While it may be ideal for each child to have their own rooms, many parents do not have the luxury when their children begin to outnumber the number of bedrooms they have. Some parents even purposely opt to have their children share bedrooms as a way for them to grow closer with one another. Unfortunately, it can be easy for siblings sharing rooms to spiral into chaos – especially for children who have not lived with roommates before.
The first thing parents should do is discuss the idea of room sharing with the older sibling. This can set the tone for how the toddler will behave thereafter. Next, it is highly recommended for the children to have separate bedtimes and their own personal spaces. It is important the children get good sleep, so the room should be dark and have a white noise machine. Lastly, the parents will have to be both firm and flexible to make the situation work.
This article will talk about how a toddler and baby can share a room, tips to ensure harmony between the two, and mistakes to avoid.
Tips on Baby and Toddler Room Sharing
Have a Discussion with the Toddler
Sometimes, parents can get too busy taking care of their children and become shortsighted over the fact that their children are people too. One of the best ways to start having your toddler share a room with a baby is by having a discussion. The tone of the discussion can then set your toddler on the right path to room sharing.
Firstly, the discussion must be had in a good tone. Some parents would simply tell their toddler that they’ll be sharing their room from now on. Some wouldn’t even talk to their toddler at all. This approach can ultimately backfire and can ignite dissent.
It is imperative that you tell your toddler that they will be sharing their room with the baby soon. This does not have to sound like you are doing this because there is no other option. You can frame this in a more positive light. For example, you can tell your toddler that you have decided for the baby to share a room with the toddler because the baby would need a good role model to look up to.
Framing the room sharing in this way can make the toddler feel like it is the baby’s honor to be sharing the room with them. This dynamic would greatly help how the two would treat one another.
Some parents also go about this by telling the toddler that the baby will be sharing the room because of how great of a sibling the toddler will be. This is also an effective way to do this. It is possible that the toddler will then receive the baby as their responsibility to take care of. While this can work, it is also possible that this would backfire, depending on how the toddler will feel about the newfound responsibility.
It is also important to give your toddler time to process this. If you can begin laying the groundwork during the pregnancy, all the better. The earlier you give them the idea, the more time they have to be accustomed to the idea of sharing a room with their baby sibling.
Have Separate Bedtimes
While you might think that the two children sharing a room should also share a bedtime, it is highly recommended to have separate bedtimes for the two. Having separate bedtimes specifically achieves two things.
The first advantage of having separate bedtimes is that it allows the baby to get settled and fall asleep. Most bedtimes for babies would be around 6:30-7:00 PM. This might be too early for your toddler. If you force your toddler to sleep that early because it is their younger sibling’s bedtime, then you run the risk of having your toddler get angry at the baby. This is important to avoid if you want the two to get along.
Additionally, parents of toddlers know that it can take toddlers a while to finally fall asleep. They would get up multiple times to get a drink of water or to go to the restroom. Thus, the constant movement in the room can make it difficult for the baby to get some sleep.
However, if the toddler has their own separate bedtime at 8:00 PM, then the baby will have a whole hour to themselves to fall asleep. This also gives you some quality time with your toddler. It is important to remember to have quality time with your toddler as older siblings can often feel left out when parents prioritize younger siblings.
The second advantage of having separate bedtimes is mainly for the toddler. The toddler will feel more like a grown-up when they have a later bedtime compared to the baby. This is important to maintain a healthy dynamic between the two because there will moments when you will rely on the toddler to be a responsible older sibling. Thus, it is important for them to enjoy the benefits of being an older sibling too.
Give Them Personal Spaces
For one, the beds must be at the opposite ends of the room. If possible, you should also have two of everything such as nightstands, cabinets, drawers, and so on. The toddler should feel that there is a fair divide in the room. It will be your responsibility to keep baby items off the toddler’s space so that you can ask your toddler to keep their items off the baby’s space as well.
