Older sibling and baby sharing room in a small space

For the record, I think the reasons so many mothers put up pictures of their kids as their Facebook profile pictures are that 1) we have way more photos of our kids than of ourselves, and 2) we think we're fat and don't want people from high school to see that. I don't think it's any big social statement or grand conspiracy of sacrifice and sublimation.

Gennaro writes:

"I'm wondering how others have managed the logistics of having an older
child and a new baby in a house / space designed for a single kid? We
have a 2nd baby on the way and a 5-year-old boy and live in a 2-bedroom
bungalow. I'm guessing we'll have the baby sleep in our room for the
first while, and then transition s/he to share the other bedroom when
the time is right. I'm interested in strategies and experiences – what
worked, what didn't work, how your first child handled sharing their
room, etc."

I think this will probably be fine because your older child is 5 already. Once the baby is in the same room with your older son they won't have the same bedtime anyway, so you can put the younger one down first and then deal with the older one. Plus, the older one can understand that sometimes little kids wake up at night, and just go back to sleep.

It's my suspicion that this will go pretty smoothly, because the age difference is great enough that your older son won't want to be the baby anymore and won't be jealous, and will understand that babies need to be taken care of and helped to fall asleep, etc.

The suggestions I'd offer about putting them in the same room are based on having kids closer together in age (making sure the older one feels like a big kid, etc.). Who's got experience with siblings sharing a room with a 5+ year age gap they can share?

 

28 thoughts on “Older sibling and baby sharing room in a small space”

  1. We have a 4 3/4 year age gap and the oldest is nearly8 and we STILL haven’t managed to get them in the same room. We have one parent and one child in each bedroom. We had such major sleep issues the first 2 years of the oldest child’s life fighting to keep him in a crib in the nusery that I don’t care where people are sleeping as long as they are sleeping. I had a breakdown over sleep. So we’ve given up on the sleep wars and we figure it will happen when it happens. At this point the three year old wants to sleep in the “boys” room, but he chickens out at the last minute, so I hope we’ll be there soon but I wouldn’t be surprised if it stays this way until he’s 6.

  2. 4 year gap, rather than 5.We had jealousy that the baby got to stay with us in our bed, and the older HAD to sleep in his own room. So we ended up with both in our bed, even though the older one hadn’t bedshared since he was about 4 months old. Oof!
    So, I’ll advise to not make bedsharing sound extra loving and cuddly if you don’t want to have more company. And/or make sure the big kid space (for now) is plenty nice for being in… with an awareness that it will be that much harder to share if it is TOO special.
    Yeah, sorry, not helping a lot…
    Siblings Without Rivalry (the book) may help here more than the exact strategy. It’s about not making either solution look like a bad thing for subcontext/metamessage reasons. Making it practical and not about you HAVE to share or woo aren’t you EXCITED to share may be the best part of the strategy.
    We didn’t mind too much, all in all – the boys got along well, and they’re super attached to each other. The older is nearly 15, the younger is 10, and the 10 year old will still ask the 14 year old to sleep next to him in the trundle bed some nights, just so they can be close and talk together as they fall asleep. The older likes his space (a LOT, introverted and sensory sensitive), the younger likes to engage (a LOT, extroverted and sensory hyposensitive so always has to be leaning on or hugging or cuddling with someone). And yet they still manage to find a boundary that lets them relate to each other, without us having to always mediate (though we did mediate a LOT through various phases of development). Sharing has been really good (we have a two bedroom bungalow and FOUR kids, so two bunkbeds in one room for the kids… sharing is the default!)
