We’ve discussed how YOU sharing a room with your baby can affect your baby’s sleep, but what about when your baby needs to share a room with a sibling? We know that some of you have been anxiously (dare we say desperately?) awaiting this article. Fear not, we have 7 tips to successful sibling room-sharing.
Why Should Siblings Room-Share?
We know many of our readers are finding themselves faced with the task of transitioning their kids into sharing a room. And we know that for many of you, room-sharing isn’t really a choice — it’s something you have to do.
This is often the case for families who are expecting a new baby; suddenly, you have more children than you do bedrooms, and the sleeping arrangements have to change.
Or maybe you’re downsizing. This was the case for my family. Years ago, we moved from a three-bedroom home to a two-bedroom rental, and it just wasn’t an option for my boys (age 2 and 8 months at the time) to have separate rooms anymore. Some of you may even like the idea of siblings sharing a room and being (emotionally) closer growing up. Whatever the reason, these tips should help!
Sibling Room-Sharing: “Is This Going To Work?!”
The prospect of suddenly shoving two (or more) kids into a room together and expecting them to easily sleep in the same room can seem overwhelming. If your children have never shared a room before, you may be wondering how the new sleeping arrangements are going to affect their sleep (or if they’ll sleep at all!)
Take heart, readers! We know how you feel. A few of us have done room-sharing in our own homes, and we understand perfectly well the panicky “Is this going to work?!” feeling. So we compiled a list of 7 tips we think will help make room-sharing easier for everyone in your family.
7 Tips For Sibling Room-Sharing
Create Personal Space.
One of the toughest things about having your children share a room is that all privacy disappears. While this might not bother young children, it may bother older kids a lot. If you know that the lack of privacy and personal space is going to be a problem for your kids, then work to create a private, personal area for each child, as best you can.
For example, consider buying two of everything (2 beds, 2 dressers, 2 nightstands), and then creating a side of the room for each child. This creates separate spaces for the kids and helps both feel like they have their own space. Some families have even gone so far as to string a curtain along the center of the room so that when it’s pulled shut, there’s actually a separate (and private) area for each child.
Honor Your Child’s Sleep Schedule.
This is especially true for those of you who are putting babies and toddlers/preschoolers in the same room. Don’t assume that just because your children are sharing a room, they also have to share a sleep schedule.
If your baby needs to go to bed at 6:30, but your toddler won’t fall asleep until 8:00, that’s okay. Put your baby to bed first, and then use the extra hour and a half to have some one-on-one time with your toddler! Read a few extra books, take a longer bath, or squeeze in some cuddle time. It’s perfectly okay for each child to have different (and separate) bedtime routines and schedules, even though they’ll be sleeping in the same room.
Be Creative With Naps.
One of the toughest parts about sleeping your children in the same room (in my experience, at least) is figuring out how to do naptime. Naptime can be more challenging than bedtime to begin with; add to that the fact that your two children are now supposed to be napping two feet away from each other, and you might have a real problem on your hands!
If you find that your children simply won’t nap in the same room, and are keeping each other awake, you may have to get creative about the napping arrangements. My solution was always to nap my boys in different rooms. The youngest would nap in his room, in the crib, while my oldest took a nap in my room, on my bed. That worked well for our family. And there are plenty of other creative arrangements you can come up with, too. I knew a family who always had a portable crib set up in one of their bigger closets; it was their baby’s favorite place to nap!
Another great option is to use a product such as The SlumberPod® (Use Coupon Code BABYSLEEPSITE$20 for $20 off!)
Get A White Noise Machine (or MP3).
White noise can help promote better sleep for everyone, but in my opinion, it’s especially useful in helping to create deeper, more peaceful sleep for kids who are sharing a room. The noises that one child makes during the night can make it harder for the other to sleep — one snores (or talks, or coughs) and wakes up the other. White noise can help solve that. This white noise machine has come highly recommended by many families who contact us.
