Are you thinking of having your baby and toddler share a room? Not sure how sibling room sharing will turn out?
I’m here to guide you and give you tips to make the transition for sibling room sharing easier.
It has now been about 8 months since we moved Raelynn (1 year) into the room with Blake (2.5 years). It was a smooth transition, which you can read all about the process of sibling room sharing here.
When we first moved them into a room together, it was honestly a challenge to find helpful tips out there for moving siblings into a room together so young.
I had to make it up as I went with a lot of things and I have since learned some tips that I hope can help other Mommas.
These 8 tips are my top nuggets of advice for anyone looking to have siblings sharing a room together. These tips are geared more toward baby and toddler age but honestly most could work with elementary age children as well.
Let’s dive in and help you get these siblings sharing a room in the easiest way possible.
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1. Keep Beds Separated
This tip is number one on my list because it is essential for sleep interruptions. This is a tip that I saw numerous times while doing my research but it was always in regards to toddlers and above.
I figured this wasn’t a bad idea to implement with a baby and toddler since it would help Blake feel like he still had his space.
We have a room that is big enough to fit both cribs (Blake’s is transformed to a Toddler Bed).
If you have the space for it I highly recommend trying to keep the beds separated. It is not essential but it will definitely make that transition easier.
Keeping the beds separated ensures that your kiddos do not keep each other awake all night with every little noise. Or worse by touching and playing with each other all night.
I saw ideas of creating separate areas in the room with little divider walls and canopies which were very cute but not really practical. If you prefer this method then you do you! I just decided to have Blake in one corner of the room and Raelynn in the other.
Keep in mind that even though the beds are separated the kids can still talk to each other and technically touch each other if the climb out. This does not stop all interaction but it definitely helps them understand there is space for a reason.
It also gives the older sibling a sense of their own space still which helps out since you are giving them a new roommate.
2. Establish and Enforce Sleep Rules
As with any transition it is always helpful to discuss rules and expectations before hand as parents. Decide what rules you want to set and enforce. Don’t create bedtime rules that you will not follow, as that will only confuse the kids and make it challenging.
I suggest you keep the rules simple and to a minimum for your kids’ sake.
As part of keeping the beds separated I make it a point to tell the kids that they cannot get into each others’ beds. I do this so that they feel like they truly have a sacred space in their shared room. Once they get older I may amend this rule to encourage sibling bonding…but IDK right now.
We also told Blake he was to stay in bed and not get out. This was to make sure he wasn’t getting up and messing with Raelynn. We did have some trouble with this one and had to discipline a few times.
Those are our 2 big rules that we enforce to help set the kids up for successful sleep. Figure out what you want your rules to be before you start.
3. Lots of Sound Machines
This tip right here is GOLD! I am a big advocate of using sound machines, fans or other forms of white noise when sleep training.
Before Raelynn moved into the room, Blake just used a box fan for white noise. I added 2 sound machines to our baby registry with Raelynn and we received both.
So, when the kids moved into the room together we had a combined total of 3 forms of white noise.
This may seem excessive to some but I really believe it has helped make their transition to sibling room sharing so easy. With 3 forms of white noise going in the room it really helps to drown out the natural sounds of sleep.
Both Blake and Raelynn were sleep trained with white noise so by the time they started sharing a room the white noise was a sleep association. This greatly helped both of them know that it was time to sleep and not time to talk and play with each other.
Raelynn was 5 months when she moved into the room with Blake, so as you can imagine she had some moments of tears. Blake slept through it all most of the time and a lot of that was due to the fact that he really couldn’t hear a lot of her noise.
We have since added a 4th form of white noise through our sleep to wake alarm (which I will discuss down below).
I know I personally sleep better when there is white noise so it only makes sense that the kids would sleep better too!
4. Dark Curtains
When I started researching sleep training methods when Blake was a baby the common thing I ran across was, “Use blackout curtains.” I immediately went and bought room darkening curtains and made sure that whenever he slept the room was pitch black.
This routine was one we started immediately with Raelynn and she was a champion sleeper from the start. Ensuring that the room is pitch black really is essential for good restorative sleep. We never used night lights of any kind with either of the kids so as to ensure they really got good sleep.
Once we moved Blake and Raelynn into a room together, this aspect of a pitch black room became a saving grace.
On the nights I had to sneak in to nurse Raelynn or give her a pacifier through regressions it helped that the room was dark.
Blake wasn’t able to hear me with my ninja skills and the numerous sound machines but he also couldn’t see me. Ninja skills again…I kid, I kid.
He would occasionally wake up to Raelynn crying to be fed but when I snuck in the room he often wasn’t able to see me because of how dark it was. I was able to nurse Raelynn many times while Blake sat up in bed and then plopped back down.
