Room sharing may not be plain sailing to start with,” says Judy Reith, author of Teach Yourself: Be A Great Mum and director and parent coach for Parenting People. “But as well as solving a lack of bedrooms issue, putting your baby in your toddler’s room often means they’ll build a special bond that they wouldn’t otherwise get if they were in separate rooms.” Here’s how to make the change easy on your tot and you…
Easy does it
“It’s likely you’ll have your baby in a Moses basket for a few weeks first before moving them into a cot in their new room,” says Judy. “But you can still set the cot up in your toddler’s room to get her used to it being there. Try adding a teddy and explaining that the baby will come soon to take its place.”
“Your toddler may think she’s being helpful by feeding her favourite Lego into your baby’s cot,” says Judy. But for a newborn it spells danger. Remove potential hazards from the room before the baby arrives. “Doing it now rather than after the baby’s home means your toddler won’t feel like it’s the baby’s fault the toys have been moved away,” advises Judy.
Up the noise
“Prepare your toddler for the increase in noise she’ll experience when she’s sharing with a crying baby, by putting on soft background music while she’s getting off to sleep,” says Judy.
Once your baby’s moved in you need to re-visit your bedtime routine. “Take your baby up to the room first so he can fall asleep on his own,” suggests Judy, “then bring your toddler up a little later.”
This gives you one-on-one time with both of them at bedtime and helps your toddler not to feel pushed out.
Stick with it
“Your toddler may wake up to begin with when the baby cries, but she’ll get used to it,” says Judy. As with most things in parenting, persevering pays off. Don’t be tempted to bring your little one into your room as you’re setting up new habits that will be harder to break later on.
Get your tot used to all the new delights your baby brings right from the start. This includes not leaving the room for your baby’s night feeds. “Your toddler will soon get used to you moving in and out of the room and as long as you don’t make a lot of noise she’ll eventually sleep through,” says Judy.
“Before moving Imogen into Reuben’s room we explained she would be coming and made sure we set up her cot in his room a few weeks before she arrived. Amazingly, she’s only ever woken him up once and when this happened I just told him it was still night-time and he had to go back to sleep. My advice is to just go for it and try not to worry – I was a bit anxious, but it turns out it was much easier than I was expecting.”
Stephanie Howe, 27, from Surrey, mum to Reuben, 2, and Imogen, 8 months