If you have a baby, toddler, or preschooler who nap in the same room and you need to figure out how to make napping in small spaces work, this will help.
I don’t know about you, but when my kids all nap well, I feel like a million bucks.
The house is quiet and life is good.
When naps don’t go well, baby and toddler are waking themselves up, or something Really Annoying like a phone call happens that disrupts sleep…
Are you the same? Do you need your little ones to nap well so they are not whiny and inconsolable by bedtime? If so, let’s get to it.
Baby and toddler sharing a room? Tips for little ones napping in small or shared spaces
If you’ve got a baby and toddler sharing, toddler and preschooler, or baby and preschooler, here are some general tips and rules of thumb that will help make naptime a success.
Remember, nap time is more difficult than nighttime because the drive to nap isn’t as strong – even if you have overtired little ones.
If you’re ready to make a change, get our daily baby logs to use alongside all these tips. So now, let’s hit it!
Use noise makers, rainfall sounds or music.
Background noise, for me, serves two purposes.
- A positive sleep association that helps lull them to sleep.
- To prevent babies from hearing their siblings next door yelling, talking loudly, playing, or singing.
You can use white noise machines, a white noise app on your phone, or even an old school radio on a fuzzy station. Any type of background noise works.
By a certain age, if a baby or toddler wakes up due to noise, you aren’t likely to get him back to sleep. This is especially true if they are in a light sleeping phase of their sleep cycle.
Noise helps prevent that.
Get creative where you put your baby to nap
Before I get into room sharing tips for your baby, toddler, and preschooler, I want to ask you a question.
Is there anywhere else your baby can sleep?
If possible, I’d encourage you to get creative with your sleeping arrangements. Here are some ideas you may not have thought of…
- Let baby nap in your closet
- Turn on the exhaust fan in the bathroom with a pack and play for baby
- Have baby nap in your bedroom in a separate crib during nap time while the older child naps in the room
- Got a big laundry room? Put a crib in there!
Bedtime is much easier to get babies and toddlers and preschoolers to share a room (provided, of course, you have made it safe) because the drive to sleep is strong in the evening.
Naps are a different story.
Where possible, try to find a separate place for baby to nap. At least during the afternoon nap when your toddler or preschooler is also trying to sleep.
Occupy a child that wakes early/doesn’t go to sleep
If you have one child that persistently wakes up early, try to extend his wake time. Often, a child wakes early because they know they can play.
Other times, it’s because they are hungry or hot. Troubleshoot possible early wake times, then move on. I don’t like to encourage waking early with fun activities, mind you, but sometimes the best thing you can do with an early waker is to occupy them.
If they begin to persistently wake early, I encourage you to remove them from the shared room until the problem is resolved. If they’ve learned to wake up early to play, you need to remove the temptation from them.
- Let them sleep in another room until they’ve learned to sleep later.
- Reward the older child for waking up quietly and not disturbing their sibling.
Are your little ones put down to nap in the same room? If one child prevents another from napping, move them to a different room to nap.
Toddler and baby waking each other up? Teach the child not to scream upon waking
One great benefit of a good routine is that babies wake up from naps cooing and in a great and happy mood. I absolutely love walking into a room to get my baby out of the crib and they are there smiling and laughing at me.
It’s seriously one of my life’s fondest memories… sleepy faced babies.
When one child wakes up – if they are room sharing – it’s important to remove that child from the room if they are likely to wake the other. Particularly for naps.
Mornings, the goal is to get both kids to sleep to a reasonable hour. You may even train an older child (say a 3 or 4 year old and up) to come out of the room quietly when they wake up.
If you have a baby who goes down to sleep quietly and only naps for a short period, but a toddler who takes their long afternoon nap, you can stagger the wind down routines.
You can put baby to bed and be up by the time you put your toddler or preschooler down for their naps, even.
If you want both the kids to nap at the same time every day, that is totally possible. I highly suggest it, in fact. In that case, practice have them go down at the same time.
- Have a good calming wind down routine.
- Put both kids to bed.
- Remain in the room as you teach them to settle down and go to sleep without playing or getting excited.
- If one refuses to settle down, remove them from the room.
- Be consistent day in, day out, and the kids will begin being able to nap well together.
Nap routines by age
Room sharing tips summary
If you’ve got your little ones sharing and want to make sure they have fond memories. And that they are still sleeping. And enjoying their time together, put these tips into action.
Develop consistent wind down and calm down routines.
Aim for a good nap time routine that is predictable.
Remain in the room until they get the hang of it.
Remove a child who is having an issue until it’s resolved.
- Children with irregular sleep routines and durations are more tired throughout the day
- Longer sleep duration was generally associated with better body composition, emotional regulation, and growth in children aged 0 to 4 years. Shorter sleep duration is associated with longer screen time use and more injuries
- Adequate sleep in the first year is critical for optimal infant neurodevelopment