Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sharing a Room

Brothers share.
They share parents.
They share grandparents.
They share a house.
They share lots of things.
Our little brothers are going to share a room.
I'm not sure how in the world to make it work.

You remember the picture below...I'm scared of this times 2000.... in their room...

I'm writing this post to solicit your help.

Eli wakes up at night and cries for a bottle. I don't want it to make Finn wide awake, since  he sleeps like a champ.  But, I think Eli needs some consistency.  So i don't want to start him in our room...and then make him move later.  I'm also not sure if I should let him cry it out, since CLEARLY an almost 18 month old does not NEED a bottle in the night.  I really don't know because I don't want to feed into his already confused mind about whether we will provide for him or not.  But let's be honest, he doesn't need a middle of the night feeding.  Maybe he will drop it once he has proper nutrition anyway.

Have you had kids that shared a room? What did you do when the baby came home?  Did you keep them with you? Your answer is even more appreciated if you have adopted, but either way your thoughts would help me!  (because you can't let an adopted child cry like you might be able to let a biological child cry, who already trusts you and knows you will meet his/her needs, after many months...)

Also a real stumper...Eli likes real food.  He takes a bottle at night (and in the middle of the night) But he doesn't like anything added to it. So he likes these weird noodles. We tried to add sweet potato...forget it!  He hates baby food texture.  He is if you were would you begin the food thing when you got home? 

This is called the "I am not sure what to do with a toddler, please help me" post :)
I am going to figure it out. He is sweet...
But I figure the more prepared I am, the less tears will ensue while I figure it out, from all of us :)
gray ric rac copy


  1. Hi Brooke, I haven't commented in awhile and I don't have direct advice, being as I only have one baby. But living in an apartment in the city - this topic comes up a lot. If we have more kids, they will share rooms. A mom's list serve I'm a part of recently had a thread on room sharing. I'm posting the response below.

    As for the food - if he's already eating real food and things with texture, I wouldn't back track to baby food. We've been giving Simon real food since about 8 months. You should be able to give him anything you are eating. Since he won't be used to some of your food maybe offer a variety of things to taste along with one thing you know he will eat.

    One more note on sleep - I have a friend who adopted two toddlers last year. They share a room. And she said the first 6 weeks were like having a newborn with the constant waking. But they figured it out.

    Response from a room sharing mom:
    > "I can't echo what Angie says enough -- just do it. They will need time to adjust to each other--but over time, the child
    > will sleep through some of the baby's noise and vice versa. I'm often shocked how my younger child (Vivian) slept
    > through the older child's (Bertram) night terrors. Likewise, Bertram now sleeps through Vivian's inability to settle easily
    > at night--she often LOUDLY sings and tells stories to herself to go to sleep.
    > First, I always had newborn Vivian take naps --when she wasn't sleeping in the Ergo! -- in her crib in Bertram's room.
    > To the extent a newborn can get used to surroundings, I tried to make it familiar. When Vivian was 4 mos old, I moved
    > her into 2 year old Bertram's room. At the time, she stayed up later than her brother. I had Vivian go through bedtime
    > routine with her brother, and then put Bert to bed. Then baby Vivian stayed up with me for her last nursing and then I
    > put her down. Bert had a nightlight, and Vivi didn't seem phased by more or less light in her night time sleeping
    > environs.
    > If your older child stays up later, I would recommend doing bedtime routine in your room or living room and then
    > taking that child to the bedroom with the baby. One thing my older child learned quickly was silence or whisper voice
    > around a sleeping baby! Maybe you could do a few practice rounds with your older child -- coming into the darkened
    > bedroom and using a whisper voice.
    > What I would urge you to do is not "cave in" during the two to four bad sleeping nights you might have as your kids
    > learn to adjust to this new setting. And there will be dark moments when both kids are crying and you question what
    > the heck are you doing??? I've seen parents who ended up sleeping in the living room while the baby sleeps in their
    > room and the older child sleeps in his/her room. Be strong.
    > Rachel F. (mom to Bertram 5 and Vivi 3, now excellent sleeping buddies)"

    Good luck! And so excited you finally get to bring Eli home!

