Sibling Room Sharing

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By Megan Heuer – Good Night Consultant

Is it possible to have two children share one room? If children share a room do, they not wake each other? Is it possible to have 2 children share one room and sleep through? I get these questions often when clients want their children to share a room because they have the same gender and think it would be good for them or because practically there is only one room available. Yes, it is possible and successful too. My 4.5 year old and 5 month old had to share a room when we moved homes.

I have 3 children and personality and sleep patterns are what swayed me to decide who would sleep in the same room together. My oldest child (4.5 years at the time) has always been a good sleeper (she seems to sleep independently, quite easily and not much wakes her up at night, she sleeps through (for 11 hours) and loves her sleep. I thought she would be the least disturbed and would be able to settle herself if/when woken up by her baby sister, as my 5 month old was still having one night feed until around 8 months.

What helped with creating the best shared sleep environment: block out curtains and blinds (the darker the better), this helped with bedtime and morning light, putting white noise between the cot and bed, this helped to minimize their sleeping sounds of snoring or even coughing when sick. Placement: placing the cot and bed as far apart from each other as possible, the room isn’t very big and they are about a meter and a half apart. As well as talking to my 4.5 year old child about sharing with her baby sister and that bedtime was for sleep and not talking/playing time, 18 months later and this is becoming more of a regular discussion because the girls seem to think bedtime is choir practice time. Using a sleepy sack on my youngest also ensured she doesn’t wake from the cold morning or winter temperatures.

Early wake ups were a bit of a challenge with each season change, my girl’s needs are a little different but using a gro-clock to help my oldest child understand that she needs to stay quiet and, in her bed, until it goes orange. If her baby sister wakes up we have heard her hush and “shhh” her and she has fallen asleep again or remained quiet until wake up time.

Different bedtime times has also been a hurdle to overcome as my now 2 year old is exhausted by 6pm while my 6.5 year old is not yet ready to sleep until closer to 7pm. We allow our oldest to read or colour-in in our room until it is her bedtime, while we put our 2 year old down in her cot at 6pm. Once asleep her big sister sneaks in quietly and we tuck her into bed.

For my eldest who started expressing fears of darkness or being alone around 5 years of age. We reminded her that she is not alone and her sister is in the room with her, this has bought much comfort and peace. We have used Feather the Owl as a night light facing my eldest while she falls asleep but once asleep we switch it off for the night.

Napping was also a challenge as my 6 year old hasn’t napped since she was 3.5 years old, we moved all her toys to a central room where she can play while the baby sleeps. If the family has a ‘holiday nap’, which happens maybe once every 3 months, our oldest will nap on our bed while our 2 year old naps in their room in her cot.

One of the biggest pros has been when my oldest child has felt scared and not wanting to be alone she hasn’t been alone as I remind her, her sister is in the room with her throughout the night. The biggest plus for us has been when they wake up in the morning (especially the cold winter mornings) my eldest can safely get her baby sister out of the cot independently and they come through to our room for some morning cuddles without me having to get out of my warm bed!

Yes, I do believe room sharing is doable, achievable and hugely successful. My girls love sharing a room and have so much fun when they wake up together, they can be found in the cot together reading stories most mornings.