Useful tips for successful baby and toddler room sharing

Avoid the pitfalls of sibling room sharing, follow these strategies to ease your children into a happy sleeping arrangement.

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When Sharon Lim had her daughters — Kristine, 3, and Kaela, 6 — she looked forward to letting her kids share a room with each other.

Lim notes, “I used to share my room with my older sister and we had a really good relationship and I felt like living in close quarters helped us.”

Indeed, when siblings share a room, it encourages them to hone their communication skills, which, in turn, boosts their bond.

SG Supernanny’s children’s sleep expert Zoe Chu notes that having your kids share a room teaches them the importance of sharing things with one another. They will also learn to solve problems together.

“Try finding [and reading] storybooks about siblings sharing a room together to prepare your child mentally for the transition.”

Siblings are bound to squabble and have conflicts along the way. But this also means they have to learn to fix those problems, compromise and find a solution together. Still, it may not always be smooth sailing to let your kids sleep in the same room, especially when one is a toddler and the other, a baby.

Chu advises that you should ideally only let your offspring share a room when your infant and toddler can sleep through the night without rousing each other. “In general, babies over 6 months old wouldn’t wake up in the middle of the night anymore.”

Learn how to prevent these common issues…

Problem #1: Sibling rivalry

WHY? If you don’t give your older child advance warning of your decision to make them share the room with their younger sibling, they may rebel against the new arrangement. It may even create disharmony between the siblings and the older one may even resent their younger sibling because they are “invading” their space.
THE SOLUTION Chu says it’s vital to communicate your intentions to your older child ahead of time, so that they know when and what to expect. “Try finding [and reading] storybooks about siblings sharing a room together to prepare your child mentally for the transition.”


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Problem #2: Disrupting the other sibling’s sleep

WHY? If the baby fusses — or worse, cries — they’ll wake the older one up. This might see you spending the entire night trying to make them both sleep.
THE SOLUTION Chu suggests staggering their bedtime routines ― first settling bubba before tucking in your older child. You can also rope in your spouse to take care of one child while you tend to their sibling. Also, be sure to teach your older child to do things quietly at night when he is in the bedroom, especially when the baby’s asleep.

Chu stresses, “You may want do some role-playing to give your child lots of practice, so that they will learn how to [do things] gently and speak using their quiet voice.” Train them well before they start sharing the room with each other.

Also, be sure to teach your older child to do things quietly at night when he is in the bedroom, especially when the baby’s asleep.

Problem #3: Maintaining separate spaces for both kids

WHY? Each person’s room is an expression of their identity and personality. So, moving your child to a shared space might make them feel more protective of their belongings as they may feel like they’re losing ownership of the space.
THE SOLUTION Divide the room such that there’s enough space for each child to have a space to call their own and express their individuality. Chu urges that you involve your peewee in the transition process.

“You can ask your child to help decorate the room or choose their own toddler bed.” Doing so will make them feel that they are involved in the transition process, so that they’ll be more willing to share the room with their younger sibling. Also make sure to leave space for your younger child, so that they can choose how to decorate it when they’re older.

Problem #4: Watch out for choking hazards

WHY? Those small Lego blocks that your older kid plays with can pose a choking hazard if your baby pops these into their mouths. Such playthings may also be a tripping hazard or cause pain if you even stamp your foot on them accidentally.

THE SOLUTION Teach your mini-me to be organised and to always put away their toys after playtime. Chu notes that it may help to place smaller toys in a separate box and put them well out of your baby’s reach. Click here for tips on how to make cleaning up fun for your toddler.

Be also mindful not to let your two children share the same bed — it can increase your baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Chu stresses that the crib is the safest place for your baby to sleep in ― separate from their older siblings.

Photos: iStock

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