It will also help your toddler feel at home in their personal space when you allow them to choose certain things for themselves. For example, they get to choose the kinds of bedsheets they want. They can have posters or stickers on their wall. It also helps to let them hang their artwork on their walls. These are just little things to help your toddler feel as though sharing the room isn’t that heavy of a burden.
Giving your toddler their personal space is important to refrain them from being left out. Having a new baby in the family can be overwhelming for a toddler, especially when the toddler used to be an only child. Understandably, a baby means having so many things to get such as a crib, a changing station, and such. The baby will also probably be receiving the lion’s share of attention around the house. From this, you could understand how the toddler could feel forgotten all of a sudden.
Get a White Noise Machine
One of the difficulties in having a toddler and baby share a room is preventing one from waking the other up. This might feel like such a Herculean task because they can both keep you up – so how can they not wake the other?
Although it is not the easiest thing to do, there are ways to minimize the occurrences of them waking up the other. One of the best ways is to simply get a white noise machine.
A white noise machine is a machine that emits a repetitive, droning sound. White noise can include the sounds of the ocean, the sounds of a babbling brook, the sounds of a jungle at night, the hum of the air conditioner, the whirring of fans, and such.
Although it may feel counterintuitive to have a machine that emits noise in the room, white noise can actually help reduce unwanted noise and maintain serenity in a room. When a room is completely silent, any noise can become apparent – just as how people could hear a pin drop in a silent room. However, unwanted jolts of noise can be drowned out by the presence of white noise.
A white noise machine will lower the risk of one child waking up to the sound of the other snoring or coughing. As long as a white noise machine can help keep the children asleep, that means you can get your sleep too.
Get the Room Dark
Just like how a white noise machine can help keep both children asleep, it is also important to get the room dark when it is naptime or bedtime.
The point of making the room especially conducive for sleep is that you want both children asleep when you want them to sleep. When one is woken up, there is a chance that the other will be woken up as well. Thus, it will benefit you to do all that you can to keep both children asleep.
The first thing you need to get your room dark is a set of heavy curtains or blinds. Whatever you decide to cover the windows with, it is important that they can block out the sun entirely. Once you have confirmed that sunlight cannot bleed through the curtains, you should also make sure to check the position of the sun during the morning.
Is there a stray ray of sunlight that enters the room in the morning? Does the ray of sunlight hit either toddler or baby? If sunlight can wake one child up, you run the risk of having it wake both of them up.
Keeping the room dark also means avoiding night lights. It can be difficult when one child wants a night light in the room while the other does not. However, you will have to be firm if the night light will keep one of them up. If the toddler really wants a night light, you could resort to getting them glow-in-the-dark stickers to put on the wall beside their bed.
Being firm and consistent will always be highly recommended for good parenting. This extends to having your toddler and baby share a room. It is important to let them know early that there are just things that are non-negotiable.
For example, it would be wise to lay down nighttime rules. For example, some parents employ a strict “no noise” rule at a certain time. It is important to set rules to ensure that both children can have a full night of sleep. Risking the quality of sleep of even one child cannot be allowed as both children need their sleep for proper growth and development.
You might also have other house rules that you want to be strict with. Those rules are up to you. Regardless of what rules they may be, it is important that you be firm and consistent with them because the more consistent you are with the rules, the quicker it will be for your kids to understand the gravity of those rules.
Though they are contradicting, parents understand the value of being both firm and flexible. The priority in the house is the well-being of the children, not the rules. Thus, there will be moments where you will have to be flexible for the greater good.
For example, if a rule is not working, then it should be changed. Strategies should also be reconsidered when your toddler starts to weaponize them. Toddlers are notorious for pushing the limits of parents. For example, toddlers will do anything if they learn that it will delay their bedtime – such as being noisy.
It is also important to check the viability of the room sharing. While many parents can get their children to eventually share a room together, there are some parents who cannot. This is due to the different factors affecting each family.
Unfortunately, parents should have the wisdom to determine if they should continue having their children share the room. The most important factor is the quality of sleep the children are getting. If one is having trouble sleeping because of the other, then they might have to be separated.