Many parents wonder if it’s a good idea to have siblings sharing a room. Sometimes families do not have a choice and children will need to share a room due to lack of space in the home. Other times, parents want to consciously put siblings into the same room to allow them to bond and share special time together. According to Lawrence Kagan children are predisposed to act with distinctive personalities, and it is not always possible to predict how children are going to act around one another or to prevent issues such as sibling rivalry. He believes the most important way to encourage siblings to get along is to reinforce sharing behaviors and to always give positive reinforcements when applicable.
Sleep expert Kathy Sinclair offers some suggestions for siblings who are sharing a room to help siblings enjoy better sleep and to interact better during the day. Sinclair suggests waiting until the younger child has slept at least 12 hours per night without waking up, for two weeks time, before putting them in the room with the older child. This respects the older child’s time for sleep, and prevents constant disruptions to the older child’s sleeping pattern. If you have a younger child sharing the room with an older child or toddler, it is important to understand that if both children wake up in the middle of the night, it is likely because one has awoken the other. Sinclair suggests soothing the child who woke up first to take care of any issues or fears. This should allow both children to relax again into sleep. She also suggests allowing the children to self-soothe for a few minutes before rushing into the bedroom.
Kim West, sleep expert, suggests allowing the baby and child to self-soothe if one or both of them wake up during the night. If you must enter the room, it is best to use the divide and conquer strategy, allowing each parent to deal with one of the children. With the older child, it is important to keep them in their bed and comfort them while explaining to them that they do not need to worry and they can go back to sleep, and that the baby is being taught how to sleep. West states that a single parent dealing with the issue might want to let the older child know that you understand the baby is awake and that they do not have to worry about anything, and then attending to the baby so hopefully the older child can relax back into sleep.