    Does that help? Some other concrete things to think about:
    1. Sharing a room is often seen as a ‘less than’ experience socially (economic status defined by square footage), but we have seen a lot of value in it. Including that when going to sleep-away camp, my kids know how to actually be quiet so others can sleep. They know how loud their shifting around and rolling over is, because their siblings will complain at them if they’re too loud. They know if they snore. They know how to handle the ‘psst, can you quit that, trying to sleep over here!’ without having to figure it out. The camp director loves having kids who share rooms, because they come in with SKILLS.
    2. Sharing space means protecting prized possessions from the other kid. Teaching boundaries, and having places to put things that are choking hazards and/or fragile and/or just plain special and single-owner is important. Not bad things to know how to do, either.
    3. Shared identity may end up creating fights, even between older/younger kids (very common in twins, but not uncommon in close sibs). Being able to identify the ‘mine vs. yours’ spaces and the ‘shared space’ clearly, visually, may help reduce fighting over how to play ‘right’ with a toy (as in ‘I wouldn’t play with it that way, so you can’t, because you and I are really kinda one entity, and it disturbs me to have me doing things I wouldn’t do…’).
    4. Timing of bedtime being offset will work for a while, probably, but may be harder to explain at certain ages. All our kids go to bed at the same time, even the 14 year old, but they get up at different times. Easier on us in the one-room scenario, so that there’s no disturbing the youngers by accident (or not much – running late on homework happens). So far, so good on that. We’ll see as high school progresses. YMMV very much on who your kids are – try different things, but don’t shy away from same bedtime if it seems likely to work.
    5. White noise machines if someone is a loud or active sleeper. A good air filter may work just fine (low level fan noise).
    6. Escape planning/safety windows. Two kids playing in one room are more likely to come up with creative danger (later, but worth planning ahead for). We did put escape-ready bars in the easy-open windows near the bedrooms, after someone showed someone else how to open the window and lean on the screen to see down (erk!). Falls from windows are far more common than one thinks, so it’s not paranoia to put in safety features there. We also have an escape ladder in the window of the kids’ room, but would still have had to be there to help them with it (probably even now).
    7. Homework or other activities spaces. If homework is an in-your-room activity (coming up for the 5-year-old), then you may need additional planning for how to handle that with toddler ‘help’ (or how to avoid the ‘help’, such as giving the toddler homework, too). We do homework outside the bedroom (table or desk).
    That’s about it. Since we bedshared pretty much from the time B was born (G coming back in at that point), we just made our bed big enough (two queens when the twins were born – and yes, we did have four kids in our bed for a while). But we also had their room, with their beds, for the older two. And they used them now and then, and increasingly over time.
    Whatever works to get everyone sleeping, really. I’m sure there are many other ways to do it well.

