Say what you will about a TV in the bedroom, sometimes you just need to watch some Seinfeld to stay awake through a middle-of-the-night feeding. Mounting our TV on the wall cleared up the whole dresser surface, and it's so satisfying to have the cords contained in a raceway. (This mounting kit is good!)
A camera monitor (that's not expensive!) - We initially got this camera for travel, but have had it set up in our room and it's been so nice to be able to keep an eye on Baby via our phones when we're playing outside during naps. It's also convenient for checking to make sure he's sound asleep before sneaking in at night. Image quality is really good, too!
Room sharing tips
WD-40 everything. If there's a baby sleeping in your room, you're probably going to have to do some sneaking in and out. I highly recommend getting the big bottle of WD-40, doing a walk through of your room, and blasting anything that squeaks. Has there been a night since our son's birth - even in my most exhausted state - where I've closed my bedroom door silently and haven't thought "wow, I'm so glad we did that"? I don't think so!
Get yourself a powerful fan. I'd like to name our very powerful fan the MVP in helping us all sleep soundly. Good white noise is key to having people not wake each other up while sleeping in close proximity!
Get a good nightlight. I am just as big a fan of this nightlight as I was with our first! Portable, easy-to-use, and dimmable. It's the total package. Overhead lighting can feel pretty abrasive when it's 3 AM, and this nightlight is just so fast and easy to turn on and off. It's one of my must-haves!
Have everything set up before bedtime. Because fumbling around in the dark for your phone charger is no fun. Have everything ready and easily accessible (chargers, chapstick, water, whatever you need!) before you turn the lights out.
Do your own turndown service. Having your bed all ready to hop into before putting your baby to bed will minimize blanket rustling. You never realize how loud moving a down comforter and fluffing pillows can be until you do it feet away from a sleeping baby!
Things that have made it luxury
Because we had a better idea of what to expect with a new baby and had more time/energy to be thoughtful with our set up than the first time around, things got a little luxury. Here are the things that have most drastically improved the day-to-day:
A comfy chair - Had enough space in our room for a chair and ottoman this time around and I LOVE IT. I did all night feedings with our first in our bed and it worked but - wow - hard to stay awake. A good chair set up is real nice.
Air pods - These have been a GAME CHANGER with a new baby. It's so nice to watch a show or listen to a podcast with no cords and without having to worry about the noise distracting the baby. I mostly watch/listen to things on my phone, but just a tip that if you have a Roku and the corresponding app, you can get TV audio to your air pods. Hooray for being cord-free and hands-free!
Controlling things with our phones. As a not-techy person, I'm amazed at how much these techy items improved my life. Being able to control the TV (also via the Roku), and turn the lamps/fan/space heater on and off (via these smartplugs) without having to get up - or even be in the room - and with no additional gadgets was LUXURY.
Babies make pretty great roommates. It's kind of like having a fun sleepover every night. But stay tuned for an (eventual) post on a shared nursery + toddler room once he moves out!