Baby and Toddler Sharing a Room: Tips + Schedule
Baby and Toddler Sharing a Room: How to make it work + sample schedule
Two kids and one room, can you make it work? Is it complicated? What is the process? We will go over it all! So, the time has come to move your newborn into your older child’s room. This may be a conscious decision, or it may be a decision made for you by spacing. In our case, it was both. There are wonderful benefits in having your children share a room; it helps builds and strengthens strong bonds and closeness between siblings. It may also help your children sleep better, knowing there is someone in the room with them. However, there is a process in getting them settled into this new dynamic, and I will lay out the best approach in having your newborn and toddler share a room.
Baby & Toddler Sharing a Room: Safety First
When you move a baby into a crib and out of your room, you must make sure to use the best safety practices. Always. Adding a toddler to the mix adds some other safety concerns and they will need to be addressed. First off, make sure the baby is always put into the crib on their back. Make sure there are never any blankets, stuffed animals, pillows etc. in the crib. Ever. Because your toddler learns by modeling, always keep this a strict rule. Do not place anything into baby’s crib, even if it is to move something out of the way for cleaning. This way, your toddler will understand, nothing, besides the baby, is to ever be in the crib.
Begin to prep your toddler a few weeks in advance before moving baby into the room. Get them excited about sharing a room with their little brother/sister. Explain to them exactly how the room share will go, and the schedule of the room share i.e. we will all get ready for bed together, then I will put your baby brother/sister down and you will get to stay up later, because you are the older brother/sister, then it will be your time to read a book and go to bed. By explaining things beforehand, there are no surprises and they can be prepared and know what to expect. Explain to them how babies are very fragile and can never have anything in their crib. Tell them you need their help to ensure the baby’s bed stays free from all toys. Explain that we can never put anything in the crib beside the baby and ask them to be a special helper by letting mommy and daddy know if they ever see anything in the bed.
Talk to your toddler about baby behavior so they can be prepared when they share a room. For example, let them know babies do not sleep as well as big kids, like them. Babies need to learn how to sleep, just as they did when they were a baby. Explain that babies wake up a lot and cry. Let them know that mommy and daddy will take care of the baby and their job is to get cozy and comfortable again to go back to sleep. Tell them as the baby gets older, they will learn to sleep better, just like them.
What If I Have a Sensitive Toddler?
When it came time for my kids to share a room, I was absolutely convinced we would have to move, because of how sensitive my daughter was. She was an extremely light sleeper, as well as fidgety, and finicky. She was the kind of kid who NEVER fell asleep while we were out and could NEVER be transferred if she fell asleep in the car. She was always hyper-aware of her surroundings. I just did not see how the room share was going to work. We decided to give it a go and hope for the best. The fact of the matter is, most typically developing children are resilient and can adjust to new surroundings fairly quickly.
When my son was 3 months old, we moved him into a room with my daughter, who was just shy of 3 years old. For the first year, my son went to bed about an hour before my daughter. This schedule worked well for us. For a baby who was kept on a regular schedule during the day, he was ready for bed around 6 or 6:30pm. Having my son go to bed earlier than my daughter allowed her the special time with mommy and daddy that she needed before bed. There are benefits to having your children go to bed at the same time, for one, you are only doing one bedtime routine. However; when there is baby involved with an older child, their needs are much different and require a bit more to help them fall asleep. Here is a sample bedtime schedule for a baby & toddler room share:
Around 6pm, both kids were bathed together. It is important to include young children together to help build bonds and solidify the big brother/sister role.
6:30pm Bedtime routine for baby. Nursing, burping, story time, lights out.
7:00-7:15pm: Special time with mommy & daddy for older child
7:15pm: brushing teeth, potty, story time, lights out.
Until each child can successfully self-soothe and fall asleep on their own, having a separate bedtime makes things run smoother. In addition, it also helps your older child to feel special, by letting them stay up later their than their baby brother/sister and letting them have alone time with mommy and daddy before bed.
Physical Room Share Set up: Small Room
We have a small room with a toddler bed & a crib. We have a canopy on the toddler bed that I sewed a blackout curtain to the back, providing a solid canopy over my older child’s bed and blocking any light from her nightlight the would disturb the baby. Later, once the baby gets older and begins to stand up in the crib, this is very helpful in blocking his/her vision to your older child’s bed and making things more separate and easier to block and fall asleep.
What about you? Do your child share a bed? How old are they? Do they have the same schedule or have you shifted them?