12 December 2006

New baby and preschooler sharing a room? Talk amongst yourselves.

From Sarah:

I'm expecting my second child in April and the new baby will be sharing a room with my daughter who will be 3.5 at the time the baby is born.  My daughter is very excited about the prospect of sharing a room with a new sister.  In fact I don't think it ever occurred to her that the baby would sleep anywhere else.  My husband and I are crossing our fingers that she will remain enthusiastic, but I'd love to know how others have dealt with siblings sharing rooms, especially a baby and a preschooler.  I'm most concerned about bedtime and how to get them both to sleep.  Any suggestions/advice?

We've had absolutely no problem, even when my daughter was a newborn, and my kids (a boy and a girl) are about the same age spread as yours will be. We're fortunate that their "rooms" are really a single room -- a bedroom with an attached dormer separated by a small arch. So, while there is no door between the rooms, they still have separate spaces. Not that it has mattered -- they love being together. We often hear giggles late into the night on weekends, and we're happy to give them the private space to bond.

When my daughter was a newborn, our son slept right through her nighttime crying. As she got older and would call out to us, he would sometimes go in and comfort her. I'm not sure this would have happened had they been in separate rooms.

Your thoughts?

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Our son will be four when his sib is born in July. When he was born, we had a toddler bed set up at the foot of our bed but ended up cosleeping. We expect to cosleep with the new baby and introduce them to the room around a year or so when we will buy them bunk beds. They'll share regardless of gender until such time as one of them becomes uncomfortable with the sharing.

With a 3-year old and an 8-month old, we just recently started putting them down to sleep in the same room... Lots of trepidation and "how will this ever work" beforehand, but it has gone so smoothly! Our bedtime routine is to get them both bathed and into jammies, do the story time and song(s) for the eldest while holding the baby, tuck eldest in. Then I carry the baby out of the room, nurse, bring her back in and put her in the crib. Sometimes she goes right down, sometimes she will fuss for a minute or two. In either case, it gives me a good chance to kiss and hug eldest one more time. The baby crying does not seem to bother her at all. As a matter of fact, eldest seems to be going down much, much more easily now that they are sharing a room. I would say when the time comes to forge ahead with your routine and see what happens--I bet you may be pleasantly suprised! Good luck!

We've done just this. My son was 3.5 when my first daughter was born. We have only two bedrooms in our house and there was only one place to have her sleep.

He never was too excited to have a baby in the house and he complained a great deal about the crying. We muddled through, then did it again. There are three in that room now: almost 6, 2, and 4 mos.

Sure, we'd all like it with separate bedrooms, but it's doable. Few cultures have separate rooms for each child.

Getting them to sleep was an exercise in trial-and-error, with a little creativity thrown in when things just weren't working out.

My son is a heavy sleeper, so if the baby went down after he was asleep, there were no problems. We schedule our children, and that helps a lot. After a few weeks, the baby knows when sleeptime is, and settles down quickly, if there is any fussing at all. I know it's hard to tell if I'm talking about when the second or third child was added to the room, but there really wasn't a difference.

Soon we'll convert from two toddler beds and a bassinet to bunks and a crib. I expect that to be a more difficult transition since my oldest will have a harder time getting up to go potty.

Oh! One more thing. If the baby wants to cry, as they sometimes will, we moved the bassinet into the kitchen for the night.

My daughters are 4.5 and 2 and have been sharing their room for well over a year now. I feel that it has helped them bond. We were surprised when Bella asked to have her little sister move in with her. Sometimes she gets mad when her little sister keeps her awake, but for most of the time they love being together.

At one and four my kids were put in one room to make room for grandparents. They've never stopped sharing a room. We turned the other into a much loved playroom, and they sleep on a trundle setup so the 2 1/2 y.o. is low to the ground. The older one is such a sound sleeper that his brother seldom wakes him. I'm glad they're enjoying each other so much.

Thanks to everyone who has resonded so far. It's great to know that this transition has gone smoothly for others. My plans for now is to start out the way rudyinparis describes by holding the baby while we do the normal nightime stories for my 3 year old, put the eldest down and then nurse the baby. If that doesn't work, we'll try some other options.

Odd.

Adrienne and I were just talking about this the other day. We don't have multiple children yet, but stumbled into this area of inquiry as a sort of "what if" thought experiment.

Adrienne said "We could probably just put them together." To which I responded, "You think?"

It sounds like it isn't a bad idea and has side benefits of bonding that I hadn't considered.

Jim

Our six year old really, really wants to share a room with his 3 month old brother. I told him as soon as the baby could sleep through the night, they could share a room!