Be Firm and Consistent.
This is good advice for parenting in general, but let’s talk about how it applies specifically to sibling room-sharing. It’s a given that putting two children in the same room is going to (at first) make sleeping harder. Your children will want to look at each other, talk to each other, play with each other, etc.
Decide early on what you’re going to allow, and what you’re not. Establish boundaries, and set limits. Some families have a strict “lights out, no noise” policy at bedtime — when the lights go out, the children have to be silent. Other families allow some talking and giggling at bedtime, but put a limit on how long it’s allowed to continue before the kids have to be silent.
My approach has been to send my boys up to their rooms 30 or 40 minutes before bedtime. I let them play and make noise to their hearts’ content. Then, precisely at 8, it’s lights out and no more talking. This works well for us. The boys get their fill of noisy, wild play (and of each other!); then, when it’s bedtime, they’re ready to settle in and be quiet.
There is no right or wrong way to do this, of course. The only thing that really matters is that each of your children gets the sleep that he or she needs. However, if you find that one child is keeping the other awake, and that both children’s sleep is suffering, make some changes to your approach.
Have a Back Up Plan.
Sometimes, even your best-laid plans go haywire, don’t they? Even us supermoms and superdads get caught off-guard! 😉 Maybe the baby goes through a sleep regression and suddenly starts waking during the night. Or maybe your preschooler contracts the flu and is up half the night vomiting. In times like these, it’s a good idea to have a back-up plan.
When my boys were little and were first sharing a room, my youngest son still wasn’t always sleeping through the night (he was only 8 months, after all!). And so, during nights that he just wouldn’t sleep soundly, I’d set up the Pack-n-Play in our kitchen and let him sleep there. It allowed our oldest son to get the sleep he needed, and it spared me the stress of having to frantically shush and rock the baby, in the hopes that he wouldn’t wake his brother.
“This is an important one! If need be, do your baby or toddler’s bedtime routine in another room, if they are waking the other while getting settled for bed. Also, at different ages, your toddler may be going to bed earlier than the baby (who still naps, for example). Make sure you are respecting their individual needs.”
“We have a lot of families who need their toddler and baby to share a room. One caution I share with others is not to have them share too early. A toddler has good intentions, but they are unpredictable. She may try to feed the baby something or cover him with a blanket, for example. They can be good intentions that can be unsafe for a baby. I recommend waiting until the baby is older, if you still have a toddler who is too young to understand the ramifications. Instead, YOU share the room with the baby.”
7. Remember That Room-Sharing Gets Easier With Time.
Changing your children’s sleeping arrangements probably isn’t going to be an easy process at first. (Change never is, right?) In the beginning, your kids will probably wake more often at night, and will probably be more sleepless than usual. But know that it’s going to get better! Once your children adjust to the new sleeping arrangement, things should return to normal. In fact, if your kids are anything like mine, once they get used to sharing a room, you may find that they can’t sleep any other way!
63 thoughts on “7 Tips To Successful Sibling Room-Sharing”
My 4 year old shares a room with my 5 month old. My 4 yo has been a good sleeper, but since they have been sharing a room she gets up very early she says she’s not tired but I can see she is. She used to stay in her bed until 7. But now she gets up and plays and wakes my 5 month old. How can I get her to sleep longer? Or stay quiet until she’s allowed to get out of bed? Will this go back to how it was?
Hi @Katie –
Thank you for writing to us! Sorry that your 4 year old is waking so early and waking the baby too! We know how tough this can be, especially with two that are now awake and tired!! Many people with older toddler and preschool age kiddos have great success using a toddler clock for situations like this.
Here’s a great article on our blog with more info and recommendations:
Good luck Katie!