  3. A couple data points:For a few months after we moved last year, my girls (5 and 18 months at the time) shared a room. They did great. I kind of wish they still did; it makes bed time SO much easier! I put them down at the same time, and the 5 year old (who unwinds very slowly) knew she had to be very quiet for the baby, and it made her fall asleep much faster than if she was in her own room where she had the privacy to switch on the light and play or read until she crashed out of sheer exhaustion.
    For a couple years, out of necessity because of their live-in job situation, my best friend, her husband, and their 3 kids (ages 7-2) all slept in the same (very large, in an old Victorian) room. Bunks and a crib at one end of the room, queen bed at the other.
    Baby number 4 was born and co-slept or had a bassinet next to the queen.
    Everyone did great! In fact, when the huz went to boot camp and the family was camping out in a short term rental with none of their stuff, the kids all still wanted to sleep in a pile on the floor like puppies. lol.
    They finally got their stuff moved to a proper house on base earlier this year, and it was hard to transition the kids to sleep in their “own” rooms (2 boys sharing, 2 girls sharing).
    I think “having your own room” is such a modern idea and sort of a fallacy. Kids are very flexible, and if you approach the situation with aplomb and aren’t feeling guilty and apologetic for not being able to provide x, y, z to your kid, they are going to take it in stride.

  4. @Anon, I’m in the kids’ room on the trundle 3 nights a week. The kids cycle through sleeping in the other bedroom (next to the other parent) the same three nights (one kid out in series). Because they settle and sleep better when we’re there, and they like it, and I don’t mind a lot (not as much as they do, certainly).Youngest two are 7. They COULD sleep solo. They prefer not to. I get 4 nights with epeepunk and no kids, which is definitely nice, but the real goal is sleep – mine, his, theirs. If someone’s sick, I’ll hit the trundle again, offcycle.
    :shrug:
    Whatever works, really. I slept in a rocker-recliner in Mr G’s room, with him on my lap, for I think two years. So technically he wasn’t in our bed, and neither was I. Turned out he needed chiropractic *and* reflux medication (YMMV), his neck was twisted to the side, possibly from that 80-hour labor where he was malpositioned… or something. Born an active, sweaty, snory sleeper. Add in reflux (silent, so no big puking signs or crying, for that matter), and he didn’t sleep through the night until he was 4 years old. Riiiiiight around when his brother was born, we figured it out. By then, he was sleeping solo, though, having outgrown my lap. (we got to prove the chiropractic case for the sudden improvement in sleeping at 4 years old, because he split his ear open and needed it stitched a few months later, for which it took six people to hold him down, in a twisted position. he hadn’t snored since week two of chiro, but after the torque-wrestling-ear-repair, he started snoring in the car on the drive home from the ER. back to chiro a few days later, and bingo, no snoring again. If that’s not an underlying condition with your kids, it won’t help, but just a thought to put out there if you haven’t explored it and are willing to consider chiropractic for children, which not everyone is okay with, either!).
    So far, the kids seem to sleep fine at grandparents’ houses, and on sleepovers, and at camp. No harm, no foul, and it works for us. 🙂 Glad you found a solution that bridges effectively from now to ‘later’, whenever later is.

  5. Oh, and I think eldest was probably somewhere around 8-9 years old when he stopped climbing back in bed with us periodically. I don’t really recall, as it doesn’t really matter for us. Maybe epeepunk remembers (since G-and-B-management was ‘his night time job’ while I was night-time managing M+R…).

  6. We don’t have as big an age gap, but room sharing was the BEST thing we ever did for our boys and our sleep.#1 was 3.5 when #2 arrived. #2 had a cradle in our room for late at night, and slept in a cot in their room for day naps & 1st bedtime until about 12 weeks, when we went cold turkey and put them in together all the time. (The cradle has always ended up being a theory, all 3 kids have co-slept as tiny babies)
    This move nearly 100% ended Mr#1’s night wakings and sneaking into our bed in the dead of night (which was an every night multiple times a night experience) because he finally had all the company he wanted in his room with him. Mr#2 has always been a happy sound sleeper, (or else stays awake quietly to play in the pitch black which is another sad story for another day) and after the first couple of nights when #2’s night crying for feeds or settling woke #1 briefly (but didn’t unsettle him at all) #1 started even sleeping through any baby ruckus to the maximum volume if it ever happened.
    It was just an amazing switch, from all the night troubles in the world to none at all. (Though it did mean that when #2 was 14 months old he climbed out of his cot unaided to follow his brother up the hall to snuggle in our bed first thing in the morning, which has always been family tradition). And noone is “onely” (toddler translation – lonely) any more at our house – Happy Days!
    Footnote: When #3 arrived this year #1 (now 5.5yrs) campaigned hard to have her cot in their room too. I would have been sold on the idea if only there had been floorspace for all three beds. I reckon the concept of a room to yourself is a very very modern and first world one, entirely overrated.
    Though as an addendum to this footnote it should be noted that I have minimal toys (read almost none) in their bedrooms, that place is for sleeping only, and toys & playing are conducted elsewhere in the house. So that means there’s no fighting over shared toys or space so far.

  7. That’s the same gap we have–we have a 6-year-old daughter and a 10-month-old son. It was *relatively* painless for us, though should note that the 10-month-old is a good and easy sleeper (much more low-maintenance than his sister ever was) and I think that made it easier. We started out with the baby in our room, and he stayed with us until he was around 4-5 months, I think. Then, on the advice of our wonderful pediatrician, we moved our daughter into *our* room (with the discussion that this would be a temporary situation, of course). She has one of those Ikea mattresses that is in several pieces, so we basically just made her up a bed at the foot of our bed, which she thought was fantastic but still enabled everyone to sleep well. Then we moved him into the room so that we could get him used to things, and after a longer period than we intended (because we’re lazy and it wasn’t really causing any problems), we moved the 6-year-old back in to the room they now share. Only once since then has he actually woken her up. And we have already found that both of really enjoy the company. We have to be fairly strategic about bedtime, so that they’re either going to bed at the same time or she’s going to bed after he’s well asleep, but otherwise, it’s been *much* easier than I feared.