I am worried about both of them getting enough sleep. I am worried about the baby crying/eating in the middle of the night and I am worried that the six year old will wake the baby up a lot. (He thinks the baby sleeps too much! :)

Currently my 5 and 3.5 year olds share a room, and my 9 month old co-sleeps with me and hubby. We have moved every 9-12 months for the last 5 years and have experimented just about every way with sleeping arrangements! In fact, from Nov '05 to October '06 we were all in a single large room together. Honestly, it would not have been possible if the baby had not slept with us.

I consider myself experienced with infants and toddlers, and having used cry-it-out and various insensitive methods with my first children (who still have occasional night terrors and fear sleeping without one another present), I have never seen greater results in our family than what we have achieved co-sleeping with our infant. I was NEVER sleep-deprived with my third, even though he fed throughout the night. There is no way that I would attempt to put him in the older kids' room now, because I know that I would be getting less sleep myself! And yes, my hubby and I do have a sex life too, even with a baby so close!

Be open to what is best for the family, is all I can say, even if it entails being creative and trying multiple arrangements! As parents with several small children, we need our sleep no matter how we get it!

I feel lucky that we can give our two children their own rooms, but occasionally they ask to sleep together (they are 3 and 6). I encourage this, and make it seem like I am giving them a special treat, because sometimes when we have houseguests I need to put them together. It can be useful to get your kids used to sleeping together even if they don't need to most of the time. This also makes them more tolerant of sleeping together on vacation or when visiting relatives.

I am dealing with this as I write. My daughter is 3 1/2 and my son is four months. Tonight my son was asleep in my arms at eight and I had to wait to put him in his crib until my daughter fell asleep. At eight-thirty she was still calling me. When she was finally quiet I tiptoed in and set down the baby... and of course she woke up and demanded more warm milk to which I replied no, then she cried, then my son woke up and cried. So I took my son back into my room until my daughter finally fell asleep. He is now in the crib and I am hoping for the best. When he cries in the middle of the night my daughter sometimes sleeps through it, and sometimes she sits up in bed with her hands over her ears, horrified, and yells, "Mommy, he's crying!" Still, I think this sharing a room thing is hardest on me because I'm constantly worring about both of them.

I have one son who is 4 and another who is three months. I'm just about to start the process of moving the younger son in with the older one. I'm due back to work in a month, and I'm dreading this process only because my first son was 2 before he started sleeping through the night. For those who have been successful, what age did you start moving the kids together?

My concern is whether it is safe to put a young baby in with a toddler with no impulse control. Right now, with our 2.5 year old in his own room, we put him down in a toddler bed and shut the door - in the mornings on the weekends, sometimes he'll play quietly in there for an hour or more before we go in to him.

Given that he has what I think is normal toddler-resentment of the baby (and tries to whack her every once in a while when he wants my attention and I'm nursing her) I'm nervous to leave them alone together in a room, though that is our intention. Also, since I nurse her in the middle of the night I'd want the rocking-chair in there, and we already had to move it out of the room because the toddler was sliding it around to climb on it to reach what he shouldn't. He's a great kid, but it feels like 2.5 is too young to leave him alone with his little sister. Anyone have any thoughts about that?

My 2 girls (ages 3.5 and 3 months) sleep together and have from the time we brought baby home. The older was really excited about a new baby but wasn't originally excited about sharing her room. (She wanted baby to sleep in brother's (age 13) room). It has gone really smoothly. We maintained the nighttime ritual that was in place with bath, cuddles, stories and singing only now the oldest holds (with help) the baby as we do this. I put baby in her crib during the last song and tuck her in, wind up her mobile then go across the room and tuck in the older.

My oldest is 9 and she shares a room with her 2 year old sister. Prior to that she shared a room with her brother, who is now 5 years old.

The only problem I had is trying to get the 5 year old to bed in his "own" room and not his sisters' room. So I finally gave up and got a bunk bed with a twin bed on top and a double bed on the bottom. My son sleeps on the top bunk and his sisters sleep together on the bottom.

Coy still has his "own" room but it has really turned in to a shared playroom. I plan to continue to allow them to share rooms.

I have a 8-month old and 3.5 old. They share a room. Our first daughter we co-slept-not very good because she still wants to sleep with us. The second girl, we started in her crib and she is doing well with it, but our 3.5 year old still wants to sleep with us. So, it's hard for us-but we are on a schedule for the most part...it's a work in progress.

My first son was 4 1/2 when my second son was born. Son1 is a careful player, he arranges elaborate settings on the floor in his room so we thought it only fair to him to have the smaller brother in a seperate room. Our idea was that the older one could keep on playing like he was used to and the little one could develop at his own pace.

