Sharing A Room

  • Print

Park Slope Parents members share advice on successful cohabitation between siblings, including tips on preparing for a room share and troubleshooting if things go awry with the new roommates.

allen-taylor-dAMvcGb8Vog-unsplash


Preparing for a Room Share

 

Question:

"We have a ~5-month-old and a 2-year-old and we're hoping that one day soon we can make them roommates. We are also hopeful that we will all continue sleeping most of the night after we bunk them up.

Have any of you already made this move? Any tips?"

 

Advice from PSP members:

"Our two boys have been sharing a room since my baby was 5 months and consistently sleeping through the night (or until at least 5 am-ish). We haven't had any issues so far! We call it a 'Sleepover with P.' and my 2 year old loves this saying. We also have told him that when / if P. is crying, we can sing to him or say something like 'it's ok P., I'm here.' Our baby's crib is closest to the door just in case I need to get him in the early AM as he still sometimes wakes before 6 AM. Otherwise no matter when they get up I go in at 7 AM to get them. We also cranked up the sound machine a bit and it sits in between their cribs. We don't nap them together as nap sleep feels too precious / lighter REM than nighttime, so my baby naps in a pack n play in our room."

---

"Toddlers and preschoolers can sleep with a good deal of noise surprisingly. It’s easier if your older child is in a crib and if wakened may fuss but will more easily return to sleep than if they could get out of bed. We have a 4.5 year old and he is the problem now so baby is sleeping n a travel crib."

---

"Our almost 3y old (Jan-18 baby) and almost 6m old (May-20 baby) are sharing a room since September. It's not totally seamless but it's been working fine. I think one big factor is how deep of a sleeper each kid is and how easily they go back to sleep. For us, the toddler sleeps decently through sounds, but once awake, it's a nightmare getting him back to sleep, particularly after 4am. The baby is an extremely light sleeper, same as me, so basically any loud signs wake her up. Not the best. Most nights though, they both sleep from 7-7:30pm through 6-6:30am with no hitches. We have adjusted our usual CIO response based on the above realization re: sleep quality - it's not worth sticking to CIO if, for example, the baby will be back to sleep but then the toddler will be wide awake. Some things that worked for us:

1) kept the bassinet in our room for emergency transfers - we had to do that a few times during the 4m regression, where we swooped the baby out of the room as soon as she started crying and brought her in ours to limit disruptions for big brother. It's been now a full month since we've done that so I think we'll retire it soon.
2) create a bedtime routine that gets them both in bed at the same time - bath starts first for toddler, and as he is wrapping up we do a quick bath for baby and then pajamas for all. Then we all say goodnight, big brother gives a nose boop (more fun than kissing and therefore a giggle moment) to the baby, and we turn the lights out and leave. If anyone is settling we give them 10min before we go back in to adjust and usually it's quiet by then.
3) white noise volume way up to drown any little sounds
4) if anyone is up before 5:30am, we try to get everyone back to bed via whatever method possible, but if it's after 5:30am, we just leave it be. We don't get them out of the room unless someone is actively crying though until like 6:30-7am. Most mornings, the baby starts cooing in bed around 6am, and we let her do that for a while - the toddler wakes up usually around then too anyway.
5) morning routine is set around natural preferences - our toddler likes to wake up slowly and "read" books in his bed, so we let him hang out as long as he needs to while I take the baby out of the room and nurse BUT I make his breakfast first and have it out for him so that he can come eat whenever (I realize that makes him sound like a diva, but he seems to have inherited my bad attitude in the AM so we pull all the stops)
6) during naps we make sure big brother is out of the room and engaged in something, and he doesn't nap anymore so we don't have to coordinate. When they both napped, we put him down first and then the baby, as he would babble and keep her up.

Good luck! I expected, based on personality, that my son would have a big issue sharing with the baby, but it actually turned out totally fine - he's been 100% ok with the baby in his old crib and in his room, and he loves his big boy bed."

---

"I don't have much advice here other than I think it takes time and there will always be hiccups.

We moved our daughter into her brother's room when she was 6mos and he was 3.5yo.
She still woke up 2-3 times a night, but he quickly started sleeping through her wakes ups, which was reassuring. (Initially he would wake up and tell me I needed to feed her more, and then go back to sleep. helpful).

