How to Share a Room

Jill Bertelsen

Sleep training on its own can be difficult, and adding a sibling can make it a little more tricky. As much as we love having siblings they can put a damper on the progress that we have made with our child’s sleep if we aren’t careful. In this blog I want to address how to prepare for a second kid and how to introduce siblings to the idea of sharing a room.

You have a whole nine months to prepare for your next little one, but your toddler does not usually comprehend what is coming. If you are going to move your toddler out of the crib and into a bed so that you have a crib for your baby, I would recommend doing this at least 5 to 6 months before your due date. This way your toddler does not feel displaced and that the new baby is taking their things, but instead feels accomplished that they are in a “big kid bed.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend for the first 6-12 months of life to have your newborn in the same room as the parents, but their own sleep space (like a bassinet next to the parents’ bed). This is not only the safety recommendations, but it is also ideal to be able to teach your younger child to be a stronger sleeper before introducing kids to sharing the same room.

You can teach your younger child to sleep better before bringing them into the siblings room. Once they are old enough to be sleep trained (average about 6 months) you can put up a sheet in your room around the crib so they can’t see you. As they learn to have their own space in the parents room and complete sleep training there, the transition goes much better.

When you feel they are ready to share rooms I would recommend having a family meeting. Family meetings can be wonderful. You can talk to the older child and explain that their baby sibling is still learning how to sleep and they need your good example of how to sleep. This will help them take ownership and if the younger baby wakes up you can just remind them that they are still learning and it is a way to make the older child feel included in the process.

But some of you may ask, what if the children are already sharing rooms and you need to sleep train one or both while sharing rooms? There is not a “solve all” solution to this, but some ideas would be to move them to different spaces while they are being sleep trained (about 2 weeks) and then bring them together. Maybe the younger one could be in a walk in closet of the parents room, or in the toy room, or in the parents’ room with a sheet up so they don’t see the parents. After they are both sleep trained you could bring them back to the same room. Another suggestion would be to do the sleep shuffle (click link here to learn how) This would allow you to sleep train while taking care of both childrens’ needs. Whichever you decide to do, it is essential to be consistent. Children, especially toddlers, can tell when you are not consistent and will capitalize on these hesitations.

Sleep training two or even introducing a second child to a room can be difficult and throw our schedules off for a bit. Just try to be as consistent as possible in your older childs’ routine, and when it gets thrown off don’t get frazzled. The transition to having a sibling can be an enjoyable one!

To recap:

  • Move older child from crib about 6 months before baby is born
  • See if you can sleep train the baby in the parents’ room and then move them together
  • Hold a family meeting and explain to your children what is happening and help the older one feel like they are contributing by helping their younger sibling out
  • If you already have children sharing rooms, see if you can split them up while sleep training, or do the shuffle method

I hope this helps! If you have further questions about this subject, feel free to comment below and I would love to answer them.

Thank you!