Setting Up a Shared Room For Children

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Two major safety hazards are present when two young children share a room. The largest is from the older child's toys. They can be dangerous for the younger one, either because small parts can be ingested or because many toys for an older child have sharp parts. The second danger is more subtle. Even the most loving and well-intentioned older sibling can act inappropriately with a baby. A room intercom (or baby monitor) can help keep you in touch with activities in the nursery when you're in another room.

  • Set the crib mattress at its lowest point. Leave the crib side up so the older child cannot reach the baby or try to lift him or her out.
  • Remove any furniture the older child might use to climb INTO the crib.
  • Explain to your older child why some toys are dangerous for the younger child. Enlist his or her help in keeping them in another place in the house.
  • When the baby becomes mobile and curious, give the older child a feeling of control by supplying locks for a few drawers in which precious (or dangerous) items can be stored.
  • Put small toys in a tackle box which can be closed and locked by the older child. Also consider wide-mouth, clear plastic jars with screw-on lids. 
  • Reduce the chance of the children being locked in their bedroom. Replace standard doorknobs with the non-locking variety.
  • Avoid hinged toy chests or at least ones that are not vented. Better yet, store toys on shelves and in plastic boxes.
  • Storing an older child's toys on a high shelf and baby's toys on lower shelves can work in some cases. Let an older child play alone in the baby's playpen with his or her own toys.

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