Saturday, 29 September 2012

Baby and toddler sharing a room

We moved our daughter into our son's bedroom when she was around five months old. At the time we were living in a two bedroom flat and that was the only option once we felt comfortable moving her out of our bedroom. We since moved to a three-bedroom house but have kept them sharing a room. Having spoken to a few people who have been fearful to move their children into the same room for various reasons, I thought it would be helpful to share our experience.

From the people I have spoken to, the main concern seems to be of one child disrupting the sleep of their sibling. This might be one waking the other up in the night or it might mean one waking before the other in the morning or one going to sleep later than the other. With a baby, there's the concern of night time wakings due to teething. With a toddler, there might be toilet trips and occasional nightmares. Both of course can be disturbed during the night when ill too.

I will preface by saying that both our children are good sleepers. They both settle down quickly once in their cot or bed and sleep until around 7am generally.

I wanted to wait on writing this post until I felt like we had gone through a few testing times so I could have a wider view of how the sharing a room was working out and to explain how we have dealt with some of the scenarios mentioned above:

Different bedtimes: Due to the age gap, our children don't yet share a bedtime. Our daughter goes to sleep around 6.30-7pm and our son around 7.30/45pm. We do bedtime stories with our son on the sofa in the living room and once he is all ready for bed, we sneak into his room so as not to disturb his sister and he creeps into bed and falls asleep. There's never been a time when his sister has been woken up when he's been getting into bed.

Night time wakings: This was the main issue I wanted to have experienced in a few different ways before writing. We have now had situations where both have woken in the night crying (loudly) with illness, upset from a bad dream or random who knows why and in each case, the other child has slept through it. Sometimes our daughter has been slightly woken and we have heard her soothing herself back to sleep but she has never been awoken and not gone straight back to sleep. My son will often go to the bathroom in the night but this doesn't wake his sister either.

Morning wake-up: One person is always going to wake before the other and sleep tends to be lighter by morning time so I will say this is the one time when one child might wake the other. However, providing both children naturally sleep to a decent hour this shouldn't be a major issue. It's not always so smooth though and my son is always the one to wake first and sometimes it's earlier than I would like. On those occasions, he comes out of his room and quietly closes his door and our daughter will usually go back to sleep for another 30-60 mins.

I myself never shared a room with a sibling but I've always thought it would be a nice thing for two children. They are company for each other and once both are talking they can chat to one another before falling asleep or on waking in the morning and it seems like a good way for siblings to bond and have a certain closeness.

We imagine that our children are the light sleepers some of us grow up to be, disturbed by the slightest noise but in reality most children generally sleep through anything! If you have contemplated the idea of your two children sharing a room but been worried about one or both of them having their sleep (and therefore your sleep!) disrupted, I hope I have put you at ease. It's worth giving it a go if you like the idea and in the event it doesn't work out, you don't have to stick with it.

Do your children share a room? Did you share a room with a sibling as a child? I'd love to hear any of your experiences or memories in the comments.

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