  8. We have a smaller age gap, 2.5 years, and are just about to start room sharing. Our oldest, 4.5, has always slept with us except an odd night here or there. Efforts to get her into her own bed in her own room haven’t worked. She says she’s scared to sleep alone, mostly, and having slept cuddled with mommy and daddy for more than four years, I don’t blame her. Talking about moving her to sleep with the twins (who are two) in their room has her excited, and the twins say they want it too (though being two, sometimes they’re just being agreeable). I’m hoping it works out. I’m all for co-sleeping but it’s getting a little crowded.

  9. Our oldest daughter is 4-and-1/6-years older than her little sister, and it was her idea, actually, to move into the same room. We’re lucky enough to have enough room for each of them to have their own room, and that’s how it was at first, but our oldest wanted to share a room and bunk beds with her sister. I can’t really remember, but I think the little one might’ve been almost 2 when we made the switch, and she went directly from a crib in her own room to the bottom bunk (mattress on the floor, actually) of a low Ikea bunk bed with her big sister on the top. So, situation’s a lot different than yours, but I think if you give the older sib a sense of ownership–letting him choose decorations, etc.–it’ll help. Now, 2 years later, it’s consistently the younger one who falls asleep last and wakes up first, with the older one sleeping through all the noise.

  10. Ours are 2 years apart, and it really wasn’t an issue. The baby was in a crib in our room for awhile, and at 1 year or so, we told the kids that we were going to move younger into the kids’ room, and that was that. We put them down at the same time. I would actually say more closely-spaced can be easier that way, especially as they’re probably more likely to play together and to enjoy the company. As someone said before, it’s a very US idea that all kids need their own bedrooms, and I think before age 10 or so, they are likely to be just as happy sharing.We do have an oddly-laid-out house in that there is a door directly between the parents’ and the kids’ room (no hallway), and you have to go through the parents’ room to get to the upstairs bathroom, so we’re all kind of on top of each other anyway.
    Baby #3 is on the way, so we’ll see how that one goes. There are several reasons we might move, but if we stay, we just plan on bunk beds for the older ones.

  11. My two girls are 5 years apart – age 9 and 4. They’ve shared a room since the youngest moved from bassinet in our room to her crib in their room.There was a stretch when the older didn’t need/want company to go to sleep and neither did the baby which was delightful.
    The middle of the night wakings didn’t seem to bother the older one too much. Once in a while, the younger would use the older to help get us. But mostly, we would get her pretty promptly when she woke.
    Oh, and they basically have gone to bed at the same time the whole time. They don’t really need to, but usually one of us has a meeting in the evening so there’s only one grownup for bedtime and it just makes it easier. They had been going to bed at 8:00 and now it’s 8:30, with company for the little one, usually until about 9. Sometimes longer if I accidentally take a disco nap.
    We have a bunkbed in their room. My youngest is a climber. She has fallen (missed the top step on the ladder) from the top of the bunkbed at 18 months. [she was upset but ok] That would be the main thing to look out for – babyproofing the top bunk if there is one.

  12. My younger sister is 5.5 years younger than I am and we shared a room for a few years when she was a baby, and again years later when she was a preteen.As a baby her crib was on one side of the room and my bed was a few feet away on the other (it wasn’t a large room). I learned to quickly fall back asleep when she woke up for my mom in the middle of the night. After she outgrew the crib my parents moved her into my bed with me (they upgraded us to a shared double-sized bed), which wouldn’t have been so bad, except that she wasn’t dry through the night yet. Other than that, it was a great experience for both of us. I would have had no qualms about doing the same with my own kids, except that they’re 17 years apart. 🙂
    Your kids will survive sharing a room – my sister and I both have great memories of me singing her to sleep with songs that I’d learned that day at school, and even though she was so much younger than me, as she got older we had fun chatting quietly together after we’d been tucked in for the night.

  13. My boys are 3 years apart and I was totally zen about them sharing a room, before #2 was born. My sister and I shared a room for a long time without incident. HA. Then my second son NEVER SLEPT, EVER, and everything went to shit for a few months. We ended up having our older son sleep in our room while the baby learned to sleep in his crib. Not gonna lie; it sucked hardcore. My older boy was not mad or jealous, just really frikkin’ tired – though he slept through the crying much better than Mommy ever did. That said…my “advice” is, it will work once baby is a good/consistent sleeper, regardless of age difference.

