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Do's and Don'ts for Room Sharing

Maybe you are expecting a new member of the family to arrive soon, maybe you need an extra guest room, or maybe you are just simply out of space and do not have another option. Whatever the reason might be for having your little ones share a room, it has become a definite reality for many families. After watching families make this transition over the years, we have many tips on the Do’s and Don’ts for room sharing, and we thought we would share them with you in case you are getting ready to make that transition for your little ones.


Talk to them about the transition. If at least one of your children is old enough, make sure to have a lot of positive conversations around the move to get them excited about it ahead of time. Ask them questions around what they are excited about, and maybe what they are NOT excited about with the move. This makes them feel heard and gives them a chance to let you know their concerns or fears about the transition and work together through those so they can start to look forward to sharing a space with their sibling.

Use a sound machine. Sound machines are very helpful in blocking out background noises for our little ones. They can be extremely helpful during the light stages of sleep when transitioning from one sleep cycle to the next. Plan on finding a place somewhere in the room between your littles ones if possible to place the sound machine so that it can block out any noises if your little one wakes up or talks in their sleep.  

Get creative with room set up. Depending on how big the room is, you might have to get a little creative with the room set up. If possible, you will want to avoid putting two cribs or beds next to each other. Giving each child their own sleep space will encourage them to fall asleep easier and be less disruptive during bedtime and any night wake ups. If you have a child that is a lighter sleeper that wakes up more, think about putting them closer to the door so there is less disruption for the other child when a parent is entering and leaving the room.

Honor each child’s sleep schedule: Each child has their own sleep needs, which means they might be on a different sleep schedule from one another. Do not try to force your children to have the same schedule if it is not working for them. This will more than likely cause more sleep problems at bedtime, create more wake ups at night, or create earlier wake up times in the morning. Accommodate their individual sleep needs with a schedule that works best for their bodies.

If your kids are close in age and have similar sleep needs, do bedtime routines and tuck in together. Otherwise, bedtimes should be at least an hour apart. That timing might seem like more work, but it could be a solution to bedtime struggles. For example, if you have a toddler that naps during the day she might be going to bed later than your school-age child that does not nap anymore.


Make the transition to fix sleep problems. The last thing you will want to do is put your little one’s together in hopes of fixing any current sleep issues. In my experience, this almost always ends with both kiddos sleeping worse than they were before. Most of the time the child that is struggling with sleep ends up waking up the child that was sleeping well, creating more sleep problems in the future. Make sure both children are sleeping well on their own before moving them into the same room together

Use this as an opportunity to move baby to from a crib to a toddler bed during transition. Making two big changes at the same time, can be a recipe for disaster! Doing too much at the same time can be overwhelming for little ones and cause them to quickly regress in their sleep. If you are planning to transition your toddler out of the crib, I would recommend doing it AFTER moving them into the new space together. Have him in the crib in the new room for a few weeks to get used to the new space while still being in the comfort of his familiar crib. Once he is used to the space and new routine and continues to sleep well, then you can start to make the transition out of the crib into a bed.

Expect things to go perfectly. Any transition takes time to get used to. Even as adults, we need time to adjust to new surrounding and it is the same for little ones. If it is taking a while for your little ones to adjust to the new set up, give them time. Be consistent and firm with your boundaries and expectations around their sleep and be patient. However, even if we do all of the right things and make the extra effort to set up the space perfectly for our little ones’ sleep, we might have to have a back-up plan if it is not working. In some cases, with very sensitive sleepers, room sharing just is not an option if you want them to get good quality sleep. If you are finding that room sharing is not working for your kiddos, have a back-up plan to get them their own space. This might mean moving them back to their own rooms, or getting creative and setting up a sleep space for them somewhere else in the house.

Force naps in the same space. Daytime sleep is a whole different beast from night sleep. Some children can nap together no problem if they are on the same sleep schedule, but I have experienced many cases where children need to be separated for daytime sleep. This might look like setting up a pac and play in a different room for naps for one child, while the other child naps in their bedroom.

If you are getting ready to make this big move, good luck! Be patient with realistic expectations and try to enjoy it!

About the author

Amanda Medley

Why didn’t we try this sooner?! As we speak he is sound asleep in his crib – and has been since 7:15 pm.

Karianne Wanggaard

Sleep Well Sleep Specialists

Don't go through another night of bad sleep.

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Working with Shannon, I went from 2-3 wake ups every night to 1 or 0. She aligned the plan with my preferred sleep cycle. She was always coaching, never judging. Shannon was great, I have referred MANY people to her! That's the best testament to her work that I can give.

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