Is it time for your little ones to share a room? Whether your family is growing and you need the space, or you just prefer your children to bunk together, bringing two children who aren’t used to sleeping together into the same room can feel a bit overwhelming. Independent sleep is a skill that kids need to learn and sleeping with a sibling is just an extension of that skill. There’s no reason why your children can’t rest easy while sharing a sleep environment. We’ve got all the tips you need for better sleep when your kids share a room.
1. Start by improving sleep skills independently. If you have the time and space, dedicate at least two weeks to improving individual sleep skills. Work at perfecting each child’s bedtime routine and eliminate night wakes while children are in their individual rooms. When little ones have good sleep skills prior to room sharing, there are fewer issues to work through once they’re rooming together.
2. Conduct a family meeting prior to the big move. Sit down at the kitchen table with your children and talk to them about what is about to happen. Let them know how important sleep is to everyone in the family and that you expect them to continue to sleep well once they’re sharing a room. You can use this time to review bedtime routines and sleep jobs. You may choose to use a printable sticker chart for each child or make a poster of their individual sleep jobs to hang in their room. If you think your little ones will respond well to a reward for following their list of sleep jobs, go ahead and discuss it during the family meeting. Keep in mind that rewards of time spent together are usually the most motivating for children.
3. Determine a bedtime that will work well for both children. Bedtime is much easier for parents and kids when it’s an event done together as a family. You can use this time to reconnect after a busy day and enjoy some family cuddles before saying good night. If one child is napping, consider capping a nap earlier so that both children will be ready for bed around the same time. Or, if your older child needs a later bedtime, consider letting a nap run longer so that a younger child will be ready for bed at the same time as the older sibling.
4. Be prepared to deal with noise and distracting behaviours. Understand that children will learn to sleep through the noises their sibling makes. It can take some practice, but children and adults can filter out inconsequential noises during the night. Children will grow accustomed to their sibling’s snoring or sleep talking. If you’re concerned that the noises one child makes will wake the other, bring in some white noise to muffle sounds during the night. If one child is distracting the other at bedtime, hanging a curtain to make two rooms out of one can help. A simple curtain and track system can be easily hung from the ceiling to give each child a distraction-free sleep space.
5. Be prepared with a plan to teach the behaviour of sleeping in the same room. If children are getting out of bed or if chatter is causing late nights, be ready with a behavioural method to encourage better sleep. This is where a SleepWell Baby Consultant can customize a plan specific to your children and provide support as little ones learn to sleep in their shared environment.