  14. I have three kids (10, 8, and 4) and the 10-year-old and 4-year-old (both boys) have been sharing for over three years. It is a non-issue at this point. I have given up on the idea of putting the four-year-old to bed earlier than the nine-year-old because it doesn’t work. When they were younger, though, the younger one did have an earlier bedtime. They have bunk beds now, which is great because once they’re in bed they can’t really see each other, which helps them fall asleep. The 10-year-old tends to stay up later reading, etc. but that doesn’t prevent four-year-old from falling asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow.

  15. I would tell the older kid a baby is on the way, and then ask where he thinks the baby should sleep. Figure it out together. See what he thinks. He might like the idea of “company” or maybe not (then you can deal with that).I have 3 kids and a 3BR house. The two oldest share the master bedroom. All 3 kids go to bed at the same time (7-yo, 3.5-yo, 6-mo) so I don’t know why you would think the baby would go down first. He was going down well after the older kids until recently. I think a better sleeping situation for us would be oldest and youngest sharing with middle child on his own (since he is noisy while trying to fall asleep…it was rough on the 7-yo who had to get up to school). For the first many months of them sharing, the 7-yo fell asleep in my bed and was then moved into his own bed after teh 3.5-yo fell asleep and when the parents wanted to go to bed.
    Whatever works and by whatever means necesary.

  16. My kids are almost four years apart and room sharing has been pretty painless for us. Here’s what we did:1) Big brother knew from early on that he would share his room and he got pretty excited about (it was *his* baby, after all :-). We told him that in the beginning the baby would need to sleep in our room because she needs to eat every couple of ours and we didn’t want to crying to wake him; but that when she was big enough she would get to move into the kid room.
    1.1) As I was setting up the room to accommodate the two of them, I involved my son in decorating, moving furniture, re-arranging the closet and deciding how to re-arrange his stuff. He got a new loft bed which he *LOVES*– it also helps w/ space because all of his toys are stored in shelves underneath it and I made a little curtain to hang across the length of the loft so that he has a little cave. It was a way of creating a private space for him in a shared room. Kids love caves. I recommend creating a little secret space for each kid if you can.
    2) In the beginning the baby slept in a mini-co-sleeper bassinet next to our bed. We transitioned her around 5 months. It took 1-2 months before she was sleeping through the night solidly. We took the attitude that the first step was to acclimate *the baby* to sleeping in the crib, so during that time, if the baby was keeping my son up, we let him sleep on a futon in our office or brought the futon mattress next to our bed. It was much easier to then transition him back to his room.
    3) By 6-7 months she was sleeping solidly through the night and my son returned to sleeping pretty consistently in his room. Whenever one of them has been sick and keeping the other awake with coughing, etc., we go back to the office futon arrangement for a few nights.
    4) Baby daughter (now 20 months) has always gone down earlier than older son (now 5.5)– this works well for us.
    5) The age gap actually helps with sharing. Our older child understands that the baby doesn’t really get the concepts of property and sharing; he knows that if there are things he wants to keep separate he needs to store them on a high shelf or give them to me to put away. When he wants to play alone or with a friend, he tells me and asks to close the door to his room or play in the office. He is also learning the distract-redirect technique if he wants to get one of his toys back from her. I’ve actually been pretty impressed by his ability to modify his play to include her (e.g. playing with Legos– she stands by the bin and selects and hands him pieces one by one and he builds stuff out of it; or playing ball, he knows he has to roll the ball to her and be gentle). For the most part they don’t argue over things too much. I think the age difference helps and I think having a positive attitude and the expectation that things will go well helps also. (FWIW, my husband is Turkish and doesn’t even get the concept of sibling rivalry– he’s like, “Why would you argue with your sibling?” His attitude was just to expect the kids to get along and show them how to play together and mostly they do.) Sharon Silver also talks a lot about showing kids what to do instead– so when my daughter was tiny, we spent a lot of time showing my son how to care for her and play with her in an appropriate way. He loved being involved, part of the team, and is very good at following her cues now.
    6) I think part of the reason this works for us is the temperament of our kids– my older son had more sleep issues and I don’t know if he could’ve been the baby in this situation. As it was, his sleeping issues were all worked out by the time our daughter came along. He’s very loving with her and we’ve experienced very little sibling rivalry (I second Hedra’s recommendation of siblings without rivalry). We also prepared him for the baby’s birth by reading lots of books. We are committed to respecting all of his feelings– on the other hand we didn’t want to program him to be jealous by dwelling a lot on all the negative feelings he might experience. So far, so good. Meanwhile, my daughter is the world’s easiest baby (karmic compensation for a colicky first, maybe?) and just rolls with things. She sleeps easily and well and adores her big brother but can also assert herself pretty well.
    When I suggested to my son that when we move to a larger house he could have his own room, he said, “But Mom, then [sister] would be all alone!” He said maybe they would switch to having their own rooms later, or that maybe he could have his own playroom or closet, but that he liked sleeping in the same room with her. That, to me, says sharing a room can really be a boon to the sibling relationship, not necessarily a huge sacrifice 🙂