But after a little while we worried that I was running in there too quickly, so she would never really learn to self-soothe -- meaning we moved her back into our room with me, my husband is in the guest room (v lucky to have an extra room) for me to let her cry a little longer and potentially go to sleep with some back rubbing and not nursing, but now it's been over a month of this arrangement and we're gearing up to moving her back into the 'kid' room because I'm not doing a great job of getting her to sleep through anyway.

I've talked to several other moms who say exactly what I've been thinking, which is that it's nearly impossible to let the baby cry for any period of time without worrying you're going to wake up the whole house. So either naturally or because of this, she's just a worse sleeper than he was at this age. So on that front, I don't have any great tips, but I have faith we'll get there eventually with her sleeping and they'll be happy little roomies.

The only other things I will add is that the baby needed a darker room than the older one at first. So we had to phase out some brighter nightlights and that was helpful for both to stay asleep a bit.
I do like the suggestion of a sound machine, that makes sense, even though we've tried to avoid them thus far.

Most recently my older one has started waking early and coming to my room or going potty by himself (yay!) but then coming to get me to wipe him (okaay), so am a little worried he's going to start waking her up (she would happily sleep until 7am + after her last night wake, whenever that is. And normally he'd also sleep til 7, especially after a school day)... But for now, I think we just need to roll with whatever happens."

---

"Our older kiddo is quite a bit older (5.5 now while little guy is 11 months). Our main tactic for times when we anticipate the little one crying (sleep training, etc) has been moving our older daughter, thanks to suggestions made by other PSP. It has worked best for us to have her go to sleep in her room with the baby, so they both stay used to that routine, and then we move her to an air mattress in our living room when we go to bed. She stays mostly asleep during the transfer and finishes out her night there and that way I can feel free to let the baby cry a little more if necessary.

However, we do definitely have the issue of keeping our older daughter in her bed. Sounds mundane and silly but I do a lot of making VERY clear that the expectation is that she stay in her bed in her room (except for needing to use the bathroom, etc). When just saying this in a very serious tone is not enough (99% of the time), I set up whatever consequence for coming out of her room I think will work. Right now we have a graded system where if she comes out once she won't get something the next day that she wants, if she comes out twice, the consequence is larger, etc. I have to change the consequences all the time to whatever will really motivate her at the moment to stay in her room. For my daughter there is an anxiety component as well as the limit-testing component, so in addition to the consequence for the limit- testing part I try to also address her anxiety. She collaborates with me and we come up with solutions that will make her more comfortable that I don't mind doing- like leaving their door slightly more open until she falls asleep, leaving a small light on in the living room when we go to bed, maybe checking on her once or twice.

Good luck to everyone. For some other perspective- I grew up sharing a room with my sister in a small NYC apartment and loved it."

 

Troubleshooting Room-Sharing Difficulties

 

Question:

We recently transferred our 8 month old daughter from the pack and play in our bedroom to her crib in our older daughter's room (she's almost 3). She was sleeping through the night for about a week, and continued to do so for about another week or so after we moved her.  Now, I think she's teething so she's having a harder time sleeping (and is up nearly every 2 hours) but whereas before I would have let her cry it out a bit I feel like I need to rush in when I hear her, so that she doesn't start screaming and wake up my toddler. Not sure it makes sense to move her back into our room to get back on the sleeping schedule, but just wondering how other people handled this
transition to sharing a room.

Also, our toddler has a bad bedtime habit that's driving me crazy, especially now since they're both in the same room (she was doing it before too). After I put her down, she comes out of her room consistently, sits on the top step, and waits for me to come tuck her back in. I give her warnings, I take away her doll and bear, and
still, she keeps coming out. I even tried not saying anything for awhile and just putting her back in bed so as not to draw too much attention. Now I worry about her waking the baby if she starts to throw a fit.

Basically, bedtime has become a nightmare before they're even asleep - it takes forever and is wearing me out. Any suggestions?

 

Advice from PSP members:

“We're in a similar situation to you- our 3.5 yr old daughter and 22 mo old son share a room. We haven't found the perfect answer yet but here are some ideas:

1. I put the eldest one in her bed first. If I put the younger one in first, and then the elder, the younger freaks out. So I have to put him in best last and then leave immediately.

2. So I read my daughter a story or two and sing some songs, put her on the potty next to her bed one last time. She sleeps with a diaper on. I do say that if she has to go in the middle of the night she should go on the potty but she's usually dry in the morning. Meanwhile my younger one is just playing in the room or comes to the listen to the story.

