Children sharing bedrooms

Top tips and things to consider when children are sharing a bedroom.

For some families, room sharing is a choice to help siblings bond. For others, it's a necessity.

Whatever your reasons for doing it, we've got advice and guidance on how it can be a positive experience and what you can do if your room's feeling overcrowded. 

Pros and cons of children sharing bedrooms

Many families find their children enjoy sharing a room because:

  • It’s the best way to use the space they have available.
  • Siblings or step-siblings enjoy one another’s company and want to share.
  • Fun arrangements like bunk beds can be exciting for children.
  • Some children may resent not having their own space.
  • A child may feel uncertain if the sharing is happening because of a wider change they’re unsure of (eg blending families).
  • You may have worries about overcrowding and the support you’re entitled to. 
Whatever the reason is for children sharing bedrooms, we’ve got advice that can help. 

Our tips for children sharing a bedroom

If you’re trying to decide whether it’s a good idea for children to share a bedroom, here are a few questions to consider.
  • Do your children get on well? 
  • What's their relationship like?
  • What is the age gap between your children? 
  • Will different bedtimes and morning schedules stop children getting their rest?
  • How big is the room? 
  • Will there be enough storage and space for two or more children to be comfortable?

Talk to your child

Talk to your child to prepare them for any changes or new routines. 
For example, if they're an older child that’s going to be sharing with a toddler, let them know what to expect. Allow them some time to adapt if possible. You could try arranging sleepovers first to give them a chance to get used to the new arrangements.

Agree some room rules

Things to think about include:
  • Are there any toys that are off limits or aren't appropriate for younger children?
  • Can everyone have their own storage space so it’s clear whose stuff is whose?
  • If there’s a big age gap between your children, what are the house rules when one has friends over to visit? 
  • Are they allowed to play together without supervision?
  • Do your children get up and go to bed at different times? Think about setting a designated 'quiet time' – in the morning and at night – to make sure everyone's able to sleep properly.

Decorate with everyone in mind

You can decorate so everyone feels like they have their own space. If the move is recent or unexpected, this can help children get excited about the change. 
There might be ways of creating some privacy with a screen or curtain rail.
Check out Pinterest for ideas around how bedrooms can be set up to accommodate different needs. 

Think about bedtimes

If there's an age gap between the children sharing, think about their current bedtimes and how they sleep. Putting children to bed at the same time can mean that they stay up later than you planned. 
It’s good to factor in some ‘settling down’ time when deciding on a bedtime for both.
If one child is younger, consider setting them an earlier bedtime to make sure they're getting enough rest.


At what age can siblings share a bedroom?

Once your child is sleeping through the night comfortably it might work best for your family if they share a room with a sibling.
The age siblings can happily share a bedroom will be different for every family and depend on your children’s needs and personalities. 
As children grow up, they might want more privacy and need their own space.
It's recommended that children over the age of 101 should have their own bedrooms – even if they're siblings or step-siblings. 
We know this isn't always possible. If your children share, try to have regular conversations with them about how they're feeling and allow for them to have private time. 

Sharing with other children in the short term 

Even if sleeping arrangements are only for a short time – like on holiday – parents or carers should decide in advance where everyone will be sleeping.
Speak to everyone individually and, if anyone feels uncomfortable, try to find an alternative that everyone’s happy with.
It's a good idea to talk to your children about their comfort and safety before they stay away from home without you. 
For younger children remind them of The Underwear Rule and you could also use our PANTS resources to help.
For older children you can see our tips on conversation starters. Tell them they can always speak to you or a trusted adult if anything makes them feel uncomfortable or is worrying them.

Sharing with parents 

It's important you and your child both have some privacy and space for yourselves so we wouldn't recommend children sharing a room with a parent long-term.
If you have a baby or toddler, we have some advice about sleep at different ages.
If you’re in council housing or your house is owned by a Housing Association, you’re entitled to a bedroom for every person over 16 years old (18 years old in Northern Ireland) and every married couple so you shouldn’t need to share a room with your child. 
For more information on housing, see our advice below.

Children sharing a bedroom in social housing

If your home is owned by your council or a housing association, there are rules about how many children can share a room at different ages to prevent overcrowding.
The rules are different depending on where you live in the United Kingdom. Your local authority should be able to give you more information and discuss any concerns.
See the resources section below for advice from charity Shelter on overcrowding rules and what support you’re eligible for, depending on your circumstances and where you live.
If you have a child with a disability, you may be able to claim benefits for their room, as well as for a room for a non-resident carer so they can provide overnight care. There’s more information from Shelter in the resources section below. 
You can contact a housing advisor through your local Citizens Advice to discuss your options.

Useful resources by country

If you live in England

Housing advice (Shelter website)

If you live in Wales

Overcrowding rules in Wales (Shelter Cymru website)
Housing advice (Shelter Cymru website)

If you live in Scotland

Overcrowding rules in Scotland (Shelter Scotland website)
Housing advice (Shelter Scotland website)

If you live in Northern Ireland

Housing advice (Housing Rights website)

More resources


  1. 1. Overcrowding is defined in the Housing Act 1985 – section 325-326.