My three and one-year old daughters started sharing a room a month ago. I’ve staggered their bedtimes and the going-to-bed process has been going very smoothly so far. The problem is in the morning. The one year old wakes up at 5:30am sometimes and wakes my older daughter up too. The older one will not go back to sleep if she’s woken up in the morning and ends up grumpy and sleep-deprived all day (she won’t nap). How can I handle this to allow my older daughter to get the sleep she needs in the morning? The one year old loves to nap, I’ve had to cut off her naps so that she sleeps well at night. Right now she’s napping three hours a day and I make sure that her second nap ends at 3 and then bedime is 7.
Thank you for your comment! I’m sorry your older daughter is being woken by your younger – my kids share a bedroom too, and it can be hard! Unfortunately, there are a bunch of reasons your youngest could be waking early. We have an article to help you think through the possibilities here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/how-we-sleep/baby-waking-too-early/
And of course, a sleep consultant could take a full history in a consultation and help you figure out what’s going on, too. If you’re a Member, definitely check out the weekly chat, too! Good luck!
My 6 year old daughter and my almost 3 year old son have been sharing a room for a year now. It started out great, but now my son (who is very head strong) is climbing into his sister’s bed every night to sleep with her. She was ok at first, but now she’s getting cramped and not sleeping as well since she has to share her small bed with him. We’ve tried gently but firmly putting him in his own bed, but eventually he just goes back into hers. Often he’ll scream and cry for a long time until she lets him back in to get him to calm down. What can we do to get him to sleep in his own bed again?
Thank you for writing to us, and sorry to hear that you’re having trouble getting your toddler back into his own bed! It’s sweet that he wants to sleep with his sis, but we know that this can be a problem – especially if your daughter is not sleeping well with the extra little visitor!
With toddlers, it’s all about setting limits and being consistent, so don’t give up! Here are a couple of links to articles on our blog that you may find helpful:
For additional help, I would recommend that you consider our e-Book, The 5 Step System to Better Toddler Sleep. It is written specifically to help parents of toddlers with sleep issues including getting your toddler to sleep in his own bed! Please contact us at any time for more information on this. Hang in there Heidi!
My two boys 1 and almost 3 have always shared a room. They are both great sleepers! The almost 3 year old just started climbing out of his crib and will go into his brothers crib and wake him up. He’s also been staying up later then normal the last few nights and fighting bedtime which is new to us! We are in the process of getting ready to move in about 5 weeks, what do I do?! Do I convert his crib to a toddler bed, how will that work with a newly one year old?
Hi @Katie Treon, thank you for writing to us! I’m sorry you are having these sleep changes shortly before you are moving too! It can be hard to spring change on kids all at once and the move might provide setbacks, but it may be wise to transition him to a toddler bed since climbing out could be dangerous! I personally have my 2 boys in the same room as well, and one is in a bed and the other is in a crib, and it’s worked fine for us, although my older son is not much of a climber so I’ve never been in your exact situation. I would have a conversation with your 3 year old letting him know it is unsafe for him to climb into his brothers crib. Here is a link for tips on toddler sleep that may give you some ideas to help implement the things you discuss with him: https://www.babysleepsite.com/toddler-sleep-tips
I hope that helps but let us know if you have more questions. Good luck with your move!
