Sibling Room Sharing: Your Questions Answered

Infant Sleep · Sleep Safety · Toddler Sleep

Room sharing can be an opportunity for siblings to have a special bond in their early years. Maybe you grew up sharing a room with a sibling and you want your kids to experience the same benefits you did. Or maybe you just don’t live in a mansion and it makes the most sense in your space! For many parents the question is not whether, but how, to successfully get siblings to room share.

When it comes to putting both kids down for the night in the same room, parents are often concerned about things like trouble getting settled or waking each other in the middle of the night. Room sharing does raise some questions, but taking the right steps at the start makes all the difference.

Will they keep each other awake if they sleep in the same room?

Expect that kids will probably chat with each other for a bit after the lights go out. You can’t force them not to when they’re lying together in a dark room, and you don’t have to. Sometimes children need a little time to settle and that is perfectly normal.

Some little ones, however, ramp each other up and don’t fall asleep within a reasonable 20-30 minutes. Some siblings would play all night if they could and that is why it’s even more important to have your schedule on-par when you have them in the same room.

How should we handle bedtime?

Staggering bedtimes can be the key to getting two kids to sleep peacefully in the same room. Generally, putting one child to bed at 7:00 p.m. and the other at 8:00 p.m. is a fairly solid set up. This gives the first child enough time to be fully asleep when the other child gets in bed.

When it comes to deciding which child to put down first, it can vary. The morning wake up time will need to be consistent for both, so consider your children’s sleep needs when deciding. It’s not necessarily always the older one who needs the later bedtime.

To avoid waking the sleeping sibling, do the bedtime routine outside of the room for the second child. Don’t worry too much about disturbing the first child, however. The first part of the night is typically the deepest sleep for our littles so they rarely are disrupted.

Is room sharing safe?

It’s OK for two babies in cribs to share a room or two toddlers in beds. What you don’t want is one child in a crib that the other child can climb into. This is especially dangerous if the baby is under age one. Safe sleep should be taught to older siblings at any age whether they are sharing a room or not.

Won’t they wake each other up?

Sometimes, one sibling sleeps more lightly than the other or isn’t yet sleep-trained. Parents often worry about disturbing the better sleeper’s rest, but it’s not as big a pitfall as it may seem. Often your good sleeper will doze right through the other one’s night wakings, or simply roll over and fall back to sleep.

You don’t need to try to save one sibling’s sleep if the other is crying—think long term and help both become independent sleepers. The last thing you want to do is introduce a prop. A few off-nights won’t do any damage and minimally waking one is worth teaching both solid sleep skills!

Above all, remain consistent in your expectations. In most cases, getting bedtime is enough to make sure your two little ones sleep well in the same room.

By Katie Pitts, Founder & CEO of Sleep Wise Consulting

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