Thursday, June 17, 2010

When do I move my toddler to his own room?

From: Katie

Subject: When to move older child to his own room?

Question: Hello, and thank you for taking the time to read my question!

I have two sons, my older son will be three years old next month and my younger son is 8 months old. Right now we all sleep in the same room. Big brother sleeps in the big bed with us, and little brother has his own crib BUT usually wakes up to nurse around midnight and ends up spending the whole night with us. I love co-sleeping but our bed is only a Double and it's getting crowded!

We have enough empty rooms to give each child his own, but the kids' rooms are upstairs. For this reason I'm hesitating whether this is a good time to move big brother (or both of them) upstairs. My older son can climb up and down stairs by himself using the handrail and is usually pretty careful, but if he wakes up scared and lonley in the middle of the night I don't know how safe he'll be. I have never seen him climb over a baby gate but he climbs in and out of the crib and playyard to play with his little brother... those are both taller than any baby gate I've seen, so if he really wants to climb over I think he can. Is three years old old enough to leave him upstairs without a gate, but with the hall lights on? Or would a gate be enough to keep him in until I can get to him?

One other thing we are considering is moving BOTH boys either to big brother's room, or to a matress on the floor in our room for now, until little brother gets a little bit older. How old is old enough to sleep together without mom in the middle? Would waiting until little brother is 12 months old be enough, or would he still be in danger from big brother rolling around?

It's not urgent to get either one of them out of our bed, but bigbrother at least has shown interest in beds and bedding, and loves to play in his own room, so we're considering his third birthday and/or when he starts preschool in the spring as a good starting point. From a safety and security standpoint, what would be an ideal time?

Answer: Dear Katie,

You are very welcome.
1st. I would never recommend letting babies, infants or toddlers sleep with older children alone. Just because accidents can happen and the older child doesn't need to live with guilt ever.

2nd. I would suggest a slow transition. Why not set the children's rooms up and then lie with them when they are taking their naps or just to read stories. I think if you just start expecting the older child to sleep in his own room after being allowed to sleep in the family bed you will start a power struggle and it won't be pretty. Maybe? Maybe not?

Mostly children start sleeping in their own beds because it gets to crowded and they want the space just like you. Why not start slowly and come up with a plant that allows you all comfort and time to adjust.

I love to hear from co-sleeping parents. Keep up the great work!

Best Wishes!
Dr. Mary Kay Keller
Hassle Free Bedtime? Click here!

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