My 4 year old and 1.5 year old are sharing a room. My older one has always been a perfect sleeper! My younger one hasn’t really slept through the night but they started off perfectly sleeping through the night for 3 weeks. The last week or so, my 1.5 keeps waking up at odd hours and I’ve let her cry for 10 mins or even up to 50! But she won’t go back to bed. My son sometimes tells her it’ll
Be ok and tells her to sleep. But she doesn’t listen of course. What do I do?! It’s disturbing my sons sleep:(! He’s such a good sleeper, I hope I’m not ruining his sleeping habits:(
Hi @Vaishali Danthuluri, thank you for writing to us. I recently transitioned my boys (similar ages as yours) into the same room, and it can be tricky. I’m still new to it myself and we’ve already had our fair share of hiccups. One thing that’s really helped us is loud white noise so it drowns out some of the talking even though they are so close to each other. The other thing to consider is that 18 months often brings a lot of changes developmentally in the child, which affects sleep. Here is a link to an article explaining what factors may be at play here for your daughter: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-sleep-patterns/why-18-month-sleep-regression-can-be-hardest/
If things don’t go back to normal soon, or if you simply want a quicker solution now, you may consider working with one of our sleep consultants! They’d love to walk through this with you and help you through this transition and will provide specific advise for your daughter and how to balance this new sleep situation. Here is a link to more information about the various levels of support we offer: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-toddler-sleep-consulting- services/
If you have more questions, please let us know! We are always here to help. 🙂
My 9 year old and my 7 year old share a room but they keep chatting but my 7 year old can’t shate whith my 1 year old what should I do
Hey @Super Mom! Thanks for writing to us! Room sharing can certainly be a challenge at times, but hopefully the chatting sessions are short lived and both are sleeping well soon! Consistency is key in setting limits and expectations, and perhaps you can move the beds further apart, or try to otherwise “separate” the room a bit to discourage the late night talks? Encouraging them to sleep can be helped with positive reinforcement when they do close their eyes (or mouths) at the set time too. I hope this helps, and good luck!
My girls 8 and 4 have shared a room for 3 years now and its getting harder not easier. My 4 year old chatters and chatters and dosnt seem bothered about any consequences i give. Ive tried seperate bedtimes for each of them but she will stay awake until the eldest goes to bed. Does not matter what time she gets up on a morning, she dosnt have naps, she is always on the go and is still sometimes awake until 10/11pm chatting or getting in and out if bed. Any advise on what else i can try?
Hi @Rachel, thanks for writing! I am so sorry to hear you’ve been struggling with this. I also have a super chatty 4 year old who’s about to share a room and I’m pretty nervous myself! Here is a link to download a free guide with tips for toddler sleep (I know she’s preschool aged but this article for sure is inclusive of that as well): https://www.babysleepsite.com/toddler-sleep-tips
Something I’ve found that works with my son as he’s getting older is instead of giving a consequence, is to motivate him by a reward instead. The article I linked outlines a sticker chart, which is just one fairly simple idea that may work. Or if she has ___ amount of nights where she goes to bed without talking she can have a certain toy, or treat, etc. Of course that won’t go on forever but would hopefully encourage her to see the value in obeying and she’ll come to enjoy the extra hours of sleep! I hope this helps. Let us know how it turns out if you can or if you need anything else!
A friend and I started being roommates in a three bedroom place. He has one room, I have one room and we planned to put both our daughters in the third room. The only problem is his daughter is about 1year old and my daughter is a little older than 1 1/2 year old. It’s kind of a small room and we tried it for a few nights but they just wake each other up. When I say wake each other up I mean one wakes up and cries but doesn’t wake the other until she falls asleep, then the other one wakes up and she cries but doesn’t wake the other one up and then she falls back asleep. It continues all night long so we have separated one in the room and one in the living room until we can figure something out to try and room them together a better way. Any helpful tips are extremely appreciated to make this hopefully work.
Hi @Jade, thank you for writing to us. I’m sorry that you and your roommate have been struggling with your daughter’s night waking. Sharing a room will definitely take time to navigate so along with the tips from the article, you both may find downloading our free guide on helping your baby sleep through the night will be beneficial. They are both at an age (unless there are health reasons otherwise) that they should be able to sleep through the night, just may take a bit of work. Here is a link to download the guide: https://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-through-night-free-ebook/
Additionally, if they were sleeping well before moving in together, it could also be an adjustment period, or one is hearing the other moving during sleep? If you don’t yet, you may decide to add in some white noise so that they can’t hear the other one waking.
Hang in there, it is possible! If you need more help with this, we’d love to help you guys further, please just email us directly at [email protected] and we can point you in the direction of more resources.
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