Your babies have been co-rooming or co-sleeping with you since birth and they are getting bigger. Now that they are toddlers, you feel they’re ready to room in together in their own shared bedroom. The question is: how to get your 2yo & 4yo to sleep together in the same bedroom?
(It can be any age combination, but I’m choosing one that’s most common).
The first thing to consider is whether one of them is already sleeping through the night. If both of them are still struggling with sleep issues, then it’s not a great idea to move them into the same room together yet.
If one of them is sleeping well, but the other one is still struggling, then I suggest to work on improving his or her sleep first.
If the both of them are sleeping fairly well, then do the next following steps:
1. Talk to them about the idea of rooming in together. It should be casually mentioned during mealtimes or playtime (when they are relaxed). See how they feel about it. Ask them and be curious about their concerns and questions. Children at this age appreciate as much information as they can get. Even better, show them photos or videos for them to understand clearly.
2. Involve them in choosing their own bedding, their sleep toys/stuffed animals to sleep with and perhaps the colour of their bedroom.
3. On the first night, be prepared to have an extra long bedtime routine. Throw in some bedtime games like ‘rolling power’ where you roll one up in a blanket or duvet like a sushi, and then unroll them back into their bed.
Wrestling games are also helpful to get some fears and anxieties out before they separate with you for the night. You could put lots of pillows on the bed or on the floor for extra protection. Then one by one, they push against you trying to ‘pin’ you down onto the floor. You would then pretend that they were too strong and you fall on the pillows saying “Gosh you guys are such strong children! I can never win at this game!”. Repeat this over and over again to get the giggles and laughter out.
4. The bedtime games can be part of the bedtime routine, or you could switch it up and do story time and lots of cuddles.
5. When the lights are out, they are in their own beds. You inform them that they are safe in this room and at any time they need you or dad, you will be right back into the room. If they wake in the night, you would help them go back to sleep in their beds.
6. If there are some tears come up as you say this, don’t be alarmed. Stay calm and show empathy. Listen to the tears and tell them how much you love them and how safe they are in the bedroom. Do not rush this process. This is one of the most important steps to gain their confidence to sleep in their room. Crying helps them release the big fears. When big fears are released, they are able to relax and go to sleep.
7. You could stay in the room until they are both asleep, then walk out.
8. Repeat the bedtime games and listening to tears for several nights, or until there are no more tears at bedtime. If done consistently, you should be seeing no tears in less than a week’s time.
9. To reassure them that they are still loved, even though they no longer sleep in your bed or room, carve out some Special Time each day that week to fill up their tanks. Special Time helps children feel your loving presence even though you set limits and new rules when it comes to sleep.
When done this way, you not only take their feelings into consideration but they are very involved from the beginning. Them being able to decide on a few things would allow them to have some autonomy and this is very important that they feel some form of control over the change.
Using this approach, after they happily sleep together in their room, there is always room for being flexible for them to sleep in your room one night and back to their own room the next night without fuss. They will still try to ask if they could sleep with you, but you can choose to say yes or no depending on the circumstances.
Having a sibling to go to sleep together is going to be one of the most treasured moments and memories for your little ones. It’s really a very sweet and heartwarming thing to watch.
I hope that was helpful. All the best with the move!
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Photo by Kyle Nieber on Unsplash