These room sharing safety tips will help your little babies, toddlers, and preschoolers be able to sleep in a room and nursery together easily.
It happened while we were staying at a beach house, away from home.
My kids don’t normally share a room.
Before I tell you what happened – and what might have happened had we not been so close – I want to say this. This is not fear mongering. And this is not over reacting.
This is written in reaction to an event that probably took 10 years off my life.
I’m blessed it didn’t take more.
We spent a long morning at the beach and came back in time for lunch and a nap.
Somebody needed to share a room, and my baby (5 months) and oldest son (3 years) were chosen because of their temperaments and ability to sleep through noise.
I usually turned on the white noise app on my cell phone, but little hands had misplaced it.
But let’s rewind… a few days earlier I had a feeling, a warning perhaps, that I should remove all the loose blankets in the room. Unfortunately, I didn’t fully heed the feeling since I always worry I’m paranoid. Still, it never fully left my mind.
That afternoon, I put my son down in the room, and then a few minutes later put the baby in his pack n play at the foot of the bed.
Then I heard the cry…
We were scouring the house for my cell phone when I heard a cry like I’d never heard until that point. I looked at my mom and asked if it was my toddler and she said she couldn’t tell. A few seconds later I knew. It was the baby and he was in distress.
I ran as fast as my legs could take me and opened the door. My 3 year old son was under the covers on the bed and the baby was completely covered up by a heavy bath towel and thrashing.
And screaming. It was the worst sound I’d ever heard. And yet the best sound.
I removed the towel, grabbed my baby, and somehow didn’t have a heart attack. My son was under the covers crying and scared. A few minutes later when my husband was laying with him we realized what happened.
Through tears he said, “I tried to get it off, but couldn’t reach it.”
The baby was smiling by this time, but my older son was distressed. Naturally, the crying had distressed him. Our reactions had distressed him. The situation had distressed him. He didn’t mean to cause harm, he just wanted to cover him up and tuck him in.
Because he was little, he couldn’t reach down inside the pack n play. He couldn’t fix it.
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Room sharing safety ideas for the nursery
Here are some simple ways you can help keep your little one safe when they are room sharing.
⭐Teach your children not to cover or tuck in the little ones
If you have a toddler or preschooler, they may want to help you take care of the baby. Make sure they understand the family rules about this.
They can kiss the baby or help you hold the baby outside of the crib, but never inside.
⭐Remove loose blankets or heavy throws from reach
Don’t keep loose blankets, throws, or otherwise heavy fabrics loose in the shared room. Instead, put your little ones to sleep in sleep sacks.
⭐Remove heavy objects from the room
As you would with blankets and throws, make sure there’s nothing in the room that’s a safety hazard in general.
This is common sense, but what is not dangerous for a preschooler may become more dangerous when there’s a baby in the room.
If your little ones need to nap and sleep in the same room, you can stagger bedtimes. This is a great way to make sure one is in bed asleep before you bring in the other child.
⭐Monitor the situation
Some mothers don’t like to use baby monitors – I’ve been there – but having one for a shared nursery is a great idea.
You can watch and see what your little ones do and will be able to figure out your nightly routines easier knowing your children’s temperaments.
⭐Use white noise
You’ll want to use white noise for both naps and bedtimes. This will cut down on distractions and help your little ones to mellow out. It’s a positive sleep association and will also prevent some light crying or talking in sleep from waking the other sibling in the shared room.
⭐Set and keep limits and boundaries
Create rules then enforce them with clear consequences. If your toddler or preschooler is keeping the baby up, you may have to remove them and put them to sleep in your room then try again.
Or likewise with the baby.
⭐Always – without fail – follow your gut
Because unless they’re older, they don’t get it. If the baby is sleeping when they do it, there may never be distressed crying.
Because putting them both in a room for nap or bedtime doesn’t mean they are sleeping. And, because they’re little. And they don’t get it.
Room sharing safety recap…
So… make sure you’ve set up your shared nursery for success.
You’ve made rules.
Held your limits.
Added things that’ll keep them sleeping well.
Removed things that have potential for harm.
Go with God, mama!
It can be if they enjoy one another’s company, respect one another’s space, and still get enough sleep.
You can set the room up and then let them begin going in for naps and to play. You can explain that, on a certain date, they will be moved their shared room. Make a celebration out of it!
They never have to! If you have a boy and girl sharing, this will likely happen when they begin to desire privacy in changing, etc. You want your child’s room to feel like a private safe place. If they are the same gender, depends on space. My husband and his brother shared a room until they moved out.
This depends. Generally speaking, small children (toddlers, preschoolers, and early elementary school kids) can share a room until around 9 or 10 years of age. After that, your children will likely want their own privacy.
Not necessarily. Toddlers need a place to get enough sleep for their needs. That may be on a mattress in their parents room or in a shared room with a sibling, or even in their own room.