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When can my kids share a room?
This a parenting move that strikes fear in the hearts of even the most sure-footed parents. You're expecting another baby and you don't have enough bedrooms for each child to have their own room. Panic time!
Focus on safe sleep
No, don't freak out just yet. You've got some time!
Six months to a year, to be exact. Yep! According to the AAP, sharing a room with parents for at least the first six months of life, and optimally, the first year, decreases a baby's chance of SIDS by up to 50%. (To be clear, the guidelines specify sharing a room, not a sleeping surface.)
In addition to the additional SIDS protection room sharing provides, it's also quite unsafe to have a toddler or pre-school age child alone in a room with a young baby. As much as your older child might adore their younger sibling, sometimes the best of intentions can lead to injuries for your younger babe. Often older siblings like to put blankets on the baby, give them stuffed animals, or even climb in the crib and snuggle the baby. These are all big no-no's, as we are all aware.
So, this is the scenario facing parents everywhere. Your baby is about to be “of age” and you are ready to have your room back to yourselves, but there's one little problem. You have a toddler or pre-school aged child the baby will have to share a room with. You're ready to make the transition, but you've got to come up with a game plan!
Let me help!
Wait till your baby is sleeping through the night
Wait until your baby is sleeping through till the morning without a feeding. This is crucial! No matter how deep your older child sleeps, you really don't need your baby waking up your other child. The last thing you want is a middle of the night disaster and a cranky toddler the next day. Your toddler is going to see you and get excited, not be able to stop talking, keeping the baby up, or even worse, the baby's cries could wake your toddler up mid-sleep cycle and then everybody's just crying, (including you).
Methods of getting your kids to sleep in a room together
The method you use to combine your kids into a single room is completely up to you. Many parents choose to hold their noses and jump right into the process.
Explain to your older child that they will now be sharing a room with their little brother/sister, presenting it as a special step for them, and just go for it. Tuck them in, ask them to keep quiet and hope for the best. The issue that many would have with this technique is, well…they are kids. Kids aren't known for their impulse control and they love to play.
While they will get used to this new arrangement, it's going to be a little rocky at first. You will likely have to redirect one or both back to bed and remind them of the new rules and you will probably dealing will some super cranky kids for a week or so until they learn to fall asleep with their sibling nearby. This might mean a week (or more) of not really relaxing and enjoying yourself after you tuck your kids in.
Staggering bedtimes to get kids in the same room at night
The technique I suggest involves staggering bedtimes. I recommend putting the younger child or baby to bed first, waiting till they fall into a deep sleep, then sneakily tuck your older child into bed. In our house, we have a little ritual that involves tiptoeing (Mommy and Daddy have to tiptoe, as well.) and being “super sneaky quiet” while walking down the hall and into the kids' bedroom.
For this technique to work, you will have to prepare the older child's bed ahead of time with any attachment objects they may have. It's also important to grease the door hinges, as to not wake up the already sleeping child.
It is important to have an alternate plan for when things go awry, which they will, occasionally. On the occasions wherein I have made the grave error of mistaking my younger toddler for sleeping (when he wasn't) on our video monitor, then put our older toddler in bed, my husband and I have had to get creative with the sleeping arrangements.
My older child is more flexible about where she sleeps, and she's often the instigator in many of their nighttime activities. So, when the kids are too amped up from playing, we have her sleep with one of us.
Can young kids nap together?
Naps are a different ballgame!
Naptime comes in the middle of the day and it often takes kids a little longer to fall sleep for naps. I've learned from experience that if I put my kids in the same room for naps, they will play instead of sleeping and this mid-day level of playing usually includes climbing and jumping, which always seems to lead to some sort of minor injury that causes a major meltdown.
So, for naps, I recommend keeping your kids in separate sleep spaces.
One child can sleep in their room, while the other child sleeps on a couch in a dimmed room or on your bed with a little white noise and dim lighting.
White noise can help your kids sleep
Make sure you've got a <a href='http://Best Comfort 20″ Box Fan” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>box fan or a <a href='http://AVANTEK White Noise Sound Machine for Sleeping, 20 Non-Looping Soothing Sounds with High Quality Speaker & Memory Function, 30 Levels of Volume and 7 Timer Settings” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>noise machine (sponsored links) running in the room to drown out sounds from outside the room and sounds from the other child.
My oldest child has a very active dream life and talks in her sleep quite often. If we didn't have a box fan running, she would surely wake up her brother.
Another must-have when putting your young children in a room together is a video monitor. We have the <a href='http://Amcrest UltraHD 2K WiFi Camera 3MP (2304TVL) Dualband 5ghz / 2.4ghz Indoor Pan/Tilt Surveillance Wireless IP Camera, Home Video Security System with IR Night Vision, Two-Way Talk IP3M-941B (Black)” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Amcrest UltraHD 2K WiFi (sponsored link) and it is amazing! It's not designed to be a baby monitor specifically, so it's priced much lower than the bulk of the baby monitors you'll find on the market!
Stay consistent and you will have success
As with any parenting decision, consistency is the key! It is going to take some getting used to for everyone.
So, be patient, stay calm, and be clear with your children about what you expect of them.
This is a big step, but you'll be on the road to a good night sleep for the whole family in no time!