When Siblings Share a Room

By Amanda Pare

January 10, 2020

I am a mom to three beautiful little ones, a wife, a fitness and nutrition advocate and a Registered Nurse, certified in both Alberta and Saskatchewan. As a labor and delivery and postpartum nurse with more than seven years of hands-on medical experience, I have had the pleasure of supporting hundreds of families in welcoming new babies into the world. Through it all, I have played a part in stories of incredible joy and unbelievable hardship.

When Siblings Share a Room

Whether you choose to move siblings together or you are faced with no choice but to move siblings into the same room, we are here to support your family to make this transition go smoother.

Some families choose to have siblings share a room to help them bond and become closer while growing up. Moving siblings together for sleep may enhance their relationship as well as increase their sense of security. Many families find themselves in this predicament, you are expecting a new baby and suddenly you have more children than bedrooms and so sleeping arrangements need to change. It is recommended that you room share with your baby for the first 6 months as it helps reduce the risk of SIDS and then you can move them in with a sibling if you choose.

When Siblings Share a Room

I found that my two-year-old had bad separation anxiety and everyone’s sleep improved when we moved him into his brother’s sleep space, it was comforting for both to be together. This, however, is not the answer if your toddler is a poor sleeper, to begin with. Putting two or more kids in the same room and expecting that they will sleep easily may feel a bit overwhelming. Here are some helpful tips that can help make room-sharing easier for everyone.

Creating each child’s own sleep space within the room, whether you have two separate beds or bunk beds. Let the older child choose which space will work best for them. If using two beds, you can use a space divider to help make them feel like they have their own private spaces. Let them make this space their own by picking bedding and a favourite stuffy.

When Siblings Share a Room

Setting up the sleep environment for success is important. A dark space helps with the production of melatonin (our sleepy hormone), think of the middle of the night for darkness there are black out blinds which can help create that environment. White noise can be helpful as it helps promote better sleep for everyone. It is a great tool to help little ones sleep more peacefully while sharing a room. It should be placed at least one meter away from your Childs bed and to protect your Child’s hearing it should be no louder than 50 decibels of sound. It can help drown out some noises that one of the children may be making in the night that may keep the other child from sleeping like snoring, coughing, and sleep talking.

Try different nap arrangements as nap time can be more challenging than bedtime for little ones, to begin with, having them go down the same time a few feet away from each other at
times can be challenging. If you find that your children are keeping each other awake more than they are napping it may be time to get more creative about napping arrangements. Putting one of them in a different room can help for nap time. Leave the baby in their sleep space and move the older child. The older child most likely will think it is fun that they get to nap in mom’s bed. Putting one of them down first and then the other is another solution. It will look different for each family as to how your little ones will nap sharing a room so do what will work best for your family.

Different sleep schedules are OK. This is very important as babies/toddlers/preschoolers go to bed at different times. Don’t assume because they are sharing a room that they will also share the same sleep schedule. Babies are usually ready for bed between 6-7:30 p.m. and toddlers/preschoolers are usually later between 7:30-8 p.m. Another scenario is that your baby is younger and their bedtime may be later because of their last nap, and you may have a toddler who needs an earlier bedtime so they will need to go down first, no matter which position you are in, respecting their individual needs will help things go smoother. Part of a bedtime routine, like reading a book, may have to happen outside of the sleep space. You will need to sneak the child in and put them to bed with minimal disruptions. It is possible to have two kids on different sleep schedules and bedtime routines and be successful at sharing a room.

When Siblings Share a Room

Consistency is key like everything in parenting. At first putting siblings in the same room to room share may make sleeping harder, as all kids want to play or talk to each other over going to sleep. Establish boundaries and set limits for what you expect around bedtime and nap time. When lights go out there is no talking, or maybe you will allow a little chatter at bedtime and then when the lights go out it is time to be quiet. All that really matters is that your children are getting the right amount of sleep they require, so if you are finding that one child is keeping the other awake and both of their sleep is suffering, you may want to change your approach.

Have a back-up plan because there are times when sleep will not go well like when one of your little ones gets ill, is teething or they go through a sleep regression causing night waking. These are times where it is a good idea to have another sleeping space to move one of them out. In my house we have two sets of bunk beds and the baby’s crib is set up in one of the rooms. We recently shuffled one of our kids around. She sleeps in the same room as her baby sister, but if the baby is sick or going through a regression, I would move her to the next room so that her sleep wouldn’t be affected.

At first, things will be a little out of sorts when siblings share a room, with time room sharing will get easier. As with all changes to sleep environments, it takes time for children and babies to adjust. Once they adjust to their new sleep arrangements, sleep will get back to normal.

If you need more support with getting your little ones to share a room – or with sleep in general – we are here to help you get your family on the road to better sleep. Please reach out to a Mama Coach in your area. 

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