Now the room is a little lighter since we started using the sleep to wake alarm clock but they have been trained so well that neither really bother the other.
5. What to Do When Sleep Training
I had a few concerns when deciding to have the kids share a room. One of my biggest ones was…
How do I sleep train Raelynn with Blake in the room?
Blake was sleep trained between 4 and 5 months old but Raelynn, by 5 months, still hadn’t really needed sleep training. She was kind of a natural at sleeping and we did a lot of things differently with her so that she wouldn’t have a bunch of sleep crutches.
However, I knew that teething, regressions, leaps and life in general would probably bring us to a point of needing to sleep train her. So, what was I to do?
I decided for sleep training to separate them and train Raelynn then put her back in the room and see how that went.
We ended up having to spend a couple nights sleep training Raelynn after her 8 month sleep regression. We placed her pack n’ play in the guest room and let Blake sleep in their room. I could have honestly left Raelynn in the bedroom but I didn’t feel it was fair for Blake’s sleep to suffer too.
After a couple nights we moved her back to her bedroom and the rest was history.
6. What to Do During Sleep Regressions/Transitions
Sleep regressions happen multiple times through a baby’s first year and I knew Raelynn wouldn’t be exempt from them.
She has hit a few regressions and not had too much trouble. But when she got sick and hit her 8 month sleep regression at the same time it made sleep a little challenging.
I love that the kids can share a room and learn to be adaptable sleepers…but I want them to sleep. As you may know by now, sleep regressions often mean a lack of sleep and lots of tears. So, I didn’t think it was fair to Blake to have to be woken up by Raelynn.
During sleep regressions, transitions (such as weaning from a pacifier) or during sickness I tend to split the kids up. We still have Raelynn’s pack n’ play set up in our room for her naps so that is where I move her if the kids need a couple nights apart.
Anytime we move Raelynn out of the room it is only for a few nights. This is because we don’t want to mess up a good thing.
The kids have done so well sleeping in a room together. I don’t want to ruin that by keeping them separated too long and having to start all over. And…let’s be honest, I like having my bedroom to myself.
7. Napping: Sibling Room Sharing or Separate Areas?
When you think about sibling room sharing you typically think that means they share the room all the time no exceptions. For some families that is the case because they simply have no other options.
For us that is not the case.
I love that Blake and Raelynn can share a room together and grow their bond but that growing bond also means growing interactions. And growing interactions is basically a fancy way of saying they talk, play and fight together all the time.
This is great (well, not the fighting) except for when they are talking and playing together instead of sleeping. This hasn’t really been an issue at night but during the day when they have more energy it can be.
With naps, since we have the space, we decided to separate the kids. This ensures that they will get the best daytime sleep possible since they can’t distract one another. We also did this because daytime desire for sleep is not as strong as night time and this can make it challenging for them to fall asleep.
Thankfully, I have them on a sleep schedule where one of Raelynn’s naps coincides with Blake’s.
However, her morning nap does not take place during a time when Blake needs to nap. This was another reason we chose to let them nap separate. I want Blake to be able to play in the bedroom.
Now, when we travel to visit family or go on a little vacation they do nap together. They have always done phenomenal and would probably be fine at home too. Away from home they do tend to take longer to fall asleep since they chit chat a lot. Keeping the room dark and having lots of white noise really helps.
8. Wake to Sleep Alarm
Blake has always done a great job of staying in bed despite the transitions. He did a wonderful job transitioning to his big boy bed and adjusting to Raelynn moving in.
So, it came as quite a shock when he started getting out of bed in the middle of the night and early mornings.
We started having trouble with Blake waking early in the morning, turning on the lights, climbing in the crib with Raelynn and just playing.
It was messing up their sleep schedules and cause grumpy attitudes due to a lack of sleep.
It finally came to a breaking point when Blake woke up at like 3 AM and turned on the light to play.
To stop this we made some adjustments in his room to keep him from waking up early. The lifesaver adjustment that we made was buying him a wake to sleep alarm from LittleHippo.
This alarm helped teach him visually to know when it was ok to wake up and get out of bed. It caused him to go back to sleeping in and it helped give Raelynn the sleep she needed since her brother wasn’t waking her up constantly.
This little alarm is now an item I recommend to anyone with a toddler. It is a must-have for siblings who are room sharing. It is teaching them to stay in their own space and to prioritize their sleep.
I love that my children can share a room. I know their bond will be stronger because of this and that they will be able to sleep well no matter where they are.
It has been a fairly easy transition and I’m so glad we started it early. I know as they grow that things will change and we will have to learn new ways to adapt.
What are your sibling room sharing tips?