  2. Hi Brooke, I too read all the time but have not commented....let me first say this is the most beautiful thing to watch you all navigate. You are ALL so blessed to have each other! I have a 7 yr old and a 3 yr old, and I would say (my sone, the 3 yr old) woke to nurse until after two yrs old, he is intense in all ways, intensely sweet, funny and crazy!) and with Eli, he really is being "newly born" , really starting his forever life. So I would say to go to him and feed him in the night at first. For starters, this is his routine and in a routine that is about to be turned upside down ( for the good!) I would hold on to this price until he is more settled. Waking in the night is one thing but waking in the night in a new house, new room, etc is, IMO, not the time to cry it out. Same if Finn were to start waking as he adjusts to a new brother, or if you moved to a new house. From experience I know hat 18 month olds waking is to see if you're going to come in how long they need to cry and fuss until you come....and for a bio child who you knows knows you will come,it is one thing to cry it out, but Eli on some level needs the wake up...doesn't ness. Need the milk, but the cuddle or reassurance, work on this later, I say. And I think you will be surprised how Finn will learn to sleep thru his brothers Wakings after a bit, we are always surprised when we go away and our kids have to share a room and sleep thru each others waking. Good luck. Most of all, trust your Mama intuition, even if it not what we or the books say!

  3. Hey Brooke! You might remember when I was in Ethiopia Zaidee would wake up once in the night for a bottle (all 4 weeks.) Well the first couple nights home were ruff because of the time change, then the next couple nights she'd wake up, but after that she just started sleeping through the night! I don't know if it was from the security or not hearing other babies wake up. Also I just give Zaidee whatever we are eating. I have a portable food grinder that you can take with you wherever, but Eli can probably chew most of it.

    Hey, one of the workers at the transitional house wanted me to tell you she's having a BOY!

  4. I completely agree with the other two. In short, the siblings will learn to sleep through each other's cries (even their shrieks, as Vincent and Silas have proven). I think this is because they don't feel that inherent need to provide for the crier the way a parent does.
    You could take the approach of phasing Eli into his new routine. It's the same concept of slowly introducing the unfamiliar (as suggested by a previous poster) while still providing what seems familiar. Like with the formula, slowly add increasingly more milk (or whatever new liquid you're going to chose) to the serving until you have more of the new than the old.
    In the same way, I would let him keep his routine of waking during the night, and decreasing the amount of milk you put in each time, and after maybe a week of being home, stop giving him the bottle when you go to him. And then when he wakes just go to him, hold him, maybe sing a quiet song in the dark (always in the don't want to wake him up completely!). Then after a week of that, just go to him while he's in his crib. Rub his back, sing to him from there (with Vince I even leaned over and sort of hugged him while he lay there calming down, but that was in the days of drop-side cribs; it's a little harder if you don't have a drop-side crib). Then, just let that time you spend with him get increasingly shorter. You're still responding, still giving him that reassurance that you're there, but training him to go quickly back to sleep.
    Also, regarding your perceived "FAIL" (I know that was all tongue-in-cheek, because you haven't failed at ANYTHING) with him crying for an hour before falling asleep, ALL my kids (and a majority of others, as I have read) go through a brief fussy moment (or moments) right before they fall asleep. Have you ever been so tired, that your body just ached with energy? They get that way several times a day, depending on their schedule (this is why we LOVE keeping them in their little routines!). So don't be surprised when both your boys do that; Sometimes they NEED those moments to let all the parts of their bodies sort of relax and go into that sleep mode.
    Brooke (and Brandon), you are AMAZING. A-MAZING, I say! You are a success, and an inspiration to boot! Thank you for sharing your journey.

  5. I am just going to warn is going to be CRAZY the first few months (particularly with night waking). Prepare yourself. I know you have as much as possible, but when you are in the thick of it, please remind yourself that HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT, and it will get better.

    Asa did the same thing. Waking up every 1.5 hours to eat but then would only take an ounce and then be up again. It was maddening. We put water in the bottle. We did not really feed him. We had to do that for months. The other boys finally got used to him screaming bloody murder in the middle of the night and eventually were able to sleep through it for the most part. Finn will probably get used to it, but it might be a while.

