Baby and toddler room-sharing: When and how to make the move

Whether it’s due to limited space, the need to move your baby out of your bedroom, or perhaps to help foster a stronger bond between your baby and an older sibling, when it comes to room-sharing, it can have both benefits and challenges.

As a parent, you know your children best, and it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision like this. Here, we will explore the factors to consider, provide guidance on determining the ideal time to have young siblings share a room, plus some helpful tips for smoother bedtimes.

Baby and toddler room-sharing: When to make the move

Let’s first look at when the best time is to put babies and toddlers (or older children) in the same room. It requires thoughtful consideration of various factors, including age, development, compatibility, and individual sleep needs. It’s essential to ensure that the arrangement is conducive to the wellbeing and individual needs of each child.

1. Sleep safety and realistic expectations

Red Nose recommends babies share a bedroom with their caregivers for the first 6-12 months to reduce the risk of SUDI. It’s also essential that their cot or bed is free from toys, cushions, and bedding, so consider whether your older child could potentially and unintentionally put unsafe items in the baby’s bed in a room sharing situation.

2. Personalities and compatibility

Some siblings thrive in close proximity, finding comfort and companionship in sharing a room. However, others may clash due to different sleep patterns, personal preferences, or simply needing their personal space. Consider how your children are together at other times.

3. Sleeping habits

If one child is a light sleeper and easily disturbed by noise or movement, while the other tends to be wakeful or has a different sleep routine, consider whether the sleep quality of both children might be compromised by the arrangement and how it could affect their overall wellbeing.

Baby and toddler room-sharing: How to make the transition

Making the move to putting your children in the same bedroom may initially seem daunting, so here are some tips for a smooth transition:

Open communication

Before making any changes, it’s a good idea to involve your children in the decision-making process. Have a developmentally-appropriate discussion about the reasons behind the transition and the benefits it can bring. Encourage older ones to express their concerns, preferences, and ideas.

Prepare them

By involving your children from the beginning, you foster a sense of ownership and help them feel more comfortable with the idea. It might help to read a picture book to your older child about it, or make one up yourself using photos of your little ones to explain the impending changes.

Create individual spaces

If possible, carve out individual spaces within the shared space. Allocate specific areas for each child’s belongings, such as personalised shelves or toy boxes.

Design and decorate together

Involving your children in the process of designing and decorating their shared bedroom can be an exciting and creative experience. It could be as simple as new bedding or a special cuddly toy for the older child.

Gradual transition

A sudden transition from separate bedrooms to sharing the same room can be overwhelming for some children. Consider implementing a gradual transition period where siblings spend a few nights in the same room while still keeping their separate bedrooms. This gradual approach allows them to acclimate to the new sleeping arrangements at their own pace and can ease any anxiety or discomfort they may have. A good idea could be to keep a portacot in your bedroom for your baby for those nights it all goes pear-shaped.

Encourage bonding activities

Sharing a bedroom can be an opportunity for siblings to develop a stronger bond and create lasting memories. Encourage activities that promote cooperation, such as reading together or playing games. These shared experiences foster a sense of camaraderie and can help your children build lifelong friendships.

Bedtime tips for baby and toddler room-sharing

  • Stagger bedtimes: Depending on your children’s bedtime routines, try to settle your baby either before or after your older child has gone to bed.
  • Special bedtime bonding: Allocate one-on-one time with each child before or at bedtime if possible. This special connection opportunity with you can help create a positive association with sharing a room.
  • Engage your older child: When it’s time to settle your baby, provide activities or distractions for your older child to keep them occupied, such as a book, toys, ‘busy box’ (a special box of toys or activities that are just for this time of day), or a quiet TV program. Request that they stay out of the bedroom for a while or be quiet if they need to enter. Praise their cooperation but understand that it will be difficult for them sometimes to stay away.
  • Prepare for night wakings: Explain to your older child that the baby might wake up during the night but reassure them that you will take care of the baby. Older children often sleep through a baby’s cries at night but let them know they can call you if the baby does wake them.
  • Consider back-up sleeping arrangements: If your baby’s crying frequently disturbs your older children’s sleep, consider whether it’s possible for the older children to sleep in a room further away from the baby or if you could move the baby to another room when that occurs.
  • Keep other changes to a minimum: It can be best not to make this transition at the same time as other big changes, such as night weaning your baby, starting childcare, moving house, weaning your toddler off their night feeds or a dummy. Try to focus on one big change at a time, and go at your unique child’s pace.


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