How to Move Siblings into the Same Bedroom (Without Disrupting Sleep)
Siblings! Such a blessing (though they can sometimes feel like a curse!)
There are a lot of questions that come with having your second child (isn’t it amazing how much we forget from the first time around?) And a lot of them have to do with how your first child will react.
Will your older child be jealous, or feel neglected?
Will you have enough time to devote to your newborn when there’s another child in the mix?
Will you and your partner feel overwhelmed?
Will your children like each other?
These are all good questions. But as sleep experts, the question about siblings we get asked the most often have to do with, you guessed it, sleep.
In particular, parents, especially those in apartments and smaller homes, or those who are used to room-sharing with their children and want their own room back, want to know if it’s possible to put siblings in the same room without disrupting the kids’ (and the parents’) sleep.
We know this transition can be daunting. You have at least one kid that’s a great sleeper (and only you know how long it took to get them there.) The very last thing you want to do is anything to jeopardize your great sleeper’s sleep. Is it even possible to put both kids in the same room without completely ruining everyone’s sleep and sanity, you ask?
The good news: it is!
But there are steps you need to take to ensure the transition from one kid in their own bedroom to two kids in a shared bedroom goes as smoothly as possible. And that’s where we come in.
In honor of National Sibling’s Day, we’ve compiled this handy checklist of what you should do before considering moving your children into the same bedroom, what steps to take when moving them into the same room, and the things you need before you do so.
Step 1: Don’t try and move children into the same room until both are sleeping through the night.
Trying to put a child who isn’t sleeping through the night into the same room as the child who is sleeping through the night—or even worse, trying to combine two children who aren’t sleeping through the night—is not going to go well for anyone. So we recommend waiting until both children are sleeping through the night to attempt room-sharing.
If you’re trying this out with a baby and a toddler, wait until your baby is at the appropriate age to be sleep-trained. Babies should be at least 11 pounds, which a typical baby reaches at around 3 months of age, and should have slept for a 5-hour stretch at least once, before any kind of sleep training is attempted.
Once your child reaches these milestones, spend time sleep training him or her. (For info on Sofia’s Gentle Sleep Training method, read more here. And for more personalized help, contact us via the Kulala app, where we have sleep experts on call—we’re happy to help!)
A tip: If you’re short on space, say in a 2-bedroom apartment, it’s easier to do gentle sleep training if your baby is in his or her own room. As a temporary solution, move the older child who is sleeping through the night into your own bedroom as you sleep train the younger child in the second bedroom. It’s easier on you and the child if you can close a door between you as you teach them to fall asleep on their own.
(Remember, the Gentle Sleep Training method advocates letting your child cry for only 90 seconds—but we know, as parents ourselves, how long that can feel when your child is crying! Being in a separate room makes it a tiny bit easier—for your baby and for you.)
Once the younger child has been sleeping through the night for at least a week, then you should be ready to move on to step 2.
Step 2: Try to adjust both children’s schedules so that their bedtimes align.
Schedules: so important. Getting your children on the same schedule can be tricky, since children of different ages need different amounts of daytime and nighttime sleep.
(For a handy chart of how much sleep your child needs by age, click here. Remember: daytime sleep and nighttime sleep are interdependent, so adjust bedtime will necessarily involve adjusting naptime and sometimes nap length, too.)
If their nighttime sleep is about the same amount, great! If not, work backwards from their wakeup time to get their bedtime the same. Both will likely wake each other up in the morning, because that's when our sleep pressure is lowest, so it's important they each have bedtimes that allow them to 1. Get enough sleep, and 2. Sleep through the night. Use the Kulala app to figure out the ideal bedtime for each child.
It’s harder to ensure one child isn’t waking the other up when they’re going to bed at different times—but this doesn't mean room sharing is impossible. In this scenario, have your partner occupy the kid who goes to bed later. For older kids TV (on dim) is ok while you bring the other one to bed, especially if they're jealous and will district you from the bedtime routine of the other one.
Once you’ve figured out what kind of schedule to get your children on, then you’re ready to try it out. Remember to always go through your children’s bedtime routines. Babies and children thrive on routine. So even though it may take both you and your partner to wrangle your children with more than one kid to juggle at bedtime, try and keep their routines consistent: breastfeeding or bottle, a bath, bedtime stories, etc.
Step 3: Create the perfect sleep environment.
Obviously, you’ve taken the steps to ensure your children’s sleep environment is safe. You have an approved crib for your younger child. Maybe two cribs if your children are close together in age, or perhaps a toddler bed for your older child. You’ve bolted all their furniture to the wall. You have blackout curtains, so your children don’t wake up (and wake you) with the sun every morning. You’ve probably added some cute décor and a rocking chair. But to ensure the best possible night’s sleep for your children, you need two main things:
White noise is important not only to drown out unwanted noise, either from one another, the house, or outside noises, especially if you live in a city, but it’s also soothing for babies especially, because it mimics the sounds of the womb.
There are lots of options out there for white noise machines—simply Google if you’re in search of one. There are also white noise apps you can find on your phone, if you don’t have or want to make the space for one.
A Red Light
The other essential for your children’s shared bedroom is a red light lamp.
Why red light?
Light is made up of different wavelengths that correspond to different colors. In the morning, sunlight has a higher proportion of blue light, signaling our bodies it’s time to wake up. While in the evening, the blue light decreases as the amount of red light rises (which is why sunsets have pink, orange, or red light), telling our bodies it’s time to get ready for sleep. This is how circadian rhythm works.
Melatonin, the hormone released at night that regulates our sleep, has been shown to decrease in the presence of blue light. Artificial lights, like incandescent lightbulbs and the light from TVs, tablets, and smartphones, all release some amount of blue light. So it stands to reason to help us sleep, we need to eliminate blue light from our sleep environments.
The same is even more true for our children. Science has shown that young children are even more effected by the disruptions caused by blue light. So in order to avoid disrupting your children’s sleep, you should avoid turning on any lamps until morning.
But what if a child needs something at night? That’s where red light comes in. Unlike blue light, red light does not disrupt melatonin production, which means it doesn’t disturb our circadian rhythms, or your children’s sleep. Keeping a red light in your child’s bedroom means if you need to turn the light on at some point during the night if one child needs something, you’ll be at a lower risk of waking the other up. And if they do wake up, they’ll be able to get back to sleep more easily, having only the red light on.
The Kulala Baby Sleep Lamp is a great option for a red light lamp. It’s also a beautifully designed lamp that will look great in any children’s bedroom.
And there you have it! Two kids who sleep through the night, on the same bedtime schedule, with white noise and a red light—all a recipe for a happy, healthy, well-rested family.
And if you’re adding a third kid into the mix? Just continue to follow these tips, and you should be able to do it as seamlessly as before. And remember, we’re always here to help with any sleep-related questions you might have.
Do you have any more tips for moving your children into the same room? Is it something you’ve tried, or plan on trying soon? Let us know on Instagram!