  17. There’s a three year gap between my brother and me, and 18 months later our youngest brother was born, which meant when he was about 18-24 months old my brother and I shared a room. We both slept in twin beds. I think we went to bed at the same time, had story time together, etc. I don’t remember there ever being an issue other than he was a little chatty sometimes when I wanted to sleep. When youngest brother was old enough to sleep in a bed, not a crib, the brothers shared a room and I had my own room.I don’t think I would have been happy to share a room with a BABY. Babies wake up at night, they cry, you have to be super quiet, you can’t read in bed with the light on because the light will wake the baby. It would have resulted in disrupted sleep for both of us. But for kids who sleep through the night, IDK, I don’t think it’s a big deal. It’s just learning to share and dealing with boundaries.

  18. We have a smaller age gap – my daughter was 2.4 when my son was born. We had the baby in a cot in our room for 7 months. Then we stopped giving him the dummy and moved him into the shared room at the same time. So my ONLY bit if advice, should you think your baby may be unsettled transitioning into the new bedroom, is that we anticipated having to use some “controlled comforting” to get baby to settle without dummy, so we moved our daughter out into our bedroom for a few nights to sort out baby boy without disrupting her sleep. For us this worked really well. Baby did cry for a few nights, big girl unaffected and everybody very happy little campers in their shared room ever since. I can see, though, that for some children the presence of their sibling may be a comforting factor (which we definitely found also) however I knew that the baby would really protest cry… OH YEAH, I forgot that the MAJOR point at this time was I was also weaning him off feeding every 2 hours overnight! AT 7 MONTHS! It was quite seriously unhinging me. (sorry about this scattered post!) But isn’t it funny how quickly we forget the nightmarish times once they pass? So baby was feeding ALL night, had a dummy and in our room. I knew he would protest and he did, but it didn’t take long or too many tears. I felt happy that my daughter wasn’t disrupted and since then they both go down at the same time and we hear not a peep for nearly 12 hours. BLISS! Good luck!

  19. No time to read the comments, but I’ll add my data point about a 5-year-old and a 21-month-old toddler in a 2-bedroom apartment.It ain’t easy. But in my experience, toddler sleep just ain’t easy anyway.
    We had the baby in a crib next to our bed for the first 17 months, but then it became clear that our coming to bed later and shifting around in the middle of the night was waking her up (also my snoring, apparently), so we took advantage of a week when big brother was staying with the grandparents to transition to a shared kid’s room.
    The good news is that there wasn’t really any jealousy. In fact, big brother complained when we were on vacation this summer and he had a room all to himself.
    The biggest problem is bedtime. My oldest was going to bed easily on his own for a while before we moved his sister to his room, but now he wants someone to stay with him. Which I guess we’re doing anyway because we’re in the Lie Down On Floor Next to Crib Until You Fall Asleep Drooling stage of parent sleep intervention. But alas, little sister often doesn’t calm down until an hour after lights out, and if she’s crying or fussing she keeps big brother awake, and he’s got school the next day.
    We’ve found that a little bit of controlled crying helps little sister fall asleep sometimes (or at least helps us parents maintain our sanity). But that bothers big brother, who will come out of his room looking for us, crying himself, complaining justly that he can’t sleep with his sister making all that noise. *sigh*
    Once he’s asleep he’s really asleep, so we have more latitude to let little sister cry then, and nighttime wake-ups are rarely a problem. If little sister does wake up big brother, he almost always goes back to sleep easily.
    What helps is a very strictly timed bedtime routine. What will also help is time… at least the second time around I know that toddler sleep DOES get better eventually.
    So I’d say it is do-able, and at worst will be a time-limited annoyance.

