Thursday, November 30, 2006

Putting Baby in the Room With Older Siblings

When my husband and I purchased our house, with our newest addition a few centimeters long and not yet moving enough to feel it, we decided that she (we now know) would not need her own room. Instead we bought a 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom bungalow with a nice-sized yard. Our intention then was that the baby would share a room with our one-year-old until we built the upstairs addition to the house.

I can hear you laughing now. To our credit, the upstairs actually is already there. When the house was built in 1938, families required less space. The couple who owned the house for 60 years had no children, and they left the 800-square foot attic as, well, an attic. The attic is a nice space, great for a huge family room. In our case, however, we are converting it to two bedrooms and one bathroom, which will add massive value to our home but keep it within the price range for our neighborhood.

Now, here we are a few months later, and our daughter is kicking and punching at every turn. Her mom and dad are ready for her to be here, and we have done nothing on the upstairs yet. Last weekend we finally had to deal with the whole concept of putting the kids in the same room. Putting baby in the room with an older sibling presents a couple of problems.

The first dilemma is what to do with the nursery-type stuff you will have. Our son has a transitional crib and a huge changing table. In retrospect, purchasing a huge changing table was a terrible idea, but at the time, it seemed like a sound one. We now are stuck with this 48 inch-long table (now converted to a dresser-shelf combo). Then, of course, our son will get a twin bed, which will be large as well.

That left us with little room for the baby and her things. We are getting a new changing table, not so much for the changing but for the nifty shelving unit. This unit is much smaller and will be the perfect spot to hold baskets of small baby items. The second time around, we know more of what we actually use and what just looked nice in the stores. We also are getting the baby a dresser from the get-go. With our son, we thought that we would use all of the shelves along the changing table, but we have learned that once an older baby begins getting around, those shelves are no longer sacred ground. Everything on them comes off at every turn, which means that getting a dresser for an infant is an important purchase.

Once we dealt with what to get, we had to begin to think about how to fit both the baby and the toddler in one room so that both of them will be safe. That dilemma is a bit of a challenge since the room has windows, doors, and closets that take up space as well. In the end, we determined that the kids will get our room for the next year or so (incentive to hop on the upstairs project) because the space is better suited for both children. We have opted, of course, not to put either child by the windows. A window bed is okay for adults, but for babies, it poses all types of safety hazards. That means that we had to place the beds first because there are the most safety issues involved there.

Then we had to try to place the baby items as close to the crib as possible and the same with the toddler. While it is not as imperative for a toddler who can move lightning fast anyway, it is vital for the baby. Nighttime feeding and changing is made much easier when you are able to grab everything quickly (and even when you are still half-asleep!). Putting the necessary baby items as close to the baby as possible means that you will be able to change her and go back to bed without much hassle. It also makes it easier than gathering supplies when you need them. Overall, we are pleased with our bedroom plans for the little ones, but we have learned that putting the baby in the room with older siblings can be a bit of an organizational challenge.

By Brandi Rhoades

No comments: