Toddler and Baby Room Sharing

Rebecca McHugh, RN, Mom, owner of Grow Kiddo and Moms on Call Certified Consultant walks us through her journey with her newborn and toddler room sharing, what rules she put in place for her toddler and what she kept consistent during the transition!

When we welcomed our second baby we lived in a small home with only 2 bedrooms, so there weren’t many options for keeping the baby and our 4 year old separate. And although people thought it was crazy, we decided we were going to put two kids in the same room. Because, sometimes you just don’t have a choice!

For the first 3 months, we kept the newborn in our room in a pack and play, as far away from us as possible (which wasn’t very far because our room was small). But we did the best we could. We had a sound machine in place and room darkening curtains to create a pitch black sleep environment at night. Once the baby hit 12 weeks and 12 pounds, it was time to lose the swaddle and move him into his crib. We moved him to the new space we created that he and his old sister would share.

We gave them the larger of the two bedrooms so we could fit a crib and a twin bed in the same room. We placed a sound machine by each of their beds and made sure the room was pitch black at night.

For the first 3 nights, we let the baby sleep in the room alone, so he could adjust to his own room and being without a swaddle. (When dropping the swaddle, there can be some fussing as the baby finds his new sleeping spot). We had our 4 year old sleep on a mattress in our room for those 3 nights.

Then, on night 4, we talked to big sister about some rules of sharing a room with a younger sibling. She was very excited!!

Rules for Room Sharing

  1. No getting in the crib with the baby!
    • We explained the dangers of climbing in the crib with baby and why it was important she stayed in her toddler bed, ALL night!
  2. Waiting for her clock to turn green before she left her room in the morning.
    • This was something she was already doing when she had her own room.
  3. Sneaking out quietly if she had to potty in the middle of the night and getting back to bed quickly. 
    • Another option is keeping a small potty available in the room.

I have to admit we were very nervous that first night. What if he woke her up? What if she woke him up?

Night 1 of them sharing a room, we put the baby to bed at 7:00pm and then let big sister stay up until 7:30pm reading stories with us and reiterating our household rules and the new rules for room sharing! When it was time to go in their room, we snuck her in, gave quick snuggles, tucked her in and then we snuck back out of the room. The first night went great! And even on nights when the baby was sick or teething his crying never seemed to wake her. They truly just got used to being together. This was a big leap for the entire family but it had to be done, and it ended up being great!

A few things we kept consistent in our routine for both Baby and Toddler in this BIG transition to room sharing!

  • Two sound machines
    • One by each bed
    • 12-24 inches from the head of the bed on a nightstand or dresser
  • Blackout shades to make sure there were no early wake ups for either one!
  • Wake up clock for the toddler. (This is another good option!)
    • She knew to stay in bed until the clock turned green and it was time to get up. This kept her out of our room in the middle of the night or early in the morning!
  • Not worrying about the baby waking the toddler or vice versa.
    • They do learn to sleep through each other’s wake ups.