    I would caution against "crying it out." We tried doing that with Asa some because honestly I was so frustrated with him waking up every hour, on top of having to get up and feed a newborn every 2 hours. But, making him cry it out didn't help. It just took time, and eventually he went longer and longer without waking up. And we were able to loose the bottle of water all together.

    He has been home 2 years and still wakes up screaming at least once in the middle of the night. However, we finally gave him some melatonin each night before bed (after trying everything we could think of), and that has significantly reduced the night wakings. I am not suggesting that you do that for Eli at this point, but just that that was what worked for Asa after being home over 18 months.

    With Aiden, he was 2 when we brought him home and was not really waking up to eat or anything. But he did wake up some. We comforted him and pointed to Noah sleeping in the bed next to his. It calmed him down to know that he was not alone in the room.

    Having a night light and some background noise will also be helpful. This is something they are used to because in the orphanages they sleep with multipule children in the room with them. The extra noise in the room might also help Finn sleep through Eli waking up. You can also try to get Eli attached to a comfort item at night. For Asa we use a very heavy blanket and a little monkey stuffed animal. It seems to help him having the weight on him plus the animal to snuggle.

    Hope that helps you. After trying so much, that has been what worked with our children.

  6. I would for sure let him keep the bottle. I know some parents even let a 3 or 4 year old go back to a bottle for bonding/attachment purposes. I don't think it can hurt anything. And you can always wean him off it later :) I would also just try to feed him whatever you are eating if he doesn't like baby food. Our oldest was on regular table food by around 12 months. You could look into the book "Baby Led Weaning" for tips on good starter foods. Just use your Mama instincts and you'll figure it out :)

  7. I setup separate rooms for my boys (now 4 and 6) but they always prefer to sleep in the same room together. There is security in numbers. :)
    I know some will disagree with me, and these are just my opinions - and those I read about in "Happiest Baby on the Block" - but, I never let my babies cry it out. Never. As noted in the book, babies cry for a reason. Sometimes that reason may simply be, "I am tired and cranky." In your case it may be, "I don't know you people yet." Sometimes it may be something we are unaware of. Soothing them immediately lets them learn to trust us and know that we are here to care for them regardless of the reason. Ignoring them can make them cry even more or it can condition them to stop responding to what is bothering them with crying, but I don't consider that "self soothing" as some other methods indicate. I feel it just makes it easy for the parent, and I am not looking for the easy way out, I am looking for what is best for my children. This book said that if you quickly attend to a crying baby, they learn to cry less as they trust you will come to sooth them or solve their problem. I *always* found this to be true with my boys.
    Besides which, they will quit crying and and relying on you soon enough, as time flies by in a blink. And when they are older and cry/throw fits, it is a whole different ballgame. Then you can leave them to cry in their room! :)

  8. For food stuff, when I'm stumped with Charlie (who has 4 teeth but has been serious about no baby food since he was 7 months old), I feed him Baby Mum Mums. I have a feeling he'll really like these.
    Not tons of nutritional value, but they're a good snack to help hold him over. Food is tricksy for all toddlers, let alone one from another country altogether! Good luck! Love you guys!

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  10. Disclaimer: I'm speaking from Mark and my experience with our kids. I am of the belief that if a baby cries for milk at night, they need it, whether they need it for comfort or for food. So, if he's crying at night, I'd give him the bottle. I agree with what you said, too, about him getting better nutrition and perhaps not needing that feeding at night. Or maybe he still will. Maybe he'll need to wake up and know that you are still there. My kids have been night nursers for long after society says it's unacceptable for a baby not to sleep through the night. We just listened to what was best for our family and what our instincts told us about our kids.

    Also, I'd probably do baby-led weaning, since that worked for Solomon anyway. It's way easier so I'd just put out the foods and let him experiment and get nutrition that way. It's easier than forcing it on him and gives him a bit of something he can control, which I suspect will be helpful for a little guy who is having so many changes.

    You'll make this work. God will provide you the instincts to help you through it. He's your child and you'll have the perfect knowledge of how to parent him.

