From What To Expect. Photo by Average Jane:
While two kids in one room can conjure up sweet thoughts of siblings bonding over bedtime giggle-fests and early morning playdates, there are bound to be challenges, especially when one of the roommates is still a baby. You’ll have to juggle two different bedtimes, for one, and come up with creative ways to give your toddler the space he needs ot build his block masterpieces in pace – all while keeping your baby safe from the potential chocking hazards of a soon-to-be-preschooler’s playthings. Not to mention the constant reminders you’ll need to give your tot (over and over again) that screaming at the top of his lungs while the baby naps isn’t acceptable roommate behavior.
Two-in-a-room can mean sweet dreams for all involved – eventually – and a little preparation can go a long way to ensure that. So before you do up the room for deux, take time to ease your toddler’s transition from only child to big brother or sister. Consider keeping your newborn’s crib in your room during the early months. It’ll help make those middle-of-the-night feedings faster and easier on you and give your older child more time to get used to sharing his life with the baby. During those first few months you can talk up your toddler’s future roomie in a positive way (“It’ll be fun to show your favorite stuffed animals to Sam when you’re sharing a bedroom together”) so he’ll have something to look forward to when the room-share becomes a reality.
Once your littlest sweetie is sleeping five to six hours at a stretch (at around the four-month mark), move the crib into his new (shared) digs. To make the switch go more smoothly, try these tips:
- Give your toddler the lowdown. Explain that you’ll be coming in to feed the baby at night and that he shouldn’t worry if he hears his baby brother crying. The first few times your infant does make him up, just pat your toddler on the back and let him know everything’s okay and he should go back to sleep. After a while, he’ll get used to hearing you come in to feed the baby and he’ll know to settle down and drift off to dreamland on his own.
- Stagger bedtimes. If the baby goes down at 7:00 PM, delay your toddler’s bedtime a bit with a few extra stories and tuck him in at 7:30 M. Hell appreciate being made to feel like a big boy by staying up later than the baby – and getting to spend extra time with you. To turn that special time into more of a trat, give your toddler a choice of where he wants to read – for instance, your bed or a cozy chair in the family room.
- Create separate but equal spaces. Corral smaller items like miniature cars and tiny blocks (they can be choking hazards) in baskets or bins and keep them on a highter shelf where your toddler cazn reach them but the baby can’t. The baby’s toys can be put on lower shelves or in containers under the crib – places where he can easily grab them once he starts crawling. Special toddler-only projects (block castles or train tracks) should be built on a play table in another room so th ebaby doesn’t accidentally knock them down.
- Turn the experience into a teachable moment. Sharing a room gives your toddler a chance to shine as the big sib and to learn about respect and responsibility. When he wakes up before his baby brother, for example, encourage him to get up quietly and close the door gently before he comes to see you – rather than poking his head into the baby’s crib and belting out a wake-up song.
Here’s to happy days (and nights!) for your little roommates.
Do your children share a room? Do they sleep by themselves? What tips & tricks do you have to share from your experiences?
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