Room sharing can be a daunting task, especially for toddlers and babies. My goal is to help prepare you for when your children do share a room OR give you some ideas to implement if you already have made the transition.
It’s important to remember that with any transition or change in our children’s lives, there may be a period where life feels tough, and that’s ok! Allow your children time to figure out each other’s sleep patterns and noises, so they can learn to become great at sleeping together.
1️. Sleep Rules Expectations & Preparation
Having a family meeting with your children (if age appropriate) PRIOR to making the transition can be helpful. Create a few simple sleep rules to follow each night, and always have them verbalize the rules before going to bed. Examples of sleep rules are: “I will close my eyes”, “I will stay in bed” and “I will lay quietly”. Having these rules written out on paper and displayed on the wall (or bathroom mirror) can be helpful to help remind and reinforce your expectations for the night. Next, it can be helpful to spend time preparing the space where your children will sleep. Look at the room and think through all the scenarios, i.e. What happens if a child is sick? Will my child be napping in the room? Will my toddler be having a quiet time? Will the kids be going to bed at the same time? Is the room safe for my toddler? Take the time to address these questions and scenarios.
Darkness is something I recommend for all sleep spaces, especially if a child is currently struggling with their sleep (i.e., night wakes or short naps). Prior to moving children together, it’s important to take note if one child uses a night light, and how that may impact your other child’s sleep. Using a red night light will have the least impact on sleep and would be a great option if you have a toddler and baby sharing. You may also choose to purchase a SlumberPod and set it up over a playpen until your baby is ready to sleep with a night light. Lastly, you could position the crib and nightlight in a way that the light is out of view for your baby. Play around with the room setup and different blackout solutions to find the best fit for your children.
3. Solid Sleep Skills
Before moving your children together, it can be extremely helpful to make sure they have solid sleep skills. When I refer to solid sleep skills, I am talking about the ability to fall asleep on their own so that when they wake in the night (i.e.older sibling going the bathroom) they are confident in how to put themselves back to sleep. Please know that It is NOT necessary for a baby to be sleeping through the night before room sharing. However, knowing that your baby has the skills to fall back asleep after a quick feeding in the night will make the transition much smoother for both you and your children.
4. Prep for Bedtime
Depending on the age of your children, you may need a staggered bedtime. A 3.5-year-old who has recently dropped their nap may need an earlier bedtime, compared to a 2-year-old taking a daily afternoon snooze. Another scenario could be a 5-month-old taking three daily naps which pushes bedtime closer to 7:45/8 pm, sharing with a toddler going to bed at 7 pm. If you find your children require different bedtimes, make sure to grab ALL the items needed for the bedtime routine out of the room (i.e. sleep sack, diaper, books, pajama’s) for the child with the later bedtime.
5. Room Divider
Dividing the room in half can provide a feeling of ownership of their sleep space, especially for older children. It may also help minimize the bedtime chit-chat that can happen late into the night. You could put a curtain through the room, a bookshelf (i.e. IKEA Kallax unit), or go as far as putting a track system in. We have used the SlumberPod as a room divider and it works extremely well. You can check out SlumberPod here. Make sure to use my discount code YOURSLEEPSTORY$20 to take $20 off your purchase! Whichever option you choose, they all serve the same purpose!
6. White Noise Machines
I HIGHLY recommend implementing at least one white noise machine. Depending on the age of your children you could use one machine per child. The main purpose of white noise is to create a buffer between external noise and your sleeping child. The white noise is also a consistent cue that it’s time for sleep. When choosing the placement of your white noise machine, ensure that it is placed between your child and the potential noise (i.e. place the machine between your children, or between your child and the door). Once you have the placement of your white noise machine, download a FREE app that allows you to check the decibel output. Ensure the machine is no louder than 50-65dB to prevent hearing damage. Lastly, check to make sure the white noise machine plays deep and consistent white noise (i.e. no raindrops, birds chirping, or timers!).
All the best as you prepare for the transition! Reach out if you need support through the process.