I retrospect, hmmm, maybe not such a good idea!

The result of the seperate rooms was constant battles between the boys as soon as Son2 started to walk: "He is in my room!!" "He is breaking it all!!!". My older son locked himself in his room to be undisturbed. This worked until the little one could open the door. Besides we hardly saw our son anymore and I did not like the closed door at all (keep that for puberty!). We had some serious talking with my older son that he needed to chill! I threatend to move them into one room together and make the other room the playroom and I would have done it, if things would not have worked out!
We do have some fragile peace right now but in retrospect I think the one sleeproom, one playroom arrangement would have worked out better in the beginning and we still could have made the seperate rooms when they are older.
Sigh, too late now.

We tried to have our kids share a room (they're 2.5 years apart) when my son was born 5+ years ago.

Our experience was not good, but it had a lot to do with our daughter's temprement. She could not stand the baby's crying. Any noise the baby made would give her almost an anxiety attack that he was "going to start crying."

Which, now that I think about it, is why I couldn't co sleep with my babies. I would get anxious waiting for little noises to become big cries and then I couldn't sleep.

If I had more patience, we could have made it work and I do think if our daughter had been older, it would have worked better.

My sister and I are 4 years apart and shared a room until I was 15. According to my mom I used to wake her up when the baby cried, often before the crying reached levels she could hear in her room and I'd try to comfort her in the night sometimes.

(I still try to talk the kids into sharing a room now that they're 5 and 8...son is into it, daughter is still against it. We could really use the extra bedroom for an office!)

One of the big miracles of baby #2's arrival is the fact that my older son (who was four when baby #2 arrived) can sleep through any crying jag.

Just amazing - two tough rounds of CIO and the older one just slept, well, like a baby.

I have had similar expiriences to MamaLoo and Shell.

I have a nine year old daughter, six year old son, and a two year old daughter and a one week old son.

I shared rooms and baths with my older and then younger borhters and sisters as a child. I never thought that it was awkward until I was around 9. By that time my parents had a four bedroom house built and each of the older boys shared a room, my step sister and I shared, and the two younger boys shared. Each of the siblings sharing were step siblings, which forced us to get along. The baby slept in my prents room. It was a lot like the Brady Bunch. By the time the baby got big enough to room with us girls our older brothers had moved out and we moved into the master bedroom of an 19th century home and had plenty of room for three girls.

My own children co-slept with us. I nurse my babies, it makes it easier.

#1 for three years until #2 arrived. Then she slept in our room in a toddler bed until #2 was a year old and began kicking my husband and I out of our bed, so they moved into their own room.

#3 slept with us until she was about 9 months old. We had gotten a full and gotten rid of our queen and we were both getting sleep deprived with her waking up and trying to crawl off the bed. She moved into the older kids larger room (we have always given the kids the larger room. We have never had a master bath.)

Then we moved downstairs and intot he back half of the den. The boy got his own room and the girls shared, both upstairs. THe only thing is they all crawl in bed together. We have a twin bed that has a surround of rails so they will not fall out, but they insist on cramming into bed together every night now that it has gotten chilly outside.

I say do what works for you. That's what we do.

I live in France (this is to link to the "culture" comment above -- it is true that in most of the cultures I know more or less (European, Middle-East) children tend to share a room).

My boys are now 2 and 4.5. I started to sleep with the older one when the younger was born (mostly so that he does not feel left alone) and it went on until the younger was 1.5. As of today, the typical routine is the following:

20% of the cases: we put them to bed at the same time, they play a bit and then fall asleep

80% of the cases: we put them together, they play, then they yell, then they really yell, then dad comes in to say in a deep voice "sleep time NOW", smiles and leaves. They yell again after some time, the younger one for unknown reasons and the older one wants the younger to be taken away so that he can sleep. Which we do.

The point here is that they absolutely love to go to bed together (keep talking about how this is fun and everything), it's just that they do not want to sleep together afterward.

This could probably be solved though a few psychotherapy sessions, a review of all the mistakes we made in the past and other scientific things -- this said I expect the behavior to change on its own within a couple of months :)

I have a bigger spread in my girls. They are 2.5 & 11. When DD2 was born they had separate rooms, but I would have to tread gently walking in to the room to check at night because DD1 was usually asleep on her floor.

When we moved I gave her the option and she jumped at the chance to share a room with her baby sister. We are upgrading to bunk beds this weekend. Luckily they are the type that break apart.. in case either changes her mind as they get older.

I fully expect them to want their own space in a few years, but right now I love the bonding time they have together as big sis sings baby sis to sleep...

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