  11. Okay. I have NO advice. Other than this: Before you even started on the road to adoption, God had yours(You and B) AND Eli's AND Finn's lives all mapped out. He gave this baby to you. You ARE his momma and whatever decision you make about food and sleeping, etc. will be what works best for the Whitis family! You are a good momma! Trust that God is working all of this out ahead of time and is with you in your decisions. Saying big prayers for you and the boys! Looking forward to lots of blogging reading adventures to come!! :)

  12. Rachel Matheis ShaverJune 11, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    Brooke -

    A friend of mine just brought their baby girl home from Ethiopia - about the same age as Eli. She does wake up every night... They have had her on pedialyte (sp.?) and a lot of whole foods... rice, cut up peaches, pineapple, mango, and avocado... she likes real food (nothing processed) because that's what she ate a lot of at the orphanage... so at night, if she is hungry, they give her pedialyte. I have no idea if that helps you or not... just what she says...

  13. Ah, lady! What a sweet problem to have. We each learn what each of our children needs as we get to know them, no matter their age. Give yourself a loose plan, then give yourself (and your boys) grace. God's got this. You're a family. Family's have kinks. And they work them out.

    And thus concludes the least helpful comment ever. :)

    PS-Start him in the room. If he needs to come into yours, work with him. Then move him back. Then adjust. You've GOT this. It's just the extra time to think that's intimidating. Any boy with that much love coming his way is going to thrive!

  14. Hello Sweetest Friend. You've already gotten lots of wise counsel, so I won't add my two cents here {I have a couple of thoughts, but we'll talk later}. Kiddos {well...people} need LOVE more than schedules or routines or perfection and you and Brandon are so good at loving big! In a few weeks, months, years {God knows every detail of your journey!}, you'll look back and think, "Oh, it worked out! Eli's sleeping. Finn's sleeping. We're sleeping {praise Jesus!}...I wonder how that happened!" :)

  15. Brooke,

    You're right on about the attachment piece... you'll probably want to make an extra effort to soothe him, etc., and not try anything that tests his trust right away. That being said, you are ALSO right about an 18-month-old not actually needing a middle-of-the-night feeding. I like Kristy's suggestion of giving him water in a bottle instead of formula or whatever, and concentrating his actual feedings during daytime so that his body can adjust to taking in all his nutrition in the daytime. Once his body adjusts to not expecting food in the middle of the night (because the water meets the "attention" need but not the "food" expectation) AND he gets used to whatever bedtime routine you're teaching, he'll be able to gradually phase out the midnight feeding. I also think you're right in your sense that starting him in his room is best, but you might have to get up and sit in the living room or something with him when he wakes to let your other boy sleep. At any rate, I'm sure they'll both adjust to being able to sleep through each other's cries and noises soon enough, so the waking each other up business should be a relatively transitory thing.

    You're doing great already and I'm sure you'll figure it out as you go! I always recommend "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley as one of the gentlest sleep method books out there. You might find it to be a good alternative to the cry-it-out method for a child who's still developing attachment relationships.

  16. Brooke, ultimately, you and Brandon and Eli will come together and have many fails and successes before, routine will ensue and he will get comfortable, for now it will be bumpy, the main thing I would say, is just keep him close and let him cling to you and bond. If he needs to sleep with yall, then let him, you can get him in a room later he just needs to know he is secure, and it may take away from Finn some, but Eli's needs are greater at the moment. Finn knows where he belongs, Eli is starting that process. I think I have said before that having Finn, will help Eli relax some. Kids really do comfort each other, even when they can;t talk to each other. When you get him to your pediatrician at home, he can help you with food choices too, When I got MaryElle home she was 17 months old and a very picky eater. even more so, because she was now with strange people in a strange world, I would take a muffin tin, and put lots of different choices in it, put it down on the coffee table and let her go to it when she wanted. SHe would pick, and eat a little, sometimes she would dump it, but at least she was eating and wasn't feeling pressure. A few times I tried to make her eat cause, I would be worried she wasn't getting nourished, but she just got upset, so we opted to just make the food available, then let her choose.....after several months, she felt better, she would start eating meals with all of us and started eating more. It just takes time.....Even though, you are who God planned for Eli, He is still going to grieve the change in his life. Sleeping, eating etc....will be a struggle for now, but God is in control, and in the details. I am praying for yall right now.