3. I tuck in my daughter, make sure she has her cuddly toy, nightlight on. I say if she has a bad dream she should try not to wake up her brother but come and find me. I say if she's really quiet, her brother will go to sleep quickly and when he's asleep I'll come back to give her an extra cuddle. I rarely do this as she falls asleep by the time he does.

4. I put my son in his sleepsack so he can't climb out of his crib. I check his diaper and sing him a few songs, put him in his crib and leave, leaving the door slightly ajar. Since we came back from our holiday I had to re- sleep train him but it took one night of him screaming for an hour.

5. If I hear my daughter crying out because of a nightmare in the night I get to her ASAP before she wakes up her brother. If I'm too late and he wakes up and sees me there I'm stuck patting him back to sleep after I've calmed my daugther down. Ugh.

6. My daughter can sleep through my son's crying as I sleeptrained him while she was in the room. She knows it doesn't last very long once I'm with him. It continually surprises me what she can sleep through.

7. As for my daugher staying in bed- I wouldn't punish her for coming out but reward her for staying in! E.g. pancakes for breakfast if she stayed in all night...”

---

We made it a very exciting thing for our daughter when her little brother finally started sharing their room. (I think he was about 3 or 4 months old). granted, for several months he ended up back in our bed at night because it was easier for me to nurse him in our bed. but he went to sleep in their room and she considered the room theirs -- not hers. when he woke up and cried, she rarely woke up too. she'd just roll over and go back to sleep. our pediatrician says this is common -- older siblings just ignore the crying and sleep...”

---

“My two daughters started sharing a room when they were 5 mos and 2.5 years. The 2.5 year old loved the company and younger sis worships older sis, so she was thrilled as well. So preparing big sister to share her room was not an issue for us at all. However, it can get tricky with middle of the night feedings, but luckily my older daughter seems to sleep through pretty much anything except a nightmare. And if she does get woken up she's back to sleep in a matter of minutes. Even so, there was still a fair amount of musical beds being played in our house in the interest of everyone getting a decent night of sleep. It took us about six months to master the situation. Right now we have synchronized their bed times and if the younger one awakens in the night (usually every night), we let her cry herself back to sleep and my older daughter doesn't seem to mind. When they wake up in the morning they keep each other entertained for a little while which is great. The biggest problem we've encountered is my toddler climbing into her sister's crib in the morning. And I'm afraid I never did find a way around that. We've probably had an easier time with this than most, but in the end, I think most young children love having a sibliing to share a room with because they're not alone and it ends up being fun most of the time. )”

---

In my family I think it just comes down to being firm together with simple explanations. Our daughter was 2 when her 3 mo old brother moved in. She very quickly learnt to sleep through his crying, especially when we sleeptrained him at 6 months. She wakes him up, though, very easily- e.g. when she cries when she's ill. I explained to her that she would never be lonely at night and that she was lucky to share a room.”

--- 

“You should definitely invest in a white noise machine to put between the crib and the bed. Also, try staggering the bedtimes or putting them down at the same time. Staggering the bedtimes allows the first child to settle down into a deep sleep before the next one goes down. But sometimes having the same bedtime is a good way for them to bond and get used to sharing a room.

My two children (almost 5 and 2.2) have shared a room since the younger was 3 months old . The arrangement has worked out fine but there are some kinks on occasion. Here's what we have done: When the younder was moved into her room at 3 months he was already sleeping through the night from 11pm to 6am. (it's true). But then we moved his bedtime coincide with hers (8pm), knowing that there would be some protest cries. We simply told my older daugther that if she heard him that she would just have to stay in her bed, and usually she was so exhausted she just zoned him out. Sometimes she would complain that he was keeping her up, but he sleep trained early because we didn't give in my going in constantly to check on him.

Now that my older daughter has started kindergarten, she too is very clingy at bedtime and wants me to stay in the room. I've been firm, and have told her to think about all the fun things that we're going to do together tomorrow if she's well rested. I also give her a baby doll to sleep with that she nurses with a bottle. It seems to work!”

---

“I went to a workshop a while ago on designing kids' spaces (bedrooms, play spaces, study spaces). One point they made was that it's important for each child to have his/her own private space within the shared room. They talked about one family (dad was an architect) who built 2 loft beds with a private reading and study space for each child under the bed, with a curtain the child can close. They also mentioned using bookcases and other sorts of furniture to divide the space. They said shared bedroom can work very well.”