The birth of a second (or third, or fourth, etc.) baby not only spawns new sleep schedules, but it also can lead to new sleeping arrangements. For example, Circle of Moms member Trina K. wants to move her 11-week-old into her 2½-year-old son's room, but is apprehensive the brothers might wake each other up.
Similarly, mom Leigh-Ann D. says her three-month-old son has been sleeping in her room in a travel crib since birth, but she wants to move him into her two-year-old's room. "My hope is that we can move him to the crib in her room at around four months. Does anyone have any advice, words of wisdom or ideas on what I can expect?" she asks the Circle of Moms community.
Getting a baby and preschooler to share a room is relatively simple, say Circle of Moms members who have already walked down that path. Here they offer three tips for helping siblings sleep soundly together in the same room.
1. Prepare The Preschooler
One of the first steps when transitioning a baby to her sibling's room is making sure she has a warm welcome. To that end, it's important to talk to the elder sibling in simple terms about what to expect, and how she can be helpful.
"We prepared the eldest by saying, 'Won't it be exciting when your little brother comes to sleep in with you?'" says mom Viviene A., whose three-year-old and 10-month old have been sharing a room successfully since the youngest was five months old. The elder son now comes into Viviene's bedroom in the morning to let her know when the baby needs something. The only "problem" she has experienced "is getting them to be quiet in the mornings," Viviene says, noting she often finds the pair giggling.
Sharing a room can bring siblings closer together, say moms Karla M., Ashley W., and Genn M. Yet they note that it's also important to prep your preschooler for the room change because of safety reasons.
"For example, I told my son, 'You can't climb into the crib with your brother because he could get hurt, and you don't want him to get hurt,'" Ashley W. says. "He understood that, so I just made sure we talked about things we can do with brother and things we can't."
Similarly, Karla M., told her older child not to try to pull his little sister out of the crib or cover her with a blanket. Preschoolers especially like to test their independence, so Karla also checks on her children with a baby monitor, as well as eavesdrops with the door to the bedroom open, to ensure her son is gentle with the baby and is keeping the baby safe.
In the beginning, it helps to keep a watchful eye on your older child, Genn M. says. "I know that some kids have serious jealousy issues. Other kids think they are 'helping' mommy by trying to take care of their sibling, but really they might not be," she says. "My advice is to watch carefully how your eldest is around his sibling when he thinks you are not watching. That is when you are going to get an accurate reading on how he really feels."
If everything seems fine, then Genn says you can increase the siblings' alone time during the day, and then eventually transition them to sleep in the same room at night. "Always be ready to step in of course to correct anything unsafe or unwise that your eldest may do, but as long as he doesn't do anything to seriously endanger his little brother, then I don't see any problem putting them together.
If you feel the [elder child] is able to accept and understand that the baby is to be cared for by mom and dad, and that they can help their sibling by getting you, then you shouldn't have to worry when you move siblings into the same room, Samantha S. summarizes.
2. Get Baby Accustomed to Her 'Bed'
In addition to making sure your preschooler is ready for the change in sleeping arrangements, it's helpful to prepare the baby for the transition, too. Primarily, you want to make sure the baby is accustomed to his bedding, say moms Alisha D. and Shannon G.
"Do you already have a crib where your daughter sleeps?" Alisha asks. "We set up my second's crib a few weeks before she came, and around fiver months, moved her in." When the time came to move baby in with her two-year-old, she then just had to move the crib into the other room.
Similarly, before she moved her children in together, Shannon G. put her son down in his own crib during the day, and also had him sleep in his crib in her room at night "to make the transition smoother down the road." Only after her son started sleeping longer at night in his crib did she then move the baby and crib to the elder child's room.
3. Minimize Disruptions
Even when baby is comfortable in her crib, some moms say it's best not to move the baby into a sibling's room until the baby is sleeping through the night. It's probably best not to move the baby into the preschooler's room immediately because it could increase sibling rivalry toward the new baby, Erin L. says. And you also might want to wait until baby is sleeping through the night to eliminate the need for mom to enter the room for a feeding, when there could be more potential for the baby to wake up her sibling in the middle of the night, Harmony T. explains.
But if moms do not want to wait until their babies are sleeping through the night, then they at least should be ready to reach for the baby quickly when she wakes up at night, Heather S. says. She admits that when she put her son and daughter in the same room when her baby was about five months old, it was difficult for both children to get used to the other's sounds, and they would frequently wake each other up. "Them waking up each other up usually doesn't happen as long as you can get to the youngest one first," Heather says, noting however, that it depends of how sound of a sleeper the older one is.
Andrea H. also suggests moms put the heavier sleeper to bed first, to minimize disruptions. Depending on how soundly your children sleep, putting siblings into the same room "can be tricky," she explains. She, herself, did not put her children into the same bedroom until they were 3 years old and 20 months old.
Alicia J. agrees, noting that if you try to put both children to bed at the same time, siblings, even as young as four months old, can team up with the elder child so that they are continually playing and riling each other up. "It can go on all night," she recalls.
Yet, once siblings settle down, sleeping in the same room can help increase the bond between a baby and preschooler.
Several moms relish the times when they put their children in separate beds in the same room, but woke up to find siblings snuggling together in the same bunk.
Ganesa W. says her daughters shared a room from birth until a few months ago, and now are ages nine and 11. "For the most part I think it helped them to build a strong relationship and certainly built up their sharing skills. They are loving sisters who get along about 75 percent of the time, which I think is pretty normal."
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