  20. My guess is that it all depends on the temperaments and sleep styles of the kids–so you can begin with a rough idea of what you’d LIKE to happen, but be prepared to improvise and adapt.I have two boys, almost 4 years apart, in a two-bedroom house. We had intended that the boys would be sharing a room by this point, but no dice. I can’t imagine how they could be in the same room and relax enough to get to sleep, especially since the older one is a night owl who requires quite a bit of reading time before he can sleep.
    So our situation is pretty much identical to the first commenter’s. We have a toddler bed in the grown-up bedroom, but in reality, the almost-4-year-old sleeps in the big bed with me. My husband’s in the other bed with the 7-1/2-year-old in his room. My husband and I do alternate roles each night in putting the children to bed, so we each get snuggle and story time with each boy. However, we switch beds later on, as I’m the only one who can get the younger kids back to sleep when he wakes during the night (which he almost always does).
    This is far from ideal, and it is hard on our marriage, but we agree that lack of sleep and bedtime wars are even harder on us. In theory, I believe room-sharing is a good thing for siblings. In practice, I’m fairly certain that MY boys will never be able to share a room and that we will need to find a place with three bedrooms. Personally, I’m giving it another year to see if things change before I begin to insist on moving.
    As far as the original poster goes, I’d also think about alternatives if sharing a room doesn’t look good–my sister had a similar problem for awhile, and her walk-in closet made a perfectly serviceable place for a baby crib and, later, a pack-n-play until her living situation altered.

  21. My brother and I are 5.5 yrs apart. We shared a small bedroom until I was 8. Two comments about this:1. My dad built me a high up bed (essentially the top bunk bed with a play space underneath rather than a second bed). This gave me my own space and separation from the new baby.
    2. Apparently I would always sleep through any crying/night time baby activity. I certainly don’t remember ever feeling anything but excited that I got to have my baby brother sleep in ‘my room’.
    As an aside, I think a 5 year age gap is great! My brother and I played together all through childhood and now as adults we are very close.
    I bet the room sharing will work out just fine 🙂

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  23. 3 yr age difference here. There was only a short tough period during the transition despite having what felt like the world’s worst sleeper in my second child. I have to say, even though he doesn’t wake when the little one cries, he does seem more tired the next day. But overall, there’s been no major issues. It took a little tweaking to figure out how to manage the bedtime routine since I do it on my own. I do the bath/teeth/pjs part together, but have to do the going to sleep part individually or it just won’t work. That means I have to put my older son in front of the tv for a half hour,but it’s what works for us right now.

  24. Any suggestions for us? We’ve got a 7yr old daughter and a 19 mo son sharing a room. Currently ds is in a playpen and dd is on the top bunk of a bunkbed which we bought when we were certain we would NOT be having another. Oops. The 19mo is COMPLETELY obsessed with getting up onto the top bunk. We have to gate their room if we aren’t going to be in there as that is the first thing he wants to do – climb the stairs to the top bunk (the stairs are a staircase of drawers – not a ladder).At some point soon the playpen is not going to be a viable option but I am nervous about putting him in the bottom bunk (with a barrier of course) because I am so afraid of him getting up into the top bunk. I have thought of trying to somehow gate the bottom of the stairs to the bunk but this doesn’t seem to be safe for dd if she needs to get out in an emergency (tho I guess she could climb down off the side which she can do).
    Thanks!

  25. this is all really interesting for me as I have a 5.5yr old and baby no 2 will be arriving in a few weeks. We live in a one bed bungalow. For the last 5 years the three of us have all slept in the one bedroom. However with #2 on the way, we converted the bedroom into a children’s room, and hubby and I sleep on a sofabed in the living room. We got our son a ‘chairbed’ so that during the day we can fold it up and have a nice play area, and the crib is there waiting for the baby. He is SO excited about a)having his own room for the first time ever, and b)sharing it with ‘his’ baby. This has challenged all my preconceptions but really shown me that what society feels children ‘should’ have, and what we think is necessary for a happy household, are actually not at all true. Of course I won’t complain if one day we have a lovely big house, but I am happy to know we can feel complete and content as we are now.

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