Should Baby share a room with siblings?

In Western society, there’s a tendency for babies to be popped into their own room as early as possible.

According to Registered Nurse and Midwife Georgina Dowden, the idea that children should sleep in a room by themselves is nothing short of bizarre, considering that in many other cultures around the world, it is perfectly normal for children to sleep alongside their parents or caregivers.

“Most adults enjoy sharing a room with their partner, and yet they expect their babies and children – who are so small and vulnerable in our big, scary world (which is even more scary at night, when it’s dark) to sleep alone,” says Ms Dowden.

Ideally, babies should share a room with their parents for the first 6 – 12 months. This is not only protective against Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infancy (SUDI), but is also far more supportive of the breastfeeding relationship. It also allows the parents to respond quickly to their babies cries, which is so important.

What about siblings?

“As lovely as the idea is for a baby under the age of 1 to share a room with an older sibling, the older sibling may find it disruptive as babies are normally wakeful and need to feed and seek the comfort of their parents through the night.”

An infant will not find the same comfort in room-sharing with a sibling, as they will with room-sharing with their parents.

However, it is perfectly fine for a family to room-share all together, so long as safe sleep guidelines are followed.

If parents plan to have all their children sleep in their room with them, they need to ensure that baby sleeps on a surface separate to the other children.

Older babies and siblings

“Once a baby grows into a toddler however, I absolutely think it can be very positive for them to room-share with older siblings.”

Especially if the parents no longer wish to co-sleep or room-share, allowing the children to seek comfort with each other can be extremely beneficial.

“Many adults I have spoken to about this, whose parents didn’t want to co-sleep with them as they got older, say they have fond memories of sneaking into their siblings rooms and sleeping with them instead!”

Dark nights can be scary for children and sharing sleep with siblings can be extremely comforting for the older child and toddler.

What is the best set up?

For older toddlers and above, there are two set-ups that can work well.

A double or queen bed so the children can sleep together – parents should ensure that the height of the bed is safe for the youngest child in the bed, and properly fitted bed-rails might be helpful to prevent accidents.

Alternatively, a floor-bed can also work well. Parents should also ensure that there isn’t excessive soft bedding, or too many soft toys in the bed – although, siblings who sleep together may prefer to cuddle each other anyway, negating the need for soft toys completely.

The second set-up is having two single beds, arranged in an L shape and the children can sleep with their heads together, but still on separate sleep surfaces.

This set-up may not work for children who wish to be physically close to each other though, as parents might find both children end up in the same bed anyway, in which case a double or queen bed is safer than 2 single beds pushed together.

Sibling love

At the end of the day, there are lots of ways siblings can sleep together and as they get older, they will often find their own ways anyway.

“I think that if parents are supportive of this arrangement, they will find that although there might be evenings filled with lots of giggling and chatter, it will only serve to strengthen the bonds between their children, laying a great foundation for strong relationships as they grow up.”

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